Places of interest for travellers

Places of interest for travellers in Cuba

This is the main information about Cuba in all fields, needed by persons traveling to the Island. You may want to find for topics by keyword from your browser. You may introduce the keyword and later “FIND” and look for the key word you want to find. Thanks.

Havana City
Founded un 1515, la Villa de San Cristobal de La Habana is the capital of Cuba. It is located on the northern coast of the country´s western region, and is currently home of almost three million people. Its port is dominated by the three fortresses which are the distinctive mark of this city: the Morro, the Cabaña and the Castillo de la Fuerza.

Old Havana
Havana was originally a walled city, and this is the oldest part of it. It preserves the original design and the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century architecture occupies four square kilometers.

Old Havana has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Among its most noteworthy buildings are the La Fuerza fortress, the oldest in America, the Cristo church, rebuilt in 1638, the Havana Cathedral, a jewel of baroque architecture, the Cabaña fortress, and the Morro and La Punta castles.

Pinar del Rio
Cuba s westernmos province is famous for its vast tobacco plantations, where the leaves used in making Havana Cigars are cultivated, Vinales Valley and Soroa, along with their surrounding mountais, are exuberant in their display of flora

This is the home of the huge earthenware jugs used for collecting rainwater. The cattle-raising province is one of Cuba´s most prosperous.

The city of Camaguey is 750 kilometers from Havana, located in the middle of an extensive plain. The charming Santa Lucia beach is north of it. The city has an international airport.

Nature has endowed a large part of Cuba´s eastern region with striking contrasts. Granma province is privileged in this sense with its towering peaks, among them Turquino, the highest point in the country at 1974 meters above sea level. There are also places of great historical interest such as the Sierra Maestra mountains, where many of the batles against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship were fought.

One of the region´s greatest attractions is the Marea del Portillo beach, known for its black sand and ranks of coconut palms.

Granma province has an international aiport in the city of Manzanillo and rent a car services are available at Marea del Portillo.

Ciego de Avila
This province of flatlands, 461 kilometers from Havana, is one of the most important producers of citrus fruits an sugarcane. Its keys are ideal for light-tackle deepsea fishing and professional skindiving.

Cayo Guillermo (Key Guillermo), off Ciego de Avila´s coast, has a lively water sports center and sandy beach. El Ultimo Paraiso, a floating hotel, is the perfect place to unwind.

There are new resorts in Cayo Coco, beside Cayo Guillermo. There are internationals airports in the city of Ciego de Avila and also in Cayo Coco.

Other Places of Interest
Rumba´s Saturday, featuring music and dance drawn from Cuba´s color full folklore, is held at the headquarters ot the National Folk Ensemble

Set among the mountains and close to the sea, this city is something of a living museum. Its architecture has remained virtually untouched over the years

Cobblestone streets, balconies, churches and stately mansions display the baroque and neoclassical styles of the colonial period

There are many caves with the remains of old Indian settlements, and near the city is Ancon Beach, covered with 10 kilometers of white sand and clear waters, as well as keys and seabeds rich in corals and other species of Cuba fauna. Founded in 1514 by Don Diego Velazquez, Trinidad today is a World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, where the ruins of old sugar refineries are preserved a true national jewel

336 kilometers from Havana and next to the country´s third largest bay lies the city of Cienfuegos, which is currently enjoying significant economic growth. It features a number of tourist attractions, such as the Jagua Castle, a colonial era military installations, the Rancho Luna beach, the Botanical Gardens and the Valle Palace. It is near the Escambray mountains, a setting of great natural beauty and historical importance.

Cienaga de Zapata
The Zapata Peninsula is on the southem coast of Matanzas, and extraordinary natural park perfect for birdwatching. A major tourist attractions there is Guama, a setlement built on a lake similar to those of the Taino Indians in the pre-Columbian period.

At Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs), site of historic events, the Playa Larga and Giron tourist villas are going up, each with pool and natural beach.

