7 Charming Places to Visit in Cuba

Most travelers to Cuba have one thing in common; they tend to stick with the better-known areas of Havana, Varadero or Cayo Coco. Unfortunately for those travelers they are missing out on an abundance of charming towns that offer vacationers an unforgettable experience. If you really want to experience authentic rum, cigars, Rumba music and classic 50’s cars, there is no better place to visit than these seven charming small towns.

7. Baracoa

Cuba’s oldest and most isolated town is located over the hills and on the wet and windy side of the Cuchillos del Toa Mountains. Don’t let that steer you away from experiencing the atmosphere and people here, best described as mysterious, surreal, outlandish and hallucinogenic. Secluded beaches and virgin rainforests begging to be explored surround the unspoiled colonial village. You won’t find any fancy hotels or resorts here either, visitors will stay in casa particular or as we know them a bed and breakfast. Expect home cooked meals of fried chicken, beans, sweet plantains or fresh seafood. This is the land of great rainfall and many rivers, which means the lush green vegetation thrives and visitors shouldn’t miss boating between the tall cliffs at the mouth of the Yumuri River. Head into the mountains to see the stone zoo, where a farmer who taught himself to sculpt has created over 400 animals out of the original stone. Baracoa, largely undiscovered and the perfect charming small town to discover in Cuba.

Baracoa cuba

6. Matanzas

Welcome to the ‘real Cuba’ is a phrase that is often associated with Matanzas. The city offers little in the way of standard tourist sights but offers a ton of under-the-radar pleasures. This town is the home of Cuba’s finest provincial theaters and is the birthplace of most of the eloquent poets and writers. Two forms of Cuban music were hatched here, the danzon and rumba, along with various religions of African origin. It is a town loaded with interesting history and thriving with cultural life. There are a few beaches here, close to the downtown center where locals are often seen swimming and fishing and visitors are always welcome to join. More than likely though you will be listening to some drummers in the Marina neighborhood, hanging with the artists and dancing the nights away on the streets. Expect to stay in casa particular, eat amazing freshly made food and meet some of the most interesting people in the country.

Matanzas cuba

5. Santiago de Cuba

Located on the southern edge of Cuba, this is the second most important city in Cuba after Havana and one of two things will happen when you visit; you will love it or hate it. This city can be taken one of two ways, the first as a hot city full of hustlers and hagglers or a charming cultural capital that has played an extremely important part in Cuban cultural history. Nowhere else in Cuba will you find such a mix of diverse people and history, Castro used this city to launch his nationalistic revolution, the first rum factory was built here and just about every Cuban music genre first emanated from here. Tourists here are welcomed with open arms and there are plenty of hotels and casa particular to stay in, whether on the beach or in the city. Stroll through the winding streets, have picnics in the shady parks or tour the museums and theater and discover this charming city in Cuba.

Santiago de Cuba

4. Holguin

They say that Christopher Columbus took his first step onto Cuba here, and whether that is true or not, the people of Holguin will fiercely defend that statement. This is the place where you will find the most intimate and picturesque beaches in Cuba, with warm turquoise waters and thick vegetation. Holguin is not just a town but an actual province as well, and many small towns make up this area. Most visitors here choose to spend their time snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, horseback riding and cycling. The city of Holguin is known for its beautiful parks, public squares and cultural centers. One of the most unique Holguin attractions is the Museo Indocubano in Banes, which has an impressive collection of artifacts from pre-Columbian Cuban culture. Whether you stay in one of the larger resorts or choose to stay in the actual town of Holguin, it won’t disappoint.

Holguin beach cuba

3. Camaguey

It is the most Spanish of the Cuban cities and it is here where you can still see kids kicking balls in the street and old men and women sitting on the stoops watching the people pass by. Walking around this town is one of the favorite things to do, the streets are designed like a maze and it is easy to get lost for hours wandering around. The historic center is considered one of the largest and best preserved on the island and the towering lavish churches delight visitors. One of the more unique features in this town is the decorative tinajones (earthenware jars) on the streets. The people of Camagüey originally produced the jars to collect rainwater during a drought and now they are a decorative trademark. Art galleries and public squares invite visitors in, and don’t be surprised if you end up leaving here with more than one piece of art.

