I have booked a 3 week trip to Cuba, flying in and out of Havana and was trying to plan my itinerary…any suggestions? I’ve heard good things about Trinidad but would like to visit one or two other places as well. Thanks!
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As you are starting and ending in Havana and want to visit Trinidad (which is definitely worth it), I would recommend doing a western loop – Havana, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Viñales, Havana – which is the route I did last year. Here’s a couple of things you might want to look into for each place:
Havana – aside from the usual “must-see” tourist spots, I’d recommend a trip to Casa de La Musica one night (I went twice in 4 days!) it’s a really lively salsa venue with fantastic live bands, incredible salsa dancing and a good mix of locals and tourists. Hotel Nacional is also great for a swanky evening drink, or you can have a chilled day by the pool there.
Trinidad – a beautiful town to wander around with it’s cobbled streets and UNESCO protected old town. Museo Histórico Municipal has interesting information on revolutionary Cuba, however, the highlight of a visit here is the birds-eye view from the top of the tower.
Santa Clara – a really lively town due to it’s large student population, this is also the place of pilgrimage for Che Guevara worshippers, so don’t miss the two main sites: Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado and Complejo Monumental Ernesto Che Guevara. A great day trip from here is Cayo las Brujas, which boasts a stunning and relatively empty beach. In the afternoons/evenings head to La Marquesina on the corner of the main square for its compact, relaxed vibe, great bands and salsa dancing locals.
Viñales – completely different from the previous places on this route due to its prehistorical landscape and remote valley of lush plantations. I would definitely recommend taking a horse ride (or walking tour) to explore the tobacco plantations. If you have a couple of days to spare, nearby Cayo Levisa is great for a relaxing island escape. With only one place to stay on the island you’ll have much of the beach to yourself. It’s also great for snorkelling, fishing and scuba diving (if you are already qualified, they don’t do beginners courses).
Hope that helps and have a fantastic time!
Yes it can be a bit tricky, in general I found some of the best food I ate was in the casa particulares where I stayed, however, for a special occasion I’d recommend La Guarida (www.laguarida.com/en/). Famed as the setting of Fresa y Chocolate this is rather touristy but the atmosphere is great – the restaurant is on the top floor of a beautifully dilapidated building. The food was the best I had in Cuba – if they still have it on the menu try the swordfish ceviche with ginger and coconut starter.
Another good restaurant is Sociedad Asturiana Castropol (Calle Malecon 107). This is a great place recommended to us by a local. Great views from the balcony over the Malecón and sea and excellent food – be warned the starters are huge!