Home is Where Your Passport Is: Uncover The Mysteries of Cuba
Some of us are programmed to explore, others are programmed to dream. Regardless of which category you fall into, there is a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered.
Her.ie’s new weekly travel guide brings you to some of the most inspiring places in the world and dares you to turn those dreams into an adventure of a lifetime.
As the saying goes, ‘home is where your passport is’ – so where will your passport end up next?
A country full of contradictions Cuba will entice and frustrate you, yet is just waiting to be explored.
Locked in time and hard to grasp a firm handle of, Cuba is a must-visit as behind every corner lies something unexpected.
Dance your way through the streets as a drumbeat is usually throbbing in its cities and explore and discover a culture and people that will leave you astounded.
Havana can essentially be split into three main districts, Habana Vieja, Centro Habana and Vedado. The heart of which is Habana Vieja (Old Havana) where the city’s history seeps from. Visit the city’s famous Callejon de Hemel with its stunning African murals on the wall.
Handy hint: Dance your way down Callejon de Hemel, and nobody will even raise an eyebrow at you – though they might stop you and show you how to do it properly. Take a trip to one of the ‘habanos’ (factories where the famous Cuban cigars are rolled) and you can see the craft that is involved. Be sure to sample some Havana Club Rum too!
While in Havana, take a trip up to Da Vinci’s Camera Obscura up above the city centre which is a pretty cool convex lens that messes up your view of Havana streets.
Handy hint: You could easily pass an hour up here so make time for it.
For Whom The Bell Tolls
For all you literary enthusiasts out there, Havana is also home to Ernest Hemingway’s house. Although the doors have been locked in the last number of years, peek through the windows to see the typewriter that produced The Old Man and The Sea amongst many other.
Take a tour in style
Cruising around Havana is not complete unless it is done in a classic 50’s car. You can hire a car and do it yourself or get a driver to bring you and see all the sights.
Handy hint: Another big draw is the Christopher Columbus cemetery, known as the Cemetario de Colon. It will definitely be a strange but memorable stop on your trip. Hire a guide to take you through to learn the extremely fascinating history.
On the town
Find yourself in the company of legends at Hotel Nacional de Cuba where Sinatra, Churchill, Al Capone and Nat King Cole are all said to have had a tipple or if you fancy busting a move, head down to El Gato Tuerto for some big name artists and brilliant bolero.
Handy hint: If you fancy a change of scenery head to Santiago de Cuba with its relaxed party atmosphere and stunning views. Get a train out of Havana to the city.
Turquino National Park
Pack the runners and the water and head off to Turquino National Park to take in some stunning scenery and hike up Cuba’s highest peak in the Sierra Mastra Mountains.
Handy hint: Head off early and savour every minute.
Trinidad de Cuba
Trinidad de Cuba is a must-visit on a stop of Cuba. An interesting mix of old and new, the biggest attraction to the area are the stunning Caribbean beaches. Bliss.
Handy hint: Head to Casilda Bay and sample some of the many water sports on offer.
Che Guevara Mausoleum
The Che Guevara Mausoleum is a memorial in Santa Clara and is said to house the remains of revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara who was killed in 1967.
Handy hint: Spend some time here to uncover the love affair of a leader and his people and track a history of politics and passion.
Large public celebrations and festivals are commonplace in Cuba but if you can time your trip for any of them make it the Carnaval of Santiago de Cuba.
Handy hint: Don’t plan on getting any sleep!
Insider’s tips: Do the history trail: Steeped in history, there is so much to see and explore in Cuba. Head to the Morro Castle, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza and a variety of different museums and monuments throughout.