53 (+7 for Havana)
110V. Some hotels and casas have 220V outlets additionally
International Dialling Code:
GMT minus 5 hours.
April to Sept. is daylight saving time (minus 4 hours)
U.S. Naval Base
Havana, pop. 2.2 million
CIEGO DE AVILA
Bay of Pigs
Cuban Peso - M.N (US$1=24M.N),
Peso Convertible CUC – (US$1=1CUC)
Isla de la
MARIA LA GORDA
PINAR DEL RIO
Republic of Cuba
Cuba - Quick Facts
Viazul Bus Terminal
TO AIRPORT 12km
Plaza de la
TO HABANA DEL ESTE
Bahia de La
Havana: Page 1
Havana: Page 2
Population Havana: 2,200,000
Population Old Havana: 60,000
SAN SALVADOR DE
HABANA CUART EL CASTILLO/
MONUMENT TO GENERAL
FORTALEZA DE SAN
CARLOS DE LA CABAÑA
PIECE OF OLD
COSTUDIO ICE CREAM
SEE “OLD HABANA
REST EL RUM RUM
PLAZA DE LA
CASA DE LA
PLAZA DE ARMAS
VIRTUDES WEDDING PALACE
DIO O’REILLY HOTEL (good works for sale)
N BANCO DE CREDTIO de Oro
$ ATM + CADECA
BISP ETECSA NUMISMATICO
ROYAL BANK OF CANADA
HANDICRAFT IGLESIA SAN
BALSA DE LA
MARKET FELIPE DE NEREO
Plaza de San
MUSEO NACIONAL DE BELLAS ARTES
SANTO CRISTO AMARGU
BUEN VIAJE CHURCH
CINE PAYRET Monserrate
(TENIENTE REY )
SPORTS ARENA Ven a MiCristo
IGLESIA Y CONVENTO
DE SANTA TERESA
SIA KARA CAFE
HOTEL SARATOGALas Ursulinas
Parque de la
DE BELEN CHURCH
AV SIMON BOLIVAR
CASA NATAL DE
VAPOR LA COUBRE
IGLESIA Y CONVENTO
BOXING RING AND GYM “RAFAEL TREJO”
DE NUESTRA SEÑORA
DE LA MERCED
MUSEUM OF THE
BIRTH PLACE OF JOSE MARTI
Parque de Los
Old Havana Core
REY ) LA MARINA RESTAURANT
‘CASA DEL CAFE’
DE SANTA BRIGIDA
CASA DE LA
(and Havana Club
HOTEL BELTRAN DE
CUBAN WATCH SHOP
MUSEO DE PALACIO
NAIPES CUETO HOTEL
CASA DE LOS
DE ASIS CHURCH
CASA DEL CONDE DE
SAN ESTEBAN DE
TABERNA DE LA
LITTLE TIN SOLDIER SHOP
FUENTE DE LOS
CASA DE CULTURA
SANTO ANGEL +
upstairs SHOE SHOP
CAFE DON JULIO
LA CASA DEL
BANK / ATM
DE SAN FELIPE
HISTORIC MUSEUM OF
JARDINES DEL ORIENTE
Plazuela de RAQUEL
OLD CAR MUSEUM
HOSTAL CONDE Rumiñahui
DE VILLANUEVA PALADAR
CASA MUSEO DE LIBERTADOR
CASA DE LA
CASERON DE TANGO
TORRE DE MARFIL
PERFUME SHOP “1790”
HOUSE OF SPICES
CASA DE BENITO
MUSEO DE ASIA
CASA DE AFRICA
CASA DEL CAFE
DE LA BAHIA
CASA DE LA
NAO BAR PALADAR
LIBRARY OF ISABEL
CLUB LOS MARINOS
CASA DEL TABACO/
MUSEO DEL TABACO
$ CADECA + ATM’S
(Good jewellery shop inside)
SCALE MODEL OF
QUITRIN HOTEL AMBOS
CASA DE LA
EDR CASA DE CONDE
PLAZA DE LA
GABINETE DE LA
MURAL OF HABANA
DE LA GRAFICA (Interesting
prints for sale)
FUNDACION ALEJO CUBANA PALADAR
Havana: Page 3
Old Havana (Habana Vieja) is the area that, in the colonial times,
lay within the 4,892m long fortified walls. Remnants of this wall
can be seen near the main train station.
Paseo de Marti (colloquially known as “El Prado”) is a kilometerlong tree-lined boulevard that slopes from the harbour mouth to
the Central Park. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was Havana’s
most notable thoroughfare with mansions of aristocratic families
rising on either side. The paseo - daily carriage ride - along the
boulevard was an important social ritual. Today it is used as an
important and very pleasant public space. An art fare is usually
held here on weekends. Many buildings of arquetectural and historic interest can be found along the Prado including the most
stunning example of Moorish design - the Hotel Sevilla.
The Central Park is the social epicenter of Habana Vieja. The
park is paved in pink slabs and presided over by the statue of Jose
Marti. Baseball fanatics gather here at a place called the “hot
corner” to discuss and argue about baseball. It is surrounded by
hotels of historic importance.
The Cafe Louvre (in front of the hotel) is a good place to relax
and have a sandwich. It was a focal point for bohemian society and for rebellions against Spanish rule. A plaque outside the
hotel entrance honours the “lads of the Louvre side-walk” who
died for Cuban independence. The hotel interior boasts elaborate wrought-ironwork, patterned tiles, and as a sensuous life-size
statue of a Spanish dancer - La Sevillana. On the roof top there
is a bar with a great view, which usually has live music nightly.
Parque de la Fraternidad
This park was laid out in 1892 to commemorate the fourth centennial of Columbus’ discovery of America. The Friendship Tree
was planted in its centre in 1928 to cement goodwill between the
nations of the Americas. It is surrounded by busts of outstanding
American leaders such as Simon Bolivar and Abraham Lincoln.
Museo de la Revolucion
Built in 1920 this building was used as the Presidential Palace.
Following the Revolution, it was converted into Havana’s most
important Museum. Rooms are divided chronologically, from
the colonial period to the modern day. Don’t miss “Cretins’ Corner” which pokes fun at Batista, Ronald Reagan, and George
Bush. At the rear, in the former palace gardens, is the Granma
that brought Castro, Guevara, and other revolutionaries from
Mexico to Cuba in 1956. It is surrounded by vehicles used in
the revolutionary war. There is also a turbine from the U-2 spy
plane downed during the missile crisis in 1962. $8
This restaurant and bar was made famous by Ernest Hemmingway who frequented here to consume his beloved Daiquiries.
The cocktail is served in dozens of varieties for $6. The novelist’s seat is preserved as a shrine (a chain prevents anyone from
sitting on it).
Plaza de la Catedral
This exquisite cobbled square is Habana Vieja at its most quintessential. Its main feature is the stunning baroque San Cristobal Cathedral, open Mon to Sat 10:30am to 2pm, Sunday 9am
to noon. However, more often than not it is closed except for
Mass (Mon, Tue, Thurs, and Fri at 7:15am and 8:15pm, and Sun
Centro Wilfredo Lam
The current neo-baroque facade drips with caryatids and has four
towers, each tipped by a white marble angel reaching gracefully
for heaven. It functions as a theatre for the national Ballet and
Opera. Currently under restoration (July 2013).
This art centre, on the corner of the plaza, displays works by the
eponymous Cuban artist as well as artists from many developing nations (primarily Latin America), and studies and promotes
contemporary art from around the world. It also features a large
music store. Mon-Fri and alternative Sat 10am-5pm, $2.
Museo National de Bella Artes
La Bodeguita del Medio
The fine arts museum is in two separate buildings - one for the
international section, and one for the national. Both open TuesSat 10am to 6pm, Sun 10am to 2pm. Entrance for either is $5,
and both is $8. Guided tours $2. The international section is displayed on 5 floors and boasts Latin America’s richest collection
of classical antiquities, including Roman, Greek, and Egyptian
statutory and artworks. The displays are separated by nationality.
The national section exhibits more than 1,200 works covering a
complete spectrum of Cuban paintings, engravings, sketches and
sculptures, laid out according to themes in 24 room.
This statuesque building which dominates Havana’s skyline was
built in the 1920’s as Cuba’s House of Government and was obsequiously designed after Washington’s own Congress building.
Now it is the headquarters of the Academy of Sciences and the
National Library. It features a massive bronze sculpture of Cuba’s
voluptuous Indian maiden which is the worlds third tallest indoor
statue after the gold Buddha in Japan, and the Lincoln Memorial
in Washington D.C.. Open daily 9am to 7pm daily, entrance $3,
guided tours $1. Currently under restoration (July 2013).
Asociacion Cultural Yoruba de Cuba
This cultural centre has a museum dedicated to the various orishas of Santeria - the most popular Afro-Cuban religion in Cuba.
Open Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, $10. They host a Peña with traditional
Afro-Cuban music each Sunday 5-8pm, $5.
Partagas Cigar Factory
Havana’s most famous tobacco factory is housed in a striking 4
story building with Spanish style facade and with a roofline of
baroque curves topped by lions.
Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite watering hole is half a block
west of the Cathedral. There is a bar at the front with quite
a good restaurant at the back. The house drink is the mojito.
Adorning the walls is an impressive collection of photos of famous visitors.
Palacio de los Capitanes Generales
This palace located on the beautiful Plaza de Armas, was home
to 65 successive governors of Cuba in the 19th century, the U.S.
Governor during the U.S. occupation, and up until 1920, it was
seat of the Cuban government. It now houses the City of Habana
Museum, which displays the most exquisite furniture and furnishings in Cuba. 9am to 6pm daily, $3, guide $1.
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco
This is probably the most spectacularly decorated church in
Cuba. Members of the most aristocratic families of the times
were buried in the crypt - some bodies are open to view. This
cathedral serves as a concert hall with classical music performances being hosted each Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 11am
(except July and August). Outside the church, a life-size bronzed
statue of an erstwhile and once-renowned tramp known as El
Caballero de Paris graces the sidewalk in front of the cathedral
entrance. Many Cubans believe that touching his beard will
bring good luck. 4cuc entry fee.
Museo de Ron
The Rum museum occupies the former harbour front colonial
mansion of the Count de la Mortera. It provides an introduction
to the mystery and manufacture of Cuban rum. Mon to Fri 9am
to 5pm, Sat 9am to 4pm, Sun 10am to 4pm, $12 including guide
and drink. Also hosts a Buena Vista style show Sun, Mon, Thurs
nights at 9:15pm, $30, includes a couple of drinks and a cigar.
Havana: Page 4
Maqueta de la Habana Vieja
This 1:500 scale model of Habana Vieja measures 8 by 4 meters,
with every building delineated and colour coded by use. 9am to
6pm, $1, guide $1.
One of only a few in the world, this impressive representation of
the Cosmos is a Japanese investment. You have to phone on Mondays (between 9:30 and 4pm) to be able to book a visit during the
week (Wed to Sun 10am to 4pm) 07-8649544/43. $10.
Casa de Obra Pia
One of the most important buildings in the region, the House of
Charitable Works, combines two adjacent houses that were later
combined. Its a splendid mansion built by Don Martin Calvo who
devoted a portion of his wealth to sponsoring five orphan girls
every year. Tue to Sat 9am to 12.30pm, $1.
