Off the beaten track: 3 hidden gems to visit in Cuba

Amanda Angus

No visit to Cuba would be complete without a visit to Havana, but there are plenty more memories to be made slightly further from the beaten track…



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Think of Cuba and your mind might conjure up images of Havana, inextricably linked with Hemmingway’s legacy of mojitos and daiquiris, of classic 1950s cars maintained with loving ingenuity, fat cigars that produce plumes of aromatic smoke, stunning colonial architecture and wide squares that throb to the constant beat of live music pouring out of open doorways and flung-wide windows. 

Whilst it’s true that Cuba embodies all these unforgettable impressions, there is so much more to this feisty and fascinating country that lies less than 100 miles south of the sunny Florida coast, yet so much further in terms of culture, history and identity. 

No visit to Cuba would be complete without a visit to Havana, but there are plenty more memories to be made slightly further from the beaten track…

Intoxicating rhythms, colourful cars, a unique landscape and a compelling history…discover more about Cuba. Find out more here.

Viñales Valley

Located close to the western-most coast of Cuba, the Viñales Valley is spectacularly lush; not only is the flora that thrives on the rich red soil remarkable, but keen eyes may also spot darting hummingbirds collecting nectar from colourful blooms.

 Peppering the verdant countryside you’ll find huge limestone caves called mogotes; these look disconcertingly like long-forgotten marbles dropped by a giant and left to become part of the landscape – only adding to a fairytale atmosphere that you’ll find hard to forget.

Cienfuegos

Known as the Pearl of the South, this UNESCO World Heritage Site might not be quite what you expect from a Cuban city – founded in 1819 by the French rather than the Spanish, the Gallic influence can still be seen today in certain cultural traditions and architecture. 

With its clean, wide streets and equally clean, wide beaches, you’ll find the pace of life here slow and relaxing – the perfect location in which to unwind!

Santiago de Cuba

Known as Cuba’s second city, Santiago de Cuba is set on the south coast of the island, with the island of Jamaica to the south-west and Haiti to the south-east. 

If the French influence is palpable in Cienfuegos, then the atmosphere is decidedly Caribbean; a bustling city jam-packed with a riot of colour, music and life, it’s certainly a must-see.

Regardless of which part of this country you visit, you’ll be guaranteed of one thing – turn a corner and there will be a surprising new sight to drink in, whether it’s an incredible view, a pristine beach, a crumbling mansion or a street musician playing a tune that will lodge itself in your heart; from the moment you arrive, you’ll take a little piece of Cuba with you wherever you go…

Discover the many highlights of Cuba on an exciting tour. Find out more here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.