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Top 8 Things to Do in Cuba

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Colorful antique buildings in Old Havana, Cuba.

Old Havana, Cuba

From lounging around at the breathtaking palm tree-lined beaches to cruising through Havana in a stylish vintage vehicle, here are our top eight things to do in Cuba on vacation.

The country is a melting pot of cultures and influences that travelers can enjoy on family vacations, honeymoon getaways, and multi-generational trips, opening eyes to the trademarks of Cuba. Explore the rolling tobacco plantations quilting the Cuban countryside, tease your taste buds on food tours through the cities, and capture images of the idyllic seascapes on trips to the tropical republic.

We narrow down eight essential experiences in Cuba that you can anticipate when planning a postcard-perfect Caribbean escape to see the best of the island and its highlights.

Overview

  1. 1. Spend Time in the Sunshine on Cuba’s Beaches
  2. 2. Delve into Cuba’s Cigar and Coffee Craftsmanship
  3. 3. Tour Through the Lens of Hemingway
  4. 4. Climb Mountain Trails to View the Wildlife
  5. 5. Indulge in Cuban Cuisine and Cocktails
  6. 6. Salsa and Rumba at Afro-Cuban Dance Clubs
  7. 7. Cruise Havana in a Classic Car
  8. 8. Watch the Canon Ceremony at El Morro
  9. Experience the Essentials of Cuba with Zicasso

1. Spend Time in the Sunshine on Cuba’s Beaches

Varadero Beach in Cuba.

Varadero Beach in Cuba.

As an island in the Caribbean, travelers flock to Cuba to spend time on the pearl-white beaches lined with palm trees and swim in the glassy waters of private and public shores skirting the coastline.

The velvet sands of Varadero and peaceful waters of Playa Ancon are favorites for days spent sunbathing, sauntering, and sipping cocktails by the sea. Thatched huts provide shelter from the sun, restaurants serve thirst-quenching beverages, and superyachts glide across the glimmering seas at Cuba’s best beaches, images that leave visitors at a loss for words.

You can snorkel to see what marine life swims below the surface, catch catamarans drifting out to sea at sunset, and cruise in glass-bottom boats with an unrivaled view of the creatures below.

Best Beaches in Cuba: Playa Paraíso | Varadero Beach | Playa Los Flamencos | Playa Ancon | Cayo Las Brujas

2. Delve into Cuba’s Cigar and Coffee Craftsmanship

Tobacco plantation in Viñales Valley, Cuba.

Tobacco plantation in Viñales Valley, Cuba.

Cuba is famously known for its cigar and coffee plantations that export some of the finest tobacco and caffeine products in the world.

Tours to the agricultural pastures of Viñales Valley are as insightful as they are beautiful, highlighting the time-honored production of renowned tobacco products and showcasing the illustrious environment in which the primary resources are grown. You can join tasting guides on tours of the cigar plantations or coffee breweries to discover what makes these Cuban specialties so sought-after, or simply learn about their production while enjoying the breathtaking views.

You can also collect several souvenirs to share with your friends and family back home that may be connoisseurs in their own right or fascinated by Cuba’s rich culture and history.

Best Experiences in Viñales, Cuba: El Mural de la Prehistoria | Cueva Del Indio | Centro Cultural Polo Montañez | Cueva del Palmarito | Plantation tours

3. Tour Through the Lens of Hemingway

Finca la Vigía, house of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba.

Finca la Vigía, house of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba.

Cuba’s dazzling cities, vibrant resort towns, and sensational seascapes inspired some of the great works of Ernest Hemingway and you can immerse yourself in the novelist's visionary ideas on tours of significant sites and museums.

Hemingway’s former home, Finca Vigía, is open to those who wish to view the art, artifacts, and library of books Hemingway collected during his time in Cuba. You can also walk in his footsteps on a Hemingway pilgrimage to the charming shores of Cojímar, then sip cocktails the writer would order as he gazed out across the Cuban waters.

Best Hemingway Landmarks in Cuba: La Bodeguita del Medio | Hotel Ambos Mundos | Finca Vigía | La Terraza | Playa Pilar

4. Climb Mountain Trails to View the Wildlife

View of Viñales Valley in Cuba.

View of Viñales Valley in Cuba.

Lush greenery veils large parts of the tropical island of Cuba and within the rainforests you can spot the colorful wildlife peering back at you from beyond the shady trails.

Hikes through Cuba’s national parks, rugged mountains, and floral valleys reveal the mysteries of the Caribbean wilderness, with challenging ascents to test trekking veterans and casual climbs to appeal to families searching for a tranquil stroll.

You can stand beneath the silver streams of waterfalls cascading forest cliffs, zipline through the flourishing canopy as monkeys leap from nearby branches, and visit political landmarks peppering various mountains during your wilderness excursions.

Best Wildlife Viewing Parks in Cuba: Guanahacabibes National Park | Alejandro de Humboldt National Park | Topes de Collantes National Park | Cayo Largo | Viñales Valley

5. Indulge in Cuban Cuisine and Cocktails

Fresh Cuban mojito served at a restaurant.

Fresh Cuban mojito served at a restaurant.

Cuba’s culinary culture fuses influences from all over the Caribbean and beyond as restaurants honor the traditions of their ancestors and celebrity chefs infuse modern techniques.

A combination of fine dining, street food, decadent seafood dishes, and glamorous cocktails culminate to bring you the best of Cuba’s cuisine on gastronomy tours of the cities. You can devour a plate of Ropa Vieja, a national dish of shredded flank steak and vegetables served on a bed of rice, and crunch through a gourmet Pan con Lechon, a roast pork sandwich, during your culinary exploration.

In the evenings you can settle in at a seaside restaurant and sip a selection of colorful cocktails as the sun dives down behind the horizon and the stars pierce the night sky.

Best Places for Food in Cuba: Havana | Trinidad | Viñales | Cienfuegos | Varadero

6. Salsa and Rumba at Afro-Cuban Dance Clubs

Street musicians in Havana, Cuba.

Street musicians in Havana, Cuba.

Whether you wish to swirl to salsa music or groove to rumba beats, dancing is intertwined with Cuba’s musical culture and you will relish opportunities to let your hair down at local performances.

You can find a dance club in all major Cuban cities, some small and designated for unique artists to express their music to new audiences, others massive and designed to draw impressive tourist and local crowds. There are clubs etched in the cave systems of mountains and others that jut out over the shimmering sea for stunning views at sunset. Dance clubs in Cuba are some of the best in the world.

You can also join professional dancers at performing art schools to learn to salsa or rumba, then follow them to theaters where you can watch them perform.

Best Places for Music in Cuba: Havana | Trinidad | Baracoa | Santiago de Cuba | Cienfuegos

7. Cruise Havana in a Classic Car

Classic car passing by The National Theatre in Havana, Cuba.

Classic car passing by The National Theatre in Havana, Cuba.

Vintage and classic cars cruise up and down the streets of Havana and you can hop in one of them on a tour of the city in style.

With extravagant paintwork, detailed alloy rims, and convertible roofs, Cuba’s century-old cars are moving statements of art and expression that add as much color to the city of Havana as the Old Town’s buildings. Tours in these cars let you feel like a local as guides chaperone you to see the many sights sprinkling the cityscape.

You will stop at photographic places and step out of your glamorous vehicle to snapshot the incredible city scenes that present themselves during your leisure cruise through Havana.

Best Sights in Havana, Cuba: Old Havana | The Malecón | Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro | El Capitolio | Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana

8. Watch the Canon Ceremony at El Morro

El Morro Fortress in Havana, Cuba.

El Morro Fortress in Havana, Cuba.

On the hills surrounding Havana, locals religiously fire the historic cannons of El Morro at 9:00 pm in the same way that was done centuries ago to signal the closing of the city walls from invaders.

Performers reenact the custom in traditional military garb and let visitors enjoy the history of the canon ceremony, while admiring the panoramic views of Havana and the sprawling sea that unfold from the summit of the lush hillside.

During the ceremony the sunset floods the sky with blue, orange, and purple hues, a natural spectacle of grand design.

More Highlights of Havana, Cuba: Cámera Obscura | Fusterlandia | El Bosque De La Habana | Plaza De La Revolución | Fábrica De Arte Cubano

Experience the Essentials of Cuba with Zicasso

Woman works on traditional manufacture of cigars at the Cuban tobacco factory

Woman works on traditional manufacture of cigars at the Cuban tobacco factory.

Discover the depth of Cuba’s culture, cuisine, and history on sample itineraries from our Cuba Tours & Vacations, designed to showcase the best that each city and unique place has to offer for all types of travelers.

With most vacations bringing you to Havana at one point or another, you can find out more about the bustling capital and additional things to do during your stay in our Three Things to Do in Havana, Cuba.

Zicasso Cuba travel specialists have in-depth knowledge of the country and its top experiences, and you can learn more from them or start planning your ultimate Cuban adventure by completing a Trip Request or calling 1-888-265-9707 today.

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