It’s July thousands of travelers around the world are getting ready to explore Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba and others famous cities on our island. But there are also hidden gems: charming traditions, friendly inhabitants and wonderful landscapes turn these places into mandatory stops for every visitor. Uncover with Espíritu Travel the four Cuban towns that will leave enduring impressions in your soul.
There are towns with spirit, where magic is in the air, and the traveler can’t help falling in love and merge with the environment. Cuba, the beautiful island of white sand and vibrant culture, have plenty of them, but you need to know where to look. Espíritu Travel will guide you through backroads to discover these treasures.
Book a personalized trip with our agency and feel the real Cuba.
Cuba towns that you have to visit
Viñales: a World Cultural Landscape
Just 2,5 hours away from Havana, at Pinar del Río province, you will find one of the most famous towns of Cuba: Viñales. Initially a indigenous settlement and a refuge for runaway slaves, it wasn’t until 1865 that the urban center started growing.
The mixture of indigenous, Spanish and African roots has created a rich culture you can feel in the language, customs and cuisine of the inhabitants. In Viñales, everything is a tradition, from the XIX century architecture to the “pilón” to shell the coffee beans and the rice. However, all this beauty can’t prepare you for the marvel waiting at the end of the main road.
The magnificent Viñales Valley is a landscape of round rocky outcrops, commonly known as mogotes, where the endemic vegetation and hundreds of caves were formed since the Jurassic period. People living in the valley have adapted to nature caprices, and their rustic agricultural methods have survived the time. You can see a farmer using a creole plow to prepare the land or a wooden tobacco house covered by palm leaves that give the best drying temperature. It’s exactly this scenario what caused the proclamation of Viñales Valley as National Monument in 1979 and World Cultural Landscape by the UNESCO in 1999.
Don’t miss in Viñales…
- Los Jazmines Balcony: With a spectacular location, this free access balcony is the best spot for a panoramic picture of Viñales Valley National Park. Handcrafted souvenirs, traditional music and fresh cocktails, all in one sight.
- Viñales food: Oh, that smoky scent of pork and chicken roasted under guava leaves! Viñales cuisine is unique, and no one can resist a farm-to-table dinner. Our guides will take you to the most authentic paladares: white rice, black bean soup, sweet fried bananas, avocado salad… Yum!
- Explore the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás: This extraordinary cave system is the second largest the Americas with more than 46 km of underground pools, unique caves and beautiful silica formations. Choose one our Support for Cuban people trips and have the opportunity to visit the different levels of the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas with a local speleologist.
- A horseback ride to the Viñales National Park: 47 archeological sites, 28 “palenques” (antique refuges build by escaped African slaves during the colonial period), typical houses and a very rich biodiversity are enough reasons to uncover this nature wonder.
- Discover the tobacco path: Tobacco fields extend until the horizon in the fertile Vuelta Abajo. Learn firsthand how the finest cigars in the world are produced.
Las Terrazas: ecotourism and beauty
It’s a nice excursion for Havana to visit Las Terrazas, just one hour from the city. This unique community located in the Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosario is the first Eco-Museum in Cuba. In the past this biodiversity hotspot was extensively used to grow coffee and produce charcoal.
After the Revolution, the government decided to encourage the inhabitants of the area to restore their natural heritage. Today perennial forests cover the landscape, and travelers are invited to uncover a town where everything is build respecting the surrounding nature.
Don’t miss in Las Terrazas…
- The ancient Buenavista Coffee Plantation: More than 50 coffee plantations were developed here by French migrants during the XIX century. You will have the chance to climb to the ancient Buenavista Coffee Plantation to reveal the mysteries of French coffee production and slavery in the region.
- The fantastic nature walks: There are several natural trails you can follow to admire Las Terrazas’ biodiversity. El Taburete, Las Delicias and La Serafina paths offer the possibility to observe more than 50 species of birds such as nightingales, cartacubas and tocororos. Hike the Sierra del Rosario and enjoy the sweetness of native mangoes and the sounds of the forest.
- Las Terrazas Comunity: This postcard town isn’t something you want to miss: the excellent coffee, the organic honey, the exceptional local artists, the energetic life… there is so much to experience a day won’t be enough.
- Las Terrazas Canopy: Challenge your limits trying the spectacular Canopy Tour. A system of 11 platforms to descend 1600 meters over trees and lakes. Amazing!
It is a always great to leave behind the noise of the city and enjoy the peace of the Cuban countryside.. Take a stroll with one of the Espíritu Travel’s local guides and you will be enchanted.
Regla: the Black Madonna and the Sea
Crossing Havana’s Bay is entering to the mystical Regla, a spirited town where music, art and religions play an essential role in day-to-day life.
