HAVANA, March. 4th 19 must places to visit in Cuba in 2023. Cuba is truly a unique destination,the largest of the Caribbean Islands, Cuba will charm you with its charismatic vibe influenced by four centuries of African, Caribbean, and Spanish cultures.
10. Infamous Bay Of Pigs & Playa Giron
The Bahia de Cochinos, more commonly known as the Bay of Pigs, and the small village at Playa Giron beach are the destinations in Cuba that were the center of dramatic world events in 1961.
The failed US invasion of Cuba happened here, where more than a thousand soldiers landed on the beaches, where they were defeated by Cuban forces, and ended up being prisoners of war for over a year in Cuba.
Today Playa Giron is a sleepy little village on the edge of the deep Bay of Pigs. It is worth a visit because of the Bay of Pigs Museum, which tells the story of Cuba before the revolution, as well as the failed US invasion from a Cuban standpoint.
There are also a variety of restaurants and bars in the area, so you can enjoy local Cuban cuisine for lunch or if you stay the night. After visiting the museum and the small market, there is not a lot more to discover here.
If you head further north to Playa Larga you can check out some of the best diving on the island. With 17 different types of coral and great visibility, you will want to visit this place if you want to explore the underwater world.
11. Heart Of The Revolution Santa Clara City
Santa Clara is a small city located in the central part of Cuba about two hours north of Trinidad. It is home to a university, and possibly the scene of the most important incident leading up to the Cuban revolution in 1959.
This is where Che Guevara and his men defeated Batista soldiers in December 1959 in a dramatic fight, before conquering the city, which led to president Batista fleeing the country on New Year’s Eve.
Today this is one of the places to visit in Cuba with the most memorabilia, monuments, murals, and signs about the revolution all around, including in the main plaza Parque Leoncio Vidal.
Santa Clara is also home to the last resting place of Che Guevara; he has been honored with a huge mausoleum on the verge of the Plaza de la Revolución.
Santa Clara today also has a decent nightlife, lots of casa particulares, and a variety of restaurants and bars. After hiking to the top of La Loma hill to watch the sunset you can enjoy tasty Cuban dishes for dinner in this living and breathing museum of the revolution in Cuba.
From Santa Clara, there is about a one-hour drive north to Cayo Santa Maria, one of the paradisiacal Cuban keys that exist only for all-inclusive resort life.
12. Secluded Paradise Island
Cayo Santa Maria is the name of a stunning island triplet, and part of the most famous places to visit in Cuba, the Cuban keys. Located off the north coast of Cuba, it lingers just where the Jardines del Rey coral reef system starts; the King’s Garden.
To get here, you need to cross over a causeway on the northern coast of around 28 miles before you arrive at the island mangroves, hiding a secluded paradise consisting only of amazing all-inclusive resorts and luxury.
In Cayo Santa Maria, there is no city center or local inhabitants, the whole island triplet is a resort heaven. A holiday here really is the place you go for the Caribbean paradise getaway, and only that.
What there is an abundance of in Cayo Santa Maria, is beaches, pools and pool bars, food, mojitos, and lots of water activities. It is a perfect place to go snorkeling, take a day trip on a catamaran, scuba diving, and even deep sea fishing from Marina Gaviota.
You can visit other parts of Cuba from Cayo Santa Maria like Santa Clara and Trinidad, but be prepared to cover some distances for other adventures.
13. Paradisiacal Beaches And History In Cayo Coco
Cayo Coco is another stunning Cuban key located off the north coast of Cuba, the most famous one of the Jardines del Rey coral reef system, from where you can also reach tiny Cayos Guillermo, Paredon, and Cruz.
You need to cross another long causeway across the Bahía de Perros (Bay of Dogs) to reach Cayo Coco and Guillermo, as the keys are connected to the main island of Cuba by a 17-mile pedraplen.
These beautiful islands are known for stunning beaches and crystal clear waters, the five most famous beaches on Cayo Coco being Playa Los Flamencos, Playa Prohibida, Playa Larga, Playa Colorades, and Playa la Laula.
There are of course plenty of water sports to do on Cayo Coco, including amazing diving in the Jardines del Rey, and kite surfing. On dry land, you can also go rock climbing at the Rocarena Climbing Center, or take a jeep tour.
Cayo Coco is also an all-inclusive resort territory, the only exception is Sitio La Guira where you can rent rooms in a very special historic environment.
Sitio La Guira is an enthralling ecological and historical area where you can explore the region’s myriad biodiversity while traveling back in time. Learn about the culture, customs, and lifestyle of its early colonists here during the 1900s.
14. Capital Of The Carnival Santiago De Cuba
Santiago de Cuba today is the second biggest city in Cuba, situated on the eastern side of the island. The distance from Santiago de Cuba over to Haiti is shorter than to the capital Havana.
For a few decades centuries ago, Santiago was the formal capital of Cuba, and today it still holds the title capital of the carnival in Cuba. Although most destinations in Cuba have a carnival, they are not like the one in Santiago.
The city is famous for its incredibly energetic and abundant carnivals every year in July, and Santiago also has a bit more Caribbean influence from the islands further east because of its location.
Some unique sights in Santiago are the majestic El Morro fortress guarding the narrow entrance to Santiago bay, San Pedro de la Roca Castle a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, which is the last resting place of Cuban national hero Jose Marti, as well as Fidel Castro.
Santiago is also the birthplace of the 26th of July Movement, the name of Castro’s resistance group, which was founded after a failed attack on the Moneda Barracks in Santiago in 1953.
After this attack, Castro was sentenced to jail and spent several years incarcerated in a jail on Isla de la Juventud which is now the museum you can visit on Isla de la Juventud. Santiago de Cuba also has some famous restaurants like the Bodeguita del Medio on the main street, where they serve killer Camarones (shrimp).