Cuba is a long, thin island located in the Caribbean and known for its diverse culture, idyllic beaches and lush forests. Much of the country’s area of 104,556 km2 has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beauty and historical significance. Here is a list of some of these places as well as the most beautiful places in Cuba.
The Varadero Peninsula, which is historically interesting but unethical in terms of tourism, stretches into the Caribbean at the northernmost point of Cuba. It is about 2 hours east of Havana. The American mafia wanted to build a section of casinos from this peninsula to Havana - to name it Casino Coast. However, when Castro took control of the corrupt Batista, he kicked out the mafia that started Las Vegas in Nevada.
This peninsula has one of the most beautiful coasts in the country. The problem, however, is that the resorts lining the beach completely spoil it. It is definitely an excellent choice for an all-inclusive holiday, but you don’t need to spend more than 2 days to explore Cuba.
At the beginning of the peninsula there is even a gate that prevents Cubans from entering.
Explore this vast valley nestled in the Sierra de Los Órganos. This UNESCO-listed site is full of small towns, towering, round limestone cliffs, straight pine trees and traditional tobacco farms. Ride a bike, hike or horseback through a lush valley and enjoy a slow lifestyle. The largest cigar brands in the country come with tobacco grown in the Valle de Viñales, an area that embodies rural Cuban life.
Topes de Collantes National Park
The Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve is full of natural beauty. The caves are hidden among ferns, palm trees and bananas. Rivers flow through valleys and waterfalls fall into crystal clear lakes. Due to the climate, this region is an important ecosystem for many colorful endemic birds in Cuba. It’s a great place to visit. The nature reserve is located between Cienfuegos and Trinidad in central Cuba and includes 5 smaller parks. Each park has at least one short well-defined hiking trail that can be easily followed without a guide. Each path is different, but most winds through misty forests and ends at a waterfall with a reflection in the jungle or natural swimming pool. Guided hiking in Cuba can be challenging, but the Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve is an excellent part of Cuba that can be easily explored independently.
Sierra Maestra Mountains
The Sierra Maestra Mountains in southeastern Cuba offer some of the best hiking trails in the Caribbean, including a trek to Cuba’s highest mountain, Pico Turquino. Lush mountain forests are dense and beautiful and there is a fascinating history. These mountains played a crucial role as headquarters and shelter for Fidel Castro’s rebel army at the beginning of the military struggle against the Batista regime.
The town of Trinidad
Trinidad has the second largest collection of world heritage after Havana. The UNESCO buildings have hardly changed since 1800, and you will feel the impressive influence of the Spanish colony on the buildings. Trinidad’s old town is only accessible for pedestrians and horses, so visitors are free to stroll through the street markets and view the iconic bright pastel houses from the narrow cobbled streets. Around every corner you will find some picturesque pleasures in Trinidad, so be sure to visit this city during your visit to Cuba.
Old Havana, or Habana Vieja, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is because it is the best place to preserve the history of Cuba. So much so that you will feel that time has stopped here. Walking through the streets you will find examples of Baroque and neoclassical architecture such as the Catedral de San Cristobal or the old restaurant Bodeguita del Medio, where Hemingway himself used to sit and drink rum and smoke cigars.
This famous waterfront promenade is one of Havana’s most popular areas and a must-see for anyone traveling through Cuba. The idea was created in 1901 and Malecón was partially built in 1902. The 7-kilometer road offers a place to walk along the sea and see a preserved mix of different styles of the 20th century in beautiful colors. There is always something to do at Malecón. From people watching and lounging on the sea walls during the day, to mixing with musicians and dancers at night.
The most beautiful beaches in Cuba
The beaches in Cuba are all beautiful and are characterized by white sand stretching into the turquoise blue warm sea. We bring you a description of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba. Which you decide to visit and spend on them, whether just a few days from your stay in Cuba or the whole stay in Cuba, we leave it up to you, depending on what you like best.
Varadero is the most popular beach in Cuba. Less than a 2-hour drive from Havana, Veradero is set on a long, narrow peninsula and boasts burning white sand beaches and warm turquoise waters.
