Mark Read

Sancti Spíritus Province

This small but well-endowed province is Cuba at its loveliest, also guarding a precious chunk of the country's fantastical historical legacy. Sancti Spíritus Province boasts nature worth exploring. The best on Cuba’s underwhelming south coast, Playa Ancón is a stunner. And then there are mountains. Outside Trinidad, the haunting Escambray offers outstanding hiking on a network of picturesque trails.

A postcard come alive, Trinidad is one of the most intact colonial towns in the Americas, with red-tile roofs, cobblestone streets and pastel houses with castle-sized colonial doors. Its underdog rival, the city of Sancti Spíritus offers a more intangible, crumbling allure. In 2014, both celebrated their 500th anniversaries to much fanfare and an invigorated shine on their finest architecture.

But there's even more: a surprisingly varied cache of oft-overlooked curiosities, including lightly trodden eco-parks, a seminal museum dedicated to guerrilla icon Camilo Cienfuegos, and the Unesco-protected Bahía de Buenavista.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Sancti Spíritus Province.