Casa de Africa
Dedicated to a celebration of African culture this place is full of
African artwork and artifacts, much of which was contributed
by various African embassies in Havana.
This old commercial square originally hosted a covered market.
It is surrounded by mansions and apartment blocks from where,
in colonial times, residents looked down on processions, executions, bullfights, and fiestas. On the northeast corner in the tallest
building in the square is a building housing the Camara Oscura
- an optical reflection camera that revolves through 360 degrees
and projects a real-time picture of Havana at 30 times magnification onto a two meter-wide parabola in a darkened room. 9am to
5pm daily, $2.
Gimnasio Rafael Trejo
A small boxing gym and boxing ring. Visitors are welcome ($1
entry, although you can stand at the door and still see some action) to see boxers training and boxing matches. Usually during
the morning the adults train, and children during the afternoon.
You can also pay for half a day training with a professional boxing
trainer ($25). Call to check to see when matches are on 8620266.
Calle Cuba 815 entre Merced y Leonor Perez.
This is Havana’s premier shopping street and links the Central
Park to the Plaza de Armas. It is for pedestrians only and has
several bars which play live music all day until around 11pm at
night. The rose-pink Hotel Ambos Mundos preserves Ernest
Hemmingway’s room where he stayed while writing For Whom
the Bell Tolls. The roof-top bar has great views of the bay and the
old city and is a great place to stop and rest for a snack. The Hotel
Florida has a bar with live music and is about the only bar in Old
Havana that is open past 11pm, and where you can dance salsa in
a club for less than $10.
Outside Habana Vieja
To the surprise of many there is a China Town in Havana. The
first Chinese immigrants to Cuba arrived in 1847 as indentured
labourers. Over the insuing decades as many as 150,000 Chinese
may have arrived to work in the fields. They were contracted
to labour for eight years for miserable wages insufficient to buy
their return. Most stayed, and intermarried with blacks. Many
settled in this part of town and were later joined by other Chinese fleeing persecution. Havana’s Barrio Chino then became the
largest in Latin America. In the decades preceding the Revolution, the barrio evolved as a centre of opium dens, brothels, peep
shows, and sex clubs. Today, Barrio Chino is a mere shadow of
its former self, with about 400 native born Chinese and perhaps
2,000 descendants still resident in the area. The vast majority of
Chinese left Cuba in the years following the Revolution. A lively market is held daily (except Wednesday) on pedestrian-only
“Knife Alley”, lined with Chinese restaurants and aglow at night
with Chinese lanterns.
Christopher Columbus Cementery
Described as “an exercise in pious excesses” this necropolis covers
56 hectares and contains more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels, vaults, tombs, and galleries, as well as countless gravestones
embellished with angels, griffins, cherubs, and other flamboyant
ornamentation. It was originally only open to nobles who competed
to build the most elaborate tombs, and was divided by social status.
Today its a national monument and serves as a fascinating petrified version of society of the times and its diverse culture including Asturians, Galicians, Afro-Cuban religious devotees, Chinese,
revolutionaries, and even some of their enemies. Daily 9am to 5pm,
entrance $1, guided tours $5, cameras $5.
Plaza de la Revolution
Havana’s largest plaza is the scene of important public events and
government ceremonies such as May Day (International Workers
Day - which has been used by socialist nations as a celebration of
their ideology), and is surrounded by important government office
buildings, the National Library, the Nacional Theatre, and the impressive Jose Marti Monument and Museum.
Monumento y Museo Jose Marti
The massive monument on the south side of the square sits atop
a 3m-tall base that is shaped as a five-pointed star. The 18m-tall
marble statue of national hero Jose Marti, has him sitting in a
contemplative pose, like Rondin’s The Thinker. Behind looms a
109m-tall marble edifice which houses the Jose Marti Museum.
Its the highest point in Havana. The museum exhibits artifacts in
Marti’s life, and videos of the wars of independence and the Revolution. An art gallery features portraits of Marti. An elevator can
take you to the top of the tower for a 360 degree view over Havana
for $2. Museum open daily 9am to 4:30pm, $3.
El Morro-La Cabaña Historical Military Park
Looming over Habana Vieja, on the north side of the harbour
channel, is the rugged cliff face of the Cabaña, dominated by
two great fortresses. Together the castles comprise the largest
and most powerful defensive complex built by the Spanish in the
Americas. To get there from Habana you need to go through the
harbour tunnel (no pedestrians allowed).
Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro (El Morro), the handsome
castle built into the rocky palisades of Punta Barlovento, crowning
a rise that drops straight to the sea at the entrance to Havana’s narrow harbour channel. 8am to 8pm daily, $3, guide $1.
Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña (La Cabaña) is the massive fortress half a km east of the Morro, and enjoys a fantastic
strategic position, as a cliff top balcony over the city and harbour.
Its the largest fort in the Americas stretching 700 meters in length.
The fortress contains various museums and restaurants.
There is a cannon firing ceremony every night at the Cabaña
starting at 8:30pm which announces the closing of the city gates,
maintaining a tradition going back centuries.
Open daily 10am to 10pm, entrance $6 ($8 after 6pm) guide $1.
Good views can be taken in from the balcony - $1 entry.
Callejon de Hamel
This is an alley where local artist Salvador Gonzalez has adorned
walls with evocative murals in blazing colours inspired by Santeria. The alley features a Santeria shrine, eclectic art galleries, and
fantastical totemic sculptures. On Sundays (12noon to 3pm) he
hosts Afro-Cuban rumbas (be aware of pickpockets!).
Jaimanitas / Fusterlandia
Jaimanitas is a suburb about 20minutes west of Havana on the
coast just before the Marina Hemmingway. If you go along 5th
Avenida and keep going you eventually get to there. This is where
the Artist Jose Fuster has his home and has made a community
art project (known by some as Fusterlandia) contributing over 10
years of work decorating over 80 houses with ornate murals and
domes to suit the personality of his neighbours.
Havana: Page 5
Some of our travellers have reported really enjoying this train ride
and meeting everyday locals along the way. The electric train from
the 1940’s departs from Casablanca - a ferry ride across the bay from
Old Havana - at 12:20pm daily, and heads towards Matanzas passing
by the village of Hersheys where the famous candy company once
owned a sugar refinery and swathes of land to grow sugar cane. 3cuc
per person for a ticket. You can go as far as Hersheys and catch a
connecting train that comes back to Casablanca, however if you are
only after a short ride, a good idea is to arrange a taxi to pick you up
at Guanabo station (about an hour along the way from Casablanca)
and head back to Havana, or even better, to the nearby beaches at
Playas del Este.
La Rampa (Calle 23)
The main street of Vedado starts at the Malecón and climbs past the
major airline offices, nightclubs, cinemas, travel agencies, TV studios,
art deco apartment buildings, and high-rise office buildings.
Cuba’s most spectacular hotel is perched atop a small cliff at the junction of La Rampa and the Malecón. Now a national monument, it was
designed by the same architects who designed ‘The Breakers’ in Palm
Beach, which it closely resembles. A display of photos in the lobby
bar shows famous visitors from Winston Churchill and the Prince of
Wales, to Kate Moss. The outside courtyard is a great place for a
mojito (open 24hrs) - albeit at a cost. Last taste was $4.75. The pool is
also open to non-guests for a $15 entry fee.
Plaza de la Dignidad (“Tribuna Antimperialista”)
dren are bussed here to throw flowers over the seawall in memory
of revolutionary leader Camilo Cienfuegos, killed in a mysterious
air crash on that day in 1959. In the evenings it acts more like an
outdoor b.y.o bar, at which time the section at the end of La Rampa
also becomes a popular gay and transvestite hang-out.
The largest handicraft market is the Feria de Artesania opposite the San Francisco de Paula Church, on Avenida del Puerto,
at the South end of Old Havana. Open everyday (except national
holidays or when authorities declare special holidays, such as an
important political visit) from 10am to 6pm. Everything from crocheted bikinis to miniature bongo drums, and paintings. There is
a smaller craft market on the right hand side as you walk down
Calle 23, and also on right hand side as you walk down Calle
Obispo in Old Havana. Estudio Cleo is a private handicraft store
on Calle I between street 23 and 25 (Vedado). ph 8323765
★ Habana Vieja - especially along Obispo - contains dozens of
galleries, many selling naive works by the artists themselves. One
of the best is Galeria Forma (Obispo #255 - daily 10am to 7pm),
selling artworks of international standard, including sculptures,
ceramics, and copper pieces. Another good one can be found in
the Cathedral Square.
★ There is an excellent out-door art fare on most weekends from
11am on the tree-lined Prado.
★ Cigars - the best source at the moment is the store in the Hotel
Parque Central (daily 9am-9pm), and in the Hotel Nacional.
★ Videos and film posters - The Centro Cultural Cinematografico (Calle 23 e/ 10 y 12) sells posters and videos of Cuban films.
Its on the 4th floor of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC). The Libreria Venecia (below) also sells film posters, as does a shop next
to the Cine Yara.
★ Revolutionary posters - Libreria Venecia - an old bookshop on
Calle Obispo (#502)
This was created at the height of the Elian Gonzalez fiasco in 1999. It
is strategically placed in front of the ‘U.S. Special Interests Building’.
A statue of Jose Marti stands at the plaza’s eastern end bearing in one
arm a bronze likeness of young Elian while with the other he points
an accusatory finger at the Interests Building. Right in front of the Interests Building is the “Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Platform) - called
jokingly by locals the “protestadromo” - which is the focal point of
mass organised protests against U.S foreign policy towards Cuba.
Centro Asturiano - Has a rooftop restaurant with nice views that
specialises in grilled dishes ($10-$20). Also a good restaruant at
At the top of the hill along Calle 23, this park that takes up an en- street level ($7-$12) and a small night-club at the back. Prado 309
tire block, is exclusively devoted to the consumption of ice-cream. esq. Virtudes, Old Havana.
It serves an estimated 30,000 customers a day. You will see the long Meson de la Flota - Serves Spanish and criollo food, and Spanish
lines of locals waiting to be served. There is a section priced in CUC wines at 2CUC per glass. It features free flamenco shows 1-3pm
if you want to skip the queue, or otherwise get there at 10am.
and 9pm daily ($4-$18, Mercaderes e/Amargura y Brasil - Old
Havana). Current word is that its better for the flamenco show
University of La Habana
than for the food
Loosely modelled after New York’s Columbia University, this campus
features a peaceful tree lined square surrounded by classical build- Restaurante Hanoi - Good low budget option. Although it promotes
ings. Visitors are allowed to stroll the grounds, although peeking into its Vietnamese cuisine, the menu is mostly Cuban. Brasil y Bernaza
the classes requires advance permission, and you’ll need authoriza- - near the Capitolio, Old Havana.
tion to take photos. The campus is off-limits on weekends, and closed El Chanchullero - Another good quality low budget option just
July-August. The university is entered via an immense, 50-meter- down from Restaurante Hanoi (Teniente Rey e/ Bernaza y El
wide stone staircase at the top of which is a patinated bronze statue of Cristo - Plaza del Cristo). Small bohemian privately owned bar/
the Alma Mater. The Julio Antonio Mella monument across the street restaurant offering large dishes with plenty of salad and excellent
contains the ashes of this founder of the University Student’s Federa- drinks/cocktails. Open from 1pm to midnight.
tion, and later, of the Cuban Communist Party.
