The nation’s fourth-largest city serves up authentic provincial Cuba without the wrapping paper. Though the city of San Isidoro de Holguín barely features in Cuba’s tourist master plan, there’s magic and mystery here for a certain type of traveler. There's an overabundance of shiny vintage Chevys, plazas filled with uniformed school children sharing wi-fi and interactions not marred by rushing or selling. Use it as a window to life in the interior: from the religious solemnity of the annual procession climbing Loma de la Cruz to the exuberant cheers pouring forth from the oversized baseball stadium.
Although Guardalavaca is nearby, there's little focus on tourism in the provincial capital. You won’t find tour groups milling the streets in migratory herds, but you will find an easy authenticity. Think eager-to-please casas particulares, cheap food in pioneering restaurants and a city that loves – and brews – its own beer.