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Travel to Cuba: Unforgettable experiences from Havana to Trinidad

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There are plenty of good reasons to visit beautiful Cuba. Cigar production, colorful buildings and salsa lessons are just some of them.
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Travel to Cuba: Unforgettable experiences from Havana to Trinidad is written by Julie Andrea Andersen.

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Your journey to Cuba starts in Havana – the former casino mecca

When you land in the capital, Havana, you will encounter a city full of art, music and dance. Walking the streets of Havana, it is not difficult to imagine what the city looked like when it was a casino mecca for rich tourists and one of Latin America's richest cities.

Today, Havana is dilapidated in most places, and only in Old Havana does it flow with colorful facades and beautiful plazas. Here you can take a walk past the El Floridita bar and have a drink Daddy doble; Hemingway's favorite drink when he lived in Cuba.

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An intoxication of art, music and food

If you want to experience Havana's art and music scene during your trip to Cuba, you must go to the bar Fábrica de Arte. It is one of the few places where you experience the local Cubans and tourists gathered in a frenzy of art, good music and tasty food.

Just ten years ago, it was not allowed to have private companies, but today you can find private restaurants and bars everywhere with various delicious dishes that contain neither rice nor beans - which is otherwise the standard in every Cuban dish.

If you are looking for a typical Cuban meal, the Doña Eutimia restaurant is worth a visit. Here you get a homely atmosphere and sumptuous meals at an affordable price.

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Trinidad – a time warp from another time

From Havana you can reach the well-kept city of Trinidad in five hours by bus.

Here you really get into a time warp, where the beautiful facades are extremely well maintained, and where the horse-drawn carriages still drive around the cobbled streets.

In Cuba, the most widely used method of accommodation is the so-called Casas Particulares, and at the bus station you will be attacked on arrival by hosts for miscellaneous housing, who wants you as a guest.

A commendable property is located just down the street from the bus station. Here you will find in one of the large houses in burnt yellow Casa de Noel y Nury, where the family's 'abuelo', who usually stands in the doorway with a lit cigar and dressed in a t-shirt with the motif of the world-famous icon Che Guevara.

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A trip to Cuba with salsa lessons, sugar plantations and great patience

Noel can arrange various tours around Trinidad; including a trip on horseback up into the nearby mountain area or to the nature park Parque El Cubano. You can also book private salsa lessons on their sumptuous roof terrace with one of the family's salsa-dancing acquaintances.

Trinidad also offers a ride with the ancient locomotive, which takes the ride up to the giant sugar plantations. As with everything else in Cuba, you have to arm yourself with patience, because most of the time the train does not work and you have to wait until the next day and try your luck again.

In the evening, the city's grand staircase is a gathering place for both locals and tourists, with couples to roaring salsa rhythms dancing in the middle of the old staircase.

There aren't many discos in Trinidad, but if you want to meet both backpackers and local young Cubans, Disco Ayala is a good bet. Here you can dance to 'reggaeton' music all night in the underground cave, which has been converted into a nightclub.

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Your trip to Cuba: Go to the beach and eat lobster

Playa Ancon is located just outside Trinidad and is one of the favorite beaches among Cubans.

At Playa Ancon you can eat lobster at a reasonable price and see how the Sunday excursions take place among the locals. Here, the cold Tuborg bottles have been replaced with a bottle of Havana Club, which is drunk in shot glasses.

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Viñales – experience authentic Cuban cigar production

When you are on a trip to Cuba, Viñales is a paradise if you are into beautiful nature, cigar production and beautiful surrounding islands. The city of Viñales is located in the lush Viñales Valley, surrounded by the special Mogotes Mountains.

If you love hiking, the Viñales Valley is definitely worth a visit on your trip to Cuba. The area offers everything from mountains and cascading waterfalls to deep lakes and rivers and mangroves.

In addition to the breathtaking nature, the area is particularly known for its coffee and tobacco production. The farmers in the area, for example, grow the world-famous tobacco vuelta bajo.

You can easily take a day trip from Havana with one of the countless companies that offer guided tours.

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Take a bike ride out into the blue

If you have time, it's great to spend a few days in one property and Viñales; then you have time to experience cigar production, cycle around the breathtaking nature, visit a coffee roastery and experience some of the many islands off the coast, such as Cayo Levisa.

You drive for an hour in uneven terrain and then take a ferry that runs a few times a day. Here you really experience bounty beaches with clear azure blue water like few other places. There is also ample opportunity to snorkel at some of the many coral reefs.

Cuba is in rapid development after an improved relationship with the United States, and therefore you have to take your legs off your neck if you are to experience just a fragment of the communist country as it looked for more than 50 years with Fidel Castro at the helm.

Have a nice trip or Bon voyage! to Cuba.

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You must see this on your trip to Cuba

  • Havana – the historic and colorful capital
  • El Floridita – Ernest Hemingway's favorite bar
  • Trinidad – lively and authentic city
  • Parque el Cubano
  • Playa Ancon – the locals' favorite beach
  • Viñales – cigar, coffee and nature paradise
  • Cayo Levisa

About the author

Julie Andrea Andersen

With a bachelor's degree in Spanish language and culture as well as history from the University of Copenhagen, the South American countries have been high on the list of destinations. Julie has spent the last four years traveling around Spain and Central America, and it is usually the countries' historical development that catches her interest.

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