There are many things to do in Cuba, a country with a peculiar political history and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
The Cuban Revolution marked a turning point in the history of post-colonized Cuba. When the world began to globalize, a communist regime was established on the island, and it’s still present today despite international pressure and global blockades. However, that is exactly the reason why the Cuban tourist attractions are unique and very different from the ones you’ll find in other Caribbean islands.
The country is breathtaking, full of incredible landscapes and rich culture. Regardless of when you visit it, you will always find interesting activities in Cuba. Although you should go as soon as possible if you want to know the authentic Cuba because just two weeks after our 15-day trip to Cuba, Fidel Castro died and the island is changing very quickly since then.
To help you plan your trip, here are the 50 best places to visit in Cuba. Also, at the end of this article, you will find a map with all these tourist attractions of Cuba so you can make the most of your time. I also recommend you read our guide to planning a trip to Cuba.
1. Havana, the most important city to visit in Cuba
Havana is one of the most important places to visit in Cuba since it’s the capital of the country. It’s a city of contrasts, where greatness and decadence collide, and most people have a love/hate relationship with it.
As I explain in our guide on things to do in Havana, the capital city is divided into the neighborhoods of Old Havana, Central Havana, and Vedado. This is where you’ll find some of the most famous places in Cuba, such as the Malecón de La Habana, the Museum of the Revolution, and the Christ of Havana.
But this is just the beginning of what the city has to offer. If you visit, I recommend checking out our guide to learn more about Havana.
We flew into Havana airport and booked this transfer to the city center. As soon as we arrived, we left our bags at our hotel and took this free tour to see the main points of interest in Cuba. It’s a group tour, but if you prefer something more personal, you can take the tour with a local guide.
2. Visit Viñales Valley, one of the best things to do in Cuba
The Viñales Valley is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cuba. Not only is it one of the most popular natural areas in the country, but it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Monument.
What makes it a must-see in Cuba is the gorgeous natural landscape of native plants and mogotes. These rounded mountains are no taller than 100 feet, but they’re eye-catching. Since they formed from limestone, the Caribbean rains have gradually eroded them, creating caves. Some of these caverns have underground rivers, such as the Cueva del Indio, which I will tell you about later.
As I mentioned in our guide to the best things to do in Viñales, you cannot miss the area’s coffee and tobacco plantations. I also recommend standing in front of the Prehistory Mural, a large painting on the rock of the mogote Pita. However, this area of the island has much more to offer.
I recommend spending 3 or 4 days in this area, although if you don’t have time, you can take this 1-day tour from Havana to see the most important things.
3. Varadero, one of the most famous beaches in Cuba
Varadero boasts some of the most beautiful beaches, so this is one of the top areas to visit in Cuba. Since it’s so popular, Varadero has several luxury resorts. If you want to spend a few days in total comfort, this is the place to go.
The town has over 13 miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Here, you can disconnect from it all and spend your time swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, or water skiing.
This tourist attraction in Cuba also has several impressive caves, such as the Saturno Cave. Stepping inside this archaeological structure, you’ll be amazed at the rock formations. Best of all, it has a natural pool inside where you can enjoy a dip.
So, if you’re looking for fun things to do in Cuba, Varadero is a place you must visit. If you don’t have much time, you can book this excursion from Havana to see Varadero in one day.
4. Trinidad, a must-visit in Cuba
Trinidad is one of the best cities to visit in Cuba. It’s in the center of the island and is an area of great cultural and historical significance.
As I mentioned in our guide to the best things to do in Trinidad, Cuba, this city still has remnants from the Spanish colonial era. It’s a lovely place, and I encourage you to get lost among its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. Walk down Real de Jigüe and Amargura streets, and you’ll feel like you’re stepping through a postcard.
I also recommend visiting Plaza Mayor, where you can have a canchánchara, a traditional Cuban cocktail. Another must-visit in Cuba is Casa de la Trova, in Trinidad, where you can enjoy the nightlife and listen to authentic Cuban music.
Trinidad is also home to two interesting museums: The Municipal Historical Museum and the National Museum of the Fight Against Bandits. The first has a rooftop terrace where you can get amazing views of the city, while the second has artifacts related to Cuban independence.
Another cool place to go is the Church of the Holy Trinity, one of the largest churches in the country.
If you want to discover everything about this beautiful city, I recommend this free tour to see some of the most famous landmarks in Cuba.
5. Cienfuegos, one of the most beautiful places to visit in cuba
Cienfuegos, also known as the Pearl of the South, is one of the top cities to visit in Cuba. It’s on the way to Trinidad from Havana, so it’s a convenient place to spend a day.
Located on the shores of the bay of Cienfuegos, this town stands out for its buildings from the colonial era. The historical urban center of Cienfuegos is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some other impressive places in Cienfuegos include the José Martí Park, Ferrer Palace, the Benjamin Duarte Provincial House of Culture, and the Purísima Concepción Cathedral.
Another cool activity in Cuba is walking along the Paseo del Prado, the largest promenade on the island. It eventually leads to the Malecón de Cienfuegos in Punta Gorda. As I mentioned in our guide with the best things to do in Cienfuegos, this is where you can enjoy one of the best sunsets in the country.
6. Santa Clara and the Che Guevara mausoleum
Che Guevara is one of the most important figures in the country’s history, so visiting the Che Guevara Mausoleum is one of the most important things to do in Cuba. You can find it in Santa Clara, a central city on the island.
