Traditionally, the whole of the country east of Camagüey is known simply as the “Oriente”, a region that in many ways represents the soul of Cuba, awash with historic sites, propaganda billboards and political passions. Running the length of the area’s north coast, the three provinces that make up the northern Oriente – Las Tunas, Holguín and Guantánamo – form a landscape of panoramic pine-scented and palm-studded mountains, all fringed by flatlands where lonely railroads thrust through the vast swathes of sugarcane. Home to some of the country’s most striking peaks and beaches from the flat-topped El Yunque to the stunning protected coves at Guardalavaca, Maguana and Saetía, the Northern Oriente also boasts some of Cuba’s quirkiest towns – namely Baracoa, Gibara and Banes.

The smallest and most westerly of the three provinces is Las Tunas, often overlooked by visitors, though its unassuming and friendly provincial capital, Victoria de las Tunas, is not without charm.

By contrast, larger and livelier Holguín province has a variety of attractions. Chequered with parks, the busy and crowded provincial capital, San Isidoro de Holguín, manages to be modern and cosmopolitan whilst retaining the feel of its colonial past, with several handsome old buildings, museums and antique churches. The once mighty nineteenth-century port of Gibara, presiding over the north coast, also has vestiges of its former glory visible in a few fine buildings and an old fort, while the gently undulating hills around town are honeycombed with underground caves that are perfect for independent exploration. Holguín’s biggest attraction is the popular Guardalavaca beach resort, while the province’s ancient historical pedigree can be seen in the remnants of pre-Columbian Taíno culture in and around the little village of Banes. Further east, the exclusive beach resort of Cayo Saetía is a paradise of white sands and glistening seas, an idyllic place to relax. Inland, where rugged terrain dominates the landscape, the cool pine forests, waterfalls and lakes of Mayarí are unmatched for isolated serenity, while the sugar-farm country further south is home to Fidel Castro’s prosaic birthplace at Birán.

Of the three provinces, the best known is undoubtedly Guantánamo, with the notorious US naval base at Caimanera. Although Guantánamo town is largely unspectacular, it forms a useful jumping-off point for the seaside settlement of Baracoa, one of Cuba’s most beautiful and enjoyable destinations. Sealed off from the rest of the island by a truly awe-inspiring range of rainforested mountains – which are fantastic for trekking – Baracoa’s small-town charm is immensely welcoming.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Cuba features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

18 brilliant pictures of life in Cuba

18 brilliant pictures of life in Cuba

Cuba – with its gorgeous beaches, verdant countryside and time-worn capital – made it onto the Rough Guide to 2018. And as Trump tightens restrictions on US…

14 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to Cuba

Video: a 1 minute guide to Cuba

From the gorgeous countryside of Viñales to the brilliant beaches of Varadero – not to mention the atmospheric, timeworn streets of Havana – Cuba is a begu…

17 Nov 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs