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Cuba

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About Cuba

While you may associate cigars and classic cars with Cuba, the island nation has so much more to offer prospective tourists. Cuban culture is a rich blend of European, African and Amerindian influences with a varied cuisine, signature music and even characteristic fashion. This culture is founded on beliefs of freedom and equality which has given way to a liberal ‘anything goes’ attitude - perfect for those who love to dance the night away.

Cuba shares the Caribbean climate of its neighbouring islands, with temperatures only ever going as low as 19°C in the winter months and climbing to 32°C in the summer. The good weather and the island’s many beaches make it a brilliant vacation spot for families looking for an alternative to more typical destinations. Whether you’re interested in the bustling city of Havana, the sweeping stretches of sand in Varadero or the rustic lifestyle of Guardalavaca, a visit to Cuba is one that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

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Hotels in Cuba

With a quickly growing tourism industry, Cuba has begun to offer a much wider range of modern accommodation to its guest. Possibly the most well-known area of the island, Havana has the greatest variety of hotels and holiday complexes, including the incredible Melia Cohiba which boasts contemporary villas and several on-site restaurants. If you’re looking for something closer to a traditional beach holiday, Varadero is the perfect choice with several holiday complexes including Sanctuary at Grand Memories – a huge villa complex ideal for families. For something a little different, Guardalavaca boasts the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, a Hawaiian and Spanish themed hotel that welcomes both families and couples.


Shopping in Cuba

While the island has a reputation for traditional marketplaces, there are now several malls in the country with stores that would be recognisable to any British tourist. There’s lots of local produce to browse as well, including the world-famous cigars, unique blends of coffee and restored vintage furniture. Shoppers who are looking for a market to browse farmers produce and Artesonia (arts & crafts) should visit the Mercado de Artesania in Havana. It’s worth noting that Cuba has two currencies of equal value, the Cuban Peso (used by residents of the island) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (used by visitors). Currency can only be exchanged on the island so you will not be able to pick any up before you go. In some cases, smaller stores will not accept the Cuban Convertible Peso, as they only wish to sell to locals.


Food & Drink in Cuba

The cuisine of Cuba is one of the island’s defining characteristics. There is a tradition of Cuba cooking that takes dishes from other cultures and gives them a twist, visitors should make sure to try Cuban tamales, pizza and paella. Unique dishes to Cuba include Vaca Frita, a salted fried beef sandwich, and the orange flavoured costillitas ribs. Those looking for local alcohol should keep an eye out for the island’s signature rum and medianoche, sandwiches served late at night to help drunk party-goers sober up and avoid hangovers.

Events in Cuba

With such a diverse culture, Cuba has many festivals that combine several different traditions, these are great opportunities to meet local people and create lasting memories:

Festival del Habano

An elegant, high-class party across the island in February celebrating the world famous Cuban Cigar. While smoking plays a key part in the festival, there are also formal dinners that see the residents wearing their finest clothes and meals with some of Cuba’s best cuisine. If you want to indulge in Cuban Cigars this is the best time to plan your journey to the country.

Cubandisco

Taking place in late May, Cubandisco is a festival dedicated to Cuba’s incredible music scene. Dancers and musicians perform across the island as parties are held in many towns and cities. This is one of the biggest events in the Cuban calendar, making it a perfect time to visit.

Carnival

If you’re ready to experience Cuba at its wildest, Carnival is the only time to visit the island. Taking place towards the end of July, the festival is a non-stop party complete with parades, musical performances and much more.

Flights to Cuba

There are regular flights between Manchester Airport and the four international airports on the island. Those heading to Havana and Varadero will want to fly into Varadero Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport, while other visitors can fly to Santa Clara Abel Santamaria Airport, Cayo Coco Jardines del Rey Airport or Holguin Frank Pais Airport depending on where they are staying. Flights take around 8 hours 40 minutes and are operated by several airlines.


Things to do in Cuba

With an incredible history and a growing tourism industry there’s plenty to do in Cuba:

Walk the Malécon

This 5 mile boardwalk travels the length of Havana and is somewhere between a traditional seaside pier and the Las Vegas strip, with all sorts of casinos, bars, performers and more based along it. If you want to experience Cuban nightlife this is a great place to start.

Visit the University of Havana

Showcasing some of the greatest architecture in Cuba, the University of Havana is a brilliant place for tourists to get a feeling for Cuba’s past. It’s well worth paying for a guided tour as the campus has a fascinating history.

Watch an Interactivo performance

Performing weekly, Interactivo is a super-group of musicians from across Cuba’s music scene. Tickets to their performances are affordable and they play many public events. With a rotating line-up, this is a spectacular way to get a feel for Cuban music and culture.

Take a trip to Baracoa

Sitting at the south of Cuba, away from many of the other towns and cities, Baracoa has a very different feel to the other cities in Cuba. It was the first place that Christopher Columbus landed on the island and it has a much stronger Spanish influence. The fastest way to get between Baracoa and Havana is by plane however there are many bus services that give you a chance to enjoy the Cuban countryside.

Climb Pico Turquino

The highest point in Cuba, Pico Turquino offers breath-taking views of the Cuban landscape. It’s a straightforward hike to the summit, along a marked trail with some local businesses on the way including restaurants and guides. The trek takes around 10 hours to complete and, due to its location on the south of the island, takes 3 hours to reach by plane and 12 hours by train from Havana.

Useful Information

Key facts

Language:Spanish
Currency:Cuban Peso / Cuban Convertible Peso
Time zone:GMT -4
Flight time:8 hours 40 minutes
Airport code:VRA/SNU/CCC/HOG
Holiday type: Beach / City Break / Summer Sun / Sight Seeing

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