The Laguna del Tesoro (Treasury Lagoon), crocodrile breeding center and floded caves where you can skindive are among this rustic peninsula special sports for rest and recreation.

Cayo Largo
South of Havana, set right in the Caribbean Sea, is the most atractive key of the Canarreos archipielago. Its entire southen coast is skirted by 25 kilometers of fine white sand beaches. Cayo Largo is an oasis protected from environmental pollution. Its coral beds are among the most beautiful in the Caribbean.

Cayo Largo is a free port where travelers can arrive directly by air or sea without visa or passport requirements.

Santiago de Cuba
Founded in 1514 and located 967 kilometers from Havana, Santiago is the country´s Second largest city. It lies next to the Caribbean Sea and is flanked by the Sierra Maestra mountains, scene of the guerrilla war against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship.

Santiago de Cuba is famous for its carnivals, mountains and architectural treasures. The Metropolitan Cathedral, the Municipal Palace, the Bacardi Museum and the Don Diego Velazquez House, are the oldest in the country.

Other points of interest for visitors include the San Pedro del Mar Cabaret, yatch excursions along the coast, the climb up to the Gran Piedra, El Cobre Basilica and the historical museums at the historical museum at the Moncada garrison and Siboney Farm.

East Havana Beaches
Located 18 km from the capital, the East Havana beaches have a long strip of white sand along a good area of Havana´s northern coast.

Easily reached by way of the Via Blanca highway, it´s just a few minutes to the beaches at Bacuranao, Megano, Santa Maria del Mar, Boca Ciega, Guanabo, Jibacoa and Tropico. Confortable hotels such as the Tropicoco, Itabo and Villa Atlantico make for a pleasant stay.

At 132 kilometers from Havana, this is one the country´s leading tourist resort. Its beach forms a long narrow strip of 23 kilometers of fine white sand lapped by clear warn waters. It is a complete tourist complex with a number of recreation options.

There are more than 3,000 rooms at Varadero. The best known hotels and villas are the International, Melia Varadero, Sol Palmeras, Bella Costa, Melia Las Americas, Bella Mar, Las Palmas, Paradiso, Kawama, Siboney; Solimar, Tortuga, Arenas Blancas and Punta Blanca. The rapid development of tourism in Cuba is giving rise to a steady increase in hotel capacity.

On offer at Varadero are outings on yachts and motorboats, fishing, skindiving and practically all water sports. Nights are equally enjoyable at the cabarets, bars, nighclubs and other entertaiment spots.

Varadero is linked to Havana by the Via Blanca highway, along the north coast, and to locations abroad by its airport and dock. There is telephone automatical communications with all countries of the world, 24 hours a day, and good rent a car services.

Handicrafts Center to the palace
This colonial era palace built in 1780, a fine representative of Cuba´s distinctive architecture, is located in Old Havana. It s not every day you find a palace that makes you feel at home.

Now the side of the Handicrafts Center, the Palacio de la Artesania is more than just another shop. It is a place with its own special charn, a place to linger, to remember.

The best of Cuba arts and crafts are on offer here, the combinations of local color and decorative value make for the perfect souvenir. Crafted from natural materials, the pieces take many forms, among the most sought after are those depicting features of our folklore. A gift to be treasured.

The Handicrafts Center offers: Objets d´art, Cuban fashions, leather goods, jewelry, perfumes, books and postcards, stamps and Cuban coins, Havana Cigars, drinks and liqueurs, cafeteria and bar service.

Currency and Forms of Payment
The peso is the national currency. Bills are in denominations of one, three, five, 10 and 20 pesos.

Cuba accepts the following convertible curriences: the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish corona, Austrian shilling, US and Canadian dollar, Portuguese escudo, Durch florin, Belgian, French and Swiss franc, UK´s pound sterling, Italian lira, German and Finnish mark, Spanish peseta, Mexican peso and Japanese jen.

