Guest blogger Alyssa Bourmeche joins us to share her favorite places in Cuba, an island that is both close to her heart and her heritage. Here are the four gems that she recommends in the land of mojitos & classic cars:
Roughly an hour and a half drive west of Havana lies the beautiful valleys of Viñales. If you love to have Mother Nature take care of you, this is the place. It’s most known for the tobacco plantations where you can tour the process and get real, hand-rolled cigars. Bonus points if you put a bit of honey on the tip of the cigar!
One of the best ways to experience it to take a horseback ride to the tobacco plantation, up a mountain and to a lake near el valle del silencio (valley of silence) where and stop at the lakeside for lunch.
About two hours east of Havana lies Cienfuegos, an UNESCO World Heritage site for its Spanish architecture. It lives up to its name as La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South). With its beautiful city center and malecón, it’s a great city to walk along the main boulevard and enjoy the best mojitos on the island.
Playa Rancho Luna just a short drive away is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. It’s more of a bay, with very few waves and a calm beach to lay and forget the world exists.
Spend a day or two in Cienfuegos before you make your way to the next stop, Trinidad, with a stop in Parque Nacional El Nicho for a hike & swim (be sure to get there early!).
The oldest established port in Cuba, this beautifully preserved city is a must on your journey. Over 500 years old, Trinidad’s streets are lined with cobblestones. Put on your comfy shoes and walk through the city to take in its incredible architecture and history. Brush up on some history at the Bay of Pigs nearby, and enjoy some salsa and dancing in the evening!
If you really are up for an adventure, Camagüey, La Cuidad de los Tinajones is a great off-the-radar city for tourists, even though it’s Cuba’s third largest city. Roughly eight hours from Havana, it is the stop to make in theoriente. Check outthe vibrant arts & architecture in Plaza del Carmen and head to a museum or two to learn about its fascinating wartime history.
A few tips for your travels to Cuba:
- Cuba is still under communist rule, they don’t have the same freedoms we do
- Cuban nationals can’t always get into the same places tourists can
- Respect the island and the locals
- Try to get off the beaten path, the best parts of Cuba are those not filled with tourists
- Make sure you bring sufficient cash (Canadian, Euro or US dollar) as credit cards and ATMs are not readily available.
Want to travel to Cuba? Join our small group trip that hits all the places on this list!
Born in Tunisia and raised in New York by her Cuban mother, Alyssa Bourmeche has embraced the many identities life has presented to her and has found home traveling around the world. Alyssa loves exploring, learning and experiencing new cultures. Follow her Instagram and blog for adventures and insight from around the globe!
Photo credits: Alyssa Bourmeche, All Rights Reserved