Cuba overflows with colourful character, fraught history, faded glamour, crumbling architecture and a vivacious spirit. It’s a fascinating destination where exquisite beaches and bright blue seas contrast with a 1950s time capsule ambience of intoxicating rum, iconic cigars, rhythmic maracas, sweltering rumba and vintage Cadillacs. If you want a holiday that is both blissfully beachy and culturally rich, Cuba will astound in more ways than you could imagine.
Capital city Havana is dusty, busy and crumbling, but of course that’s all part of the allure. This is authentic Cuba, a sultry and surreal step back in time. The Vedado district’s late night bars pump with the sound of congas, güiros and jazz, the face of Che Guevara is imprinted on nearly every wall you pass and a golden statue of Ernest Hemingway stands proudly in his old
drinking haunt El Floridita, where you can enjoy great seafood and a daiquiri or two. People-watch on Havana’s oldest square, La Plaza de Armas, experience Cuban cuisine in a paladar, walk the Spanish colonial quarter’s cobbled streets, watch lightning-quick cigar rolling at the Partagas Factory and cruise in a Chrysler along the oceanfront Malecón promenade.
Travel east to Santiago de Cuba or west to the verdant Viñales Valley, where you can ride on horseback through tobacco farms and take in some of the most spectacular views in Cuba. Built on the fortunes of sugar and now frozen in time, tenderly preserved Trinidad is also a must with its dreamy blend of colonial palaces and mountain scenery. After soaking up the atmosphere of days gone by, it’s time to explore Cuba’s beautiful beaches. Most famous is Varadero, with huge stretches of white-gold sand and luxury resorts, while just off the north coast, amidst palm trees, mangroves and exotic birds, you’ll find the deserted white sands and emerald waters of unspoilt Cayo Santa María.