It’s time to start making dream itineraries now that Cuban borders are opening to American tourists. While boat companies await approval for high-speed ferries from Florida, you can decide which of the impressive provinces you’ll be visiting first. Since most American travelers are unfamiliar with the new restrictions, be sure to study up before you go (this Hipmunk blog post is extremely informative). In the meantime, here is a quick guide to the most popular destinations for your dream itinerary for visiting Cuba.
Stroll Through Old Havana
Photo by Pixamundo via Trover.com
No trip to Cuba is complete without spending time in the capital. Teeming with gorgeous colonial structures dating as far back as the 16th century, history buffs will be impressed by the care Havana has shown to its most charming buildings. Soft yellows, pinks, and aqua marines give way to gorgeous castles and museums like the Museo de Bellas Artes. Spend your day winding through the historic center, ducking into tucked-away restaurants, and taking in vibrant works of art. For something a little different, enjoy a cigar factory tour or wander along the beloved Malecón Road lining Havana Bay.
Hit the Beach in Varadero
Photo by Matt Northam via Flickr.com
One of the most-visited beaches in Cuba, Varadero offers up over 25 kilometers of pristine, white-sand beach in the small Bay of Matanzas. With both upscale and low-key accommodations, travelers will enjoy dipping their toes in the dreamy turquoise waters or napping in the warm year-round temperatures. One of the most exciting aspects of a visit to the Mantazas province is taking the infamous Hershey train from Havana. This electric train slowly winds its way through the stunning countryside, delivering you in just a few hours to bustling downtown Matanzas. From here it’s just a 12.5-mile journey to Varadero Beach.
Travel Back in Time to Trinidad
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Perhaps the most charming city you will ever visit, Trinidad is a near-perfectly preserved Spanish colonial town ringed by the impressive Escambray Mountains. Horses trudge along cobblestone streets, passing 16th century mansions and quaint churches. Take some time to visit the picturesque plazas and pop into local museums like the Museo Historico Municipal. The pace of life is tantalizingly slow in Trinidad, so grab your camera and a cold Coca Cola and enjoy the simplicity of an earlier time.
Hop Down to the Isla de la Juventud
Photo by Batina Winsig Hansen via Trover.com
Adventurers will enjoy an excursion to the small island of Juventud, located just 50 miles from the Cuban coast. Channel your inner pirate on the island that inspired such famous stories as Treasure Island and Peter Pan. Here you’ll enjoy fantastic scuba diving, lounging on black sand beaches, and venturing into the large swathes of pine trees that gave the island its old name, Isla de Pinos. Used as a prison to house both Fidel Castro and counterrevolutionaries, the island has an intriguing history. Be sure to explore the ancient Punta del Este Caves that include over 230 pictographs created by the original island inhabitants around 900 A.D.
Cuba offers something unique to all types of travelers. Whether you’re looking for budget travel or an adventurous getaway, you’ll find it amongst the swaying palm trees and towering mountains of this colorful Caribbean island.