Discover Cuba - one week itinerary

Author: Wendy Maes "World Wide Wendy"

If I have to name one destination that you have to visit right now, it’s Cuba.  Since the United States lifted the embargo, I am sure the country will change rapidly.  So if you want to experience the real Cuba, you have to book your trip now.

To discover the entire island, you need at least 2 or 3 weeks. 

 

We only had 1 week so here’s an itinerary to discover the highlights.

Plaza del Cathedral

Havana - Day One

Vedado Plaza is the modern part of the city.  It’s not the most attractive part, but it has a few things you have to see:

  • The Malecon: is the promenade along the sea.  It’s best to visit the place in the evening because it’s the place where Cubans gather.

  • Plaza de la Revolucion:  this famous square and many of the surrounding buildings are constructed in 1952 and was called Plaza Civica at that time.  After Fidel Castro’s victory is was renamed as Plaza de la Recolucion.  It’s the cultural and political heart of the country.  In the middle of the square you will find a 109 m high monument in honor of Jose Marti.  You can enter the monument and take a lift to the top.  On the buildings around the square you will see pictures of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

  • Necropolos Colon: a giant cemetry.  With nearly 2 million graves it’s one of the biggest cemeteries in the world.  It’s declared a national monument because of the many sculptures.

  • John Lennon Park: always wanted to sit ona bench with John Lennon?  It’s possible over here.

Centro Habana and Prado is the area just outside the old city.   The highlights over here are:

  • Parque Central: this park was created in 1877 and it’s surrounded by beautiful buildings.  Hotel Inglaterra, Palacio del Centro Asturiano, Gran Teatro de la Habana and Hotel Parque Central just to name a few.  Go up to the rooftop terrace of Hotel Parque Central to sip a cocktail and enjoy the amazing view.

  • Capitolio: situated right behind Parque Central. Build and 1929 as a railwaystation.  From 1959 the governement was located here and nowadays it’s home to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.  Part of the building is open to the public, including the amazing library.   The exterior of the building is inspired by the Capitol in Washington.

  • Best placet o buy cigars: Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagos (situated right behin the Capitolio).

  • Go for a cocktail to Sloppy Joe, Hemingways favourite bar (situated besides Hotel Parque Central)

A perfect way to get around in Havanna

Havana - Day Two

Habana Vieja is the old town.  It’s on the Unesco Worldheritage list.  They started restoring this beautiful historic center.

Visit the following highlights:

  • Bodeguito del Medio: again one of Hemingway’s favourite bars.  It’s close tot he Plaza de la Catedral.  The bar was a grocery store at first (halfway up the street).

  • Plaza de la Catedral is the highlight of Habana Vieja.  It’s supposed to be the most beautiful  cathedral in Latin America.

  • Convento de Santa Clara: a huge 17th century monastery.

  • Convento de Belen: another beautiful monastery.  Restoration works were almost finished in March 2017.

  • Calle Obispo: one of the most famous and characteristic streets of Havana.  Don’t forget to visit the old pharmacy.

  • Plaza de Armas is a cosy square.  Palacio de los Capitanes Generals is worth a visit.

Wendy from World Wide Wendy

Havana - Day Three

If you want to escape the city, visit Parque Almendares.  It a little forest in Havana.  In case you prefer the beach, Playas del Este is the placet o be.  It’s a 20 minutes drive outside of town.

Vinales - Day Four

Drying Tobacco Leaves

Vinales is situated in western Cuba and about 2 hours drive from Havana.  There are many places to stay, but it’s also possible to make a daytrip from Havana.  Suggestion: rent a vintage car with driver to take you to the tobacco region.

  • Visit a plantation

  • Enjoy the amazing scenery in Pinar del Rio.

  • Have lunch in the village of Vinales and take a walk through the main street with it’s coloured houses.

  • Explore a cave.  For instance Cueva del India is a good choice.  Don’t forget to taste a glass of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.

Cienfuegos and Santa Clara - Day Five

Santa Clara

  • Santa Clara is mostly known for the monument ‘Comandante Ernesteo Che Guevara’.  It’s a huge monument in honour of Che Guevara.  At the back of the monument you can enter the museum and mausoleum.

  • Tren Blindado Monument is just outside the center.  It’s a museum in a couple of train wagons.  Che Guevara and 300 guerillas conquered over 3000 Batista soldiers over here by derailing a train.

  • Between Santa Clara and Trinidad you are in the middle of the Valle de los Ingenios.  This was the sugar region during the 19th century.  The entire valley is on the Unesco World Heritage list.   The village Iznaga, near Sancti Spiritus is a nice place to take a rest.  You can visit the Manava Iznaga plantation over here.

El Commendante - The statue of Che Guevara

Cienfuegos

This port town is situated on one of the most beautiful bays in the Carribean and is calles ‘The Pearl of the South’.    Benny Moré, a famous Cuban singer was from Cienfuegos.

  • Parque Marti: in the middle you will find the ‘zero kilometer’, the center of town.  The parque is surrounded by beautiful buildings

  • Palacio de Valle: Batisto changed in into a casino.  Nowadays it’s a restaurant.

Trinidad - Day Six

Trinidad is the most charming place in Cuba (according to me).  Cobbled roads, beautiful squares and cure coloured houses.   People ride on their horse through the streets.  You can imagine how life was a few centurie sago.   The entire town is lasted as Unesco World Heritage.

Trinidad

Visit the following highlights:

  • Iglesia Y Convento de San Fransisco: Build in 1853 and the symbol of Trinidad.  The convent was destroyed in 1920 and only the tower remains

  • Canchanchara: 18th century bar where they serve the original Canchanchara, the slaves drink.

  • Bodeguita del Medio: Trinidad has it’s own Bodeguita del Medio, inspired by the one in Havana

  • Casa de la Trova: the place where the nationalist secret society ‘La Rosa de Cuba’ met.  Today it’s a restaurant.  You recognize it by the abundance of pink flowers.

  • Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad: a beautiful charch on Plaza Mayor.  There is an 18th century wooden statue inside.

Havana - Day Seven

End your holiday on one of the white sandy beaches.  Palm trees, crystal blue water and a rum cocktail (and maybe a cigar, but I don’t want to encourage you to smoke).

For more Travel Guides and Itineraries; visit my site World Wide Wendy!

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