Camaguey cuba

2. Cienfuegos

This charming waterfront city is situated on the bay of the same name and is truly a picturesque nautical setting, earning its name “the Pearl of the South”. The reefs along the coastline are absolutely stunning and draw divers from all over the world, as well as kayakers and boaters who look forward to the calm waters. The architecture in this city also draws visitors who look forward to discovering the imposing fortresses and the Cultural Center. It is also here where you will find the longest street lined with trees in Cuba. There is no shortage of parks, bars, restaurants and hotels to entertain any visitors to the area.

Cienfuegos cuba

1. Trinidad

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is largely unknown when it comes to visitors outside of the country but we highly suggest making your way here on your next visit to Cuba. This charming town is full of museums and many proclaim that the actual town itself is just one big museum. The clip clop sounds of horse hooves play out on the cobblestone streets while local men sell bread from their bicycle baskets. But don’t be fooled by this sleepy town, there is quite the happening nightlife that takes place after the sun goes down. Visit one of two discos, especially the one that is located inside the cave or visit one of the new private restaurants that have popped up in recent years. Cultural walking tours, cycles to the beach and steam train trips are just a slice of what you can do here in this town.

Trinidad cuba

12 Amazing Airbnb Rentals in Cuba

With a surge of popularity thanks to travel restriction changes for Americans, gone are the days when the only way to see the beautiful country of Cuba was by booking a week at a secluded all-inclusive resort. More and more travelers are moving away from this style of travel and instead opting to immerse themselves in the local flavor and culture. The philosophy behind Airbnb is about connecting people to unique travel experiences at any price point, from budget to luxury, and having the opportunity to feel ‘at home’ in any country. With this style of travel being all the rage these days it’s no wonder that many rentals are popping up all around the country at every price point imaginable so let’s take a look at 12 awesome rentals in the Caribbean island of Cuba:

12. Stylish Spanish Mansion in Habana –La Habana

$60 USD/Night

If you’re looking for affordable charm in Havana, look no further than this Spanish-style mansion that rents by the room. Guests have access to a communal lounge, kitchen, dining room, rooftop area, and picturesque patio gardens. With an old-fashioned interior design, this house is the perfect home away from home. Its prime location makes sightseeing easy as the house is a 10 minute walk from the the beautiful waterfront boardwalk in Malecon, a popular destination in Havana.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

11. CF-2.2 Sun and Sea at Casa –Punta Gorda, Cienfuegos

$63 USD/Night

Sun and Sea at Casa is exactly how it sounds: a beautiful living space in the Punta Gorda area with an open terrace supporting an extended dock that allows renters to walk out onto the ocean. Swing in the sun in a hammock on the patio or sit and listen to the relaxing sounds of the ocean in one of the many lounges on the garden patio. This small and secluded sea view location is a tropical paradise for two – pina colada anyone?

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

10. Amazing location in Old Havana –Old Havana

$89USD/Night

This newly renovated two bedroom apartment located on a bustling street in Old Havana is lined with interior brick and includes one bath and three beds. Situated in a prime tourist spot, guest can step out the door and take a walk down the narrow cobblestone streets of Plaza de San Francisco or sit by the ‘fountain of lions’ and soak in the pleasures of a warm Cuban afternoon. Who needs a resort when exploring on your own is so much more exhilarating. Visit any of the various shops and restaurants located in the square, or take a stroll through the vibrant Plaza Vieja, one of the most popular squares in Old Havana.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

9. CASA AZUL –Santiago de Cuba

$25USD/Night

Located in the second largest city in Cuba, this rental home can accommodate up to four travelers with one bedroom, one bathroom and two beds. A recognized location by TripAdvisor in 2014 as a top travelers choice, this two storey house includes a secluded terrace with hanging greenery overlooking the bay. If you’re looking for something nearby, the historical Cespedes park, a central spot in the town with food and entertainment is only two blocks away.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

8. Hostal Refugio de Reyes –Holguin

$29USD/Night

This Holguin hostal was built in 1953 and can house up to three traveling guests with one third floor apartment and two main level rooms. The upper level apartment has a spacious outdoor terrace that offers spectacular sunset views and your very own private sunbathing spot. Sit back and relax on the main level – this outdoor patio is a tranquil green oasis with a garden of fruit trees and pond of exotic fish. The house is a seven minute walk from downtown and offers an array of available activities to renters. There is available parking so be sure to rent a car because it’s only an hour drive to some of the nicest beaches on the island!

