Cuba travel guide
With pristine beaches, lush forests and vibrant cities all waiting to be explored, Cuba is more than a generic Caribbean island getaway.
Cuba's capital, Havana, appears to be in a constant state of restoration, rather similar to the varying conditions of classic cars that roam its streets. Visitors can expect a mishmash of beautifully restored colonial buildings rubbing shoulders with dilapidated tenements of regular Cubans. The contrasts can be stark, but Havana's ubiquitous salsa rhythms and potent cocktails galvanise the city and make for an enthralling urban experience unlike any other.
Cuba's other cities are experiences in themselves too. Santiago de Cuba is a veritable melting pot of Afro-Caribbean cultures, where pastel covered buildings meet grand cathedrals. And then there's Trinidad, which offers a snapshot of a bygone era with its cobblestone streets and faded colonial façades.
Although the cities are delightful, for many visitors the greatest allure of Cuba is its beaches. Christopher Columbus described the sandy coast of Guardalavaca as "the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen," and you can see why he was so taken – the impossibly white sands and warm turquoise waters are exquisite.
Adventurers may prefer to head inland to hike, bike and explore the limestone caves of Viñales. Viñales is said to have been Fidel Castro's favourite place in Cuba and it is where the country's famous tobacco is cultivated.
As Cuba slowly opens up to the rest of the world, modern resorts have become increasingly common, but the most rewarding stays are in casa particulares. These private homestays offer a true insight into everyday Cuban life, which you won't get in a hotel.
While Cuba is still not an easy country to get your head around, its affable climate, captivating history, beautiful beaches and swinging salsa rhythms certainly reward those who visit and give it the time it deserves.
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