So, you’re going to Cuba, huh? You lucky thing! You are sure in for a treat because Cuba is truly one of the most magical and unexplored countries on this planet. In Havana, you’ll find incredible colonial architecture and a party scene that cannot be matched, whilst further afield, you can find some of the very best beaches of the Caribbean, and natural parks that offer up incredible opportunities for hiking, climbing, and cycling.
In this article, we’ll be giving you the low down on:
- The very best things to shove in your pie hole, from street food on the streets of Havana to fancy seafood restaurants
- The best shopping so that you can take a little piece of Cuba back home with you, whether that’s in the form of the best cigar you’ve ever tried, or a bottle of delicious Cuban rum
- Incredible festivals, whether you would like to rock out to Cuban bands in the countryside or you’d prefer a little more sophistication with the Havana Ballet Festival
- The coolest historical and cultural sights that you simply cannot afford to miss from ancient burial sites to incredible fortresses
- The best places to have a few mojitos and party with the local people
- And many more coolness besides! Let’s not waste any more time
Here are the 11 coolest things not to miss in Cuba!
- Discover Cuban History in a Grand Palace If you want to have a real understanding of Cuba, it’s imperative that you have an understanding of the Cuban Revolution, which took place during the 1950s. The best place to learn about this important time in the country’s history is at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. As well as having the chance to look at some incredible memorabilia from this time, the museum is also housed within the former presidential palace, and it’s extraordinarily beautiful. (AvenidaBélgica, La Habana)
- Cool Down with a Blended Batido When your budget can’t quite stretch to the fourth daiquiri of the day, but you are in desperate need of a frozen treat to cool you down, fear not, because if you head out on to the streets you’ll be able to find plenty of batidos, and these are essentially the Cuban version of a smoothie. You can get them in all different kinds of flavours such as coconut, and lime, but our favourite has to be the sweet guava flavour. Super refreshing.
- Take in a Show at the Gran Teatro de la Habana If you are looking for a reason to get dressed up and enjoy an unforgettable night out in Havana, you absolutely need to know about the Gran Teatro de la Habana, one of the most important theatres in the capital city. The theatre is located in the Galician district of the city, and was originally constructed, in the early 20 th century, to act as a social hub for the Galician community. These days, it’s one of the best places in Havana to take in a ballet show, and the Cuban National Ballet often performs there. (458 Paseo de Martí, La Habana; www.balletcuba.cult.cu/gran-teatro-de-lahabana)
- Snorkel in the Sea of Varadero If what you are looking for on your trip to Cuba is beach, you cannot do any better than the gorgeous coastal town of Varadero. This is actually the largest beach resort in all of the Caribbean, making it the ideal place for sun, sand, and endless beach activities. If the days of lying on the beach become tiresome, the good news is that the water is super clear and really ideal for snorkeling and diving expeditions so you can explore the coral and tropical fish beneath the sea.
- Hang Out in Hemingway’s Favourite Bar, Floridita One of the most famous residents of Havana is certainly Ernest Hemingway, and many people like to retrace the famous writer’s steps while they are in the city. One of his favorite hangouts was a fish restaurant and cocktail bar that goes by the name of Floridita and it is still operational today. In fact, this place opened 200 years ago and is still popular as it ever was. The daiquiri, a drink that was invented in Cuba, is particularly good in this bar. (Obispo, La Habana; www.floridita-cuba.com)
- Go Birdwatching in Parque Nacional Cienega de Zapata Cuba is a country with extremely diverse wildlife, and it’s difficult not to be bowled away by all the animals you can see in the various national parks around the country. If you are particularly into birdwatching, the ParqueNacionalCienaga de Zapata is 100% the place for you. Bring along your binoculars and you will be able to spot Cuban Crows, Cuban Parrots, Cuban Peewees, Cuban Pygmy Owls, and many other species besides.
- Visit the Most Stunning Cemetery You Will Ever See in the Western world, cemeteries are more often than not an incredibly sombre affair, but that is not the case in Latin America, and certainly not in Cuba where you can find one of the most grandiose and spectacular cemeteries that exists anywhere in the world, the Necropolis Cristobal Colon. Inside this graveyard you’ll find incredible religious iconography and lots of colour. It’s a good idea to purchase the walking guide from the entrance so you can also discover the tombstones of many famous Cubans as you stroll around. (Calle 12, La Habana)
- Cool off in the Caburni Waterfall While Trinidad is an exceptionally beautiful town, if you find yourself in the town with a longing to escape the streets for some nature, you’re in luck because the Salto de Caburni waterfall is just around the corner. In fact, you can take a brisk 7km hike in one of Cuba’s natural parks, through dense forests and rocky outcroppings to reach this beautiful waterfall. Getting there early is a very good idea, because the natural swimming pool at the bottom of the falls can fill up in the afternoon.
- Stroll Through the Rooms of CapitolioNacional A city full of grandiose and spectacular buildings, the CapitolioNacional in Cuba might just be the most impressive of them all. The building was designed and built following the country’s sugar boom, and it cost a staggering $17 million to build. Actually, this isn’t hard to believe if you take the opportunity to stroll around the building yourself. The whole building was constructed with limestone and granite, giving it a feeling of incredible opulence, and there are many statues and grand artwork throughout the building. (422 Industria, La Habana)
- Enjoy an Evening of Rum Tasting at Casa Del Ron Of course, one of the most famous products that comes from Cuba is rum, and what better way to get acquainted with this delicious tipple than to spend an enjoyable evening sipping on the good stuff? Well, that is exactly what you are invited to do at Casa Del Ron in trendy Varadero. The old building of the Casa is nothing short of stunning, and the selection of rum on the premises is equally impressive. The friendly staff would be more than happy to take you through a guided tasting. (Avenida 1ra, Varadero)
- Learn More About Hemingway’s Life in Cuba Perhaps the most famous expat to have ever lived in Cuba is the writer Ernest Hemingway. During the 1940s, the novelist bought a villa on a hill that lies 15km southeast of the city, and he lived there up until 1960. The inside of the museum has remained completely unchanged since the day the writer left, and the estate has been converted into a museum dedicated to the man, his works, and his life in Cuba. It is quite astounding to see the man’s very own book, record, and antiques collection up close in the place where he actually lived and worked.
Now you know the 11 eleventh coolest things in Cuba. You should also know about casa particular in Cuba. The cheapest and most interesting way to stay in Cuba is via Casa particular, places where you can get to know the real Cuba, it’s culture, its music and a lot more.