(Update October 2018)
At first glance, the city of Cienfuegos does not have that much to offer – except its incredible beauty.
Not only due to its proximity to Trinidad, where everybody goes, it’s absolutely worth a stopover for one or two days.
|Classic Sunday concert on the Paseo El Prado|
It was settled by French immigrants in 1819 and kept its colonial charm over the years.
|A stroll along the Paseo El Prado….as if in southern Europe; except maybe for the young pioneers.|
As a matter of fact, it deemed less Cuban than most other cities: There are many stores and business in the center which looks like many pedestrian shopping streets in southern regions.
|At one of the houses along the Prado: A piece of art in the making; and what a unique motive the artist has chosen.|
The houses look well maintained. There is at least one supermarket that has actually groceries – and where you can pay with CUP and with CUC, too. If you’ve been to Cuba, you will understand what a big deal and how unusual this is. No scarcity, no shortage – what’s wrong with this place?!
|It’s not Fifth Avenue, I give you that. But for Cuba, this is very posh.|
The main activity in Cienfuegos should be strolling; strolling up and down the very French boulevard Paseo El Prado and its side streets towards the Parque José Martí; don’t miss the famous – and now of course slowly falling apart – Teatro Tomás Terry.
Regarding architectonic attractions, the sightseeing tour of Cienfuegos is easy since they are all located on or around the Parque: The Teatro Tomás Terry on the north side – where during the day all the tour buses are parked, so that you hardly can get a decent picture of it.
On the east side is the Catedral de la Purisima Concepcion, built in 1833.
|One of the iconic buildings that made the historic center of Cienfuegos a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.|
On the southern side of the square are the Museum and the Governmental Palace, around in the corner in the west are the Palacio Ferrer and finally the Federation of Writers and Artists.
In the park is not only José Marti, but also a gazebo and even an Arc de Triomphe – built in 1902 supposedly by a bunch of passionate workers who celebrated victory and independence.
Cienfuegos’ nicest stroll, of course, is along the Malecón, which I find much more beautiful and majestic than the one in Havana, by the way.
|Where the blue of the sky meets the blue of the water – Cienfuegos’ Malecón.|
There are a couple of nice stops where you can get a drink and a complimentary Salsa concert: First of all, there is the elegant yacht club – again: it’s incredible that there is a place like this in Cuba!
|The sun shines through the Yacht Club Cienfuegos.|
|Mojitos and complimentary Salsa concerts wherever you go.|
But actually, it’s very good that it is there: At the government-owned places, food and drinks are at fixed standard prices. While regarding the food you shouldn’t bother, good Mojitos at 3 CUC are a great bargain!
You know how I always thoroughly write down the addresses and phone numbers and link the name to the business’ or museum’s website? Well, in a guide to Cuba, unfortunately it is hardly possible since most of the places do not have a website, sometimes it’s even not possible to find a real address online. Therefore, at the end of each chapter, you’ll find a map that shows you where to find all these great spots; and maybe one day there will be referring sites and I will update my posts – and google will be happy, too.
So the fun never stops in Cienfuegos since only a ten minutes walk farther is another fantastic waterhole – one that you wouldn’t expect in Cuba, neither: The Palacio de Valle, built by Italian architect Alfredo Colli from 1913 to 1917 in Moorish style.
|A quirky place: Palacio de Valle.|
They have rooftop seating- and mojitos are 3 CUC and the Salsa band plays on – ¡life is good!
By the way, the Casa Particular where I stayed and that I’m recommending in the Rating-chapter is just a ten minutes walk from either the Yacht Club or the Palacio de Valle – so another reason to stay there. On the other hand, it’s 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the center – so it’s totally up to you.
Depending on how long you stay in Cienfuegos – and I find one can stay there pretty long – there are at least two-day trips you should join. I say join since in Cienfuegos it’s actually easy to do a tour with a governmental tour agent: Havanatur, Cubatur, Cubanacan – they all offer day trips. I booked with Cubanacan – the office is at Paseo del Prado – and got a whole day trip for 35 CUC to the waterfalls at El Nicho, lunch included.
|Turquoise waters that visitors can even swim in.|
While in Cienfuegos a trip with Cubanacan worked out like a charm, in other places it was hopeless: The person in charge of the office came late or didn’t show up at all or for some reason was not able to book a tour or….it’s a governmental company – nuff said.
|Once you achieve getting on a tour, it’s totally worth it.|
This map should show you all the places worth visiting and mentioned in this post:
Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Cuba?