For a journey into the fascinating country of Cuba and it’s rich historical and natural landscape, we suggest our top picks of destinations we think you should consider. From untouched white sand beaches, to swimming with dolphins, to hiking through amazing nature reserves, Cuba is truly a gem that only few outsiders get to enjoy.
While Havana is at the center of most travelers itineraries, we take you across the entire island to show you places that you might not have heard of, like the preserved jungle region of Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, or the pine-tree-filled Isla de la Juventud. But, while you’re in Havana, you should browse our guide to the 16 Best Things to do in Havana.
Read on to get new inspiration for your trip to this special and historically significant country.
1. Viñales Valley
The Viñales Valley is a curious flat valley surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs. Known as one of the most beautiful destinations in Cuba, this lush valley is mostly used to farm tobacco, and you can take a first-hand tour of how cigars are made. Because of sheer limestone cliffs surrounding the Viñales Valley, it has become the top Cuban rock-climbing destination with many interesting routes to explore for experienced climbers. Another great activity in the Viñales Valley is to take a horse-back riding tour or explore one of the many massive caves throughout the valley’s limestone borders.
We vote the Viñales Valley as one the top special things to do in Cuba.
2. Old Square
A large, open square in the heart of Havana, the Old Square is definitely worth a visit if you’re exploring Havana. This residential square is the historical home to many wealthy Cubans, and the Old Square is surrounded by many noteworthy homes, all in different states of restoration.
The square was the site of many large community events, such as bullfights, parades, and fiestas. There are multiple cafe’s around the outside of the square where visitors can relax and have a drink or meal in the shade and look out over this interesting square.
3. Mausoleo del Che Guevara
Located in the city of Santa Clara, the Mausoleo del Che Guevara is a massive mausoleum built for the legendary Cuban military leader Che Guevara and his companions who were killed in 1967 in battle. The mausoleum grounds sit on a hilltop overlooking the city of Santa Clara and has many symbolic and impressive elements.
The centerpiece of this complex is a 22-foot tall bronze statue of Che himself and there are many other areas, such as an area dedicated to the companions that were killed alongside him in battle. If you will be visiting the town of Santa Clara, then we highly recommend a visit to this impressive and moving historical monument.
4. Cayo Largo del Sur
If serene white sand beaches and island resorts are your thing, then Cayo Largo del Sur is a place you’ll want to see. This small resort island is home to a few of Cuba’s stunning and most undeveloped white-sand beaches like Playo Paraiso and Playa Sirena. Though still very undeveloped, Cayo Largo del Sur does have many large all-inclusive resort hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas.
You can enjoy many water activities Cayo Largo del Sur, like catamaran dolphin tours, paddleboarding, scuba diving, swimming and tide-pool exploring. For an escape to a Cuban island paradise, we think Cayo Largo del Sur is one of the best options.
5. El Capitolio
One of the most visited spots in Havana, El Capitolio is the National Capital Building of Cuba. With a resemblance that’s curiously close to the United States capitol building, this historic building has many interesting features. One thing to of note is that this building houses the 3rd largest indoor statue in the world, Statue of the Republic, which is a nearly 60-foot tall bronze sculpture of a young girl holding a shield with one hand and wielding a long lance in the other.
The government of Cuba has been restoring this structure over time to its original glory and is a very impressive place to visit. We think a visit to El Capitolio should be on your must-do list for when you visit Havana.
6. Museum of the Revolution
If you want to see where many of the past Cuban leaders called home, you need to visit the Museum of the Revolution. Housed inside the historic presidential palace, this museum features exhibits focused on educating visitors on Cuban’s Revolutionary War period of the 1950s.
While the museum isn’t very “interactive”, this beautiful palace is definitely worth exploring just for its architecture. For another historical and architecturally significant destination in Havana, the Museum of the Revolution should definitely be on your list.
7. Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro
An interesting thing to do while you’re in Havana is visiting the Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro fort that sits at the entrance to the Havanna harbor. This intimidating fortress was built in 1589 to protect Havana from invaders and pirates and can be seen right across the water from old Havana.
Visiting this fortress not only takes you centuries back in time with various exhibits and ancient architecture of this structure but also provides great views of Havana and the water. A lighthouse was added later to provide safe passage for boats trying to navigate into the harbor. For another historical and educational destination in Havana, we highly recommend a visit to this ancient fortress.
8. Delfinario en Cayo Santa Maria
For a fun sea life experience, we recommend visiting the Delfinario (Dolphin Show) in Cayo Santa Maria. Cayo Santa Maria is in a chain of Cuban islands and is well known as a luxury vacation and all-inclusive resort destination with beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear water.
The Delinario features various entertaining dolphin shows and opportunities to swim alongside these amazing creatures in the warm Cuban water. For a unique thing to do in Cuba, we’d recommend a visit to this Delfinario in the beautiful Cayo Santa Maria.
9. Plaza de la Catedral
The Plaza de la Catedral is a plaza in Old Havana named after the Cathedral of Havana which overlooks the area. One of the astonishing things you realize when visiting the cathedral is that it is made almost entirely out of sea Coral and not rock as you might imagine. Many historical buildings in Havana are actually built from coral which makes them even more interesting.
