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Santiago de Cuba Travel Guide

  • Santiago de Cuba is the country’s second-largest city. The birthplace of son and bolero is a vibrant, colourful destination at the southeast end of Cuba, between the Sierra Maestra mountains and Santiago de Cuba Bay. It’s home to carnivals, beaches, traditional Cuban food and, of course, excellent rum. Steeped in culture and history, the city and its outlying areas have scores of parks, churches and squares to visit.

Discover Santiago de Cuba

  • Kid-friendly fun

    Parque Baconao is a must for families. The vast national park is about 20 km away from the city. It boasts tropical vegetation, wildlife and, yes, huge statues of dinosaurs and cave men the children will love. The eclectic park also lets you learn more about the Cuban Revolution, view a collection of more than 2,500 miniature cars and take a dip at the beach. For more wildlife fun, take your kids to the Parque Zoológico de Santiago de Cuba.

  • People-watching and bay views

    Considered the heart of the city, Parque Céspedes is always bustling. While it’s flanked by City Hall, the cathedral and the oldest house still standing in Cuba, the square’s greatest attraction is the people who bring it to life. For scenery of a different nature: Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca is a former military fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers breathtaking views of Santiago de Cuba Bay and the Sierra Maestra mountains.

  • Cultural sites

    The Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre is popular with the devout and sightseers alike. Set in verdant hills, it houses the shrine to the Virgin of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint. Don’t miss the room with offerings to the Virgin, including letters, medals, wheelchairs and, even, Ernest Hemingway’s Nobel Prize. The centrepiece of Plaza de Marte is a tall column with a red cap, symbolizing liberty. Steeped in history, the lovely square is now a hot spot for socializing.

  • Beach, rum and food

    What’s a trip to Cuba without a little beach time? Playa Siboney is a favourite among locals. Farther out, Playa Verraco is wilder, tucked against lush mountains. Or you can pay to spend a day at a resort. The area is legendary for its rum. See the original Bacardi building, and visit the Museo del Ron (with tastings throughout). Finally, there’s the local food. For a genuine taste of Cuba, try congrí (black beans and rice), ropa vieja (shredded beef in a spicy tomato sauce) and yuca con mojo (strips of fried yuca, seasoned with lemon and salt).

How to discover Santiago de Cuba with Transat

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