Restaurante Medina - More highly priced offering criollo dishes
but also Middle Eastern dishes such as couscous and lamb, kebabs,
This seawall or embankment delineates a boulevard that winds sinu- kibbe, and hummus. Just south of the Plaza de Armas on Oficios in
ously and dramatically along the Atlantic shoreline. Along the shore Old Habana. Combination plates - $10 to $18.
are the worn remains of square baths hewn from the rocks below the Restaurante La Imprenta - Converted from an old printing house,
seawall, originally with separate areas for men, women, and negros. this restaurant offers good prices, great tapas. Paella is a good
The Malecón offers a microcosm of Havana life: the elderly walking lunch choice. The chairs are in the shape of letters. Near Plaza
their dogs; the shift-less selling cigars and sex to tourists; the young Vieja, Old Havana. Mains $6-$25.
passing rum among friends; fishermen tending their lines; and always
scores of couples courting and making-out. It was the setting for spon- Jardin del Oriente - Open air restaurant with cheap offers and great
taneous riots in the early 1990’s, and is also a barometer of the politi- food. Calle Amargura, Old Havana. Mains $4-$8
cal state of Havana. During times of tension, the police presence is Barrio Chino - Has dozens of Chinese restaurants that offer plenty
abnormally strong and the Malecón becomes eerily empty. At other of Cuban dishes as well. Restaurant Tien-Tan is one of the best on
times, keep one hand on your purse! Every October 26, schoolchil- the main pedestrian street - Calle Cuchillo.
Havana: Page 6
Havana: Page 7
Plaza de la Dignidad
MONUMENT TO THE
CLINIC + INTERNATIONAL
@ BUSINESS CENTER
SUPERMARKET (water, snacks etc)
SANTA BARBARA entrance
FOCSA TV CAFE
BRETCH (e/ J & I)
Restaurante Los Amigos
Shop for drinks
BANK & ATM $
FRENCH BREAD SHOP
SAN JUAN DE
LA ZORA Y EL CUERVO
Huron Azul Restaurant
RA CLUB TIKOA
ETECSA PHONE BOOTH
CAFE LA RAMPA
La Dulce Habana Icecream
SMALL SHOPPING MALL - pharmacy, chocolate shop (inside)
SHOP - water, coffee, rum, biscuits (outside)
CALLEJON DE HAMMEL
2 blocks, turn
right, then left
FACULTY OF LAW
DE LA HABANA
SAN MIG UEL
FACULTY OF PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY
FACULTY OF MATHEMATICS
E IN FA N TA
NEP TUN O
FACULTY OF PHARMACY
CA LZ AD A D
L A Z CO N CO RD IA
UNION DE JOVENES COMUNISTAS
Paladar San Cristobal - San Rafael #469 e/Lealtad y Campanario,
Centro Habana tel: 860-1705. The Cuban food here is good but
what sets this place apart is the exquisite antique decor, including
luxury suede dining chairs. Mains $13-$20. Reservations recommended.
Restaurante Miglis - Swedish dishes in an artistically restored house
in Centro Habana. Mains $10-$14. Lealtad #120, entre Animas.
La Guarida - Concordia #418 e/Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana
tel: 862-4940. Noon-4pm, and 7pm-midnight, closed part of the
year. One of Cuba’s best paladars in the beautiful setting of the
Oscar-nominated 1995 movie, Fresa y Chocolate. Mains $13-$20.
Huron Azul - Calle Humbolt between Calle O and Infanta. International and Cuban cuisine. Stylish interior with lots of art works
displayed on the walls. Mains $9-$15.
La Tasquita - Calle Jovellar 160 between Espada and San Franciso.
Moderately prices tapas and drinks in Vedado.
Madrigal - Calle 17 between 2 and 4 (Vedado) and San Franciso.
Good quality tapas and drinks (closed Mondays).
Dominica - Probably the best Italian restaurant in Havana. O’Reilly
and Mercaderes, Old Havana. Dishes cost from $7 to $24.
Restaurante La Torre - Fancy restaurant with great views on the top
floor of “La Torre” - the huge tower on Calle 17 between M and N in
Vedado. Dresscode: No shorts or sandals for guys! Mains $12-$18.
El Emperador - Underneath the Torre and opposite La Casona. Midrange bar/restaurante with sultry lighting and live lounge-style music. Mains $9-$15.
La Roca - State run piano bar/restaurant with some excellent economic lunch and dinner descarga options for $5-$6 that include
mains, drink and dessert. Calle 21 between M and L, Vedado.
La Casona - On 17 e/ N y M, Vedado. Serves Criollo food at reasonable prices, including grilled chicken. Several different rooms to
dine in. Mains $6-$10.
Los Nardos - Faces the front steps of the Capitolio. Popular and
economic Spanish style food. Good place for lunch. Suitable for
individuals or couples as waiting times for a big table are lengthy,
especially in the evenings. Go before 6:30pm! to avoid the queues.
Castropol - Second floor balcony on the Malecon serving mid-range
Cuban specialties. Mains $8 to $15.
Kasalta - Large budget cafe/restaurant with a sports theme. Photographs of Cuban sporting heroes decorate the walls. Large variety of
dishes including pizza, hamburgers, lobster and the usual chicken,
and pork mains $4 to $12. Popular with Cubans. At the beginning
of 5th Avenue in Miramar just after the tunnel coming from Vedado.
Cafe Laurent - Stylish contemporary French restaurant in a Penthouse (Calle M e/ 19 y 21, Vedado). Mains $10 to $18.
El Templete - If you are not worried about spending a bit more, this
place has the best seafood in Havana. Nice outdoor setting in front
of the port in Old Havana.
The bars in Havana range from the local ones where you pay in
M.N and have a choice of cheap rum, cheap cigars, and cheaper
cigarettes, to the classiest of classiest where a mojito can cost you
up to $6. Normal prices in Havana are $1-$2 for a beer and $2-$4
for a simple cocktail, although in most bars the workers have a way
of making extra money, and one of these is the float the price of the
drinks, so its best to always ask first how much its going to cost.
Sometimes even the menus are rigged. Bars are places where some
Cubans will try to sell you sex or cigars. Many bars have live music.
Calle Obispo - There are several interesting bars along this main
pedestrian thoroughfare that cuts Old Havana in half. Most are
quite small and have live music, which is restricted to about 11pm
because its predominantly a residential area. At the top end it
starts with the up-class El Floridita which serves a ridiculous
variety of Daiquiries. One block off Obispo, to the south is
the atmospheric Bar Monserrate - popular with Cubans. About
half way down Obispo, Lluvia de Oro is probably about the
liveliest, and just beyond that, the Cafe Paris traditionally plays
a jazzier version of the local music. Just off Obispo on Cuba
and Chacon, is Bar Chico O’Farrill with live jazz. The smokefilled bar inside Hotel Florida hosts live music and presently is
about the only place in Old Havana open after 11pm and where
you are allowed to dance ($5 incl. 2 drinks).
Hotel Bars - Some of the city’s hotels have the coolest bars, The
Hotel Inglaterra has one on the front balcony and one on the
roof. Both have live music. The bar in the outside courtyard of
Hotel Nacional has great views and a lovely breezy location, as
does the rooftop of Hotel Ambos Mundos. The terrace bar of
the Hotel Santa Isabel on the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana,
has a great view and also nice cocktails.
La Casa de la Cerveza - is a Vienese-style pub run in cooperation with an Austrian company. Two tasty varieties of beers are
produced here and food of variable quality is also on offer. Live
music nightly. Plaza Vieja - Old Havana.
La Torre - Another place for a great view while you try a few
more local cocktails. Top floor of the huge tower on Calle 17
between M and N. Dresscode: No shorts or sandals for guys!
El Gato Tuerto - Calle O, e/17 y 19, Vedado. A cramped and
moody 1950’s style nightclub that hosts live music (filin, trova,
bolero) nightly. Music from 11pm to 3am. $5.
Jazz Cafe - Noon to 2am, $10 consumo minimo, Paseo y Malecon, Vedado - opposite the Hotel Melia Cohiba. Classy supper
club with some of the best live jazz in town. Music doesn’t get
going til 11:30pm though the seats usually fill up before then. Its
also a good restaurant.
La Zorra y el Cuevo - Calle 23, e/N y O, 10pm to 2am, $5. A
dedicated jazz club in a dreary basement setting. It has Blues on
Thrusdays. Get there early to guarantee a seat.
Teatro Beltor Bretch - Good bands play here nightly to a young
intellectual Cuban audience. $2-$5.
El Huron Azul - Ground zero for bohemian intellectual life in Havana. Hosts a peña with Afro-Cuban and dance on Wednesdays
5pm ($5), trovas Thurs 5pm ($1), and boleros each Sat 10pm.
UNEAC, Calle 17 corner H.
La Casa de la Amistad - Live music nightly. Open 11am til midnight daily, closes 6pm Sun. $5 Paseo #406 between 17 and 19.
Taberna de la Muralla - is a Vienese-style pub run in cooperation with an Austrian company. Two tasty varieties of beers are
produced here and food of variable quality is also on offer. Live
music nightly. Plaza Vieja - Old Havana.
Gay bars - Gay life in Havana has expanded noticeably in recent
years, with the offical acceptance of homosexuality. Everynight
at Las Vegas (Calle Infanta y 25, Vedado) complete with drag
queen and cabaret show. All cost $5 entry. There are also the
“hangout” street locales outside the Bim Bom Icecream Parlour
and along the Malecon, both at the end of Calle 23 (“La Rampa”) in Vedado.
Shows and Cabarets
Cabaret shows have been an institution in Cuba ever since the
1930’s when Cuba became a party desination for the rich and
famous from North America. They were organised in large
part by the Mafia who also ran casinos and brothels, often in
conjunction. It was the lure of the tropics, good rum, exotic
cocktails, great cigars, gambling, and topped by these flamboyant shows that mesmerized patrons with outrageous costumes,
gratuitous skin, and erotic gyrations marking the opening acts.
The cabaret shows these days are tamed down version of the
Havana: Page 8
original. However they are still very impressive even though the
dancers no longer dance topless. To see a Cabaret in Havana you
can pay anywhere from $5 to $95. Quality obviously varies, but
none are poor entertainment.
★ Tropicana - Havana’s premier Las Vegas-style nightclub. At
$75/$85/$95 its by far the most expensive. Probably half the price
you are paying is for the name/reputation of the place. It boasts
more than 200 performers, a fabulous orquestra, and astonishing
acrobatic feats. It takes place in a huge open air saloon. You can
buy tickets through your hotel lobby agency desk. Tues-Sun 9pm.
★ Cabaret Parisien - The most lavish show in town is found in
the Hotel Nacional and starts at 10pm. Its nowhere as big as the
Tropicana but it has plenty of feathers and flesh, and in a spectacular theatre. $35.
★ Cabaret Nacional - In a dingy basement of the Gran Teatro.
