Known as “The Pearl of the South”, the city of Cienfuegos in Cuba was founded by French settlers who left their mark on the magnificent neoclassical buildings that you will discover as you walk through its streets. Cienfuegos is one of the 4 World Heritage cities in Cuba, along with the historic center of Havana, Trinidad and Camagüey.
Cienfuegos is one of those cities of passage in Cuba. It is strategically located between Havana and Trinidad, which makes it a good place to stop on the road between the two cities. During your trip to Cuba with Espíritu Travel you will have time to stroll through its colorful streets or have an ice cream admiring the Cienfuegos Malecón.
The places you should visit in Cienfuegos
The most visited areas of Cienfuegos are concentrated around Martí Park and the beautiful bay that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. We recommend you visit this charming city on foot to appreciate all its little details.
JOSÉ MARTÍ PARK
The main historic center of Cienfuegos and a National Monument since 1982. In 1819 it was the starting point for the urban layout of the city. As if it came out of a novel from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the José Martí Park has attractions everywhere. Surrounding the José Martí Park are the most emblematic buildings of the city. It is so to speak the heart of Cienfuegos.
Around it you will find the Arc de Triomphe, the Villa Fernandina de Jagua, such as the Cathedral Church, the Town Hall, the former Government Palace, the Tomás Terry Theater, the old San Lorenzo College, the Spanish Casino converted into the Provincial Museum and the Ferrer Palace transformed into a House of Culture.
TOMÁS TERRY THEATER
This theater was built in 1889 and has beautiful architecture, making it one of the most elegant buildings in Cienfuegos. Its name comes from Tomás Terry, a Venezuelan merchant who moved to Cuba, where he developed most of his commercial work.
The theater is a true legend of cultural life and Cienfuegos architecture, the Tomás Terry Theater has host great Cuban and international figures such as Sarah Bernhardt or Alicia Alonso pass through its box.
This eclectic style building from the late 19th century is the jewel of the park. The Ferrer Palace, on the corner of the José Martí, takes the limelight away from any other building. Its intense blue color, which we will also see in other buildings in the city, hides that it is undergoing a long restoration process.
The monument was built voluntarily by the workers of the city to celebrate the independence of Cuba. What stands out most of the palace is its tower from which all of Cienfuegos can be seen. The Spanish merchant who built this building made sure he could control the entry of ships and goods into the port. And it’s true, from here you can see absolutely all of Cienfuegos.
THE CIENFUEGOS MALECÓN
This is a mandatory stop on your visit to Cienfuegos. A Place to fall in love, to share at night, to enjoy the sunrise and sunset from Cienfuegos. The bay of Cienfuegos, with its peaceful setting, has the power to calm, to relax.
In addition, in front of the Malecón there are several markets and cafes for drinks and snacks. You can sit for a while or simply walk back through it like someone heading to Paseo del Prado or in the direction of Punta Gorda.
PASEO DEL PRADO
As in Havana, but more modern and brighter, the Paseo del Prado, one of the central streets of Cienfuegos, extends. It is practically impossible to be in the city and not go through there. Just take a good look at the bustle that is always in this area.
The Paseo del Prado ends in the Malecón and continues to Punta Gorda; a spit of land in the south of the city. On this walk we also find beautiful buildings or the statue of Benny Moré, a famous Cuban musician, in the middle of the street.
Do not only stay in the center part of the walk. On the sides you can find unique corners such as the smoothie house. In this place for locals you can have a very cheap fresh fruit smoothie, since it is paid in CUP.
The Palacio del Valle is one of the architectural symbols of Cienfuegos. Its mix of styles and constructive exuberance make it a jewel of eclecticism in Cuba. Inside you can dine in the restaurant or you can sit at the terrace bar and take good photos of the bay of Cienfuegos.
Faithful guardian of Cienfuegos, of its hidden stories and legends, the Fortress of Our Lady of the Angels of Jagua has been transformed into a military museum, religious and even economic life of the city in its first centuries. This castle preserves the only drawbridge that still works in the country.
Its exhibition rooms, which house military and religious objects, fishing instruments and cannons, which seduce visitors from all over the world.
CATHEDRAL OF THE PURE CONCEPTION
At the other end of José Martí park is the Neoclassical Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Cienfuegos had not been inhabited prior to colonization. However, when the Spanish arrived, they decided to establish a city there since the bay of Cienfuegos was ideal to build a port. With the founding of Cienfuegos, the first mass was celebrated on the same land that the cathedral occupies today.
TOMÁS ACEA CEMETERY
On the outskirts of the city you will find the only garden cemetery in Cuba. Like many American cemeteries, its creators conceived a type of burial directly on the ground. Although some sections are preserved with this idea, over the years large mausoleums, sculptures and pantheons were built.
The Tomás Acea Cemetery, very visible especially for its impressive entrance that imitates the Parthenon, was the last resting place of important figures of the culture and history of Cienfuegos and Cuba.
If you decide to stay one night in Cienfuegos, you can also visit other places such as Laguna de Guanaroca, the Cemetery of La Reina or the Botanical Garden. We recommend you end your visit to Cienfuegos with Espíritu Travel on the Malecón while the sun disappears in the horizon. Discover for yourself what makes Cienfuegos a mandatory stop on your trip to Cuba!
Get inspired visiting our Cuban Trip Plan Ideas