Santa Clara stands out for its historical monuments that reflect the independence revolution. The mausoleum also includes the ashes of Guevara’s 16 comrades who were killed during the Bolivia campaign in 1967. The monument on the mausoleum grounds, at over 20 feet tall, is also worth seeing.
In this same area, there is a museum dedicated to the life of Guevara and an “eternal flame” that Fidel Castro lit in his memory.
While you’re in Santa Clara, take the time to visit some other tourist attractions in Cuba, like the Leoncio Vidal Park and the Armored Train Monument. The latter commemorates the end of the Batista dictatorship and the start of the Castro socialist regime.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our excursion to Santa Clara due to an amoeba infection, which I mentioned in our article on travel insurance for Cuba. Luckily, it was nothing serious, but it’s a good reminder that travel insurance in Cuba is a necessity.
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7. Visit Santiago de Cuba, the 2nd largest city in Cuba
Visiting Santiago de Cuba is another great thing to do in Cuba. While it’s the second-largest city in the country, it’s on the southern end of the island, while Havana is on the northern end. So, if you’re going to spend less than two weeks in Cuba, you’ll have to decide between visiting Havana (and the Northern half of the island) or Santiago (and the Southern half).
We opted for Havana, but we plan to come back so we can discover all that Santiago de Cuba has to offer. This includes beautiful colonial architecture, a rich revolutionary history, and several famous landmarks in Cuba.
Enramada Street is the main artery of the city and where you can access the main tourist attractions. I recommend spending time in the old town, visiting Parque Céspedes and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.
Santiago de Cuba also has one of the most famous boardwalks in Cuba, where you can mingle with the locals. This city is also steeped in history, so stop by the Moncada Barracks and Museum, Plaza Marte, and the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. This is where Fidel Castro’s ashes and the body of José Martí are buried.
8. Ride in a classic car, something to do in Cuba with family
One of the most typical things to do in Cuba is to take a ride in a classic car. In Havana, these types of tours are all over, although they can be a bit pricey. We opted for this tour and explored the city in a classic 1950s automobile.
Our driver, Armando, asked us which parts of the city we’d already visited, so he could take us to new places. Along the way, he told us lots of anecdotes that we wouldn’t have heard if we didn’t do this tour. Also, he let us stop a few times so we could take photos. At the end of our tour, we asked Armando to drop us off at a different spot than the pick-up location, and he happily obliged.
If you want to explore Cuba in style, this excursion is the way to go. You can see iconic sites like the Plaza de la Revolución, Almendares Park, and the Malecón promenade. Plus, riding along in a classic car makes you feel fully immersed in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.
9. Have a mojito in La Bodeguita del Medio, another fun thing to do in Cuba
Another fun thing to do in Cuba is to have a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio. Although a few replicas have cropped up on the island (and around the world), the original La Bodeguita del Medio is in Old Havana.
The restaurant has long been a meeting place for writers, artists, and politicians. When you visit, you will find out that some personalities have left their sign on the walls, including Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda.
This is also the best place in Cuba to drink a Cuban mojito. Made with rum, lime, and mint, it’s the traditional cocktail of Havana, and a great way to end your day.
That said, La Bodeguita del Medio is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cuba‘s capital city. So, if you want a relaxing evening, you won’t find it here! We went very early so we could avoid the crowds, which worked out quite well. Plus, there was live music, and the drinks weren’t that expensive (about 5 CUC).
10. Buena Vista Social Club, the best place to enjoy Cuban music
Buenavista Social Club is one of the best places to visit in Cuba if you want to enjoy authentic Cuban music. Located in Havana, it’s one of the most popular clubs on the island and the perfect way to enjoy the nightlife.
Like all the clubs in the country, it closed its doors during the 1959 revolution and the rise of the Castro regime. Fortunately, it was able to reopen in the 1990s, and since then, it’s been a must-see in Cuba.
Here, you can watch the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club perform live, as well as the Afro-Cuban All-Stars. These are two of the best Latin bands in the world, so if you’re looking for entertainment in Cuba, look no further.
Since this is a popular club, I suggest booking your ticket in advance. This entry ticket includes a three-course dinner and drinks prior to the performance.
11. Tropicana Cabaret, something fun to do in Cuba at night
The Tropicana Cabaret in Havana is one of the most popular cabarets in the country and even won the 5 Stars Diamond for the Best Cabaret in the Americas. If you’re wondering what to do in Cuba at night, Tropicana has all the fun, music, and color you could want.
What makes this cabaret unique is that it’s outdoors in a tropical garden. The stage is surrounded by beautiful palm trees, creating a fitting atmosphere. Tropicana dates to 1939, and world-renown artists have graced its stage over the years.
Taking in a show at the Tropicana is one of the most exciting things to do in Cuba. While you sip a mojito, you can watch dozens of performers take the stage. It’s an incredible display of movement, dance, music, and colorful costumes.
The cabaret is very popular, so I recommend booking your ticket in advance. Also, consider the dress code before you go. Men should wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, and a polo shirt or button-down. Women should also dress semi-formally and should only bring small bags. Otherwise, they’ll have to leave it at the entrance.
12. Topes de Collantes, one of the best hikes in Cuba
If you like hiking, one of the places you can visit in Cuba is the Topes de Collantes natural park. It’s just a few miles from Trinidad, so you can take advantage of your visit by stopping here along the way.
The park is in the Sierra del Escambray mountain range, a lush area that’s home to nearly 50% of Cuba’s native species. It’s also full of natural wonders, such as the 210-foot Caburní Falls, the highest waterfall in the Caribbean.
