Cuba’s Top 12 Experiences

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Cuba offers terrific experiences that should be on every traveler’s list. Here are Fodor’s top picks for a memorable trip.

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Trinidad

With its restored colonial mansions, manicured plazas, and neoclassical palaces, Trinidad is often called the “museum of Cuba.” Centuries of architecture are on display along cobblestone streets traversed by horse-drawn carriages and lined with pastel-painted houses.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Central Cuba Travel Guide

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La Habana Vieja

Both crumbling and soaring, La Habana Vieja jam-packs history and culture into a lively neighborhood of vintage cars, sixteenth-century fortresses, and leafy courtyards.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Havana Travel Guide

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Music

Cubans move to the beat of rumba, mambo, chachachá, and more. Live music is everywhere from Havana jazz clubs to plazas in sleepy villages.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cuba Travel Guide

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La Cabaña Fortress

By day this colossal fortress offers splendid views of Havana; by night a military reenactment provides thrills with a ceremonial firing of cannons over the harbor.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Havana Travel Guide

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Festivals

Immense cultural pride makes Cuba a land of celebrations. From the fireworks competition in Remedios to the Havana Cigar Festival, there’s always a party somewhere in Cuba.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cuba Travel Guide

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Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway loved Cuba, and you can visit many of his favorite places such as La Floridita, a historic Havana bar, and Finca Vigía, his home for twenty years.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Havana Travel Guide

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Partagas Cigar Factory

Cuban cigars are the ne plus ultra for many aficionados. Guided tours at Havana’s best-known factory provide a fascinating glimpse into the traditional hand-rolling process.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Havana Travel Guide

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Beach Escapes

The largest island in the Caribbean has plenty of white-sand, palm-fringed beaches, from resort-fronted Varadero to remote strands such as the lovely Playa Sirena.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cuba Travel Guide

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Cienfuegos

Colonized by the French rather than the Spanish, Cienfuegos is a tidy, bayside city that shows off a different side of Cuban history with beautiful Parisian, neoclassical architecture.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Central Cuba Travel Guide

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Che Guevara Memorial

Presided over by a giant bronze statue of Cuba’s controversial hero, this site is a fascinating place to learn about the island’s recent revolutionary history.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Central Cuba Travel Guide

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Rum

The national drink is ubiquitous and cheap. Supermarkets and hotels sell the popular Havana Club brand, and a refreshing mojito is a good bet in any bar.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cuba Travel Guide

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Valle de Viñales

A spectacular natural landscape, worth the trip just for its towering mogotes (rocky outcrops), this lush agricultural region reveals a slice of everyday life in rustic Cuba.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Western Cuba Travel Guide