Starts at 10pm and is followed by a disco. It packs a young Cuban
crowd on weekends for steamy dancing. $5.
★ Cafe Taberna - Has a nightly Buena Vista style concert - 50cuc
including 2 drinks (70cuc including dinner as well).
★ Hotel Nacional - hosts Buena Vista Social Club most Saturdays
at 8:30pm. 25cuc.
Discoteques and Nightclubs
★ La Fabrica de Arte - Once a bicycle factory, this multi-level
building is now a club with art works, dance and music performances, cafe and bar. Calle 11 e/26 y 28 Vedado, Thurs to Sun
8pm til late, $2.
★ Casa de la Musica - there are two of these - one in Central Habana on Galiano street (officially called Avenida Italia), and one
further afield in Miramar. Both offer the same thing - big bands
playing the latest salsa. 11pm to 2am, $10-$25 depending on the
band. Afternoon sessions are a little cheaper (5 to 9pm) with lower profile bands, and attract more Cuban punters.
★ Salon Rojo - Classy looking club near Hotel Nacional. Lots of
prostitues. Cuba’s top salsa and reggaeton bands regularly play
here. Calle 21, e/N y O, Thurs to Sun 10pm to 2am, $15 to $35.
★ La Cecilia - Reggaeton and house music. Fri and Sat hosts a
Cuban “house” party, 11pm to 4am, $5-$25. Miramar.
★ Cafe Cantante - In the basement of the Teatro Nacional (Plaza
de la Revolucion). No hats, t-shirts, or shorts for men (though
women can get in wearing practically nothing!). Live shows and
lots of jineteras. Tues-Sat, 3pm to 7pm ($5-$10) and 9pm to 5am
($10-$20). In the same building but on the 3rd floor is the Delirio
Habanero, which has live music Tue-Sun 3 to 7pm, $5 and 10pm
to 2am, $15.
★ Don Cangrejo - Usually nice live trova music, 5cuc entry. Open
air around a pool. Upscale Cuban crowd and some foreign residents. There is a top-class, albeit small, cabaret show at 10:30pm.
Dress code applies and only couples allowed (but this can be 2
★ Salon Chévere - Calle 49C y 28A, Reparto Kholy. Live music
and dancing alfresco, real action begins after 10pm. Daily 11am
to 4am, $15 includes open bar.
★ Salon Turquino - Roof of Hotel Habana Libre. Live bands, salsa
dancing, and entertainment. 11pm to 3am. $10- $25.
★ Las Cañitas - In the Hotel Havana Libre in Vedado. Sometimes
good value concerts.
★ Cabaret Pico Blanco - In the glass enclosed roof of the Hotel St
Johns. It features salsa, boleros, and trova nightly - or sometimes
karaoke. A disco follows. 9:30pm to 2:30am, $10.
★ 1830 - Great open air bar on the extreme western end of the
Malecon in Vedado. Lots of locals. Sunday and Thursday (8pm11pm $5) is good for salsa dancing especially rueda de casino.
On Saturdays they have a cabaret show.
★ Café Habana - in the Hotel Melia Habana (Miramar) offers a
cabaret show and $10 worth of drinks for $10.
★ Maxim Rock - The main hard rock venue in Havana. Concerts
daily in Cuban Pesos.
★ Escaleras al Cielo - Live music on the weekends 10pm to 2am.
Zulueta e/ Gloria y Apodaca.
★ Palacio de la Rumba - Live rumba music most nights. Best night
is Saturday. Parque Trillo, Centro Habana. $5-$10.
Activities (prices in cuc)
You can ask your Tour Guide for some advice about any of
the following. They wil be able to assist you and help with
★ Cannon Blast Ceremony at La Cabaña - $8 + transport
★ Tropicana show - $70, $80, or $90 + transport
★ Parisien Cabaret - $35
★ Museum entrances - $5 to $15 each
★ Cigar Factory Tour - $12
★ Planetarium - $10
★ Colombus Cementery - $1 (+$5 guide +$5 cameras)
★ Baseball game attendance - $3 + transport
★ Theatre, music, or ballet performance - $5 to $25
★ HabanaBusTour - $5 (all day pass)
★ Pool at Hotel Nacional - $15
★ Views of the City
•Monument Tower to Jose Marti - $2 (+ transport)
•Top floor bar and restaurant of La Torre (open book shaped
tower in Vedado) - free
•Rooftop bar of Hotel Inglaterra - free
•Rooftop cafe of Hotel Ambos Mundos (Old Havana) - free
•Morro Fortress - $3 + transport
•La Cabaña Fortress - $6 ($8 after 6pm)
•Rooftop bar Hotel Habana Libre (El Turquino) only after
10:30pm when the nightclub opens - $15-$25
Every time more and more there are new Wifi Spots in every
town across Cuba. Since these are changing regularly your tour
leader will update you with the rapidly changing new spots in
each town. These normally include the Main Plazas and some
Hotel Lobbies. If you think you will use more than 1 hour of wifi,
we recommend getting a 5 hour card for 10 cuc. This way you
can avoid lining up in the long queues for Internet cards at the
Etecsa offices more than once, the same card works across Cuba.
Ask your guide about these and other specialised tours available
and the current prices.
★ Afro-Cuban Religion - Lean about Havana’s sub-cultures not
often seen by tourists by taking a walk in Central Havana with a
specialised guide who explains about the different Afro-Cuban
religious groups. Tour starts in the Callejon de Hammel. 2 hours.
★ Classic Car Tour (A Favourite!) - Cruise around Havana
in one of those convertible classics. 2 hours. Includes a sunset
cocktail at the Hotel Nacional.
★ Hemmingway Tour - Involves visiting sites that were relevant
to Hemmingway in and around Havana with a local guide:
Cojimar, Finca la Vigia, and the following buildings in Havana:
Bodeguita del Medio, Hotel Ambos Mundos, and La Floridita
Bar. Sold at tourist desks in hotel lobbies - Price is depending
on group size. 4 hours (6 hours with lunch), includes entrances,
Havana: Page 9
transport, and guide.
The Cigar Trail- You will visit a cigar factory, the cigar museum, the cigar smoker’s hotel where you can see cigar rolling and
enjoy a tasting, and have the opportunity to purchase the best of Cuban cigars from specialized cigar stores. This tour runs for approximately 3 hours without lunch.
★ Other - ask your guide about other specialised tours currently available.
Habana Bus Tour
This is a “hop-on hop-off” bus service for tourists, and continually circulates to some of the attractions in and around
Havana. It is quite convenient and surprisingly good value.
You switch from one Route to another at the Central Park (Parque Central)
Route T1 - City Circuit
This is the inner city circuit with a round trip distance of 23km. There is a stop about half a block on the right hand side
of the road as you walk from Hotel El Colina towards Hotel Habana Libre. This Route is usually operated by a doubledecker, open-topped bus and circulates every 30min. $10
Route T3 - Playas del Este
This Route takes off from Parque Central and heads in an Eastward direction with stops at the different beaches and beach
resorts East of Havana. It then turns around and returns along the same path back to Parque Central. The round trip distance is 65km. $5. This route is in a normal bus and departs Parque Central every half hour, on the half hour, from 9am to
6pm (except the 12:00 slot which doesn’t run so the driver can have some lunch).
Plaza de la Revolucion
Hotel Atlantico 12
10 Hotel Atlantico
Hotel El Colina 08
Hotel Tropicoco 13
09 Hotel Tropicoco
23 and Infanta 09
05 Hotel Presidente
Villa Megano 14
08 Villa Megano
Villa Tartara 15
07 Villa Tartara
06 Villa Bucanero
Villa Bucanero 16
Hotel Deauville 10
Prado 56 11
04 Parque Central
Bar Cabaña 14
03 Hotel Sevilla
02 Castillo Real de
Alameda de Paula
Habana del Este 19
03 Habana del Este
Cabana Fortress 20
02 Cabana Fortress
Havana: Page 10
CASA DE LA
towards the port
BENNY MORE UNION
TERRY SAN LORENZO
To Bus Station
CASA DE LOS
To Railway Station
To Punta Gorda
Paseo del Prado
Cuba’s third largest port and shelters a large shipping and
shrimping fleet. Called ‘The Pearl of the South’ by its
citizens, Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European
flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style
boulevard and elegant colonnades. Columbus supposedly
discovered the bay in 1494. Shortly after the Spanish settled Cuba and established their trade restrictions, the bay
developed a thriving smuggling trade. Sir Francis Drake
and Henry Morgan were among privateers who called for
Most of the city’s buildings of note surround this main
- Casa de la Cultura (currently under restoration).
- Teatro Tomas Terry (daily 9am-6pm, $2 including
guide) was completed in 1895, and named for a local
sugar baron, a Venezuelan who had arrived penniless to
Cuba in the mid-1800’s. It is a sumptuously decorated
building and the National Ballet and Opera still perform,
bringing the bats from their hiding places to swoop harmlessly over the heads of the audience.
Paseo del Prado
Otherwise called Calle 37 - the Prado - is lined full length
in its central median, with plaques and busts honouring
illustrious citizens, including a life-size bronze figure of
Benny Moré. The Prado remains a social centre and in
the cool evenings bustles with gossipy life, when citizens
promenade and bootblacks still shine shoes beneath the
Palacio del Valle
There is a delphinarium near to Cienfuegos however we
don’t recommend visiting this so as to not encourage capitivity of this animal, nor the practice of capturing dolphins
from their natural environment to sell to delphinariums.
Offers 2 hour excursions of the bay ($15) aboard a large
catamaran. Departure times are 9am, 11am, and 2pm.
Local Music and Nightlife
★ Cafe Cantante Benny Moré (9am-9pm) hosts live
music and dancing.
★ UNEAC also has cultural events in an open-air patio,
ranging form Afro-Cuban folkloric events to bolero.
★ Cafe Teatro Terry hosts rumbas and other live entertainment (Thursday and Sunday nights).
★ Club Benny Moré is an elegant cabaret theatre with
live music, comedians, and cabaret acts followed by disco.
Thus-Sun 10pm-3am. $8 per couple including bottle of
rum and a Coke.
★ Cabaret Guanaroca in the Hotel Jagua offers a mediocre cabaret espectaculo Wed-Mon at 11pm ($5), followed
by a disco.
★ Locals also catch son and salsa at Centro Cultural Artex, with outdoor music and dancing including Sun 2-4pm.
★ Casa de la Musica has live bands every Friday and
Saturday at 10pm, and Sunday at 5pm. $5 per pair.
★ Palatino bar, is a pleasant spot to savour a drink while
Cienfuegos’ architectural pride and joy is a palace at the
tip of Punta Gorda - a long narrow peninsula that was
once and exclusive residential district. It is now a restaurant and museum but was once the home of a local trader.
The entire edifice drips with ornate carvings in Venetian
alabaster. A spiral cast-iron staircase deposits you at a
roof top bar and mirador. A visit costs $2 and includes a
cocktail. 10am to 4pm daily.
★ Bar Terrazas upstairs in the Hotel Union. has live music nightly at 10pm.
Necropolis Tomás Acea
This cemetery, two km east of town on the road to Rancho Luna, is worth a browse for its impressive neoclassical structures and tombs. The cemetery overlooks the bay
from atop a bluff.