We loved this place, and we were even able to see and photograph several small Cuban hummingbirds hovering around the flowers next to the waterfall. Getting there was a bit difficult because of the rain, but it was more than worth it. If you visit, just bring the right footwear!
While you’re here, check out some other hiking paths, such as the Vegas Grandes trail, that leads to another beautiful fall; or the Gruta Batata trail, which offers amazing panoramic views and leads to natural pools where you can bathe.
Topes de Collantes is also close to the Hacienda Codina mud baths and the Paseo Ecologico nature walkway.
13. Dance in the House of Music, something to do in Cuba for couples
If you’re looking for some nighttime activities in Cuba, I recommend visiting the House of Music. We went to the ones that are in Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales but almost all major towns have one.
Here, you can groove to live musical performances, which vary by the day. Several well-known Cuban artists and groups have performed here, such as Los Van Van orchestra and Bamboleo.
Besides the music and dancing, the House of Music is a great place in Cuba to enjoy a mojito or even a Cuban cigar.
Admission varies depending on who’s performing that night, but the tickets are usually quite cheap. The club is open from 10 pm to midnight, so if you’re looking for fun things to do in Cuba at night, this is the best place to go.
14. Zapata Swamp, one of the best national parks in Cuba
The Zapata Swamp is one of the best national parks to visit in Cuba. It’s in the Matanzas province on the Zapata Peninsula, and it’s the largest wetland in the Caribbean, covering 1,680 square miles. Thanks to its aquatic bird population, the park is a UNESCO-declared Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar Site.
Here, you can explore lush forests filled with about a thousand different native plant species. There is also a wide variety of animals, some of which are endangered. Zapata Swamp serves as a refuge for more than 65 migratory bird species, and it’s home to Cuban crocodiles and alligators. You can go to the park’s Crocodile Farm to learn more about these reptiles, and it’s a fun thing to do in Cuba for kids.
You can also explore other areas near the national park, such as Taino Village. There, you can learn more about pre-Columbian life in Cuba by examining the sculptures and ruins. Another interesting place to visit in Cuba is Playa Larga in the Bay of Pigs, one of the most popular beaches in the country. I also suggest visiting Laguna del Tesoro, Guamá, and the Hatiguanico River.
You’ll need an entire day to explore this area. It’s a bit difficult to navigate on your own, so I recommend this tour from Varadero.
15. Cueva de los Peces, the deepest natural sinkhole in Cuba
Close to Zapata Swamp is Cueva de los Peces, another cool attraction in Cuba. This natural sinkhole is known for its impressive depth, and it’s a natural wonder you should stop and see.
The sinkhole is 230 feet deep and sits among beautiful scenery. It’s open to the public, so you can bathe in its crystal-clear waters and see the fish swimming under the surface. I think it’s a great activity to do in Cuba as a couple. Plus, the Bay of Pigs is right across the road, and it’s the best place to go snorkeling in Cuba.
Besides the incredible amount of tropical fish you’ll see, this area is also full of sea sponges and colorful coral. I highly recommend checking out this place if you’re looking for an adventure in Cuba. There is even a small resort where you can rent snorkeling equipment.
16. Valle del Silencio, one of the best places to see the sunset in Cuba
Watching the sunset in the Valle del Silencio is one of the most romantic things to do in Cuba. Many people would agree that this is the most beautiful place in Viñales, so you don’t want to miss it.
This lush Caribbean valley is home to several tobacco and coffee plantations, and it’s one of the most scenic sites to see in Cuba. While the most popular way to explore the valley is by horseback, we took this sunset hike and loved it.
On our hike, we visited a tobacco plantation, where we learned how the farmers dry the plants for distribution. We also got incredible views of the valley as the sunset bathed the mogotes in orange. Without a doubt, it was one of the best outdoor activities in Cuba that we did.
17. Learn about Santeria, something interesting to do in Cuba
Before I went to Cuba, I didn’t know that the primary religion, in addition to Catholicism, is Yoruba. Also known as Santeria, this religion has its roots in Africa and came to Cuba during the colonial slave trade.
Santeria is more present on the island than you might think. For example, during our trip, we saw hundreds of people dressed in white from head-to-toe, signifying that they have been “sanctified”. You’ll have to take this Yoruba religion tour to know what that means! Without a doubt, this is one of the most interesting things to do in Cuba if you want to dig into the country’s culture.
The tour is in Havana, so you’ll get to see many of Cuba’s points of interest. This includes the Museum of the Orishas and the Callejón de Hamel, which is the epicenter of Afro-Cuban culture. You’ll also visit the home of a babalao, or Santeria priest, who will show you some Yoruba rituals.
18. Visit Cayo Levisa or Cayo Jutias, the best beaches in Cuba
If you want to enjoy some of the best beaches in Cuba, go to Cayo Levisa or Cayo Jutias.
Cayo Levisa is an island that’s about 4 miles off Cuba’s northern coast. Typically, visitors arrive from Viñales, so I recommend this excursion to get there. It doesn’t include the cost of the ferry, which is about 15 CUC.
Once in Cayo Levisa, you can enjoy all kinds of beachy activities in Cuba, such as swimming and snorkeling. The gulf waters off the coast are home to a diverse array of fish and reefs.
If you’re looking for more affordable things to do in Cuba, head to Cayo Jutías, which I consider one of the top beaches in the country. This excursion leaves from Viñales and you won’t have to take a ferry to get there.
The beaches of Cayo Jutías look like paradise and are perfect for sunbathing. You can also go swimming and snorkeling here, and I also suggest trying the lobster at one of the nearby restaurants, as it’s a specialty here.
19. Hotel Nacional, one of the most iconic hotels in Cuba
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a classic hotel in Havana and an iconic place to visit in Cuba.
This hotel first opened in 1930, and it’s still as elegant as ever. Its first-class services have solidified it as a benchmark within the Cuban hospitality industry.
Moreover, several high-profile celebrities and public figures have stayed at the hotel. A few examples include Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, and Alexander Fleming. Once you see this famous landmark in Cuba, you’ll get a sense of its grandiosity and glamour.
A fun fact about the hotel is that in 1946, all the bosses of the United States mafia met here. Today, there aren’t any mafia bosses at the hotel, but it’s still fully functional, and you can book a room during your visit to Cuba. If you want to stay here, book in advance because the rooms sell out quickly.
20. Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is one of the best places to visit in Cuba to reconnect with nature. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, and its lush vegetation and wide variety of native species makes it a must-see.
Experts believe there are more than 340 plant species that are exclusively in this park, making it one of the top places in Cuba. Here, you can enjoy beautiful scenery and views, as well as pleasant walks in nature. If you’re going to be in the southern part of the island, you can’t miss this national park.
The most popular area to walk around is El Copal. It’s just over one mile and offers amazing panoramic views of the park. Best of all, the path ends at an incredible waterfall that cascades over black rocks into a small natural pool where you can cool off.
Another interesting trail is El Recreo, which is slightly longer. Along the path, you’ll see all kinds of flora and fauna, as well as a viewpoint overlooking Taco Bay.
With all the trails and pretty wildlife, this national park is one of the best attractions in Cuba. You can even take this day trip from Baracoa to learn about the tropical forest and biodiversity of the place.
21. Rock climbing in Viñales, an exciting thing to do in Cuba
If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Cuba, I suggest rock climbing in Mogote del Valle, Viñales. This area is the most popular place to rock climb in the country, and it attracts climbers from across the globe. Not only does Mogote del Valle have plenty of vertical walls to climb, but the tropical views are out of this world.
Even if you’ve never rock climbed before, there are different excursions and tour packages for all skill levels. Of course, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to book a guided tour, so you stay safe while enjoying this exciting activity in Cuba.
If you’re determined to pursue this adventure in Cuba, keep in mind that the best time to go is from November to March since there is less rain.
22. Explore the caves of Viñales, something to do in Cuba with family
Viñales sits on an impressive karst valley, which makes it perfect for climbers. Another benefit of this terrain is that it has formed some incredible caves, and they’re one of the top sites to see in Cuba.
One of the coolest caves in the area is the Great Cavern of Santo Tomás. It’s the largest cave system in the country and the second-largest in all of North America at 28 miles long. Unfortunately, during our trip, the site was under construction due to a landslide, so we couldn’t visit it.
However, we did see the Cueva del Indio, one of the most popular places to visit in Cuba‘s Viñales area. The San Vicente River runs through it, so you must take a boat tour to explore the cave’s depths.
Another interesting cave is the Cueva de San Miguel, also known as Palenque de los Cimarrones for the African slaves who sought refuge in it after escaping the sugar mills. This cave isn’t as geologically interesting, but it’s historically significant and still worth visiting.
The caves of Viñales are a must-see, but they’re not at a walkable distance from each other so I suggest booking this tour to visit them.
23. See the sunrise at Los Acuaticos, a romantic thing to do in Cuba
One of my favorite memories from our trip was taking a trek at 3 am to see the sunrise at Los Acuaticos.
This may be an unusual thing to do in Cuba because the trail is a little-known secret. We did the trek on our own but got lost a few times! Still, it was worth it to see the sunrise and the warm glow rising over the mogotes.
That said, I don’t want you to get lost in the dark here, so I suggest booking this guided hiking excursion. Not only will you get the best views, but you’ll learn more about the community of Los Acuáticos. This traditional village believes in the healing power of water and, as such, has some unique customs.
24. Take a salsa class, something you must do in Cuba
Taking a salsa class is one of the most enjoyable activities in Cuba. The island has a rich history of salsa dance, so you can find lots of bars and clubs offering classes.
I must admit, watching Cubans salsa dance is quite hypnotic, and it seems that the rhythm pulses through their veins. Most salsa classes provide instruction as well as some background history about Cuban and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and movements. Practicing the steps with your partner is also a romantic thing to do in Cuba.
If you’re looking for salsa dance lessons in Havana, I recommend this class. The one-hour class includes instruction from professional dancers, who will teach you basic salsa moves, as well as the merengue and the cha-cha-chá. Without a doubt, it’s a fun thing to do in Cuba with your loved one.
25. Camagüey, one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Cuba
While traveling in Cuba, be sure to visit the city of Camagüey. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Camagüey is full of culture, history, and religious significance. It’s also one of the most beautiful places in Cuba, so if you’re visiting the center of the island, be sure to check out this city.
Besides, most of the tourist attractions in Camagüey are quite close to each other, so you can see them all in one day.
The Ignacio Agramonte Park is a historical spot commemorating the War of Independence with a statue of this Cuban revolutionary. You can learn more about him at the Ignacio Agramonte Birthplace Museum in Plaza de los Trabajadores.
Plaza del Carmen is another point of interest in Cuba. In this beautiful square, you can see the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the only religious building in Camagüey with two Cuban-style towers.
I also recommend visiting Our Lady of Candelaria Cathedral, which dates to 1735; the Teatro Principal, headquarters of the Camagüey ballet; and the Casino Campestre Park, one of the largest natural parks in Cuba.
26. Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, a unique place to visit in Cuba
The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba is something you should see if you’re traveling in Cuba‘s southern region.
The cemetery is over 150 years old and the second-largest in Cuba, after the Necropolis of Christopher Columbus in Havana. The area is home to several funerary monuments, such as the hexagonal marker of José Martí, representing the six ancient provinces of Cuba. Here, you’ll also find Fidel Castro’s tomb and the final resting places of several prominent Cubans.
You can get a better understanding of the cemetery and the historical figures buried there by booking this tour. Along with the cemetery, you’ll visit the Barracks of Moncada and the Museum of Bacardi, two other interesting attractions in Cuba.
27. National Capitol of Havana, another must-see in Cuba
The National Capitol Building in Havana is a famous landmark in Cuba worth visiting. It dates to 1929 and, in addition to being one of the largest buildings on the island, it’s a National Monument.
Construction on El Capitolio began during the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado with the help of North American financiers. As a result, the national building resembles the White House in Washington D.C., especially the neoclassical columns and grand dome.
The dome once held a large 25-carat diamond to symbolize Kilometer 0 on the Central Highway of Cuba, although it has been replaced with a replica diamond.
While you can visit the capitol building on your own, there are official one-hour guided tours that take place daily. It could be an interesting way to learn more about this prominent place in Cuba.
During the tour, you’ll visit the Hall of Lost Steps, with the impressive Statue of the Republic at its center. You’ll also see the former conference room of Baire Hall, the French-style Bolívar Hall, the neoclassical Baraguá Room, and the Martí Room in the library’s anteroom.
28. Cayo Santa Maria, one of the best beaches in Cuba
Cayo Santa Maria is one of the best places to visit in Cuba, especially if you want to enjoy spectacular beaches with turquoise blue water.
This island is north of central Cuba and links to the mainland via the world’s longest stone seawall (30 miles). So, you can reach Cayo Santa María by car, taking in all the wonderful coastal views along the way.
Once you arrive, you can sunbathe on the white sand beach or go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Another fun thing to do in Cuba is to take a boat trip and try to spot dolphins in this Caribbean paradise.
If you head to the southern part of the island, you can take a nature walk among the lush vegetation. If you’re not sure where to go in Cuba to disconnect and unwind, Cayo Santa María is your best bet. To make things nice and easy, consider this excursion from Santa Clara with transportation.
29. Visit La Isabelica coffee plantation, another interesting thing to do in Cuba
Near Santiago de Cuba, you’ll find La Isabelica Coffee Plantation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important places in Cuba.
Located over 3,700 feet above sea level, this impressive cafetal boasts social and historical significance. It doubles as a museum dedicated to the coffee slave trade and to the economic grown that the area saw when French emigrants from Haiti arrived in that part of Cuba and raised over 600 plantations.
Besides visiting the extensive coffee drying rooms, you can access La Isabelica Coffee Museum. This two-story mansion features period furniture and objects related to plantation work. The second floor has been restored to replicate the original home, so you can get a better idea of life back then.
About a mile away is La Gran Piedra, another popular tourist attraction in Cuba that I’ll talk about next.
30. La Gran Piedra, an amazing place to visit in Cuba
In the Sierra Maestra mountain range is La Gran Piedra, one of the most peculiar places to visit in Cuba.
La Gran Piedra (The Great Stone) is a huge volcanic rock weighing around 60,000 tons. It is over 165 feet long, 80 feet tall, and nearly 100 feet wide. It has become one of the most popular attractions in Cuba, despite the 459 steps you must climb to get to the top.
It’s worth it because the views from up there are magnificent. Over 4,030 feet above sea level, La Gran Piedra is even in the Guinness World Records book as the highest rock of its size in the world.
While you’re atop the rock with the entire Sierra Maestra underfoot, you’ll notice the big domed tower nearby. It’s a meteorological radar tower that records the climate changes in the region.
If you want to see La Gran Piedra, you should visit during your trip to La Isabelica coffee plantation. It’ll make for an unforgettable experience in Cuba.
31. Take a train ride through Valley of the Sugar Mills
One of the most interesting things to do in Cuba is to take a train ride through the Valley of the Sugar Mills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This area was home to the sugar mills and distilleries that exported supplies to Europe. While it yielded a large profit, it was unfortunately at the hands of African slaves. Taking a journey through this region means facing the darker parts of Cuba’s history.
You can take a ride on a steam train from Trinidad to Manaca Iznaga, one of the most lucrative plantations. Once there, you can visit the slave barracks and the watchtower that kept a close eye on the laborers.
Another sugar mill to visit is San Isidro de los Destiladeros. It’s close by but not as crowded as other similar sites in Cuba, so you can take your time looking around. The plantation is in good condition, as are the buildings and watchtower, from which you can get great views of the valley.
32. Ancon Beach, a calm place to go in Cuba
If you’re looking for the top places on the island to watch the sunset, consider Ancon Beach. Not only is it one of the best vacation places in Cuba, but the reddish hues of the sun reflecting on the calm sea is something you can’t miss.
This beach is close to Trinidad, so if you’re going to be in the area, it’s the perfect day trip. Ancon Beach boasts an expansive coastline, and it’s more secluded than other resort towns on the island.
Best of all, this beach is one of the most beautiful places in Cuba to go snorkeling. Along with the crystal-clear waters and fine white sand, the area has loads of colorful tropical fish. You can rent some snorkeling equipment on the beach and dive into those pristine waters.
We visited this beach several times, both by taxi and by bike, which takes 40 minutes from Trinidad. My word of advice is not to stop at La Boca, because although it may seem pretty, there is a lot of sewage. Instead, go straight to Ancon Beach, where you can relax on the clean shores.
33. Visit Baracoa, an important city in Cuba
Baracoa, also known as the First City, is a must-see in Cuba since it was the first established city on the island.
Despite its historical importance, Baracoa isn’t the most popular place in Cuba since it’s in the southern part of the country, in Guantanamo. Even so, it’s worth visiting, thanks to its preserved traditions, sites, and mix of jungle and seaside activities.
To start, visit Seboruco Castle to enjoy some beautiful panoramic views of Baracoa. Then go to Parque Independencia in the city center, where you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants.
I also recommend stopping by the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. Inside, you can see the Cruz de la Parra, the last of the 29 crosses that Christopher Columbus took to the New World and a beloved Christian relic.
If you get tired while walking the streets of Baracoa, you can take a stroll along the Malecón promenade, which always has a lively atmosphere. You might also enjoy one of the excursions that leave from Baracoa, such as the Alejandro Humboldt National Park, Maguana Beach, or Yunque de Baracoa and the Yumirí Canyon, which I’ll mention next.
34. Yunque de Baracoa, the best place to hike in Cuba
Yunque de Baracoa is one of the best places to visit in Cuba to enjoy wildlife and nature walks. Due to its historical, environmental, and cultural value, it has been declared a National Monument.
This nature reserve is one of the most well-known areas in the country and sits 1,310-1,890 feet above sea level. It gets its name from the peculiar flat surface at its peak, which looks like an anvil. If the distinct shape and impressive height of this place don’t astound you, the plentiful vegetation will.
Walking along the Yunque’s nature trails is one of the top things to do in Cuba with family, so I highly recommend it. The trail to the top takes around 4 hours, but it’s an enjoyable and scenic journey in the tropical forest. You’ll also spot different wildlife species along the way.
Once you get to the top, you’ll have gorgeous views. You’ll also see the bust of General Antonio Maceo, also known as the Bronze Titan.
If you want to discover all that the Yunque has to offer, I suggest booking this full-day excursion.
35. Yumuri Canyon and Belete waterfalls, a breathtaking place to go in Cuba
If you’re going to be in Baracoa, one of the top Cuban points of interest to see is the Yumuri Canyon. It’s a protected natural area with some of the best biodiversity in the country. Plus, it’s ideal for birdwatching, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
What’s nice about the canyon is that there are different walking paths, so you can choose one that suits your level. However, I highly recommend the trail that leads to the Belete waterfalls. It’s about 4 miles each way, but it’s worth it to see those clear emerald waters and breathtaking 65-foot falls.
The entire Yumurí Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in Cuba, full of lush rainforest, different animal species, and natural wonders. You’ll be surrounded by lovely tropical scenery the whole time, making you feel like you’re in paradise.
If you want to make the most of your time here, I suggest this excursion, which includes a visit to a cocoa plantation and the beautiful beach of El Manglito. You’ll also get to take a boat ride along the Yumurí canyon river.
36. Stay overnight in a casa particular, a unique experience in Cuba
One of the most authentic things to do in Cuba is staying overnight at one of the casas particulares, or private homes. Even if it’s just for one night, it will be an unforgettable way to meet the locals and immerse yourself in the culture.
Since 2000, Cuban families have been able to obtain permits that allow them to offer a room in their home as tourist accommodations. While traveling in Cuba, you will see signs for room rentals all over around.
Among the many perks of renting a room in a family’s home, I’d like to highlight the great prices, flexible dates, and the incredible opportunity to learn about Cuban culture first-hand.
This type of accommodation is usually quite charming, and each one is unique. Plus, the host families are super friendly and often greet you with a fresh drink or snack upon your arrival. They’re also a great source of insider information about where to go and what to do in Cuba. You could spend hours chatting and learning about their life on the island and how it has changed over the years.
I mention more about these private rooms in our guide on how to plan a trip to Cuba, so check that out if you’re interested in this type of accommodation!
37. Museum of the Revolution, one of the most important museums in Cuba
The Museum of the Revolution is the best museum in Cuba to learn more about the 1953 revolution.
It’s in Havana’s city center, inside what was the Presidential Palace. The last president of Cuba to use it was the dictator Fulgencio Batista. After the revolution, it became a popular tourist attraction in Cuba, exhibiting photos, documents, and other objects related to this pivotal event.
The museum is clearly propaganda, with an emphasis on the economic and social achievements of the communist system. I found the Cretins’ Corner to be quite humorous and intriguing, as there are giant caricatures of George H.W. Bush, his son, Fulgencio Batista, and Ronald Reagan.
The revolution was a crucial event that marked a distinct before and after in the country. If you want to learn more about its historical significance in Cuba, check out this walking tour, which includes stops at some of the most important and famous landmarks in Cuba.
38. Learn about Cuban cigars on the Tobacco Route
Whether you smoke or not, one of the most unique things to do in Cuba is to learn about the culture of Cuban cigars and how they’re made.
You can journey along the tobacco route in Pinar del Río province and see some of the main cultivation areas and Cuban cigar factories. While exploring the natural landscape, you’ll learn more about the country’s tobacco tradition and its economic importance.
