Around 25km east of Havana, 20km inland from the Playas del Este, the Escaleras de Jaruco, a small crop of scenic hills, make a stimulating detour on the way to or from the beaches in Mayabeque or Matanzas. The hills are around a kilometre west of Jaruco, the nearest town of any significant size, and a trip here is only really realistic if you have your own transport. Covered in a kind of subtropical rainforest, this steep-sided mini-mountain range erupts from the surrounding flatlands. The Carretera Tapaste cuts through the area like a mountain pass, leading past the fantastically located El Arabe restaurant, one of several places where you can stop and take in the view across the lush, forested hillsides and over the palm-spotted flatlands to the Florida Straits. Despite its erratic opening hours, it provides a focus of sorts for the area: in its pre-Revolution heyday, it was undoubtedly a classic, with its splendid Arabic-style interior, balcony terrace with views to the coastline and domed tower, but it’s now as low on food as it is on staff, and there’s no guarantee it will even be open when you turn up; call ahead on 47 87 3828.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Cuba features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

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…

15 Mar 2017 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
15 of the most romantic places in Cuba

15 of the most romantic places in Cuba

Cuba and romance go hand-in-hand. The isolated island's whitewashed beaches and balmy climate make for a romantic escape in the traditional sense of the word - …

14 Dec 2016 • Greg Dickinson camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month