Cuba is a continuing education. Just when you think you've figured it out, it confounds you with another brow-beating riddle. That essentially is its underlying attraction.
There ought to be a banner in the arrivals hall at Havana airport that reads 'Abandon preconceptions, all ye who enter here.' Get ready for shocks, surprises, and eye-opening epiphanies. Twenty-first century Cuba promises to be like nowhere else you've ever visited: economically poor, but culturally rich; visibly mildewed, but architecturally magnificent; infuriating, yet at the same time, strangely uplifting. If the country were a book, it would be James Joyce's Ulysses; layered, hard to grasp, serially misunderstood, but – above all – a classic.
Cuba's intricacies are a result of its history, a troubled saga of external interference and internal strife that has bred genocide, slavery, invasion, counterinvasion, and popular revolution. Floating halfway between the US to the north and Latin America to the south, the archipelago has long struggled to work out where it fits in. Even its ecology, as German scientist Alexander von Humboldt once observed, is decidedly weird, a kind of 'Caribbean Galápagos' where contradictory phenomena coexist.
Top 10 things to do in Trinidad, Cuba
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad, Cuba, was built on the back of the 19th-century sugar and slave trade. At its zenith, in 1827, one of the 56 sugar mills in the region harvested the biggest cane haul in the world — just under a million kilos of white pressed crystals.
Cuba's architectural highlights
Cuba's best snorkeling and diving
Cuba destination guides
Habana is a one-off.
How to choose a Caribbean island
The dozens of islands scattered across the Caribbean are a remarkably diverse lot. Pulsing Jamaica has little in common with group-filled Aruba, and even islands in plain sight of each other like St Kitts and Nevis are vastly different not just in appearance but in what they offer visitors.
Cuba's best live music venues
Best of Cuba
From Cuba's historical streets of Havana to the pristine shores of the Caribbean, stroll through World Heritage cities, relive a fascinating colonial history and experience the rich heritage of music and dance that Cuba is renowned for.
The melody of horns floating through the air, classic cars parked in colonial squares, revolutionary statues—get over the resort wall and discover the real Cuba! Travel east to Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa and encounter the birthplace of Cuban rhythms and revolutionary fervour. Soak in Spanish heritage while exploring churches, forts and cobblestoned streets.
The other side of Varadero: leave the resorts behind
A 20km peninsula of white-gold sand flanked by fifty plus all-inclusive hotels: it’s no wonder the foreign tourists flocking to Varadero, the largest resort in Cuba (and one of the largest in the entire Caribbean), have passed the one million mark.