Cuba at a glance
By Fiona Dunlop
You can’t cover it all, as the island straggles roughly 1000km east to west. Havana, with its time-warped architecture, louche bars, restaurants and thriving culture is a must-see starting-point. Just east is Varadero, the main beach resort, on a 25km-long spit of dazzling white sand. Fly further east to Santiago de Cuba, the second music-crazed city, with decent beaches, or rent a car to explore the central colonial towns of Trinidad, Santa Clara and Cienfuegos. Other offerings are beautiful cays off the north coast, diving in the south-west, eco-tourism in the west, and contrasting desert and forest in the east, including the rugged Sierra Maestra where Fidel and his band once hid out. Hotels range from family bed and breakfasts to all-inclusive beach resorts and superbly restored, state-owned splendours in Havana. Food varies but paladares (private restaurants) are now on the up and mojitos are of course ubiquitous.
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- Best for:
- Fantastic music, dancing salsa, lazing on a beach, trekking through forest or delving into history, all enriched by helpful, outgoing Cubans.
- What for:
- Culture & heritage, Beach, Music
- Not for:
- Golf, Cricket
- How to get there:
- Frequent direct flights to Havana from UK and Europe, Cancun and Canada. Varadero, Santiago and Holguin also have direct international flights
- Top tip:
- Isla de la Juventud, off the south coast, allegedly the inspiration for Treasure Island
Or read our other island guides
Anguilla | Antigua | Aruba | Bahamas | Barbados | Bermuda | Bonaire | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Cuba | Curacao | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada and Carriacou | Guadeloupe | Haiti | Jamaica | Martinique | Montserrat | Nevis | Puerto Rico | Saba | St Barthélemy | St Eustatius | St Kitts | St Lucia | St Martin/St Maarten | St Vincent and the Grenadines | Tobago | Trinidad | Turks & Caicos Islands | US Virgin Islands
Looking for inspiration?
- Learn to Salsa where it all started in Havanna
- Sunbathe on the 25km stretch of sand at Varadero
- Explore the colonial towns of Trinidad and Santa Clara
- Hike the eco-trails of the West Coast
- Explore the desert/forest of the Sierra Maestra
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