The vast majority of visitors to Sancti Spíritus province head directly for the attractive and colourful sixteenth-century town of Trinidad, one of the country’s most perfectly preserved and restored colonial settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated close to both a good beach and scenic mountains, Trinidad is justifiably the single most-visited destination in central Cuba and the most touristy town on the island. More than anywhere else, Trinidad neatly encapsulates Cuba’s past and future: a 500-year-old architectural showpiece whose backstreets are still traversed by farmers on horseback, and where a huge proportion of the 75,000 residents have turned their working lives over to private enterprise, mostly by catering to visitors. As a result, there are now around a thousand casas particulares operating there – among them some absolute diamonds – while countless paladars, cafés, arts and crafts stalls and shops, travel agents and dance schools occupy almost every house in the centre.

Less than 10km south of Trinidad is the Península de Ancón, site of arguably the best beach on mainland Cuba’s south coast, which compared to the north coast is generally less sandy and spectacular. In the opposite direction, the mountain resort of Topes de Collantes makes an excellent base for hiking around the steep, lavishly forested slopes of the Sierra del Escambray. A few kilometres northeast of Trinidad is the beautiful Valle de los Ingenios, home to the sugar estates that made Trinidad’s colonial elite so wealthy. Further east, the provincial capital of Sancti Spíritus, though larger than its more famous neighbour, attracts fewer visitors. For some, this is the source of the city’s appeal: comparatively free of tour groups, it boasts a long history of its own and an unhurried pace of life.

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