If you like luxury and a rich nightlife, you will definitely enjoy yourself here. But if you prefer an undisturbed rest on the beach, it is probably better to choose another beach. There are several of them in Cuba with beautiful white sand and clear sea.
The sandy beach of Playa Larga is located near the wild Cienaga de Zapata, rich in nature. If you are looking for peace with a quiet fishing village, Playa Larga offers casas particulares (private accommodation) that are literally on the beach - don’t forget to bring mosquito repellents. Head 40 minutes south and enjoy snorkelling on the coral wall of Playa Girón. You can make multiple dives during the day or just enjoy the ocean view from the wooden rocking chair until the sun goes down.
Playa Pilar is often described as the most beautiful beach in Cuba, it has all the ingredients - dusty sand, warm clear water and more peace than the beaches in the neighboring village of Cayo Coco. Pilar was also a popular hiding place for the American writer Ernest Hemingway. Pilar is definitely a beach where time seems to have stopped. Try snorkeling, windsurfing, swimming or sailing on a nearby island.
Cayo Coco is a stunning country beach known for appearing in two hemingway novels, Creek Islands and The Old Man and the Sea. The beach is connected to mainland Cuba by a bridge, but you can also travel by air to the Jardines del Rey archipelago. White sand beaches are covered with cloudless skies and plenty of sunshine and the gently flowing water is a beautiful turquoise color. Visit the Parque Natural, where you will find crocodiles, turtles and flamingos.
Playa Paraíso or Paradise Beach is an idyllic Cuban beach that looks like it was cut from a magazine. Located on the island of Cayo Largo del Sur, the beach strip has fine white sand, shocking blue water and a dry, sunny climate, ideal for beach hatching. If you want to do more than just relax and unwind, Playa Paraíso is not for you, but if you enjoy enjoying crystal clear water, clear skies and lots of sunshine, this is the best place to go in Cuba.
Cayo Santa Maria
The beautiful beaches of Cayo Santa Maria cover almost the entire length of the north coast of the island. They are divided into nine parts with a total length of approximately 13 km of sand.
The whole archipelago is part of the UNESCO “Reserva de Biosfera Buenavista”; and part of the beach on the eastern tip of Cayo Santa Maria, Playa Las Gaviotas, is part of a protected natural refuge where no hotel will be built.
The first word that comes to mind when describing the beach on Cayo Santa Maria is: stunning! They are made of very fine white sand with crystal clear turquoise water. Some sections of the beach are separated by short rocky sections (emerging coral reefs). When crossing these natural obstacles, we recommend wearing shoes to get to the next part of the sand.
The entrance to the water is not too steep or too gentle, so there is no need to walk hundreds of meters before the water is at shoulder level. The beaches are mostly oriented to the north; This means that if you are sitting on the beach overlooking the sea, the sun is behind you.
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are the third largest tourist hotspots in Cuba. It makes sense, considering that the beaches here are beautiful and the ocean warm. There are no cities on the islands and the infrastructure is mostly complex. This makes this destination less attractive for travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture - you won’t find much here. However, if your goal is to kick the beach for a few days, this is a good place.
Cayo Guillermo is adjacent to Cayo Coco and lies west of it. It is a much smaller island - only 18 km2 in total - and has fewer hotels. The hotels are located along the 5 km long Playa El Paso. Paragliding and kite-surfing are popular here and you will often see several kite-surfers jumping on the waves at Playa El Paso. The best beach in the area is on the western tip of Cayo Guillermo - on Playa Pilar there is a beautiful white sand beach leaning on the dunes. The restaurant serves local seafood and cold beers.
Playa Ancon v Trinidadu
It may not have the clear turquoise hue of Cuba’s northern beaches, but Playa Ancón is probably one of the most beautiful cliffs and certainly the best of the south coast. Ancón Beach boasts a dazzling sand arch with palm trees and calm clear waters. Near the coast there are more than 20 places for diving. It is a tour for those looking for a day at the beach when visiting the colonial villages of Trinidad or Cienfuegos.