CUBA – the Complete Guide from Coast to Coast

If you want to see more of Cuba than just the iconic bars in Havana and the endless beaches of Varadero, this is the perfect guide for you – taking you from coast to coast. On the whole, it takes you from the island’s westernmost tip all the way to the Guantanamo region in the very east.

Woman riding a bike in Cienfuegos in Cuba. Illustration of a Complete Guide from Coast to Coast.
Child of the Revolution.

I travelled across Cuba all by myself and on public transportation. Hence, let me tell you, exploring a socialist country like Cuba does differ quite a lot from travelling through other regions.

Therefore, not only will my stories be interesting. Especially Cuba-novices will certainly appreciate my thoroughly researched information and suggestions.

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Guide to HAVANA – Welcome to the Club

Let me guide you through Havana, Cuba’s capital that took many people by storm. It’s basically a hurricane of fun, sun, and salsa.

Malecon in Havana at Dawn
Synonym for Havana – the inevitable Malecon.

Well, I’m not dancing salsa. And I’m certainly not dancing salsa in Cuba where even a one-legged veteran sways way better than me.

So I’m focussing rather on the city by day.

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Guide to VINALES – Cuba ‘s Rural Paradise

Vinales, a couple of hours west of Havana, is Cuba ‘s rural paradise: Still dreamy, but not sleepy anymore. Since from Havana, most travellers pay also Viñales a visit.

Mogotes in the mist in Vinales, Cuba 's Rural Paradise
The early birds catch the worm view: To see the mogotes between the veils of mist, you have to get up early.

And most travellers are right to do so because it’s truly beautiful. Coffee and tobacco, mysterious caves, endless fields, and mist-covered mogotes. Vamonos, hop on your bike and let’s explore pastoral Vinales!

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Guide to CIENFUEGOS – the Fancy Side of Cuba

Let me guide you to Cienfuegos, a surprisingly French city right in the heart of Cuba. There is good infrastructure, charming places, strong drinks, and cool waters. Basically the fancy side of Cuba.

Parque Jose Martí in Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos’ beautiful central square is called after Jose Martí, the great Cuban writer and philosopher. There he stands waving. The blue building behind him is the Museo Provincial and on the left, the building with the big cupola, is the Palacio de Gobierno, the Governmental Palace.

Also, it’s a great gateway for many day trips to the beautiful surroundings.

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Guide to TRINIDAD – Cuba’s Colonial Fantasy

In the city of Trinidad, Cuba’s colonial fantasy comes alive. Walking the cobblestones of this architectural jewel will wrap you in a tropical reverie.

Street in Trinidad, Cuba's Colonial Fantasy
Here you have it all: The cobblestones, the colorful houses, and the indispensable oldtimer – ¡Bienvenidos en Trinidad!

However, besides Havana, Trinidad is synonymous with a Cuban vacation and therefore its own cliché. The traveller will find in an almost caricaturish way exactly what he expects. Consequently, Trinidad is a touristy epicenter and deems a bit void’n’shallow.

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Guide to SANTA CLARA – Reliving Cuba ‘s History

Santa Clara – a place where to this date you can relive the history of Cuba ‘s revolution.

Plaza de la Revolución in Santa Clara
José Delarra created also Che Guevara’s mausoleum that he’s sharing with some of his fellow fighters. It’s located at the other end of the indeed extensive Plaza de la Revolución.

With the historic Hotel Santa Clara Libre at the Parque Vidal, the Mausoleo Che Guevara, the revolutionary’s last resting place, and the Toma del Tren Blindado site, Santa Clara is still breathing revolution.

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Guide to CAMAGUEY – Cuba’s Modest Beauty

On the way from Santa Clara to the beaches of Isla Santa Lucia, a stopover at Camaguey came in handy, so here I share my little guide with you.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Camagüey
Plaze del Carmen and Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Camagüey.

If Viazul’s itinerary hadn’t forced me to spend the night, I probably wouldn’t have visited Camagüey. After all, I had already so many idyllic midsized cities on my list. But actually, I would have missed out on a really pleasant place. Although – one day was sufficient.

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PLAYA SANTA LUCIA – Cuba’s Secluded Tropical Paradise

Spending a couple of days on secluded Playa Santa Lucia peninsula and paradisiac beaches such as Coco Beach on Cuba’s northern coast is the perfect relaxing break between visits to all the interesting and vibrant cities on the island.

Playa Santa Lucia Cuba
Secluded and very, very nice: Playa del Coco.

Although to foreigners, the peninsula Plays Santa Lucia seems very much off the beaten tracks, you can get there by public bus in about two hours.

I bet you didn’t know that paradise was that close by.

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SANTIAGO – Capital of Afro-Cuban Culture

Santiago in the island’s eastern part is the capital of Afro-Cuban culture. This alluring home to the country’s largest Afro-Cuban population was actually the birthplace of the Revolution.  

Santiago de Cuba, the Capital Afro Cuban culture, in the early morning.
Good morning, Santiago! Walking in the wee hours to the Viazul bus station. 

Since Santiago is cheaper and more relaxed than Havana and full of tropical vibes, I really don’t understand why so many visitors simply skip this underrated treasure.

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Guide to BARACOA – Cuba’s Hidden Gem

Let me guide you all the way east where Cuba keeps a hidden gem called Baracoa.

View of Baracoa and the Bahia de Miel, the Honey Bay, from the Hotel El Castillo.
View of Baracoa and the Bahia de Miel, the Honey Bay, from the Hotel El Castillo.

I was very glad that Baracoa was my last stop in Cuba – since it was definitely the highlight. Wrapping me in its relaxed, homey atmosphere, Baracoa would have spoiled me for the rest of Cuba.

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