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

7. Villa Moriah room with garden –Guardalavaca

$30USD/Night

Journey over to the northeast coast of Cuba and stay at the Villa Moriah where two guests can stay in a room with one bed and bathroom. This one level house has a small cottage feel with a private gated entrance, free parking, beautiful garden and outdoor terrace where you can sit and enjoy a meal. It’s a great spot for a quick vacation near Playa Guardalavaca, a hot tourist spot with white sandy beaches and warm waters.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

6. Superbe villa en bordure de mer –Juan Gonzalez

$120USD/Night

Translation: superb villa by the sea. This house sleeps six with one bedroom, three beds and two bathrooms. In a hot and dry climate you’ll be more than happy to cool off with a quick dip in backyard pool which looks out onto the ocean. Located 30 minutes from the city of Santiago, there is no shortage of things to do for tourists. People looking for a little adventure can try paragliding or swimming with dolphins, and those that are simply looking for a little bit of fun can stop by one of the nearby beaches or explore the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

5. Santa Lucia Beach –Playa Santa Lucia

$30USD/Night

The highlight of this rental property is the backyard gazebo designed for friendly gatherings and backyard cookouts. Just a short walk to the beach, this house sleeps six people and is rented by the room with two bedrooms, bathrooms and beds. Guests can wander through the city of Camaguey, but you’ll have to bring a map, this city is nicknamed ‘the maze’ because of its winding narrow streets. It has a vibrant history making it simply a sight to see, but there’s also plenty to do with many squares and parks to visit.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

4. Casa Santo Domingo –Trinidad

$22USD/Night

This colonial house in downtown Trinidad has a lively location with the beach down the street and city center just steps away, no rental car is necessary. Trinidad has a strong cultural heritage, with colorful houses and red brick streets, wandering off to the market and stores is an exploration  in itself. The house has two rooms to rent, each with two separate beds and one bathroom to share. Similar to a hotel, there is attentive service and a quiet atmosphere with access to WiFi, making it a popular business accommodation.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb

3. Hostal Casa Blanca –Cienfuegos

$34USD/Night

This modern home offers a very comfortable and relaxing experience for guests located in the middle of a quiet neighbourhood near the Malecon. As an added plus, this location offers price quotes for nightly, weekly and monthly accommodation. With two rooms to rent, each supporting its own bathroom and terrace, the house sleeps five people and offers a communal patio for gathering outdoors to enjoy a little rest and relaxation.

Photo by: Airbnb

2. RHPLOF03 4BR Luxury Villa with Pool –La Habana

$500USD/Night

With high price comes high class! This Spanish Colonial Style Villa is a modern mansion in the middle of an exclusive upscale Siboney neighborhood and requires a three night minimum stay. The house can accommodate eight people in total, with four bedrooms (four beds), four bathrooms including three full baths with a shower and one half bath. The outside is just as luxurious as the inside. A big terrace with an outdoor kitchen and bar leads out to the large gardens and comes equipped with a king size pool that has plenty of surrounding green space and poolside lounges.

Photo by: Airbnb

1. Tropicana Luxury Vacation Penthouse –La Habana

$180USD/Night

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to this luxury penthouse at the top of a 10 storey building near the El Malecon oceanfront and walking distance of the city’s finest restaurants. Described as a couples retreat located near the city’s finest restaurants and entertainment in a restored 1950’s building, it accommodates two guests with one bedroom and one bathroom. Prepare to be swept away with a large outdoor terrace that offers 360 degree panoramic views of the city. This tropical paradise comes at a high price with the extra cost of a security deposit and cleaning fee.

Photo by: Airbnb
Photo by: Airbnb