Two weeks, four cities. Donovan chronicles his journey in Cuba, across Varadero, Trinidad, Vinales and finally to Havana.
Cold war, communist state, trade embargo. These are the three phrases that come to mind whenever someone mentions Cuba. Thanks to our western-dominated media influence, many people do not have a good impression of Cuba. Not surprisingly, when I informed my family that I was headed to Cuba, they were all worried and asked me why I needed to explore that part of the world.
I was undeterred by other people’s opinions and the deteriorating US-Cuba relations. I had already booked my flights and nothing was about to stop me. My plan was to stay two weeks in Cuba, visiting four different cities: Varadero, Trinidad, Vinales and Havana.
I flew in to Cuba via Varadero airport.
Is it possible to travel Cuba on a budget? Learn how much it cost me to backpack through Cuba — along with my favorite travel tips, things to do, and more.
Budget Travel Guide: Cuba (2017)
The island of Cuba was “discovered” and claimed for Spain by Christopher Columbus during his first voyage to the New World in 1492.
While it’s been a popular travel destination for years, due to an economic embargo, Americans haven’t been able to visit easily until now.
However what draws people to the tropical Caribbean island of Cuba is much more than beaches and antique 1950’s cars, although there are plenty of those.
In Cuba you can wander bustling city streets, go hiking in the mountains, learn about the history of tobacco, or simply soak up the country’s 1950’s time-warp appeal.
Kempinski Cuba in Havana: Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, Cuba’s first five-star luxury hotel, officially opened its doors to guests in June 2017. Centrally located in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hotel brings a new level of guest experience to a city that has become a leading urban tourism destination. Features include 246 rooms and suites, six restaurants and bars, a world-class spa and wellness facility, as well as panoramic views of the historic city centre.
Kempinski Cuba opened its doors to guests in Havana
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana marks the entry into the Americas for Kempinski Hotels and will elevate expectations of what it means to experience luxurious, European-style hospitality in Havana.
Cuba is undoubtedly a country filled with historic, breath-taking landmarks that are culturally very significant; it has nine cultural and natural sites that hold the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status and another three submitted for consideration!
With so many beautiful attractions and places of interest scattered throughout the country, we’ve handpicked four must-see spots you should include in your itinerary when booking your holiday to Cuba.
As the oldest city in Cuba, Baracoa is one of the country’s best-kept secrets – its isolated location means that you can get a taste of real Cuba and get to know the local characters for a truly authentic experience.
With its secluded black-sand beach, impressive waterfalls and lush green forests, the city is filled with beautiful sights for any lover of nature.
The first rays of sun shoot out over the silhouetted ridges of the valley, slowly beginning to reveal the bright colors stained across the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad, Cuba. My eyes still adjusting from the sun, I sit on the terrace at my hostel and take in the slight cool breeze which will disappear in a few moments.
I stare out from the mountains to the sea, still unsure of how one place could be so picturesque. As my eyes survey the now awakened streets, I know that I had not yet seen the town in its full glory and felt the need to go higher up, farther out, and seek out the most beautiful places within the city limits.
WISPS of dove-grey smoke curl and writhe into the humid air before me. In my mouth, the taste of tobacco and spices.
I take a sip of my mojito and the fruity flavours of the Havana Club rum, aged for 15 years, perfectly complement the cigar smoke still dancing on my tongue.
I am at a cigar and rum pairing session, sitting under the eaves of a thatched beach bar at the five-star Royalton hotel in Cayo Santa Maria, a tiny island off the northern coast of Cuba.
One of a cluster of isles, the Cayos – as they’re known – are around 250 miles from Havana and a million miles away, it seems, from being able to access Facebook.