Despite recent restrictions imposed by the US government, Americans can travel to Cuba if their trips falls into one of 12 categories, including “Support for the Cuban People.”
The best places to visit in Cuba highlight the country’s history, tobacco-farming culture, colonial architecture, and beaches.
Venturing outside Cuba’s capital to the countryside setting of the Vinales Valley in Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s westernmost province, provides a look at rural life far-removed from Havana.
Cuba is unlike any place you have ever visited. Its recent history, socio-political development, and proximity to the U.S. make it unique in the world. Cuba is also beautiful with stunning beaches, lush, tropical foliage and dramatic architecture. But Cuba’s most winning feature, what really sets it apart, is its culture reflected in the people, art and music. There is nothing quite like this magical island anywhere else in the world. If you are thinking of going to Cuba and want to hit the key highlights, read on. HAVANA The air smells of the salty ocean that surrounds it. The
Source: Highlights of Cuba
The Viñales Valley, National Monument since 1979, was the first cultural landscape recognized by UNESCO throughout the Americas, declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and National Park in 2001.
“Timeworn but magnificent, dilapidated but dignified, fun yet maddeningly frustrating – Cuba is a country of indefinable magic.” Lonely Planet Travel Guide.
Charlie and I took a 3 and a half hour horse ride through Viñales National Park for a fee of 25 CUC ($25) each which included being picked up at our casa particulare in a horse-drawn taxi. The tour was arranged by our hostess the day we arrived in Viñales.
Our tour started at William’s stables. He assigned a horse to each of us — we were 4 plus William who was our guide and wrangler.
Our first stop was a tobacco plantation where we saw men cutting the plant in preparation for drying. It was explained to us how the tobacco grows and is readied to become the famed Cuban cigars — Cohibas, Monte Cristos, or Romeo y Juliets.
It is dried in barns then rehydrated in an herbal bath to make it pliable enough to roll.
Each of us was given the opportunity to smoke.
Backroads’ new bike trip in Cuba takes cyclists on a two-wheeled tour through the rural countryside and into Cubans’ homes for an up-close look at this fascinating island, simultaneously stuck in time and in the midst of unprecedented change.
In Cuba, the plan is that few things will go according to plan.
It’s essential that you arrive with an open heart, a curious mind and a supreme level of flexibility.
Expect the unexpected … it’s all part of the adventure!
These nuggets of wisdom — skeptics might call them warnings — were in the pre-departure packet that arrived in the mail a few weeks before my December bike trip in Cuba.
My husband and I, both avid fans of two-wheel travel, signed up for our cycling vacation before the Cuba situation started taking telenovela-like twists involving so-called sonic attacks, a State Department warning, confusing new travel restrictions and a hurricane named Irma.
“Are you sure you want to go?” my mom asked on more than one occasion.
The answer: absolutely.