Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Santa Clara

Sorry Havana. Santa Clara is Cuba's most revolutionary city – and not just because of its historical obsession with Argentine doctor turned guerrillero Che Guevara. Smack bang in the geographic center of Cuba, this is a city of new trends and insatiable creativity, where an edgy youth culture has been testing the boundaries of Cuba’s censorship police for years. Unique Santa Clara offerings include Cuba’s only official drag show, a graphic artists' collective that produces satirical political cartoons, and the best rock festival in the country: Ciudad Metal. The city’s fiery personality has been shaped over time by the presence of the nation’s most prestigious university outside Havana, and a long association with Che Guevara, whose liberation of Santa Clara in December 1958 marked the end of the Batista regime. Little cultural revolutions have been erupting here ever since.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Santa Clara.