Jardin Botanico Soledad
This splendid garden is about 10km east of Cienfuegos on
the main coast road to Trinidad. It was begun in 1899 by
a New Englander, Edward Atkis, who owned vast sugar
estates in the area and brought in Harvard botanists to
develop hardier and more productive sugarcane strains.
Later, Harvard University assumed control under a 99year lease, and a general collection making up one of the
tropical world’s finest botanical gardens was amassed.
Since the Revolution, the garden has been maintained by
the Cuban Academy of Science. It harbours a collection
of some 2,000 species, 70% of which are exotics, including rare tropical plants with important medicinal uses. A
bamboo collection has 23 species, rubber trees - 89 species, cactus - 400 species, and palms - 307 varieties.
★ Club Cienfuegos has something similar with views
across the bay. A dress code applies and they have billiard
tables. 10pm-2am daily.
★ Costasur is currently the happening place in town with
live bands Thursday to Sunday ($5).
★ Galeria Maroya (Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm), has a splendid
collection of arts and crafts: leather work, batiks, carvings,
and paintings. Check out Fidel Lopez’s incredible wooden
★ Casa El Embajador is a fully stocked rum and cigar
store in the Casa del Fundador.
★ Along the Boulevard there are a few market stalls with
leather and silverworks, as well as artisan dresses.
★ Palacio del Valle - $2
★ Botanical Gardens - $4
★ Harbour boat cruise - $15
“The Disco in the Cave”
MO NT ELI ER
Casa de la
Restaurante La Nueva Era
CASA DE LA
OLD JAIL Store
EL PIANO BAR
Plaza del Jigüe
IN DE PE ND EN
PALACIO DE LA
LA CANCHANCHARA BAR
LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
OLD CONVENT/ MUSEO
PABLO PICHS GIRON
DE LA LUCHA CONTRA
M AR TI N
SU YA M A
B E N IT
VI CE N TE
CO N R
BAR - good coffee
ARQUEOLOGY AND THE CATHEDRAL
PALADAR SOL ANANDA
GOURMET VISTA RESTAURANT
great food and view
TERRACE BAR G A L
CASA DE LA
MESON DEL REGIDOR
TO LAS CUEVAS
HOTEL AND POOL
EL FLORIDITA BAR
ARTEX (SHOPS + BAR)
RUM AND CIGAR SHOP
(PHONES + INTERNET)
Small Post Office
CADECA (half a block)
SAN JOSE #382
BAR REST TRINIDAD 500
CASA DE LA
SO LAN O
BRUNET BEER HOUSE
BUS STOP - to beach
CUBATUR - AGENCY
FOR LOCAL EXCURSIONS
SOL Y SON
REST LA REDACCION
CASA DE LA
BREAD SHOP AND
#408 - NOA
Manicure 3cuc Local
EL RINCON DE LA SALSA
FONDO DE BIENES
The crown jewel of Cuba’s colonial cities, Trinidad was the fourth
of the seven cities founded by Diego de Velazquez in 1514. It
was just far enough out of reach of Spanish authorities in Havana
to develop a bustling commerce smuggling contraband to circumvent trade restrictions imposed by the Spanish Crown. Its position
on Cuba’s underbelly was also perfect for trade with Jamaica, the
epicenter of the Caribbean slave trade. Trinidad grew prosperous
importing slaves, many of whom were put to work locally, stimulating the sugar trade. A mild climate, fertile soil, and easy access
to the Caribbean, favoured Trinidad’s agricultural and commercial
growth. Wealthy citizens built their sumptuous homes around the
main square and adjoining streets.
Today, no other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved. Its
narrow, unmarked cobbled streets are paved with stones shipped
across the Atlantic as ballast or taken from the nearby river. Trinidad is steeped in religiosity, both Santeria and Catholicism, and
there is no shortage of Afro-Cuban religious practitioners and
The graceful plaza lies at the heart of the original settlement, and
is surrounded by excellently preserved colonial buildings. On the
northwest corner is Palacio Brunet, a two-story mansion dating
from 1741 and housing the Museo Romantico. The dozen rooms
are filled with intriguing artwork and fabulous antiques. There is a
great view of the square from the balcony upstairs. Fernando Hernandez between Echerri y Bolivar. Tue-Sun, 9am-5pm, $2.
On the east side of the square in the house of Sanchez Iznaga, is
the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial with displays and models
relating to Trinidad’s architectural development. Sat-Thurs, 9am5pm, $1.
This is the central Plaza where you can find the Wifi Spotw
which works with an Etecsa card, he telephone company that
sells all communication needs, money changing facilities,
shops and restaurants. Every visitor to Trinidad comes here at
some point to find services and enjoy the shaded benches in the
park like square.
Traditional bar with live music throughout the day where you
can take refuge from the midday sun try the local cocktail
“Canchanchara” (rum, honey, lemon, ice, sugar).
Music, Shows, Cultural Events
Trinidad has no less than 10 live music venues, most of which
are open from late morning to after midnight, all within easy
walking distance of each other. They cost at the most $3 entry
(most are free or $1). Behind the church at the top of the hill
overlooking the old city, there is a disco in a cave - Disco Ayala
offers several rooms with flashing lights amid the stalagmites
and stalactites. A folklore show is performed around midnight.
Open 11:30pm-2:30am, $5 including one drink. Closed on
Mondays in the low season.
Museo de la Lucha Contra Los Bandidos
This building used to be a convent, but now all that remain are
the tower and the church. The church was taken over by the government, and the convent was replaced by the “Museum of the
Fight Against Outlaws” (Echerri y Pino Guinart), which traces the
campaign against the counter-revolutionary guerrillas in the Sierra
Escambray in the years following the Revolution. Among the displays is a CIA radio transmitter, and parts of a U2 spy plane shot
down during the Cuban Missile Crisis. You can ascend to the top
of the bell tower for a view over the city. Tue-Sun, 9am-5pm, $2.
All manner of arts and crafts are sold at the Handicraft Market
in the streets east and south of the Plaza Mayor. The widest
option of arts and crafts under one roof is offered by Fondo
de Bienes Culturales (Bolivar #418, Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm, Sun
9am-noon, one block south of Plaza Mayor). Another good bet
is the Palacio de la Artesania (Piro Guinart y Independencia).
Much of the ceramic work sold locally is made at El Alfarero
Casa Chichi (Andres Berro Macias #51, e/ Pepito Tey y Abel
Santamaria, Mon-Sat, 7am-7pm). It is a home run ceramic
workshop where the Santander family carries on a tradition
of pottery making. Jewellery Shop, Orbeins silver jewellery
stands out for his personal design. While he exhibits most of
his jewellery at the Grand Hotel Iberostar in Cespedes Park, he
has his jewellery studio one block and a half down the steps (In
front of El rincon de la Salsa). There are several art galleries,
a concentration of which can be found around the Plazuela
Segarte, such as the Galeria de Yami Martinez. The Hat
Shop, One of the nicest and more varied local hat shops in
Plazuela Real del Jigüe
Valle de Los Ingenios
This charming triangular plaza (one block west of Plaza Mayor)
has a calabash tree in the centre. The tree, planted in 1929, is the
youngest in a succession of trees kept alive since 1514, the year the
Spanish celebrated their first Mass here.
Casa Templo de Santeria Yemayá
This temple features Santeria altars and hosts occasional religious
ceremonies. Talk to the priest (santero) - Israel - if you would like
a religious consultation. Around 5cuc entry fee.
This museum one block south of the Plaza Mayor, was once the
home of the Borrell family. The history of the city is revealed as
you move through rooms furnished with rocking chairs, alabaster amphorae, marble-topped tables, and other antiques. Other intriguing exhibits include an antique bell, stocks for holding slaves,
banknotes, and a magnificent scale model of the Andrei Vishinsky,
which entered Trinidad harbour in 1960 - the first Soviet ship to
visit Cuba after the Revolution. Some tricky stairs lead up to a
watchtower with a fine view over the city. $2 (cameras an extra $1)
East of Trinidad is the Valley of the Sugar Mills. It is named for
the many sugar mills, or ingenios (43 at its peak), that sprang
up over the centuries to grind the cane produced by the valley’s
remarkably fertile soil. The valley was Cuba’s most important
sugar-producing region into the 19th century. Many of the
mills and estate houses remain, albeit mostly in ruin.
One exception is the Hacienda Iznaga ($1) which is found in
the quaint village of Iznaga, 14km east of Trinidad. The Hacienda was built 1835-45 by Alejo Maria del Carmen e Iznaga,
once one of the wealthiest sugar planters in Cuba. It features a
43.5 meter tower that according to legend was built as a wager.
Alejo was to build a tower while his brother Pedro dug a well.
The winner would be whoever went highest or deepest (no well
has been found).
The restored hacienda is now a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley. A traditional guaraperia at the rear serves
fresh-squeezed cane juice. Lacework is a local speciality sold
at the base of the tower.
Topes de Collantes
The Slopes of the Sierra Escambray, are swathed in Caribbean
pines and an abundance of ancient tree ferns, bamboo, and eucalyptus and are protected within this national park. The area is
tremendous for hiking; there are plenty of trails, waterfalls, and the
rich bird life includes an abundance of parrots. $9 park fee.
The four-kilometer long beach offers sugary white sand, pavonine
waters fringed with palms offering shade. A taxi between Trinidad
and Ancon costs $8 one way per car.
Steam Train Ride $10 ($21 with lunch)
Unfortunately its operation can be described as sporadic at best,
the steam train (vintage 1917) takes passengers from Trinidad
along the world heritage Sugar Mill Valley to as far as Iznaga mansion. Includes stops in 2 sugar mills. Departs 9:30am from the train
station, return 3pm. There is also an electrical train (10cuc) that
departs from the same station at 9am. Some times this train is not
There are different horseback riding excursions of 3-5 hours duration. Some of these include a visit to a sugarmill, a sinkhole
(cenote), or a waterfall at the edge of the Topes de Collantes mountains. Note that we actively discourage the participation of our
groups in activities, which exploit animals - wild or domestic, so
you tour leader will help you check past the decoration or carriage
and choose an animal that is fit and healthy and not mistreated.
Snorkelling $35/$10 + transport to Ancon Beach
You can take a snorkelling excursions with 2 different operators
at Playa Ancon (9am to 4pm). The snorkelling involves a 20min
catamaran ride and 1 hour of snorkelling time. However perhaps
the best visibility and underwater life is in an area near the Boca
Village and Ranchon Grill Caribe (up to 30m of visibility). If a dive
instructor is available, your tour leader can arrange a snorkelling
tour to this area. $10
Diving is also an option with this excursion. $30 diving / $35
introduction to diving. Gear included.
• Price: $25 (includes $9 park entry + transport
•Minimum number: 3 participants
• Duration: Half Day
• Walking Time: 2 to 3 hours
•Walking distance: from 3.6km return
• Grade: Medium
• What you will see: Natural forest, river.
• Swimming: Yes - in a natural pool.