Another option is to visit the Raúl Reyes Estate in Viñales, which is what we did. Besides being one of the most interesting places to visit in Cuba, the owner is humble and kind, so it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
During our time here, we saw the tobacco drying houses and plantations. Raúl Reyes explained the entire process and offered unique insights about his life and work in the field. We ended up purchasing a few cigars and some coffee as souvenirs.
Along with the tobacco plantations, another cool place to go in Cuba is a tobacco factory. The most famous one is Partagas in Havana, which is also the oldest in the country. Here, you can watch Cuban cigars being made and visit the accompanying museum.
39. Maria la Gorda, the best place to go diving in Cuba
While I’ve already mentioned some great beaches where you can go diving, there are a few other places in Cuba you should check out if you want to enjoy this activity.
María la Gorda in the northwestern Pinar del Río province is the best place in Cuba for diving. Here, you can swim over black coral reefs and among barracudas, crabs, lobsters, and other sea critters.
Be sure to check out the María la Gorda International Diving Center before you hit the water. There, you’ll find all the necessary information about the place, as well as interesting spots to dive. You can also rent diving equipment or book a boat ride.
From Pinar del Río, you can visit the Isle of Youth, another popular diving spot in Cuba. This area is good for both beginners and experts, and it boasts some amazing geological formations, as well as sharks.
If you’re going to be mostly in Havana, check out this snorkeling excursion, which explores the City of Alexandria and the SS Olivette shipwrecks. Another great diving trip is this one in Santiago de Cuba, which explores the Almirante Oquendo battleship that sank in 1898.
40. Attend the cannon firing ceremony, an unforgettable thing to do in Cuba
The cannon firing ceremony is one of the oldest traditions in Havana, dating to 1774 when soldiers would fire the cannon to announce the closing of the city gates. Hearing the boom of the cannon reverberating throughout the city is a memorable thing to do in Cuba that you don’t want to miss.
The cannon is at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by thick walls to keep bandits and pirates at bay. These days, the ceremony is part of Havana’s cultural tradition, and participants even wear 18th-century clothing to recreate the colonial era.
Again, if you’re visiting Havana, be sure to check out this impressive ceremony. I should warn you that the fortress is a bit out of the way from the city center, but this tour can pick you up from your hotel and take you there. You’ll also get to tour Old Havana and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
41. Have a daiquiri at El Floridita, something to do in Cuba at night
Along with the mojito, the daiquiri is one of Cuba’s signature cocktails, so you can’t leave Havana without trying one. Ernest Hemingway even said, “My mojito at La Bodeguita, my daiquiri at El Floridita.”
And so, it is, that you should go to El Floridita for a daiquiri and a fun night on the town. If you want to try the famed author’s particular drink, it’s made with 4 ounces of white rum with lemon and grapefruit juice, crushed ice, and six drops of maraschino cherry liqueur. We tried it, and it was quite good!
Even without its connection to Hemingway, this bar is a great place to go in Cuba. The atmosphere is quite distinct, with the waiters in 1950s uniforms and live music playing most nights. Also, don’t miss the steel statue of Hemingway leaning on the bar.
Moreover, if you’re a bookworm or a big fan of Hemingway, I suggest this guided tour through his home, La Vigía, and the town of Cojímar, which inspired his book The Old Man and the Sea. You’ll also see his regular hotel room at Ambos Mundos Hotel before ending the tour at El Floridita.
42. Watch the sunset at the Malecón in Havana, something to do in Cuba as a couple
The Malecón in Havana is a broad promenade along the city coast. It extends for 5 miles and is known as one of the most famous landmarks in Cuba. Here, you’ll find locals meeting up, tourists sightseeing, and lovers watching the sunset.
There’s no doubt that this is the perfect spot for people-watching. The lively atmosphere and mix of visitors make it an attraction in Cuba worth seeing. Of course, what makes it so popular is the stunning sunset views you can get here.
While Havana’s malecón may be the most important boardwalk in the country, it’s not the only one you should visit. The coastal towns of Cienfuegos, Baracoa, and Puerto Padre also have lovely promenades. If you’re going inland, check out Santa Clara, which has a boardwalk along the Cubanicay River and another next to Teatro La Caridad.
Whichever one you visit, you’re sure to strike up a conversation with the locals, who are super open and friendly!
43. Have an ice cream at Coppelia, the best thing to do in Cuba with kids
Coppelia is Cuba’s national chain of ice cream parlors that became internationally popular after the film Strawberry and Chocolate. You can find Coppelia parlors throughout the country and enjoying one of those sweet treats is a fun thing to do in Cuba with kids.
These ice cream shops are a little different because they only serve three flavors. However, the flavors change daily, so there is always a reason to stop by!
As the most popular place in Cuba to get ice cream, Coppelia can be packed, especially if you go in the evening. We went to one in Havana around noon, and the line wasn’t bad at all. Yet, even if there is a line, it’s worth it because the ice cream is to die for.
Again, we went to Coppelia in Havana, but you can also visit the ice cream parlors in Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo.
44. El Nicho waterfalls, an amazing place to go in Cuba
El Nicho is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cuba, and a must-see if you’re around the Topes de Collantes park. I mentioned the Caburní Falls earlier, however, El Nicho is much more accessible and just a short drive away from Cienfuegos.
As a result, the El Nicho waterfalls tend to be one of the more crowded attractions in Cuba. Still, I think they’re well worth seeing, with their clear blue water and lush tropical vegetation. You can bathe in the natural pools under the waterfall, too, so remember to bring your swimsuit.
