Travel preparation for different destination areas comes in various shapes and sizes. I know many of us would prefer to nail down certain tour aspects such as making hotel reservations beforehand.
It’s always a smart move but taking care of the most basic tasks such as researching about the destination seems much smarter. This will help you plan your activities during the visit and will make you feel less overwhelmed by the numerous travel-related tasks.
What’s Cuba famous for? Cuba is a very popular country that’s found in the Caribbean. Basically, it’s an island that covers more than 42000 square miles and is endowed with vibrant culture, scenic beaches, and picturesque natural habitats. In fact, most sites in Cuba have the UNESCO World Heritage status and the New York Times once listed the country as the hottest tourist destination.
In this blog post, I have discussed and outlined some very fascinating facts, important tourist attraction sites that you might not want to miss during your tour, and other crucial things that Cuba is most famous for.
The Old City Of Baracoa
Established in 1511, Baracoa is considered the first settlement ever in Cuba. That automatically makes it the oldest city in the country.
That said, the city is most well-known for its idyllic waterfalls, and black sandy beaches. Apart from lounging and bathing yourself crazy, you can also go for a hike at the El Yunque Mountain.
This unique UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is very popular among travelers thanks to its flattop from which you can have the most amazing panoramic view of the sea.
The Unique National Park Of Alejandro De Humboldt
Widely known as Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and the most biologically diverse tropical islands in the world today.
The park is situated on the northern coast of eastern Cuba and houses a wide array of plant and animal life.
Core highlights for your trip here include the unique geographical features, lush forest ecological systems, and endemic species.
Old Is Gold – The Rolling Museum Of Classic American Vehicles
Unlike many tourist destinations, the Cuban streets are filled with lots of American automobiles that date back to the 1940s. You can easily conclude that it’s a moving museum.
This particular scenario is gradually becoming an icon that symbolizes modern-day tourism in the country. It’s quite amazing to see how Cubans have managed to re-engineer these cars and still drive them around with no access to authentic spare parts.
While in Cuba, you can easily get a ride in one of these beautiful and well-maintained “old-timers” that are now meant to drive tourists around.
The Famous Capitol Building
Cuban architects constructed this neoclassical looking building in 1929. Over the years, the Capitol Building was being used as the seat of the country’s government until 1959.
Today, the building is expected to start serving as the new seat for the nation’s parliament. Hence, explaining the grand renovations that began in 2013.
Resembling Washington’s Capitol Building, the Cuban counterpart also has a cupola. This is a dome-shaped ornamental crown put on the roof of a building.
Inside it, is the world’s third-biggest statues that are found indoors. It’s a 17-meter tall structure.
BONUS: Other things that you might also find to be fascinating here include the marble floors, gilded lamps, and elegant gardens.
The Famous Cuban Cigars
The cigar business has been in existence for a while now. Shockingly, this can be traced back to Spain’s King Philip II era.
However, Cuba has always stood out and is best known to produce the best cigars worldwide. The long-term secret behind this is simple.
It’s the excellent weather conditions found in the cigar-growing fields in Vuelta Abajo. A very beautiful region found in western Cuba where cigars are cultivated, manufactured and hand-rolled by the best cigar rollers in the industry.
Almost Zero Processed Foods
Away from the unique architectural buildings, great beaches, and UNESCO World Heritage sites, Cuba is greatly known for its production and consumption of its own fresh foods.
Thanks to its limited access to large stores with manufactured products, your visit here will be highly refreshed by a change of diet and almost zero consumption of processed nourishment.
It’s no surprise that once many of the common tourists taste the mouth-watering delicacies, they usually end up coming back but on special culinary tours.
Valle De Viñales
Found in the ranges of Sierra de Los Órganos Mountain is the sprawling Viñales valley. This aesthetically appealing site is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has small towns, tobacco farms, and lush pine forests to be explored.
While you visit the valley, you can opt to hike, bike, or ride a horse and explore some of the popular trails for tourists.
NOTE: The Viñales valley is also known as the best stop for climbing rocks and watching birds while being acquainted with the rural Cuban lifestyle.