• Take: Water, snacks, good walking footwear,
swimming costume, camera, small amount of
Salto Javira is a beautiful waterfall in the foot-hills of the Sierra
Escambray. Its a 1hour walk from the restaurant - Ranchon El Cubano (15min drive from Trinidad) on a fairly well marked trail over
foot-bridges, some rocky terrain, and through some pretty forrest.
Being a gentle downhill, the return walk is a little faster (45min).
The Ranchon El Cubano serves lunch in the shade of its open-air
restaurant. Speciality is catfish $8. The red bean potaje is a tasty,
filling, and economical option $3, with some crackers (galletas)
and butter (mantequilla) $1. Swimming in the deep natural pool of
the waterfall is a must. You can swim into a small cave behind
the waterfall where some bats can be seen if you keep quiet. A
natural spring in the mountain feeds the stream so the water is
You can organise this with your guide by paying for a return
taxi to the Ranchon El Cubano ($25 per taxi). This is a dirt road.
You can also do the excursion with Cubatur (transport in a
Russian Army Truck)
Adding an extra 1.5hours to your hike, you can walk to El Cubano all the way from town (take calle Independencia and keep
walking towards the mountains, asking the guajiros for directions along the way). This walk will take you through an interesting rural area with oxen-ploughed field rotationally planted
with crops such as banana, boniato, and beans. Arranging a taxi
to pick you up from El Cubano to take you back to Trinidad is
advisable (instead of walking all the way back) as this section
of the walk is unshaded and has a steep uphill section just as
you reach town.
• Price: $33 (includes park entry + transport +
guide + lunch)
•Minimum number: 2 participants
• Duration: Full Day (9am to 4pm)
• Walking Time: 3 to 4 hours
• Walking Distance: 5km return
• Grade: High
• What you will see: Natural forest, coffee
• Swimming: Yes - in a natural pool.
• Take: Water, snacks, good walking footwear,
swimming costume, camera, small amount of
The trek to this beautiful watefall starts at the top of the Escambray mountain range next to Trinidad and decends steeply
into a ravine through natural forest and coffee plantations. Good
chance to see Cuba’s national bird - the colourful tocororo. Free
time to swim in the natural pool before a sweaty climb back to
the restaurant for lunch.
Return taxi for the do-it-yourself version costs about $35 (1hour
• Price: $60 (includes park entry + transport
• Minimum number: 2 participants
• Duration: Full Day (9am to 4pm)
• Walking Distance: 0.5 km return
• Grade: Low
• What you will see: Natural forest, different
pools along the river.
• Swimming: Yes - in a natural pool.
• Take: Water, snacks, good walking footwear,
swimming costume, camera, small amount of
El Nicho is known as Cuba’s most beautiful waterfall. At a 1.5
hour drive from Trinidad, its the furthest waterfall option on
offer from Trinidad. A short walk through the forest awaits and
a spectacular waterfall with a great natural swimming pool.
Taxi to beach - $8 one way
Bike rental - $3 - $5
Moped rental - $25
Live music venues - up to $3 plus tips
Salsa dance lesson
• Group lesson - $5
• Individual - $10
Music instrument lesson - $10
Massage - $20-$25/hr
Manicure at Noa - $3
Entry Fees to National Parks when doing it independently - $9
Cayo Blanco $54 + transport to the marina.
A day trip is possible to this deserted idyllic caribbean island complete with
coconut palms, iguanas, white-sand beaches, and a coral reef. The trip is make
on a big catamaran. The price includes boat transport, snorkel gear, seafood
lunch, and ‘all you can drink’ rum (but not transport from Trinidad to the marina
which is behind Ancon beach). Leaves 9am from the marina and returns 4pm.
Some Restaurants and Bars:
La Bodeguita del Medio
It was renovated after the 500 years anniversary of the city. This is a bigger version of
La Bodeguita in Havana, its indoors and often has life music.
Restaurante La Redaccion
One of the best restaurants in Trinidad at the moment, has great feedbacks and reviews,
modern and fusion cuisine with a great service. Beautifully decorated.
Restaurante San Jose
Another one of the best restaurants in Trinidad, with amazing food and very good
value! Good pizzas and great decoration with old photos.
Paladar Sol Ananda
Its an old colonial house by the main square with antique ambience and nice food. All
decorated with Colonial furniture (bed furniture in one of the rooms included)
One of the newest upmarket restaurants. Just around the corner from the cathedral, its a
good option for a Cuban fine dinning experience.
Almost in front of the casa de la trova, there is a rooftop bar overlooking the Plazuela
Segarte that has a good offer of food and drinks. Great for sunset drinks!
El Rincon de la Salsa
New nightclub option in the patio of the plaza mayor restaurant. Opens around 10pm,
gets lively from 1030pm. Some nights has live bands and then recorded music up to
Beer House - La Casa de la Cerveza
Teatro Brunet has become the house of beer, they serve their beers in big jugs (Similars
to the ones in Havana in the beer brewery, not black or dark beer though!)....Very lively
in the afternoons and very popular among locals. does not rent bikes or motorbikes
It was also renovated after the 500 years anniversary of the city. Still good Daiquiries
and Air Con!
Its a sort of slave theme Bar, decorated with slavery colonial items. They serve mals,
snacks and drinks. Some nights they have trova/jazz concerts. Good place to go when
HOTEL PUERTO PRINCIPE
JOSE LUIS TASANDE
CORAZON DE JESUS
JOVER ART GALLERY
EL GATO AZUL ART GALLERY
EL CAMBIO BAR
CHESS CLUB Agramonte
CASA DE LA TROVA
ILEANA SANCHEZ ART STREET PIZZAS
CASA NATAL DE
EL OVEJITO RESTAURANT
EL PASO RESTAURANT
CALLEJON DE LA SOLEDAD
CASABLANCA CLUB STA MARIA
PLAZA DE LOS
SEÑORA DE LA SOLEDAD
PLAZA DEL GALLO
RESTAURANTE 1514 (local pesos)
NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL CARMEN CONVENT
SHOP (water etc)
(with take away option)
HOTEL ISLA DE CUBA
(jazz club on Sat.)
(Draft beer bar)
(PEDESTRIAN STREET WITH LOCAL SHOPS)
DE LA MERCED
CASA DE LA PLAZA DE LOS
CAMPANA DE TOLEDO
Juan de Dios
JUAN DE DIOS
(colonial art museum)
LI V D
Cuba’s third-largest city is full of beautifully restored plazas that lend the city its nicknames, “City
of Squares” and “Corinth of the Caribbean.” Much of
the city has justifiably been declared a national monument. Camagüey lacks the heavy baroque architecture
of Havana. Its style is simpler, more discreet. Even
the homes of the wealthiest Camagüeyans were built
without palatial adornments.
Camagüey was one of the original seven settlements
founded by Diego Velazquez, though the first buildings were erected in 1515 miles to the north, on the
shores of Bahia de Nuevitas. The site lacked fresh
water and came under constant attack from local
Indians. It was finally moved to its present location,
where it was built on the site of an Indian settlement.
In 1903, the city was renamed for the local chieftain,
Camagüei. The early settlers were beset with water
shortages. The town’s Catalonian potters therefore
made giant earthenware amphorae called tinajones to
collect and store rainfall. Soon the large red jars (up to
2.5m tall and 1.5 m wide) were a standard item outside every home, partly buried in the earth or standing
in the shade to keep them cool, but always under the
gutters that channelled the rain from the eaves. Citizens began to compare with each other to boast the
most tinajones and demonstrate their wealth. According to local legend, an outsider offered water from a
tinajon will fall in love and never leave.
The city prospered from cattle raising and later sugar,
which fostered a local slave-plantation economy. The
wealth attracted pirates and the unfortunate city was
sacked and almost destroyed twice during the 17th
Camagüeyans are extremely proud of their city and
their culture, and boast about it to an almost painful
Museo Provincial Ignacio Agramonte
This museum in a huge colonial structure dating from
1884, was formerly a garrison for Spanish cavalry. Today
it exhibits an eclectic array of Cubania - from artwork,
archaeology exhibits, and stuffed flora and fauna, to historical records up to the Revolution. Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun
Plaza del Carmen
This intimate cobbled square (Marti and 10 de Octubre),
features life-size bronze and ceramic figures from Martha
Jimenez: an old man pushing a cart, three women sipping
cups of coffee, two elderly lovers sharing gossip. The tiny
plaza is surrounded by houses in bright pastels. In the same
street you can find Martha’s personal gallery, as well as a
state run gallery. Also well recommended Rest. El Paso
Plaza San Juan de Dios
This most impressive square is today a national mounument and has been magnificently restored. The bright
pastel buildings have huge doorways and beautifully turned
grill work. They date from the 18th century and reflect
how the city must have looked at its prime, 200 years ago.
One of these is Joel Jover’s art gallery, which is a must
see. Another has been converted into a luxury colonial
style restaurant - Restaurant 1800 - considered as one
of the best in Cuba at the moment.
Plaza del Gallo
Former Plaza de la Soledad, used to be the place where
the main train lines converged. It has just been renovated
and improved including Wifi access.
Camagüey has an excellent farmers market, daily 7am6pm. It borders the north bank of the river.
Music, Shows, Bars, Cultural Events
Casa de la Trova - on west side of Parque Agramonte,
hosts traditional music during the week and more contemporary Nueva Trova on Saturdays. Tue-Sun 10am1am, $3.
El Caribe - Cabaret show, $5 (includes 1 cocktail),
Tropicana style show with disco afterwards, 11pm-2am
Begonia - Jazz music, 8pm-12am, Saturdays
Galeria UNEAC - also hosts traditional music. Sat
Hotel Colon -has a disco and cabaret Fri & Sat at 10pm
Gran Hotel - hosts a ballet acuatico at 9pm when there
are sufficient guests. The roof-top terrace has great views
and the best cocktails in town.
Cafe Ciudad - frequented by bohemians and intellectuals, this cafe on the Plaza Agramonte has good coffee
and is a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the cultural
feel of the city.
El Cambio - also on a corner of Plaza Agramonte.
Opened in 1909, this bar has some interesting decoration
(don’t miss the bathroom!) and is a good place for a few
drinks and to meet some locals.
Classical Music and Theatre - the world acclaimed
Ballet de Camagüey perform at the recently restored Teatro Principal dating to 1850 and where notables such as
Enrico Caruso once sung.
Casablanca - One of the new nightclubs. Starts around
1030-11pm, cheap drinks, and has live music and some
If you are here for more than 1 night, you have time to
visit the pretty beaches on the north coast. Playa Santamaria is 110km away and a return taxi costs about $110.