While you’re there, explore the surrounding areas. There are several nearby caves as well as hiking trails. I recommend the main trail to the falls, also known as the Kingdom of the Waters. It’s only about half a mile, so it’s the perfect thing to do in Cuba with kids.
45. Climb Pico Turquino in Sierra Maestra, the best hike to do in Cuba
One of the most beautiful places in Cuba is the Sierra Maestra National Park in the southeast. It’s also known as the Turquino National Park because of its highest point, Pico Turquino.
At 6,475 feet tall, Pico Turquino is also the highest mountain in the country and one of the few sites in Cuba that has recorded snowfall, back in 1900.
Some say the name Pico Turquino is a mispronunciation of turquesa, or turquoise, which reflects the vibrant blue hues you can see from atop the mountain. Even Che Guevara said that the peak had a mystical air to it, so it’s something you must see during your visit. Also, on the hilltop is a bust of José Martí, which marked his 100th birthday.
Getting to the top isn’t easy, but if you like hiking, this is a must-do in Cuba. Two paths lead to the top; a 7-mile trail from the Turquino Caves on the coast, and an 11-mile trail from the Bartolomé Masó neighborhood of Santo Domingo.
You can decide which path to take, but you must hike with an official park guide. There is also the option to do a 2-day route, but you’ll have to make a reservation at the San Joaquín campsite.
46. Disconnect in Cayo Blanco, the best thing to do in Cuba as a couple
Have you ever dreamed of going to a deserted island and disconnecting from everything? Well, that is something you can do in Cuba, at Cayo Blanco, a true island paradise.
The best way to get to Cayo Blanco is via catamaran. This trip leaves from Varadero and transports you to that idyllic spot in luxury. The deserted island is perfect for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. You can explore the breathtaking Caribbean waters and pristine beaches in total peace.
A visit to Cayo Blanco is a great thing to do in Cuba as a couple, too. You may choose to relax and sunbathe or you might want to enjoy some outdoor activities like snorkeling. The seabed is absolutely gorgeous and full of sea sponges, lobsters, crabs, coral reefs, and colorful tropical fish.
The catamaran excursion also includes a buffet lunch and cocktails, so it’s the best way to enjoy a romantic plan in Cuba with your partner.
47. Eat in a paladar, a popular thing to do in Cuba
Paladar translates to ‘palate’ in English, but in Cuba, paladares are owner-run restaurants. Eating in a paladar is one of the best things to do in Cuba if you want to taste authentic Cuban food.
These restaurants are typically in a Cuban family’s home, and they’re one of the few private businesses permitted in the country. Eating at one is like sitting down at the family dinner table and enjoying a home-cooked meal. It’s the best way to experience the local and traditional flavors of the island.
Most paladares in the cities are now restaurants like anywhere in the world. However, you can still find authentic paladares in smaller towns and villages throughout the country. The dishes are usually modest yet delicious and include a base of rice or beans and sometimes pork or chicken.
Grab a seat by the window or door so you can people-watch while you eat. Without a doubt, it’s a fun thing to do in Cuba if you want to feel like a local!
48. Visit the Bay of Pigs, an incredible thing to do in Cuba
If there is something you must see in Cuba, it’s the Bay of Pigs. The site of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, is today a remarkable natural beach with crystal-clear waters and idyllic beaches. Unlike other beaches in Cuba, the Bay of Pigs isn’t as touristy, which makes it even more enjoyable.
Here, you can find the Crocodile Farm, Cueva de los Peces, and Long Beach, some tourist attractions in Cuba that I mentioned earlier. There is also Playa Girón, where the Bay of Pigs invasion took place. It’s a nice area for sunbathing and snorkeling, as are Playa Coco and Caleta Buena.
Another interesting thing about the Bay of Pigs is that after the first springtime rains, the road is covered in crabs migrating to the water to spawn. Try to avoid going around that time so you can avoid making a mess!
49. Rent a bicycle, something to do in Cuba as a family
The best way to get around Cuba is via shared taxi, Viazul bus, or the public buses called botellas. I go over all the transportation options in our guide to planning a trip to Cuba.
That said, once you’re at your destination, the easiest way to get around is by renting a bicycle. This is one of the most common activities in Cuba, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to rent a bike. After asking the locals which sites to check out, we traveled by bike through Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales.
Moreover, you don’t have to worry about parking when you travel by bicycle. Our experience in Cuba was quite positive, and we felt safe while traversing the area on bikes. Plus, we never had problems with storing them, even when we forgot to lock them up!
50. Take in some colonial and Cuban street art
One of the things that struck me the most about Cuba was the colonial buildings and street art. The visual splendor in this country speaks of historical events and moments of greatness. All the art and architecture here is most impressive when you first arrive, but it’s still worth mentioning.
It’s also quite a sight to see spectacular palatial buildings from Cuba’s golden era, today completely in ruins due to economic and political turmoil. Despite the peeling paint, rusty balconies, and grime, the locals have worked hard to turn these ruins into art, and it’s something you must see in Cuba.
The communal effort of local artists and residents has transformed Cuba into the colorful country we know it as today. If you’re interested in seeing some of the best street art on the island, check out Callejón de Hammel. This neighborhood is the epicenter of Afro-Cuban culture in Havana and a striking artistic attraction in Cuba, full of murals and sculptures.
With that, you now know the 50 best things to do in Cuba. I hope this guide helps you plan your visit! Here is a map of the tourist attractions in Cuba that I mentioned so you can more easily find them.
I wish you safe travels and an enjoyable time in this historically-rich country. If you have any questions, leave them below, and I’ll do my best to help!