It was named Guaicanamar which means “facing the sea” in the indigenous language. Currently one of the 14 municipalities in Havana, its real origins go back to the second half of the XVI century. Spanish colonists, African slaves and free black migrants contributed to the incredible cultural heritage we can see today. Regla is the cradle of great musicians, painters, writers and dancers.
The old town is also one of the most visited places in Havana, and not only for tourists. Cubans come often to pay their respect to the Virgen de Regla. The graceful black Madonna dressed in blue, with a white baby in the arms, is a vibrant representation of Cuba’s syncretism. She was declared officially Patron virgin of the Bay and legends tell her clothes are always wet in the mornings because she traverses the waters to protect her devotes.
In the Afrocuban religions (commonly known as Santería) the Virgin of Regla is the mighty and compassionate Yemayá, Queen of the sea. That’s why catholic and “santeros” celebrate together her day in September 8th: an impressive spectacle you don’t want to miss.
If you’re eager to interact with the locals, if you are inquisitive about Cuban religiousness, if you wish to experience something totally different, then book a tailored trip with Espíritu Travel and visit Regla. Even struggling with the consequences of the tornado that stricken the island last January, the humble town has recovered its light. There is no better place to feel the people warmth.
Don’t miss in Regla…
- The Lanchita de Regla: What a dream to traverse the harbor in a cute motorized boat! The Lanchita (little boat in Spanish) brings its passenger 20 minutes of joy and a splendid vision of Havana and Regla. Take this inexpensive ride and breathe Cuba like never before.
- A visit to Nuestra Señora de Regla Sanctuary: This National Monument worth every trip. Dedicated to the Madonna of Regla, it is not only a church of remarkable artistic and architectonic values, but a cathedral of Cuban traditions.
- The streets: Regla is an extroverted town: locals are used to live the streets, share their houses and talk to everybody. Do you want to gain an insight into Cuban life today? Then Espíritu Travel is your agency and Regla the right place for you.
- The Artistic and Literary Lyceum: Founded more than 100 years ago, the lyceum continues to be the cultural heart of Regla. Popular dances like the “Flowers Dance” and the “Blue Night” demonstrate year after year its musical heritage. Plan your next getaway with us, and you could be dancing with the famous Guaracheritos of Regla.
- A promenade through the Municipal Museum: Established in an XIX century house at Martí Street, the Museum holds fascinating collections of paintings, photographs, furniture and diverse objects related to the towns’ history.
Remedios: a colonial jewel
Those visiting Villa Clara province shouldn’t miss a forgotten jewel: Remedios. Characters like the jigüe and the Mother of the waters haunt a population that feels likewise legends and history.
San Juan de los Remedios was the eighth village founded by the Spaniards in Cuba. However, pirates, storms and centuries haven’t changed the nobility of its facades. It’s considered one of the best preserved colonial towns in America.
Don’t miss in Remedios …
- The historical center: Today restored, the historical center represents the architectonic tendencies from the XVII to the XIX centuries. Cobble stones, decorated gates and many other details will make your tour unforgettable. The Spanish Casino and the Louvre Café are just some of the “perfect picture” houses you will find in the way.
- The amazing churches from the XVI century: Remedios is the only place in Cuba having two catholic churches (Nuestra Señora del Buen Viaje and the Parroquial Mayor de San Juan Bautista) one in front of the other one. Our local guide will bring you their interesting stories, seasoned with mouth-to-mouth anecdotes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit these cathedrals. They are pretty unique. It will be probably your only chance to see a representation of the Immaculate Conception pregnant!
- Caturla’s House: This museum was the home of Alejandro García Caturla, one the most famous Cuban musicians, also known as the incorruptible judge. Located at Camilo Cienfuegos Street, the house commotions the visitors with its organization and lively appearance. It seems that Caturla will enter the hall any time to play the piano, the sax, the clarinet and the violin with inimitable grace.
- The Statue of Liberty: Majestic and genuinely Cuban is the Statue of Liberty of Remedios. It represents the country as a beautiful woman breaking the colonial chains. The figure was inaugurated during the first years of the XX century.
- The Parrandas of Remedios: Travel to Remedios in December is a spiritual celebration. The Parrandas, originated in 1820, were initially a strategy to attract the population to the Aguinaldo Messes. But today this exciting festivity is expected for everyone. Coaches and lampposts, costumes and fireworks are carefully prepared in secret the entire year until December 16th, when the neighborhoods of El Carmen and El Salvador confront their creativity in 9 days of joy.
Visit Remedios with one of our professional guides and you will sense it’s the place where you belong.
They represent an opportunity to travel under the Support for Cuban people category and interact with locals in a meaningful way. You will enjoy a relaxing vacation while gaining new perceptions of the vibrant culture of the island. Contact Espíritu Travel today and start planning the adventure to the four Cuban gems you will love.