Republica Street - Recently became a Pedestrian way
and got filled with lots of little Local Shops and small
Boulevard - this is Camagüey’s equivalent of Havana’s
Calle Obispo - a pedestrian only street lined with shops
Art Galleries - Camagüey’s art galleries are well
regarded. Among the most famous artists from which
you can buy works are Joel Jover, Martha Jimenez, and
Santiago de Cuba
PASEO DE MA
BIRTH PLACE OF
CASA DE LAS
DE LOS DOS
CASA DEL VINO
JOSE DE DIEGO
PALADAR ARIEL Y
ROSY (rooftop terrace)
CASA DE LA MUSICA
JUAN BAUTISTA SAG
EL COMPAY GALLO
Santiago de Cuba
CONGA DE LOS
GONZALO DE QUESAD
AV 24 D
To Tropicana, Bayamo,
To the University
and El Cobre
Plaza de la Revolucion/Reparto
Sueño/Reparto Vista Alegre
Plaza de la
Santiago de Cuba
ANTONIO MACEO MONUMENT
MUSEO DE LA IMAGEN
CASA DE LOS
AV RAUL PUJOL
JOSE ANTONIO SACO
ARBOL DE PAZ
CASA DEL CARIBE
CASA DE LA AMISTAD
Plaza de la Revolucion
This huge plaza is dominated by the massive monument to Antonio Maceo, who was the home grown son of a local merchant
Santiago de Cuba is one of the most interesting and historically
who rose to become the hero-general of the War of Independence
important regions in the country. Second only to Havana in size, it
as second in command of the rebel forces. Maceo was nickhas a distinctive mood and teems with sites of historical and cultural named the Bronze Titan.
The Santiagueros carry themselves here with a certain lassitude and Reparto Vista Alegre
This leafy residential district is lined with once upscale villas.
speak in a lilting tongue with a musical tone. French and African
Many were confiscated after the Revolution and turned into govwords appear a legacy of the many French and Haitian families
that settled here in the late 18th century. The majority of the 30,000 ernment offices, clinics, and schools.
or so French planters and merchants who fled Haiti following the
Loma de San Juan
revolution in 1791 chose to settle in and around Santiago. EventuSan Juan Hill is where every U.S. schoolchild knows that Teddy
ally black Haitians came also, as workers. The rich racial mixture
Roosevelt and his Rough Riders defeated the Spanish. The landhas produced some of the most exciting music, art, and architecture scaped park contains a replica fort, plus monuments and cannons.
in the Caribbean. Such musical forms as son were birthed here, and One monument is dedicated to the “generous American soldiers
the city remains Cuba’s most vital centre of Afro-Cuban culture.
who sealed a covenant of liberty and fraternity between the two
nations.” There is no monument, however, to Roosevelt and
his Rough Riders, because the Cuban liberationists who helped
The beautiful white colonial building on the north side of Parque
Céspedes is the town hall (not open to the public). It was the former storm the hill weren’t even invited to the surrender ceremony on
headquarters of the Spanish colonial governor, and housed the U.S. July 16, 1898.
military during its occupation of Cuba. It was from the overhangEl Morro
ing balcony that Fidel Castro gave the victory speech on January 2, This enormous piece of military architecture begun in 1638 and
1959, after he entered town following Batista’s flight from Cuba.
is poised ominously atop the cliffs at the narrow entrance to
Santiago Bay, about 14km south of Santiago. The Morro was
Basilica Metropolitana Santa Ifigenia
rebuilt and strengthened in 1664 after the English pirate Henry
The cathedral is the fourth building to occupy the site (the original
was begun in 1528). The remains of Diego Velazquez are entombed Morgan reduced it to rubble. Cannons are everywhere, and the
within. Between the church’s twin towers is a statue of the Angel of views from the battlements are spectacular. Exhibits include old
the Annunciation holding a trumpet. The entrance is on Felix Peña. blunderbuss, muskets, cutlasses, and more. A cañonazo ceremony is held at sunset, when soldiers in period costume load
Open after 5:30pm.
and put a torch to a cannon in a time-honoured tradition that once
announced the nightly sealing of the harbour. Daily 9am-7:30pm,
On Parque Céspedes west side is the former home of Cuba’s first
$4 ( + $5 with camera ).
coloniser. It dates from 1516 and is supposedly the oldest house
in Cuba. It features separate rooms full of period furniture, tapesThis small island sits in the bay less than 1km offshore of El
tries, crystal ware, and artwork. Mon-Thurs, Sat 9am-12:45pm and
2-4:45pm, Fri 2-4:45pm, Sun 9am-12:45pm, 2CUC. Its worth wait- Morro. The small fishermen’s colony looks as if it has been
magically transferred from the Mediterranean, with its row boats
ing for the English speaking guide to take you around.
berthed beneath the eaves of quaint red-tiled waterfront houses.
Narrow streets lead up to a hilltop church. The restaurant on the
This museum was founded by Emilio Bacardi in 1899 and contains northeast side of the quay, sits over the bay and serves seafood
his astounding collection. It is housed in a huge neoclassical edifice and criollo dishes. The quay is reached by a tourist ferry - $3
with Corinthian columns in the heart of Santiago’s oldest quarter.
The first floor contains a miscellany of colonial artifacts, from slave
shackles and stocks to a huge array of antique weapons. The second Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia
This cemetery is the final resting place for several key figures in
floor art gallery includes 19th century and contemporary works by
Cuban history. The grand gateway is dedicated to Cuban soldiers
leading figures. Also here is a small but impressive collection of
who died fighting in Angola. Just beyond is the tomb of Jose
pre-Columbian artifacts from throughout the Americas, including
Marti, beneath a crenellated hexagonal tower (each side reprea shrunken head, and Peruvian mummies. Tue-Sat 9am-9pm, Sun
sents one of the six original provinces of Cuba). It is designed so
that the sun would always shine on his coffin, which is draped
Museo Abel Santamaria
with the Cuban flag. The cemetery also contains the graves of
This museum occupies a former hospital where Abel Santamaria
Carlos Manuel Céspedes, Emilio Barcardi, Tomas Estrada Palma
and 22 fellow rebels fired at the Moncada barracks and where they
(Cuba’s first president), heroes of the attack on the Moncada
were later captured, tortured, and killed. Here, too, Fidel Castro
Barracks (look for the red and black flags on their graves), and
gave his famous “History will absolve me” speech while being
heroes of the War of Independence, who are entombed in a tiny
judged by an emergency tribunal. Seven rooms house exhibits
castle. 40min guided tour - $3 (extra fee with cameras)
relating to the event and to the life of Abel Santamaria. Mon-Sat
9:30am-noon and 2-5pm, $0.50.
This former military barracks is renowned for the fateful day on
July 26, 1953, when Fidel Castro and his poorly armed cohorts
stormed the barracks. After the Revolution, Moncada was turned
into a school and a museum. A section near the entrance gate is
riddled with bullet holes. They are not the originals however as Batista’s troops filled those in. Castro apparently had the holes redone
using photographs. The museum tells the tale of the attack and subsequent revolutionary history. Prolific weaponry includes Castro’s
personal sharpshooter rifle. Tue-Sat 9:30am-6pm, Sun 9:30am-1pm,
$2 ($4 with camera).
Dominating the town of El Cobre atop a small hillock, 20km
northwest of Santiago, is the ochre coloured, red domes, triple
towered, Basilica del Cobre. Once a year, thousands of devoted
Cubans make their way along the winding road, many crawling painfully uphill to fulfil a promise made to the saint at some
difficult moment in their lives. The unlucky fisherman in Ernest
Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea promises to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin de Cobre if he wins his battle with the massive
marlin. In 1952, Hemingway dedicated his Nobel Prize for Literature to the Virgin, placing it in her shrine. The Salon of Miracles contains miscellaneous objects placed in offering. The two
centuries of ex-votos include a small gold figure left by Castro’s
(Traditional Cuban Music
SEÑORA DE LOS DOLORES/
LOCAL PESOS PIZZA
LIBRARY BOOK STORE
GREAT COFFEE SHOP
9AM - 9PM
JOSE ANTONIO SACO
LOCAL HANDICRAFT MARKET
mostly designed for Cubans
IGLESIA DE NUESTRA
SEÑORA DEL CARMEN
mother to protect her two sons, Fidel and Raul, during the war in
the Sierra Maestra, Olympic medals, and incredibly, bequests for
the freedom of Cuban political prisoners.
The Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, the patron saint of Cuba to
whom miraculous powers are ascribed, resides in effigy in an airconditioned glass case in a separate altar above the main altar.
Baconao Biosphere Reserve
This 32,000 hectare mountainous reserve east of Santiago is a UNESCO biosphere reserve for its biodiversity, including more than
6,000 species of higher plants, more than 800 insect species, plus
29 reptile species, many endemic to the region. It can be visited on
a day trip and has the following attractions:
The Gran Piedra - or ‘Great Rock’ - is a massive boulder on
top of a 1,234m high mountain 14km from Santiago, from which
you get a spectacular view down the mountain side. On a clear
day you can see the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, and by night,
the lights of Port-au-Spain, Haiti. To get there you pass through
several ecosystems. Below is lush and thick with forest. As you
climb, the vegetation opens out, becoming scrubbier, and the
views grow more dramatic. You have to walk the last 454 step
stairway to get to the top. $1 entry, guide $2 per person.
Bird of Paradise Garden - this 45 hectare garden was created in
1960 on a former coffee plantation to raise flowers. The garden is
a riot of scents and colours. 7am-4pm daily. Visits only permitted
with a voucher sold by Cubanacan (Av. de las Americas y M, $5)
Spanish-American War Museum - features photos and original
cannons and other weaponry, including shells and two Spanish torpedoes, plus miscellaneous parts from both the U.S. and Spanish
vessels. Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, $5-$10.
Autombile Museum - the collection of vintage American cars has
been built by the novel practice of Cubans new Russian-built Ladas for their old Cadillacs and Chevys. Look for the Chevrolet that
Raul Castro drove during the Moncada attack (when he got lost).
Oasis Artists Community - is a pretty little hamlet of field-stone
cottages. The entire community of 10 families works as artists and
has open studios.
Prehistoric Valley - dozens of life size reptiles lurk in a lush
natural setting including Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Pterodactyl. All
made of cement of course. 8am-4:45pm daily, $1.
Music, Shows, Cultural Events
Casa de la Trova - Cuba’s most famous “house of trova”. The
trova tradition of romantic ballads was born here, and many famous Cuban musicians perform daily. Daily 11am-1am, $3-$5.
Casa de la Musica - live music everynight. 10pm to 2am, $5-$10.
Coco Madrigalista - son and bolero nightly at 8pm, $1.
Patio de Artex - more traditional music, 11am-2am, $5.
Patio de los dos Abuelos - traditional music nightly. First set
starts at 11pm and special intimate acoustic set at 1am. $5
Casa del Caribe - hosts rumba every Sunday afternoon in Vista
Casa Cultura Africana Fernando Ortiz - has rumba FridaySunday at 6pm and displays African masks, carvings, and musical
instruments. Also in Vista Alegre.
Afro-Cuban Folklore Associations. - These places have workshops where you can watch, and/or participate:
* La Tumba Francesa (Calle Los Maceos #501, esq. General
Bandera) Tue and Fri 9pm
* Folklorico Ikache (Hartmann, y Tamayo Fleites)
* Conga de los Hoyos (Paseo y General Moncada)
* El Tivoli (Desiderio Mesnier #208, Mon-Fri 8am)
* Ballet Folklorico Cutumba (Saco, e/ Corona y Padre Pico,
Teatro Oriente (Calle Enramadas #115) each Saturday at 9:30pm
and Sunday at 10:30am - $3.
Tropicana - 4km northeast of town, this place hosts a colourful
theme show tracing Caribbean history and culture. Saucy Las Vegas style cabaret espectaculo. Thurs-Sat 10pm, $30 including one
drink. Only runs if there are enough tickets are sold.