All payments may be made in US dollars.

The VISA and MASTER CARD credit cards systems to get cash are located at the Habana Libre, Nacional and Habana Riviera hotels.

In Cuba there are two kind of Cuban Pesos: the domestic peso (CU$22=US$1) and the International Cuban Peso (CU$1=US$1). These are equivalent to the Cuban peso which has parity with the dollar. Its use is recommended as is facilitates purchases and services, but you can pay every services with U.S. Dollars.

General Information

Cuban food is highly seasoned, but does not use hot spices. Traditional dishes are generally based on rice and beans, pork, and fried or boiled root vegetables flavored with onion and garlic. Meals are usually accompanied by beer. Seafood is of excellent quality and taste.

Rum is the drink of Cuba. There are extra dry and aged rums of magnificent bouquet. The white rum mixes with practically everything and is ideal for cocktail. Traditional drinks of Cuba are the Cuba Libre, Mojito, Mulata and Daiquiri.

There are varios brands of beers of different types and quality, as well as carbonated beverages and soft drinks. The water is safe for drinking.

Medical Services
Cuba´s quality public health system extends across the entire country, and is free for Cuban. In emergency cases tourists are also given medical care free of charge. Normally, tourist must buy a full cover insurance, of Asistur.

110 volts and 60 hz. The outlets are for flat prongs.

Nothing is taxed anywhere in Cuba.

Absolutely volutary. Normally tourists give directly to waiters the 10% (cash) of bill.

Tour Radio and TV
The Cubavision Internacional is the channel that broadcast TV programs for hotels. CableVision also send signals of the most importants channels of the U.S.A., Mexico, Germany, Italy and Spain. Radio Taino is Cuba s tour radio station and it broadcast is in Spanish and English.

Tourists can go anywhere in the country with complete freedom, at any hour of the day or night, by foot, by taxi, by plane, by bus or by car rented.

Can be taken anywhere except military and prohibited zones.

Cuba is a hospitable country. It is easy to find help whenever you need it. The streets are safe, attacks are rare. There are tourism police in hotel areas.

Inmigation, customs and health regulations

Travelers must have an up-to-date passport issued in their name, or a travel document recognized by the Cuban government, a visa authorizing entry into the country or a

Tourist Card, and return ticket to place of origin or tranfer to a third country with the necessary visas and permits.

Excluded from these requirements are countries with whom Cuba maintains free visa agreements: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Travel agents apply for their clients visas or Tourist Cards at Cuban consulates. Tourist may apply themselves at the consulates or get their Tourist Cards as our travel agency Cuba Travel Service Cancun or the offices of airlines flying to Cuba. These cards should be filled out on a typewriter, no changes are permited as these will render them invalid.

The Tourist Card cannot be used for any other purpose and does not cover any kind of work, intellectual or otherwise.

The length of stay authorized in Cuba corresponds to the days reserved in tourist facilities.

Passengers in transit do not require a visa for 24 hours, so long as lodging has been reserved. They must have a ticket to continue to a thirth country. This can be done at the Jose Marti airport.

Travelers arriving on cruise ships and yachts can disembark with their passport or travel document.

Travelers can bring in two botles of liqour, a carton of cigarrettes, personal effects, photographic equipment, typewriter, personal jewelry, etc, all duty free. They cannot bring in firearms, narcotics, pornography or Cuba currency. Durable goods or valuables acquired in Cuba must be declared upon leaving the country, showing receipts.

There are restrictions only for countries where yellow fever or endemic colera exist, or which have been declared infectious zones by the World Health Organization. In these cases the international vaccination certificate is required.

Travelers Assistance
The following agencies have representatives in Havana: Assist Card, Europe Assistance, Gesa Assistance. ASISTUR, S.A. is the main insurance Cuban company for travellers visiting the Island.

