19 must places to visit in Cuba in 2023 (2of 4)
HAVANA, Feb. 25th 19 must places to visit in Cuba in 2023, the largest of the Caribbean Islands, Cuba will charm you with its charismatic vibe influenced by four centuries of African, Caribbean, and Spanish cultures.5. Lush Green Valle De Viñales & Cuban Cigars
Mainly famous for being home to the coveted Cuban cigars, Vinales is a small agricultural town in a lush green fertile valley located in the western part of Cuba, in Pinar del Rio province.
You can take a day trip to Valle de Viñales from Havana, and even from Varadero (although that is a really long day) and experience the highlights of the valley.
See the Mural de la Prehistoria, the stunning Cueva del Indio cave, visit a Cuban cigar farm, and have a traditional Cuban lunch – all in one day!
If you have time to travel slower, you can also stay a night or two in a casa particular in the small but charming Vinales town center.
There are a variety of unique restaurants and bars for you to explore offering traditional meals with local ingredients and delicious Cuban food like ropa vieja or pollo con arroz morro.
There is one special thing about Vinales that has put the valley on the UNESCO World Heritage site list, and that is the mogotes. Scattered around the valley small abrupt hills are lying like green sugar tops across the valley floor; the mogotes.
Mogotes are isolated, steep-sided, and rugged hills composed of limestone, marble, or dolomite, with rounded shapes that tower above the flat plains around them.
If you stay a while, you will have time to go on hikes to explore the mogotes up close, some of them have caves where you can go swimming or rock climbing inside.
Or try rock climbing on the outside, walk the many trails around the valley, go horseback riding, and visit the nearby limestone caves. Maybe visit the pristine beaches on Cayo Jutias up north on a day trip?
6. Ruggedly Untouched Island Cayo Jutias
Cayo Jutias is a beautiful island you can reach by driving north across a causeway on the verge of Pinar del Rio province, off the northwest coast of Cuba.
Here you find nothing but a quiet beach with a narrow strip of crispy sand separating the mangroves from the soft sea.
You can take a taxi up to this tranquil island for the day (there are no hotels here), a couple of hours from Vinales. It is perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing getaway, with stunning beaches, clear blue waters, and simply chill.
Most travelers immediately fall in love with the pristine rugged beauty of Cayo Jutias. Unlike other destinations in Cuba, the untouched Caribbean beaches here have not been developed like Varadero or some of the other Cuban keys.
There is a restaurant and a couple of bars on the beach where the prices are decent for cocktails and sandwiches. Spend the day snorkeling, swimming or simply doing nothing on the beach before you return to mainland Cuba in the afternoon.
7. Sustainable Las Terrazas In Pinar Del Rio
Las Terrazas is a picturesque, serene community that focuses on sustainable development in Pinar del Rio, and allows its visitors to become one with nature.
Located 46 miles west of Havana, this tranquil oasis is situated in the Sierra del Rosario which was appointed a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1985. In the late 1960s, Las Terrazas was created to restore an area that had been severely damaged by extensive coffee production in the 19th century.
Millions of trees were planted, terraces for agriculture excavated, and a small town was constructed to keep nature as its focus. Now the land is protected rather than exploited; its cycles are respected and appreciated in perfect harmony with nature.
Las Terrazas is one of the destinations in Cuba that has attracted a vibrant community of talented artists. It also provides an incredible outdoor setting for nature enthusiasts from open public workshops and studios to unlimited opportunities for outdoor activities. Spend the day in the beautiful river oasis, with layered cascades running from one level to another of crystal clear pools where you can take heavenly dips in the waterfalls.
From the lush vegetation of the Sierra del Rosario mountain range, you will also find stunning viewpoints, and tropical mountain scenery around Las Terrazas, where you can gaze at the hazy coastline!
8. Colonial Living Museum Of Trinidad
Trinidad is often referred to as “the museum of Cuba”, a unique colonial city located on Cuba’s southern shores around four hour’s drive from Havana.
The reason Trinidad is protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Site list is that its historical center looks almost identical today as it did at the height of Cuba’s sugar era when Trinidad was the sugar capital of the island.
When Cuba was priced out of the sugar trade by other nations, the city became a forgotten backwater, a place that was not developed like other Cuban towns in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Trinidad today is one of the most famous places to visit in Cuba for its well-preserved colorful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Here historic telltales from the colonial era in the Caribbean and Cuba are found in the details.
Visit one of the countless museums(don’t miss the Museum of Colonial Architecture aka Museo de Arquitectura Colonial) and artist’s studios in Trinidad’s historic center, walk around Plaza Mayor at nightfall and enjoy a meal on the balcony of Los Conspiradores opposite Casa de la Musica.
Travel the short distance to the Valle de Los Ingenios, or Valley of Sugar Mills, once home to vast sugar plantations. From Trinidad, you can also explore the Topes de Collantes national park, or simply head out to paradisiacal Playa Ancon beach just 15 minutes from Trinidad town center.
9. Cienfuegos City With The French Heritage
The special thing about Cienfuegos is that it is the only city in Cuba that was founded by the French, not the Spanish (although under the Spanish crown).
A small town located on the southern coast of Cuba just west of Trinidad, the heritage of Cienfuegos is detectable in architecture and even city planning. You find a miniature version of the Arc de Triomphe in the main city square; Parque Jose Marti.
Along Boulevard avenue in Cienfuegos is a variety of shops and small restaurants, and when the Boulevard closes, the Paseo del Prado wakes up. This is where the Cienfuegos nightlife is found, as the sun sets, the doors and windows open along the Prado and the music starts.
You can also visit attractions like the amazing botanical garden, or go kayaking or horseback riding outside the city. And then head out to Camila’s restaurant out on Punta Gorda, across the Malecon, for an amazing sunset and dinner.