Cabaret San Pedro del Mar - near El Morro castle, offers a
smaller espectaculo. A disco follows. (Carretera km 7.5, Wed-Sun
Santiago Cafe - a colonial themed club in the Hotel Melia Santiago, features a small cabaret followed by disco. It has a dress
code. Nightly 10pm-2am, $5-10 .
Salon del Son - in local pesos (M.N). Popular with locals. Sometimes good salsa bands. Dark, airconditioned. Booking needed.
8pm-2am, around $2-$3.
Iris Jazz Club - Recently renovated, still presents live jazz band
and bar almost every night.
Pico Real Bar - a ritzy bar atop the Hotel Santiago hosts live music and disco nightly at 10:30pm. $6 including one drink.
Teatro Heredia - by the Plaza de la Revolucion, host classical
performances, as does Sala de Conciertos Dolores (Aguilera y
Ateneo Cultural - offers cultural activities from poetry readings to
live rap. Felix Peña e/ Castillo Cuany y Diego Palacios, $2.
La Maison - offers an alfresco fashion show followed by a cabaret. Diners get free entry. Manduley #52, Mon-Sat at 10:30pm, $5
including one drink.
Bar La Claqueta - is now the night spot in this area, it also has
life music and its open air bar everynight. geared towards young
Cubans, with a big screen. Reggeaton and salsa. 1 cuc open until
Discoteca Versalles - one of the happening discos located in the
Hotel Versalles. $5.
Baseball Stadium - Baseball games are held Oct-Mar, each TueThurs evening as well as Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm.
Calle Heredia - is lined with arts and craft stalls. For fine art head
to Galeria de Arte UNEAC e/ Hartmann y Pio Rosada.
Galeria Oriente - great art including carnival posters (under Hotel
Fabrica de Instrumentos Musicales - is a workshop where
guitars, drums, and other musical instruments are made and sold.
Patricio Lumumba #55.
Egrem - large CD selection. Corona #564 e/ Saco y Aguilera.
Caney Rum Factory - sells a wide range of national rums, including rare 25 year old Ron Paticruzado in special porcelain bottles. It
is also well stocked with cigars. Av Peralejo #103. Tours $5.
El Quitrin - hand-embroidered shirts, blouses, and skirts are sold
here, including genuine guayabera shirts. Located in the populous
Enramada Street between Reloj and Calvario
Calle Enramada - pedestrian street lined with shops. Recently
Calle Freites - another pedestrian street with market stalls - leather
items, cds, and handicrafts.
Hotel Melia Santiago and Hotel Maison - shops inside with
Escalera Bookstore - good place to buy books and newspapers.
Music instrument lesson $10
La Gran Piedra Mountain $1 (entry)
Entry to music houses up to $10
El Morro Castle $4 (entry)
Van day-trip $30
Dance lesson $10
Hotel Pools -- Melia Santiago - $10 -- Las Americas - $5
DE LA PUNTA
EL BUEN SABOR
CASA DE LA TROVA
IN A CAVE
CASA DE CULTURA
Handicraft Stalls MARAVI
Casa del Cacao
KARAOKE “DISCO 485”
To Airport, Yunque,
The first of the original seven cities founded by Velázquez,
Baracoa is the oldest colonial city in the Americas. The indigenous Taino population resisted the Spanish. A Dominicanborn chief named Hatuey rallied the Indians in a rebellion
against Spanish enslavement, and the city was besieged. The
Spanish managed to hold out for three months before repelling the indians and capturing Hatuey. He was burnt at the
stake. Before putting flame to the pyre, the Spaniards offered
Hatuey an option of redemption in Heaven by renouncing his
pagan practices and accepting a Christian God, or life in Hell.
He replied that if there were Spanish in Heaven, he would
rather go to hell.
The city was remote and surrounded by mountains. Baracoa’s
inauspicious geographical circumstance did little to favour
the settlement. After five years, Santiago de Cuba, with its
vastly superior harbour, was proclaimed the new capital. The
town languished in limbo for the next two centuries, without
road or rail link to the rest of Cuba until La Farola highway
was completed in the early 1960’s.
Baracoans have a good deal of Indian blood, identified by
their short stature, olive-brown skins, and squared-off faces.
El Castillo Hotel
This fortress is built atop the rocky marine terrace that looms
40 meters above the city, offering a bird’s eye view. It was
constructed during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-41) between Spain and Britain, when the two nations’ natives battled it out over the issue of trading rights in the new world.
The fort - known as Castillo Seboruco - subsequently became
a prison. It has metamorphosed as a Hotel and is accessed
by a steep staircase. The rooftop and poolside bars are good
places for a cocktail while you admire the marvellous views
(free entry for non-guests).
This tiny fortress dates to 1802 and guards the eastern entrance to the old town. The storehouse houses the Museo Matachin (Daily 8am-noon, 2-6pm, $2), which traces the history of the region since pre-Colombian days. It also displays
polymites (the local polychromatic snails). The restaurant is
quite ok with reasonable prices and some beautiful paintings
are for sale here.
This triangular plaza is the town hub and is pinned by a bust
of Hatuey, appropriately facing the cathedral in a defiantly
manacing pose. The Cathedral is famous for a dark, wellworn, meter-tall cross (supposedly the oldest European relic
in the Americas) on display inside a glass case. Carbon dating
analysis confirms that it is indeed about 500 years old. Restoration on Cathedral finished in 2012. It is open to the public
with mass daily at 6pm and Sun at 9am.
Casa de Chocolate
If you are lucky this place might have its icecream in stock.
Delicious! Ask for the flavour of the day. Coconut and chocolate (made from the local cacao) flavours are highly recommended. In local pesos (M.N) -. Daily 9am-1pm, 3pm-11pm.
★ Galeria Pelay Alvarez Lopez and Taller la Musa, sell
paintings, carvings, and furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl
by accomplished artists. Taller las Orishas makes dolls.
★ Casa de la Cultura, and other gallerys around town have
paintings by local artists for sale.
★ Rumbos - One of the best places to buy water/wine/
lunch/bottles of rum. Open almost 24hrs.
★ Casa del Cacao - One of the best places to buy water/
wine/lunch/bottles of rum. Open almost 24hrs.
Bars, Music, and Entertainment
★ There are several bars around the Plaza Hatuey offering
live local music and dancing, including Casa de la Trova,
Casa de la Cultura, Palmares el Parque and Fondo de
★ La Terraza - a roof top bar featuring a cabaret show
Tues-Sun at 11pm, 1CUC.
★ Karaoke Bar - on main square. Karaoke from 11pm12am. Dancing 12am to 2am. Closed Mondays.
★ El Ranchon - Open air disco/night spot a short walk
away from the centre of town up some steep stairs. Sometimes live music. Good for reggaeton. $2. Open late - 2 to
3am, weekends only.
★ Centro Cultural y Teatro - on the south side of the
plaza shows films most evenings.
★ Estadio Manuel Fuentes Borges - east of town, hosts
baseball games October-May.
★ Barrarumba - this folkloric music and dance group
deserves a special mention. They deliver one of the best
folklore shows in Cuba. Performing at different times and
venues, however usually on Sundays in the Casa de Cultura, 9pm.
Cuchillas de Toa Biosphere Reserve
West of Baracoa this reserve rises from sea level to 1,139
meters in elevation. It has a great diversity of climate types
and corresponding ecosystems - acclaimed loquaciously
by UNESCO as “the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of terrestrial biological diversity in the entire insular Caribbean.” Basically it
protects the richest fauna in Cuba, and more endemic species of flora (928 thus far identified) than anywhere else
on the island. The following are features or other parks
within this reserve....
“The Anvil”, is the spectacular table-top mountain (575m)
that dominates the landscape west of Baracoa and seems
to float above the surrounding hills.
Alejandro de Humbolt National Park
This 70,835 hectare park provides several hiking options.
A 2m tall statue of the German explorer at the park entrance/office.
Th park also protects 2,263 hectares of marine ecosystems, including mangroves, an offshore quay, and whitesand beaches shelving to a coral reef. Manatees inhabit
these waters and can be seen on boat excursions.
Boca de Yumuri
On the other side of Baracoa (west), the Rio Yumuri cuts
through a deep canyon to meet the Atlantic surf. You can
catch a row boat up the river and hike to swimming holes
along the canyon floor.
★ Yumuri river tour $20-25/person depending on group size
Full day excursion - visit a cacao plantation, Manglito beach, small coastal villages, a rowboat ride up the river, and a short hike in a deep canyon to secluded swimming holes. Please ask for the available safety vests for this excursion.
★ Yunque mountain hike $13 + transport + tip for park guide
Steep, slippery, and demanding hike up this spectacular mountain. Only for
those who want to exert themselves and sweat bullets. 3hrs up and 1.5hrs
down. Finish with a refreshing swim in the river.
★ Yunque waterfall hike $8 + transport + tip for park guide
Visit a local school, farmers house + more. 4 hours hiking total. Access to waterfall is dependent on river level.
★ Maguana Beach $35-$40 (price per taxi return)
The best beach in the area, complete with white sand and palm trees. 15km
West of Baracoa town. Locals offer homecooked lunch.
★ Humbolt Park Hike $25 + tip for park guide
A couple of variations available of different lengths. Watefalls, natural swimming
pools, a variety forrest habitats. Park guide compulsory.
★ Arqueological Museum (Cueva del Paradiso) $3
Inside a cave system on the south side of town, this museum displays aboriginal artifacts, carvings, and jewelry, plus skeletons. Access to the museum is
somewhat hazardous via makeshift wooden ladder, and the entrance is hidden
amid a banana grove. Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-noon.
★ Swimming Pool at Hotel Castillo $10
Sometimes pool is not operating, so check with your guide before. Includes $8
credit at the bar for food + drinks
★ Cuevas del Aguas $10 / White Beach $3
A 45min walk starting out along the black sand beach will eventually bring
you to a small village and the entry to a National Park that has been recently
opened to visitors. From here you can either have a guide take you to some
caves - Cuevas del Agua, 1.5 hours each way, or to a white sand beach - 20min
each way. Beautiful landscapes along the way. Take a hat, some snacks, and
lots of water.
★ Finca Toa $8 + transport + tip for guide
Farm on the banks for Toa River (Cuba largest river in terms of flow). Free entry. Buffet lunch or dinner with local specialties $10 to $12. River boat excursion
★ Finca Duaba $3 ($15 including lunch) + transport + tips
A farm 8km from baracoa. A visit includes a guided tour of the impressive
gardens that are filled with fuit trees that among others, include cacao, coffee, mango, lemon, grapefruit, banana, orange, custard apple, and breadfruit.
Includes a demonstration of the process involved in making chocolate.
★ Rio Duaba Excursion $3 + transport + tips.
A 2 to 3hrs excursion which includes a boat trip to the mouth of the Duaba River
and a walk along a coastal rural area visiting local farms and their inhabitants.
Please ask for the available safety vests for this excursion
★ Cooking Lesson about $30
Learn how to make the beautiful chocolate, the great coconut sauce that makes
the fish taste so good, and other delicacies native to Baracoa.