You might simply wish to spend the length of your stay on one of the stunning beach areas such as in Cayo Santa Maria, Varadero, or Cayo Largo, or you might wish to just spend a week or two in Havana, in order to completely absorb the local heritage and culture. Alternatively though, you might want to experience a range of experiences that will give you a quite memorable holiday that combines both of the aforementioned options. Below are 5 things that we recommend doing to get the best out of your visit to Cuba.
If you are going to spend any time in Havana, then why not head down to the ferry dock and the train station just behind it, where you can jump onto the Hershey train. If you like the idea of experiencing life as the locals do, this is a local train that goes through the countryside and stops off at many very small and local areas. This is a wonderful train journey on an old train that goes as far as Casablanca (in Havana) on a single line track. If you like to rough it and to go local, you have to experience the Hershey train!
Trinidad is a stunning town to visit if you want to get a feel for the old colonial history. Make sure to visit the Museum of Colonial Architecture and the Museo Historico Municipal in Trinidad. Also, this is a great location for being very close to both the mountains and the beach. Make sure to visit the stunning beach Playa Ancon, which is just over 10 km from the town of Trindad and which provides the beautiful Caribbean coastline that you might well dream of seeing in Cuba.
A view of the town Trinidad
Music and dance are at the heart of Cuban culture and, if you want to experience this deep passion, the annual jazz festival is a must visit. Taking place in the capital Havana, in the third week of January, the event attracts many of the big names from around the world, as well as many Cuban musicians. Since its inception in 1978, the festival has grown from strength to strength. Jazz Cuba is the easiest way to book tickets for the festival.
This national park is a paradise for any of you who are bird watchers and who love the natural world. This stunningly scenic peninsula, in addition to being a world class location for bird watching, is also worth visiting for its caves, swamps, flora and fauna. I would recommend to go on one of the tours with a local expert, as we found them to be highly knowledgeable and we simply could not have experienced as much without the tour guide. I cannot explain strongly enough what a beautiful part of Cuba this is and this was our favourite part of the whole journey around Cuba.
Located in the Pinar del Rio region, if you are interested in visiting a tobacco plantation, Alejandro Robaina plantation is one that we visited and found to be excellent for seeing the process and farming of tobacco. This plantation is arguably one of the best organised and run plantation tours on the island and, in my view, a must do.
Hirochi, who runs this place, is extremely friendly and outgoing and a great host when you visit. The staff are multi-lingual and they serve food, but you are best off to book the food ahead of time, if you are able to, if you want to have a meal there. Learning how the cigar making process takes place is a great way to get an insight to a unique part of Cuban culture.