Cuba is still the longing destination of many travelers. The mix of Caribbean flair, communism, colonial style and hot rhythms still attracts visitors to the country. The people are friendly, the cities colorful and the nature impressive. To really immerse yourself in the country, you should take at least two, better yet three weeks and not just visit the well-known top spots.
1- Havana – The morbid beauty
Peeling plaster, dilapidated alleys, colorful street art, this is just as much Havana as old-timers, colonial buildings, mojitos and cigars. Havana has many faces and it is well worth spending a few days here, then you will fall for the raw charm of the capital.
Of course, you can conquer the city on foot and a stroll along the Malecón, the kilometer-long waterfront promenade especially in the evening is a must. Here the city meets and actually it is a small big fiesta. Cuban sounds, a drink, the balmy air and the thunder of the waves can’t help but enchant.
A special way to discover the beauties of the city is to take a tour in one of the typical American vintage cars. There is no more stylish way to get closer to Havana. How long the ride lasts and what is included is a matter of your own negotiating skills and wallet. But even if it’s only an hour, a ride in one of the old classics is a must.
By the way, not only can you meet Hemingway in Havana, but also John Lennon on a park bench. In the Parque John Lennon in Calle 8 he sits cast in bronze.
2- Trinidad – Colorful and charming
As morbid Havana is, as colorful and charming is Trinidad. Here, too, you will find beautiful colonial buildings that are perfectly preserved. The best thing to do is to drift along the narrow streets with their cobblestones, get lost and dive deep into the relaxed atmosphere of this little place.
If you want to enjoy a magnificent view of the city, then you should walk up the 180 meter high Cerro de la Vigía in the afternoon. Then the light is soft, perfect for photography. And when the sun sets in the west, the crickets chirp loudly and a mild wind goes, you fall in love with this island.
If you want to enjoy more nature, you should visit the waterfalls of Topes de Collantes National Park. You drive through breathtaking scenery in old Russian military trucks and then hike through the jungle for about three hours. The waterfalls pour into natural pools, where you can refresh yourself wonderfully. On the way you also have a magnificent view of the bay of Trinidad and the city itself.
3- Viñales – Home of the cigars
Cigars are an integral part of the image of Cuba and therefore a visit to a tobacco farm should not be missed. There are special farms for tourists where you can get a fascinating insight into the life of the farmers. Of course, you can also directly taste and buy cigars here.
But you should not reduce Viñales only to cigars. The whole valley is under the protection of UNESCO and offers many charming excursions.
An unbelievable view you have in the early morning. Then you look out over the lush landscape with its strangely shaped elevations, the mogotes. The best thing to do here is to rent a bicycle or take a tour on horseback to explore this green paradise. You pass colorful private homes, see farmers at work, and marvel at the bizarre shapes nature has created over time. This decelerated way of getting to know this valley is definitely a highlight.
4- Peninsula Zapata – Untouched nature
The peninsula got its name because its shape reminds of a shoe. The wettest area of Cuba is located in the south of the province Matanzas and offers as a biosphere reserve a home to an incredible biodiversity.
This other side of Cuba is best experienced with a guide, because with untrained eyes you will miss the wildlife. In addition to crocodiles, turtles and manatees, about 200 different species of birds live in the park. With a little luck, you can also see the world’s smallest hummingbird, which lives here.
In a pile village you can also visit the Taino Indians and get an insight into their traditional way of life.
Recent history is also present, as the only road leads to the Bay of Pigs, where the CIA-backed invasion by Cuban exiles failed in 1961. A museum is also located there and explains this event from a Cuban perspective.
5- Baracoa – Chocolate and a Table Mountain
The Sierra des Purial separates Baracoa a little from the tourist hustle and bustle and so the oldest city in Cuba is still a little insider tip. The houses are traditionally made of wood, it rains frequently and the people cannot deny their Indian ancestry. But especially chocolate and nature fans should take the trouble and visit Baracoa.
Che Guevara founded Cuba’s only chocolate factory here in 1968. Today it still supplies chocolate for the whole island and you can also visit it. So you can see how cacao grows and how the path is from the bean to the delicate seduction.
In the Casa del Chocolate in the city itself, you can then completely indulge in the sweet pleasure.
If you want to work off the calories, you can climb the table mountain “El Yunque”, the 575 meter high landmark of the region. In no case should you do without shoes with good tread and water, because depending on the weather, the climb can be muddy and slippery. The view of the fertile landscape and the sea compensates for the exertions. On the way back, you can refresh yourself in the river before returning to the city.
6- Cayo Largo del Sur
Cayo Largo, as the island is abbreviated, is located south of Cuba and can be easily reached by plane. A few bathing days on the beautiful beaches are ideal after a round trip. The beach Playa Paraíso lives up to its name and you really feel like in paradise. Walk along the beautiful turquoise sea, the fine sandy beach and then the sunsets, plus a cigar and a mojito, you don’t want to go back to Europe.