Useful Information

International Comunications

The largest is Havana Jose Marti, the main entry point to the country, followed by Varadero and Camaguey. The air terminals at Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Cayo Coco, Holguin, Manzanillo and Santiago de Cuba also service international flights.

Cubans main ports are at Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Ciefuegos and Matanzas, which has a supertanker base.

The Marina Hemingway in Havana, the dock in Varadero and Cayo Largo del Sur are international ports for small craft. Tour cruises call at the ports of Havana and Santiago de Cuba.

Telephone and Telex
Tourist facilities have telephone exchanges for international communications,there are also special booths for calls abroad.

Domestic long distance calls can be made from private telephones by dialing 00, and for international ones, 09. A new international service is currently being functioning in all hotels of Cuba, which has direct world wide access.

All the country´s cities run local buses. There is also regular taxi service, and taxis can be ordered by phone or directly. The provinces have these same services between their Municipalities. Interprovincial buses connect the countrys major cities.

Rail transport is intermunicipal and interprovincial, except for some short routes near Havana. Oil prospecting and drilling is making steady progress, as is the construction materials industry. More than 90 % of the country has electricity.

Cuba has a merchant marine fleet. Fishing plays an important role in the economy.

The iron and stell industry produces stell and has sheet steel factories.

Biotechnology is in full development and the results of the country´s research are internationally recognized. The pharmaceutical and electronics industry are also showing important progress.

Finally, tourism is taking off. There is a large investment plan that should place Cuba in the lead in Caribbean tourism within the decade.

The Arts
Cuban culture is rooted in the islands ethnic mixture. Particularly characteristic is its music which, after of the United States and Brazil, Cuba is the thirth most powerfull country in the musical field in the contemporary world.

Cuban cinema has earned international prestige. The Cuban Film Institute ICAIC produces full length features and documentaries.

Cuban traditions are preserved in the carnivals, as well as folklore dance group, such as the National Folk Ensemble, and in country music ballads.

Cuba has three principal dance companies The Cuban National Ballet, the Camaguey Ballet and National Dance of Cuba.

There are many museuns in Havana and the provincial capitals. Some of the leading figures in the Cuban art world are:

Literature: Jose Maria Heredia, Cirilo Villaverde, Julian del Casals, Jose Marti, Alejo Carpentier, Jose Lezama Lima and Miguel Barnet.

Visual Arts: Victor Manuel, Carlos Enriquez, Servando Cabrera Moreno, Amelia Pelaez, Rene Portocarrero, Wifredo Lam, Rita Longa, Raul Martinez and Manuel Mendive.

Music: Esteban Salas, Amadeo Roldan, Alejandro Garcia Caturla, Ernesto Lecuona,Rita Montaner, Ignacio Villa, Bola de Nieve, Beny More, Gonzalo Roig y Leo Brouwer.

Filmography: Santiago Alvarez and Tomas Gutierrez Alea.

Cuba has no official religion. The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba guarantees complete freedon of worship. The churches are open and can be attended by anyone who wishes to do so.

The colonization of Cuba was initiated by Governor Don Diego Velazquez, who founded the first settlement Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion de Baracoa, between 1510 and 1511, on the spot known as Porto Santo in the eastern part of the country.

Over the second decade of the 16th century six other towns were founded: Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Puerto Principe, Camaguey and San Cristobal de La Habana. The iron fisted trade monopoly imposed by Spain made contraband the most profitable bussines of entire towns, in periods when the Caribbean was swarning with all kinds of adventurers.

Cuban towns were frequently the target of corsair and pirate attacks leading to the building of many fortifications in estrategic places.

The cultivation of tobacco became an important part of the economy as consumption of the product spread in Europe. Establishment of the system of flotilla convoys that

transported the riches of America meand notable development for the Cuban economy, as the ships assembled in Havana to head out for Spain.

By the end of the 18th century, the production of sugar reached high levels and in a short time Cuba became one of the leading producers.

