Cuba is a fascinating large Caribbean island. Unlike anything else in the world, it combines centuries’ old Spanish influences with the imprints of the Che Guevara revolution.
Yank Tanks – old US-made cars imported in the 50s stand side by side with old men playing dominoes on the footpaths. There is a timelessness to Cuba, the world seems to have passed it by, and only now when getting to Cuba on the cheap has become possible, have travellers realized what a great destination this mystifying country is really.
Cuba has had a turbulent and unique history. Decades of Spanish colonial rule were replaced by the Batista dictatorship. Till the beginning of the Cuban revolution in 1959, it was a popular tourist destination for the residents of the United States.
Many of them had their own holiday villas here, but the Castro led revolution resulted in a closing down of the tourist industry and it is only recently that the avenues of travel have begun to open up. Decades of US embargoes have left their mark on the economy, yet it still is a captivating country to visit.
Places to Visit
Havana, Cuba’s old capital should be seen on foot. It has the majestic Cathedral de San Cristobal de la Habana and the giant monument of the revolutionary, Che Guevara. There are no billboards or advertisements in this vintage city, but there are bustling new hotels catering to the adventurous travelers. Also, do remember that Havana is the birthplace of the mojito!
Vinales is one of Cuba’s most beautiful areas which can also be explored as part of a walking tour. Trinidad offers you clean beaches and Spanish style churches. Music echoes from every corner and you can join salsa classes or just visit some of the lovely nightclubs here.
Travelling Around the Country
Getting to Cuba is quite easy and cheap. It is well connected with all major Caribbean islands. It is easy to move around in buses in the country, which are large and air-conditioned. The rates are fairly reasonable and they connect with all the tourist destinations in the country. Do not try to make reservations online, the websites rarely work. In the cities, walking is the best option, since taxis are quite expensive.
Knowing Spanish is definitely an advantage in this country! Hitchhiking is encouraged with special Amarillo stops where motorists are meant to pick up hitchhikers. It is probably the cheapest way to travel around Cuba.
When to Go?
The best season to visit Cuba is the time between December and April. The dry winter weather is pleasant and the hot and humid summer season should be avoided.
Cuba is struggling to build an infrastructure to suit the rising number of tourists. It has not yet been hit by the rising travel costs all over the world, and the hotels and restaurants still cost less than other popular tourist destinations. Do not expect efficiency and smoothly running setups, but look forward to a unique, mysterious and a fascinating island.