La Habana Vieja
After only a few days in Cuba, I can say it was one of the more interesting places I’ve experienced in my travels. I found it to be a country full of contrasts, most apparent in Havana. Brand new white roman-style architecture adjacent to old colorful and rain-stained buildings. Classic cars from the 1950s driving along side modern taxis and horse-drawn carts on the highway. Che Guevara flags and shirts sold in stores along the more popular pedestrian streets. Live Cuban music drifting out of restaurants competing with current hits roaring from bicycle taxis. Bright Caribbean colors everywhere you look, but with strong European vibes. As you walk around the city, there’s a constant feeling that you’ve traveled back in time.
La Habana is not to be missed — this city is worth a trip to Cuba on it’s own. Wander the maze of streets, listen to live music, chat with friendly Cubans, and people-watch while sipping a mojito. The extreme lack of internet access in Cuba will make it easy to stay in the moment and off your phone.
Valle de Viñales
A couple hours drive from Havana lie the valley of Viñales where most of the tobacco for Cuba’s famous cigars grown. You’ll find yourself surrounded by mountains that remind you more of Hawaii or Thailand. The red soil in this region is said to be the secret ingredient to making the best cigars in the world.
I was pleasantly surprised to find white sand beaches and clear blue water along the coast of Varadero. This area is more built up for tourists, but you’ll find several smaller beaches along the route from Havana, including Jibacoa. Sail, snorkel, or just cool off from the heat in the warm Caribbean waters.
This was a short trip and we missed a few areas I’d like to go back and visit (Trinidad in particular), but I definitely recommend Cuba to other travelers. Be prepared for no internet, bring a little patience, and get ready for every photo you take to look amazing with those Cuban colors. 🙂 🇨🇺