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Cuba

Cuba Hot Destination 2020

Traditionally a Real Holidays favourite, Cuba exploded with US tourism five years ago.

However, with new restrictions on American travel to Cuba, now is an excellent opportunity to experience this colourful destination. And with the steady rise of small stylish places to stay, you can catch Cuba on the cusp of change.

Buzzing with both Caribbean and Latin influences, Cuba is full of character and charm from the crumbling colonial streets humming with salsa to the white-sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters.

The Lowdown

  • Getting there

    Direct flights depart from Gatwick twice a week with Virgin taking 10.5 hours.

  • When to go

    The best weather is between December and April, which is peak season. August to October is hurricane season and best avoided.

  • Getting around

    We recommend a chauffeur driven car plus a private guide for sightseeing, or adventurous visitors can self-drive.

  • Top tip

    Take a dance or music lesson, whether salsa, rumba or drumming, it’s a fun way to tap in to the rhythm of Cuba.

Heritage in Havana and Trinidad

Havana will be 500 years old in 2020 and to many the city still embodies a faded glamour but there are signs that the capital city is waking up to innovation. At first glance though, you’ll be captivated by the pastel-hued houses and the classic cars that double up as taxis, and Old Havana with its maze-like cobbled streets that open out on grand squares and crumbling palaces. Bordering the city is El Bosque, flourishing with 300-year-old bayan and carob trees, and a place for walks, biking and picnics.

Interesting and characterful places to stay are popping up throughout the city, heralding a new era of hospitality for Cuba. In central Cuba, UNESCO World Heritage city Trinidad has culture in spades and a well-preserved architecture that will have you mooning over its pretty pink, yellow and blue houses and winding cobbled lanes. Take a horse and cart ride or sit back in a café and listen to the ever-present music on the breeze. Climb the bell tower to admire the red-roofed city and the forest-clad mountains in the distance.

Havana Cuba
  1. Beaches and National Parks

    One of the great things about Cuba is its opportunity not just for enthralling culture but a chance to soak up gloriously relaxed vibes on its stunning beaches. In fact, there’s pretty much a beach for anything you want from snorkelling to seafood restaurants, to those looking for a party vibe where drinking a fresh coconut topped up with rum is very much encouraged.

    To get out into Cuba’s nature visit a national park – there are ten to explore which offer hikes through tropical forests, swims in waterfalls and caves flitting with bats. For something that combines both beach and wildlife head to Jardines de la Reina, a marine reserve and Cuba’s second largest archipelago which is becoming known for its excellent diving.

  2. Music and Cigars

    Wherever you go in Cuba, music will accompany you from roof-down cars, open windows and hidden bars. Salsa forms the backbone of many a melody, often with spontaneous Spanish singing. Evenings see cities like Havana and Trinidad come to life with live bands, atmospheric jazz singers and two-stepping dancers performing an impromptu Cuban rumba, best enjoyed in a smoky bar with a Mojito nearby.

    And talking of smoke, the cigar plays an important part of Cuban culture. Tobacco is a one of Cuba’s main exports and prized cigars can be bought from thermidors on every street corner. For a more in-depth look at this cultural pastime head to Vinales, a rural heartland in west Cuba where wild orchids blossom and the lofty Sierra de los Organos mountains preside. Visit a tobacco farm, learn how to roll a cigar from dried leaves and take it home, a sweet-smelling reminder of your Cuban adventure.

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