The National Museum Of Fine Arts
Conveying an image of absolute elegance, the national museum of fine arts building was built in 1927.
With a special mix of the Plateresque and Baroque architectural designs heavily borrowed from Spain, the building now houses a collection of international arts.
This offers a great place to learn about Cuban art history ever since colonialism. While you are here, remember to visit the room specifically devoted to featuring works of one Cuban contemporary artists called Wilfredo Lam.
The Home Of Rum
Just as France is famous for champagne, Cuba is well known for its rum. This popular drink is specifically derived from molasses that’s made from sugarcane, which is a top cash crop in Cuba.
According to history, Spaniards introduced sugarcane on the island and later imported slaves of African origin to work in the plantations. This move was the cradle of the drastic changes in the Cuban culture and racial mix-up.
That is a discussion for a later day.
Back to rum, the excellent climatic conditions and dedicated special attention in rum processing makes it the best in the world. To have a taste of this extra crispy, light, and smooth drink, you can visit the Havana based rum museum for samples and highlights of its rich culture.
QUICK FACT: Whenever a rum bottle is opened for the first time, it’s a local tradition to pour some of it to the ground. This is a gesture of appeasing the saints.
The Best Summer Weather Conditions Ever
If you are a hot weather fanatic then Cuba is one vacation spot that should be topping your destination list.
In the summer, the overall weather conditions in Cuba can be best described as intermediate.
It’s neither very wet nor very dry.
A quick exception includes the cool months in the first quarter of every year. Generally, the rest is perfect and all sunny.
If you are wondering that it might be too hot then you shouldn’t worry. With the numerous amazing beaches and swimming pools, you will hardly even realize that it’s hot outside.
Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park
On Cuba’s westernmost side is one isolated area and a beautiful national park called Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park. Within the park is the world-renowned center for diving called Maria la Gorda.
Before you quickly dismiss this site as for divers only, it’s important that you know that it bears a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. This means that even if you are not a diver, your trip here will be filled with spectacular highlights.
These include the uncrowded white sand beach, nesting sites for the endangered sea turtles, mangrove ecosystem, and dense woodland to explore.
Peninsula De Zapata
Are you an enthusiastic nature lover or bird watcher? Well, visiting the remote Peninsula de Zapata will make your trip worthwhile.
To begin with, Peninsula de Zapata is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and harbors about 150 bird species. Some examples of these colorful birds include the endemic bandicoot and parrots.
Being one of the biggest wetlands in the Caribbean, you should know that crocodiles freely roam around the swampy habitats.
NOTE: One famous crocodile farm to visit and watch them up close is Criadero de Cocodrilos.
Cuba- An Innovative Musical Republic
If you are keen enough, right from the airport, you will quickly notice the sound of music coming from almost every corner. Well, music has a special place in the hearts of Cubans.
The country is full of music schools and most social joints such as restaurants usually have live performances.
The people of Cuba are greatly talented and creative too. Some of the music genre that has been invented in the country includes the most beloved rumba, bolero, and the Son of Cubano.
Ideally, touring Cuba’s city of Havana won’t be complete without walking down the world-renowned waterfront called Malecón.
With its conception in the early 1900s, the Malecón today is a 7-kilometer thoroughfare that offers travelers and locals a place to promenade along the sea while viewing the well-kept mix mash of the 20th century’s architectural marvel.
Famously described as the longest sofa in the world, the Malecón can also be termed as an open-air theatre where dancers and musicians come at night to light up the atmosphere along the sea-drive.
TIP: The best time to visit the Malecón would be at sunset so that you may capture the spectacular view in the fading yellowish rays of the setting sun.
Cuba- The Dancing Country
Typically, music always goes hand in hand with dancing. Right? Now that we can agree on this, you can expect the situation in Cuba to be no different.
During your travel in this nation, you might be amazed by how easy and unique it is for the locals to quickly form dancing circles out of thin air and display some very sophisticated moves while switching partners.
To some point, this might seem like their dancing technique is hereditary and written somewhere in their gene code.
Just like they invented the Son of Cubano music genre, salsa also has its roots from Cuba as well as other Caribbean countries.
While you are here, you should live a little and learn a move or two before resuming your usual busy lifestyle.
