Beyond Havana: Three of the Best Cuban Cities that Aren’t the Capital

best cuban cities beyond havana stock editorial only city center of santiago cuba
Now that the U.S. has opened the doors (mostly) for travel to Cuba, the country is ripe for American exploration. But, the loosened travel restrictions are likely to mean significant changes for the country as it adapts to an entirely new demographic. Here are three of the nation’s best cities (that aren’t Havana) to see before the tourists get there.

Time Travel in Colonial Trinidad

Stock-Cathedral-in-Cuba-Havana

If Havana feels stuck squarely in the 1960s, Trinidad is just plain antique. The city is beset with quaint mom-and-pop restaurants, boldly painted Spanish Colonial churches and homes, and horse-drawn carriages ambling along its cobblestone streets. The vibe, like that found in most Cuban cities, hums day and night with music, singing, and dancing. Peruse in and around Plaza Mayor for the best salsa action or head to any of the nearby clubs for traditional Cuban bands nightly. Once you’ve had your fill at street level, head to the rooftops. Vista Gourmet, in particular, offers a terrace with sweeping views over the city’s endless red-tiled roofs — it’s the perfect place to enjoy the appetizer and dessert buffets and a free sunset cocktail. A well-trained staff is also on-hand to offer consultation for cigar purchases from their humidor.

Salsa and Son in Santiago de Cuba

Stock-Editorial-Only-Santiago-Cuba

Santiago de Cuba feels worlds away from the capital city Havana — not just geographically, but culturally. Indeed the city’s location in the southeastern part of the island means that it draws healthy doses of cultural inspiration from the islands of the Caribbean. The city hosted many Cuban firsts, including Don Bacardí’s first rum factory, the initiation of Castro’s revolution, and it’s ground zero for every manner of Cuban music. Like downtown New Orleans, it feels like the people of Santiago de Cuba never stop singing and dancing. Visitors should head to Casa de la Trova — a local institution that’s been the city’s hub of all things music for more than 50 years. From afternoon until well after midnight, it’s a nonstop parade of salsa and son.

Relive the Revolution in Santa Clara

Stock-Editorial-Only-Che-Guevara-Santa-Clara-Cuba
The Che Guevara Mausoleum. Local citizens volunteered over 400,000 hours to help with the construction of the complex.

No Cuban city pays greater homage to Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara than Santa Clara. Around every corner, travelers will find museums, monuments, and statues that honor “El Che.” The revolutionary spirit lives on to this day in the form of a vibrant and creative youth that continues to feed the country’s burgeoning arts and culture scene. For a slightly adventurous diversion, head to the 579-foot peak at Loma del Capiro for fantastic views of the city. Not surprisingly, the site was also of critical importance for Che Guevara during the ‘58 battle for liberation. The city’s location in the dead center of Cuba also makes it an ideal base to explore the surrounding area.

Auto

PlugVan Converts Most Vans Into Full-Fledged Campers in 5 Minutes

Your van can be backcountry-ready for the weekend and back to work Monday morning.
Travel

21 Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Adventure

Get out of town ... or just go to the library. Travel books simulate the sensations of sailing, sightseeing, and setting out to explore.
Travel

10 Reasons to Visit Norway in 2019

The picturesque ruggedness of Norway is just part of the appeal of what may arguably be one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.
Travel

Win a Private Island Getaway for You and 7 of Your Closest Friends

Bring the entire squad on an ultra-luxe Belizean getaway worthy of a one-percenter.
Food & Drink

Heading to Hawaii? Make Your Reservations at Manta Restaurant to Eat Big Island Beef

How can cattle raised in Hawaii stand-up to beef carefully coddled for years in Japan, Australia, and the mainland U.S.? Pretty damn easily, that's how.
Living

Detroit’s Shinola Hotel Has Us Feeling Right At Home

With stylish guest suites and a social “living room,” the Shinola Hotel honors the Motor City’s past while looking to a bright future.
Living

The Jamaican Villa Where Ian Fleming Created James Bond is for Rent and It Is Amazing

You can vacation at the birthplace of secret agent 007, complete with butlers to make your martinis.
Travel

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet?
Outdoors

4 of the Most Dangerous Hikes in the World

You'll need a healthy dose of fear and a desire to push your self to the edge — just not over it.
Travel

‘App in the Air’ Could Help Travelers Survive the Next Government Shutdown

It's like an airport survival kit in your pocket. It will be handy long after the government shutdown ends (again).
Travel

The Palms Casino’s Newest High-Roller Suites Have a Bowling Alley and Whiskey Room

The Hardwood Suite is a basketball-centric masterpiece, while the Kingpin suite is a bowling bro's paradise.
Travel

Celebrate Your Single-ness This Valentine’s Day with a Cheap Vacation

Contiki is looking to make solo celebrations even better with deeply discounted travel packages for Singles Awareness Day.
Travel

Enjoy a Different Kind of Island Life at this Private Scottish Escape

Eilean Shona is a self-described, lakefront “Neverland” where visitors are encouraged to appreciate the lost art of sitting still and doing nothing.
Travel

Travel Switzerland Like a Gentleman Aboard the Luxury Glacier Express

You can sip cognac like a sophisticate aboard Europe's most iconic and breathtaking rail journey.