6 Days in Cuba: What to Do in This Caribbean Paradise

6 Days in Cuba: What to Do in This Caribbean Paradise
March 24 10:34 2017 Print This Article

It can feel like we never have enough time to do certain things. It feels like there’s never enough time to sleep, enough time to watch TV (although that’s your own fault for wanting to binge watch an entire season at once) or enough time to do healthy things, such as going to the gym (and you can maybe blame the TV watching on that). Cuba is one of those places where you might spend a year exploring the hidden pleasures of the country… but you also need to be realistic. If you only have a limited number of days in this Caribbean paradise, you need to choose your priorities.

Heavenly Havana

Take as much time as you can to explore Havana. A single day isn’t going to be enough, and you could happily spend weeks wandering along the sun-drenched cobblestone streets with breaks for cold drinks and copious amounts of food. There are a few things that you really have to do while in the city.

  • Explore Havana’s Old Town (La Habana Vieja). This is the idyllic Cuba that features in countless holiday photos, with daringly bright buildings and a multitude of Spanish colonial architecture.
  • Walk along the Malecón. OK, so maybe not the whole thing since it’s 8 kilometres (about 5 miles) in length, but this harbourside esplanade is the backbone of Havana. It’s an excellent place to sit and relax, much like the locals do.
  • Explore the life of Ernest Hemingway in Havana. You might want to have a drink at El Floridita in Havana’s Old Town (where there is a lifesize statue of him standing at the bar), or a visit to his former home on the outskirts of the city.
  • Wander around the district of Vedado. Many of these mansions (particularly those owned by Americans) were seized following the Cuban Revolution, and in recent times a number of them have been repurposed as super chic bars and nightlife venues.

Beautiful Beaches

You’re going to need to hit the beach. Like seriously, this is Cuba. You really can’t come to a Caribbean paradise without spending time splashing around in the actual Caribbean. Varadero is a upmarket beachside resort within easy reach of Havana, as is Jibacoa. You don’t need to stay in one of the numerous luxury resorts that dot the coastline to enjoy these beaches (and why would you, since this style of holiday kind of cuts you off from the real Cuba).

Tremendous Trinidad

It’s not as though beautiful, though slightly dishevelled buildings are going to be rare when you’re in Cuba, but for a beautifully preserved example of what many people will think a Cuban town will look like, head to Trinidad. This overwhelmingly beautiful city grew out of a darkness – much of the town’s wealth came from sugar production undertaken by slave labour. These dark times are long gone, and the town is now maintained with tourist dollars and funds released by UNESCO who recognised the historical significance of the town and wanted to keep it just as it is.

  • In Trinidad, make sure you spend at least one evening at the open-air Casa de la Musica, just off the main square. When was the last time you danced under the stars?
  • Take the short trip (12 kilometres/7.5 miles) out of town to the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills). These lush green valleys are where that sugar production took place. The sugar mills in question are now crumbling ruins, and the whole area has a haunting beauty what will stay with you forever.

Vivacious Viñales

Viñales really needs to be experienced when you’re in Cuba. It’s a rustic, authentic slice of Cuban life that is far removed from the cigar smoke-filled salsa clubs of Havana (which is not to say that Viñales has no nightlife). But it’s a small community accessible from the capital on a daytrip, and a day tour in Viñales will show you everything this pretty town has to offer. Viñales is the central point of one of Cuba’s most prized agricultural assets, and much of the tobacco that goes into those Cuban cigars grows from the lush red dirt around the town.

Captivating Camagüey

Have you ever read a travel guide that suggests you’ll want to get lost in a particular destination? That could literally happen in Camagüey, a city in central Cuba. This nifty city (the third largest in the country) was once so overwhelmed with frequent pirate attacks that they just moved the whole city inland. And in case this wasn’t enough, the city was built with no clearly discernable layout, meaning it was intended to be a maze. This was so that any pirates who made it into the city could easily become disorientated and captured.

 

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Fields Ricky
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