The Meandering Cuyaguateje River
Down Southern Cuba is a famous river in the world known as Cuyaguateje River. Its meandering and weaving nature has earned the river a distinct spot in the world.
In fact, its name loosely translates to “whose waters meander or weaves.”
With its unique hydrography, the Cuyaguateje River cuts through several Cuban municipalities before draining its waters into the Caribbean Sea. A highlight for your trip here could be taking a selfie with the amazing picturesque background of the meandering river.
The Remote Yet Popular Maria La Gorda
As we had noted earlier, Maria la Gorda is a well-known center for diving is located in the westernmost parts of the country in a province called Pinar del Rio.
Maria la Gorda is one of the most remote and isolated sites in Cuba.
This laid-back site is vastly popular by travelers who love diving and snorkeling. Other sightseeing features that you might also enjoy are the smooth reefs, perfectly intact beaches, and the serene environment.
The Historical Desembarco Del Granma National Park
Back in time, the Castro brothers and other revolutionaries arrived in Cuba in a special yacht called Granma. The Desembarco del Granma National Park was then named for remembrance and honor of this landing.
Today, things are very different in this region compared to the Castro era. Away from the thrilling actions of the past that filled the atmosphere of this coastal park, tourists now visit the site to explore amazing reefs, mangrove ecosystems, and waterfalls.
Some of the highlights that you might enjoy during your visit here include the unique marine-based limestone terraces, endemic wildlife species, and golden serenity for your peace of mind. Who knows, you might end up writing a bestselling book while here.
The Old Havana Municipality
Locally referred to as Habana Vieja, Old Havana is another UNESCO World Heritage status bearing municipality in Cuba. This particular city-center archives the countries historical heritage.
Most of the buildings and structures along its cobbled streets such as the Catedral de San Cristobal are fantastic examples of the captivating architectural mix of neoclassical and baroque designs.
During your visit to Old Havana, you might want to spend some of your time at the Bodeguita del Medio.
This is a famous restaurant that the most celebrated writer, Ernest Hemingway, used to hang out from.
BONUS: Another popular joint within the municipality to have your cool “mojito” from is the elegant town square called Plaza Vieja.
Cuba’s Unique Shape
If you took a keen look at the world map today, you will quickly realize that all the countries in it have very varied shapes and sizes.
Interestingly enough, it might sound odd but Cuba is well known to stand out due to its unique overall shape.
Now, if you keenly looked at it online, you can agree with me that its shape resembles a crocodile that is sleeping. Right?
Inspired by this odd fact, there is a very popular song in the country, which praises its unique shape.
The Paradise Beach of Tenerife
Originally and locally known as Playa Paraíso, it is a scenic beach in Southwest Cuba that seems like a paper-cut from a magazine.
This piece of heaven is found on an island called Cayo Largo del Sur in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (don’t get confused with Tenerife in Spain)
Highlights for your travel here include clear blue ocean waters, white sand beaches that feel soft on your skin, and clear sunny skies perfect for lounging and relaxing.
The Highest And Longest Sierra Maestra Mountain Range
Found in the Granma region lies the Sierra Maestra Mountain range. Historically, the range is best known as the famous hideout spot for Castro and his revolutionary brothers in the 1950s.
Geographically, the Sierra Maestra offers perfect sites for hiking and if you happen to trail southwards, you will be amazed at how close the mountain stretches nearly sitting on the coastline.
The mountain has an elevation of 1974 meters and Pico Turquino is its highest point.
The Iconic Trinidad
Coming in hot after Old Havana, Trinidad, a local Cuban town found in Sancti Spiritus Province also archives a collection of Cuban historical heritage dating back to the 1800s.
It also bears a UNESCO designated status and still has an impressive set of colonial structures and buildings along its cobbled roads.
The town is home to some of the best beaches in the country such as Playa Ancon, which is chained by rooftop restaurants offering the best spots to extensively view the picturesque pastels in the town.
Due to its narrow streets, this old town only allows tourists and locals to freely roam around the town and market places either on foot or at the back of a horse.
You should, therefore, remember to pack a pair of your most comfortable shoes.