This post was first published in 2016 but has been updated in 2019 with the most recent Cuba photos.
What comes to mind when you think of Cuba? Is it an image of sandy beaches and crystal clear waters? Or the narrow streets of colonial Havana? Or perhaps you imagine lush green valleys of tobacco plantations?
The truth is, Cuba has all of that plus more! But over the last 50 years, the US embargo on Cuba has put a limit on travel to the country, making it a lesser-known and more off the beaten path destination. We’ll be honest, prior to our recent trip to Cuba, we didn’t have a great idea about what to expect either. We saw a few photos of Havana and lots of beautiful beaches, but we knew very little about the other towns and destinations on the island.
As it turned out, there are so many great spots to discover in Cuba today! Havana is not the only city with beautiful colonial architecture (just wait till you see the photos of Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba) and while all-inclusive beach resorts in Cayo Coco and Varadero may have the best beaches in the country, they aren’t the reasons why you should put Cuba on your bucket list!
Allow us to demonstrate with some of the best of our Cuba pictures.
The city of Havana itself is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cuba today. Even just getting lost alongside streets in the old city is a joy, and the longer you stay, the more you’ll fall in love with it. In the Cuba photos below, we’ve captured a bit of the magic that’s best experienced in person.
If you want to see the best of Havana, then you can take a guided tour with a local.
Cienfuegos is best for the traveler who wants to get off the beaten path a little and explore. It’s a quiet town that goes light on tourists, and its origins as a French colony give it a different look and feel from much of the rest of Cuba today. It’s charming and pleasant, and it was one of our favourite destinations in Cuba. Hopefully, our Cuba pictures can convince you why we feel like that.
If you want to see Cienfuegos from the water, then you can take a private kayaking tour.
While it’s true that Trinidad is one of the most tourist-heavy places in Cuba today, it’s still a gem in its own right and well worth a visit. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, teeming with excitement and activity, with its history visible in every cobblestone. Our Cuba images may not be able to capture the full scope of such a gorgeous city, but they offer a snapshot of life in Trinidad all the same.
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second-largest city in Cuba today, and it’s a beacon of Cuban historical and cultural development. It plays host to a rich mix of cultures and is frequently described as being the most Caribbean city in Cuba. In July, the city holds the Santiago de Cuba Carnaval, which is one of the largest celebrations in South America.
If you’re interested in the history of the city, then you can take a guided historical tour.
Baracoa is a small town and the most eastern point in Cuba. It’s also one of our favourite destinations in Cuba today, and we hope that our Cuba photos reflect that fondness. Baracoa is a sturdy, resilient town, already looking as if it was never touched after being devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Vinales is a beautiful, laid-back, lush valley, and it’s a prime location to get some rest and relaxation. If you’re a nature-lover, then that goes double. If you aren’t a huge fan of the hustle and bustle of busy cities packed with tourists, then there are few places in Cuba today that you’ll love more than Vinales.