It’s been said that Castro’s favourite place on the whole of the island was the Viñales Valley
. It’s not hard to see why. Interspersed with rocky karst outcrops, its fertile plains run against mountains to breath-taking effect. Most importantly, the Viñales Valley is also where the country’s finest tobacco is grown – likely another reason for the cigar-loving leader’s adoration. A few days in Viñales will give you a perfect snapshot into rural Cuban life. And while the town is certainly tiny, there’s a dance club if you feel like letting off steam in the evening.
What to doExplore the region on an e-bike:
discover tobacco plantations, stop en-route to chat with the ever-friendly locals and visit a cave that has since turned into a night club.
Our favourite tailor-made trip
Discover Western Cuba
in depth with this sample trip. After two nights in Havana you set out to explore Soroa and Vinales before returning for a final two nights in Havana again. And as with all of these sample trips - they're 100% customisable to your preferences, no matter if you want to change the route, activities or accommodation or just book it as it is - simply click 'modify this itinerary' to receive your quote.
Jardines del Rey
Some time on the beach is definitely next on the cards. And where better than the archipelago where Hemingway was said to have sailed his yacht looking for German submarines? Connected to the mainland by a series of beaches, Jardines del Rey is a chain of idyllic islands. Tourism arrived late to Jardines del Rey with the result that it’s pleasingly underdeveloped. In fact, the entire area is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with no permanent residents allowed on the islands. One of the archipelago’s best beaches is the sublime Playa Pilar. Pilar sits pretty on the Cayo Coco, and its 21-kilometre stretch of white sand is framed by mangroves. Add a huge flamingo colony to Jardines del Rey’s list of attributes, and we think you’ll agree it’s definitely one of the best places to go in Cuba.
Our favourite tailor-made tripComplete Cuba - Nature, Tradition and Sights of the Revolution
. Arrive in Havana and make your way all throughout the island with stops in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cayo Coco, Camaguey and Santiago before returning to Havana.