Visiting Cuba you’ve got to check out these 6 places

Cuba is a Caribbean island nation under communist rule. It has recently in the last few years opened up to the world through the re-establishment of diplomatic conversations between the U.S. and Cuba. Cuba is filled with sugar-white beaches and is dotted with tobacco fields that produce the famous Cuban Cigars. Big thick cigars, Ernest Hemingway, rum, salsa, Che Guevara in his black beret, and Cadillacs that sag on their suspension in the streets are just a few of the icons of this great place. Travellers from 19 countries (see the list here) can travel to Cuba without a visa. Cuba welcome everyone to their country, as long as they have a valid “Tourist Card”.

Mid-November to March is the coolest, driest, and busiest season. May and June are the wet seasons, but Cuban highlights like the tobacco harvesting and carnival happen at this time. July to November is hurricane season – late August to early October when it’s the peak of the hurricane season.

6] Bueno Vista Social Club Live Show

Music lovers have a chance to experience the authentic Cuban rhythms of the Buena Vista Social Club. A group of musicians who played at Havana’s Buena Vista club back in the 1940s, their music was made famous by American guitarist Ry Cooder when he introduced it to the world in his Grammy award-winning ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ CD. And on this trip, you’ll hear it performed live by all-star Cuban musicians and performers. A mix of Latin styles that encapsulates Cuba’s golden age of music, it’s part-salsa, part-son, part-soul and part-jazz wrapped up in a collection of haunting melodies. A treat for anyone wanting to understand Cuba’s love affair with music. There’s the opportunity to book an optional dinner with the show.

5] Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is the capital of Cuba’s southeastern Santiago de Cuba Province, facing a bay off the Caribbean Sea. Founded by the Spanish in 1515, it’s known for colonial architecture and revolutionary history. On January 1st 1959, Fidel Castro declared the victory of the Cuban Revolution from a balcony in the city hall. And that’s not the only place in the city to have links to the revolution. In the Santa Ifigenia Necropolis, there’s a funeral monument to national hero Jose Marti.

4] Meet dolphins at Cayo Naranjo

People don’t come here for the sand – Cayo Naranjo is all about the aquarium, which is set in the heart of Bahía de Naranjo Nature Park, just a few minutes’ drive from Guardalavaca. It’s actually in the sea itself, so the animals are free to leave at any time. You can meet the local sea lions and watch the dolphins doing all kinds of tricks.

3] Varadero Beach

If your looking to get away and relax Varadero beach which is more than 20km long might be for you. It has sandy white sand resting in front of a blue sea, the scene that brings instant relaxation and a smile to your face. There are numerous caves, cliffs, and lagoons dotted along the beach. The weather in Varadero is nice with a little rain and low humidity are among the conditions that make Varadero an ideal spot the year around. The city of Varadero which extends over 14.4 square km and has a population of approximately 8.000, accounts for 55% of each hotel rooms in Cuba.

2] Havana Carnival

Havana’s annual carnival is Technicolor. Salsa dancers animate the streets of Cuba’s capital city and parades take place along the Malecon promenade by the sea. Huge munecones – figures representing fictional characters – are hoisted into the air as part of the parade. Havana’s Carnival provides a spectacular display of music, dancing, conga lines, fanciful outfits, fireworks and rum.  Carnival comes with some traditions, like effigies of well known people being paraded along the coastal road. Thousands of Cubans look forward to the traditional carnival festivities, a colourful and explosive show of allegoric floats and dancers. As a complement, dishes from Cuban cuisine and beverages, Cuban cold beer and Cuban rum offered by the Malecon.

1] Havana City tour and Old Havana

Havana has to be one of the most fascinating cities on earth. With its peeling Spanish buildings, 1950s American cars and cigar-chomping inhabitants, it looks and feels like something from a movie set. And this tour is a great introduction to its sights. Let your guide lead you round crumbling ‘Habana Vieja’ or Old Havana. This UNESCO-protected, 500-year old quarter is riddled with cobbled streets, sun-washed plazas and Baroque churches. You’ll also see Havana harbour, where, in the 16th century, Spanish galleons laden with treasures from the New World would stop before sailing homewards. Another highlight is your visit to New Havana. Check out its main landmarks, including its famous Revolution Square, site of the giant public rallies held by Fidel Castro. One of the world’s largest public spaces, it’s dominated by a towering monument to national hero, José Marti, and a giant bronze of the face of Che Guevara.

Old Havana is the city-center and one of the 15 municipalities forming Havana, Cuba. It has the second highest population density in the city and contains the core of the original city of Havana. This part of the Havana has the most colonial buildings and is the most visited area by tourists and is one of the most beautiful spots. There is so much to do and see here.

[image from wendyperrin]

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