It is a country that evokes images of times gone by, from vintage cars, classic cocktails and colourful architecture to murals of past leaders and revolutionaries.
Despite moves towards modernisation, Cuba still retains a palpable sense of the past. From the colonial architecture of places like Santiago de Cuba to the old town of Havana and the landmarks of charming Trinidad, this is a country where the past visibly lives on in day-to-day life. Add to this dazzling white beaches and abundant natural beauty, and you have everything you could want from a Caribbean break – especially if you’re after some winter sun.
Tourists often don’t venture far beyond Havana and the beach resorts of Varadero, but there’s far more to be discovered on this small but culturally rich island.
Havana is the Cuba that we all imagine before visiting; where vintage American cars glide down streets lined with colourful buildings and 18th-century colonial architecture continues to age delicately. It is a place where the old and the new collide. Colonial grandeur sits alongside visible remnants of the Cold War legacy and contemporary efforts at modernisation.
The characterful ‘Habana Vieja’ (’Old Havana’) gives an architectural history tour, showcasing buildings like the the Capitolio Nacional – the most grandiose building in the country, built in 1926 – and the 18th-century cathedral. The squares, like 16th-century Plaza Vieja, and cobblestone pedestrianised roads including Calle Obispo and Calle Mercaderes, are the most atmospheric parts of the city.
The city’s museums include the Museum of the Revolution, the Morro-Cabana military park and even one dedicated to Napoleon, while two major art galleries exhibit both national and international art. The main cemetery, the Necropolis Cristobal Colon, is an impressive national monument, while the nearly five-mile Malecon, which snakes around the seafront, showcases quintessential Havana through its busy promenade and colourful buildings.
Where to stay
The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski was one of the first five-star hotels in the country when it opened in 2017, and it lies in a former…