The emergence of a Cuba born saccharpcracy holding economic power, led to the first currents of anticolonialist thought. In the early year of the 19th century, Cuban nationality began to tape shape. In 1868, the Ten Year War broke out over the question of total separation from Spain. This war was launched by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a rich landowner born in Bayamo city, the eastern of Cuba. It was not until 1895 that the War of Independence began, led by Jose Marti.

In 1898 the intervention of the United States blocked Cuba´s possibilities of winning independence, but conditioned it on the provisions of the Platt Amendment.

The republican period, between 1902 and 1959, was characterized by administrative corruption, repression and the U.S. growing economic interests in Cuba.

A coup d´etat brought Fulgencio Batista to power in March, 1952. A year later, the Moncada Garrison in Santiago de Cuba, was attacked by a group of young people led by Fidel Castro Ruz. This action contributed to the rise of the July 26th Revolucionary Movement, which called for arned struggle, and after more than two year of guerrlla wafare it won power along with other allied organizations. In April 1961, hours before the Bay of Pigs attack, Cuba declared itself a socialist country

Cuba is the worlds leading producer of sugar, with harvest of upwards of eight millon tons. It has a primarily agricultural economy, exporting top quality tobbaco, large amounts of citrus fruits and other agricultural products. Production of minerals is also important.

Cuba has 11 million inhabitants. Three millon live in the capital. The people are an ethnic and cultural mixture of the descendants of African slaves and the white population originating in Spain. There is no racial discrimination and all Cubans are equal before the law.

The official language is Spanich. English, French and Russian are offered as second languages throughout the educational system. Leading tourist centers and hotels offer guide service and interpreters.

Political Administrative Division
Cuba es divided into 15 provinces and a special municipality. They are, from west to east Pinar del Rio, Havana, Mayabeque, Ariguanabo, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and the special municipality of Isle of Youth.

Flora y Fauna
Cuban flora is rich in species, many of them endemic to the country.

Repopulation of the forests is currently of great economic and ecological importance.Three wooded regions of the country have been declared World Heritage Sites by the United Nations. The royal palm is typical of the Cuban landscape and is featured on the shield of the Republic. Fauna is also diverse, with a large number of molluscs, fish and birds.

Geografic Location
Cuba, at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest of the Antilles islands. The Caribbean sea bathes its coasts. Atlantic Ocean currents swirl around it, filling its insular platform with life.

One hundred eighty kilometers to the north lies the U.S. peninsula of Florida. To the south is the island of Jamaica, 149 kilometers away (238 miles). To the west, at a distance of 210 kilometers (336 miles), is the Yucatan. Cuba´s closest neighbor, Haiti, lies east, just 67 kilometers from the eastern tip of the country.

The archipielago is made up of the island of Cuba, the Isle of Youth fornerly known as the Isle of Pines and 4,195 islets, keys and small islands, most of them uninhabited, virgin lands that have preserved their pristine beauty.

Very special. It is influenced by the fact that although Cuba is located in a subtropical zone, it is a large island surrounded by the sea. The ocean breeze, particularly near the coast, prevents the temperatures from rising unbearably.

The islands mean temperature in summer is 27C , but it reaches 28C in the eastern region. The temperature has never dropped below zero in Cuba, it has never snowed here and only on rare occasions do the thermometers register 37C.

The relative humidity is lower than in typical tropical climates, but even so is generally high, such as 85%. The mounths of July and August mid summer are the hottest. Cuba´s winter is intermittent, as the masses of cold air from the north pass over the island in a matter of days, with the prevailing sunny skies quick to reassert themselves. The temperature in winter is 22C.

This is the main information about Cuba in all fields, needed by persons traveling to the Island.

Acerca de Roberto A. Paneque Fonseca

Periodista cubano. Cuban journalist.
Esta entrada fue publicada en Cuba, Cuba Travel Club, English. Guarda el enlace permanente.


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