6 Places to Visit in Cuba

By Carolyn Dean

Staff Writer

Cuba is a beautiful and robust country that has been condemned by Washington since 1962 when the United States emplaced a trade and travel embargo restricting US citizens from travelling to and from the country.  Recently in 2011 President Obama modified the embargo for Americans to travel to Cuba with an academic, religious, or cultural license.  Here are some of the most alluring and culturally affluent places to visit.

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Havana
Unsurprisingly, Havana or Habana is one of the most recognizable cities in the world. Known for its fusion of colonial architecture, legendary salsa bars, and classic American cars, the city rains as being one of the most spirited cities throughout the Caribbean.

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Santiago
Known for being the second largest city in Cuba, Santiago is a colorful melting pot of Afro-Caribbean, artists, musicians, and tourists situated on a bay that extends out to the Caribbean sea. The cities fast paced and wild attitude is only heightened by narrow steep streets that look out along white sand beaches and emerald mountains.

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Trinidad
Trinidad represents Cuba’s colonial period with cobblestone streets and beautiful neo-classic architecture.  Being a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site, the city offers colonial mansions amongst a romantic air that gives visitors a sense of historic antiquity dueled with the bright insignias of Central American flavor.

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Viñales
Known for traditional Cuba vigor, Viñales is a humble town nestled in the northwest area of the island.  Its landscape is recognizable by mogotes, which are nonpareil dome-shaped mountains that dominate the skyline of this genuine town.  The real draw to Viñales lies within the Valle de Viñales, an appointed National Park, this area attracts climbers from all over the world. Mogote del Valle, El Palenque, and La Costanera offer the most abundance of climbs and are easily accessible from Viñales.  While climbing is technically illegal for Cubans, it is not for international climbers or tourists.  This juxtaposition creates some ambiguity but it is encouraged that international climbers follow in tradition by leaving some of their equipment for other Cubans to be able to start climbing.

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Varadero
Is a resort town and has been ever since the early 1900’s.  Famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches and expensive mansions that have been maintained and preserved as museums, Varadero is a place to purely relax in 4-5 start hotels and enjoy a less bustling atmosphere away from the popular cities.

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Cienfuegos
Known for its neo-classical buildings, Cienfuegos was founded by French settlers and in turn has a different atmosphere than other cities throughout Cuba. Nicknamed the Pearl of the south, Cienfuegos offers less museums and art than other places in Cuba, but makes up for it with an intimate and sincere attitude. Cienfuegos offers a well to do nightlife and is best appreciated at the south end of the bay. Must-sees are Fortress “Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua” is a military fortress built by the Spanish in the late eighteen-century and Jugua ferry ride that provides the best views of the city.

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