In addition to the cathedral, this beautiful plaza in the heart of Havana also features some restaurants, an art museum and various ornate mansions that were built for wealthy citizens. If you are touring Old Havana, the Plaza de la Catedral is a must-see destination.
10. Varadero Beach
Located a 2-hour drive east of Havanna, this beach resort town is well known as a popular beach destination for tourists. With over 15 miles of white-sand beaches, there is plenty of beach and water activities to enjoy here. You enjoy the water with a boat tour, or kayaks, and you can enjoy other activities, like golf at the Varadero golf club or visit the Centro Todo En Uno amusement park for some fun rides.
If you are interested in enjoying Cuba’s white sand beaches, but also have access to other entertainment options, then Varadero Beach could be a great destination.
11. Jardines De La Reina
For the top scuba diving destination in Cuba, we’d suggest you visit Jardines De La Reina (Gardens of the Queen), a remote group of islands and reefs in the southern edge of Cuba. Jardines De La Reina is popular with both sport fishermen and scuba divers because of the abundance of sea life flourishing in these waters.
It is a well-known spot for diving with sharks and crocodiles, and while this may sound dangerous, with the right tour-guide it is totally safe. With year-round warm water and incredible water visibility up to 100 feet, this is a spectacular place to be immersed in all kinds of sea life, from thousands of kinds of colorful fish, to turtles, to sharks and crocodiles.
If you get the opportunity to visit Jardines De La Reina, you should take it and experience with this top fishing and diving destination that Cuba has to offer.
12. Guardalavaca Beach
Another popular beach destination is Guardalavaca on Cuba’s northern coast. This resort town offers a relaxing escape from the city and like the other beaches in this list, features pristine white sand beaches like Guardalavaca Beach and Esmeralda Beach. With a reef that surrounds these beaches, the water here is very safe and calm so it’s great for swimming and other water activities. There is a daily flea market where you can browse thousands of items and artwork made by local Cubans.
You can also take a stroll through the Bahia de Naranjo Nature trails that take you through the surrounded wilderness areas. The Bahia de Naranjo also offers dolphin shows and other boating activities. For another great destination to enjoy the Cuban water and experience some untouched nature, Guardalavaca is a wonderful destination that’s worth visiting.
13. Bay of Pigs
Located on the south shore of Cuba, the Bay of Pigs is another popular beach destination to visit for a couple of reasons. First, this the historical location of the “Bay of Pigs Invasion” and second, because this bay offers amazing diving and snorkeling in the typically calm waters.
You can visit the Bay Of Pigs Invasion museum that celebrates the Cuban victory over the invaders, and you can explore the various destinations around the bay, like El Cenote, a mysterious limestone sinkhole that is hundreds of feet deep, or explore the underwater wreckage of the ship “Jeruca”. While this is another pristine beachside destination, the Bay of Pigs has many other interesting activities and that is why it makes it on our list of best things to do in Cuba.
14. Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
To visit one of Cuba’s most wild and diverse regions, you can explore the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. This incredible lush National Park is located on the eastern tip of Cuba and is home to Cuba’s largest collection of native plants and endangered animals. Some of the animals you can spot here are colorful parrots, various kinds of lizards, hummingbirds, and the nocturnal Cuban solenodon a burrowing rodent unique to this area of Cuba.
Of the best things to do in Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is to take a guided hiking tour from one of the many local guide companies through some of the most picturesque and interesting parts of this special Cuban jungle wilderness.
15. Isla de la Juventud
One fascinating island destination off the coast of Cuba is the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Pines). This island covers nearly 1,000 square miles and is located 60 miles off Cuba’s southern shores. Known for its many stands of pine trees that give the island its name, this island paradise is mainly undeveloped and difficult to get to because of the lack of infrastructure and lack of promotion for tourists. You can get to the island by airplane or a 3-hour catamaran trip from Cuba or you can find intermittent flights here as well. From untouched beaches, to calm lagoons, this is
While it can be a challenge to get here, we think that the Isla de la Juventud is a true Gem and well worth exploring if you have the time.
16. Plaza Mayor
Located in the picturesque central Cuban town of Trinidad, Plaza Mayor is the town’s central square and most photographed spot in town. With beautiful and nostalgic colonial cobblestone streets, and brightly colored houses and buildings, Trinidad is a popular town to visit and a gateway to other Cuban destinations. As Trinidad’s main industry is Tobacco processing, there are many options near the Plaza Mayor for seeing how cigars and other tobacco products get produced.
For an adventurous thing to do in Havana, we’d recommend visiting Fusterlandia, a curious neighborhood near the heart of Havana that is completely overrun with the art of one man. Starting in 1975, José Fuster returned to his impoverished Havana neighborhood with an artistic vision and began a decade’s long art project. José moved from building to building in his neighborhood, using houses and buildings as his canvas for his whimsical, childlike tile art that now covers nearly everything in sight. Fusterlandia is a place worth visiting if you’re up for something a bit more adventurous in Havana and off the standard visitor’s itinerary.
18. Saturno Cave
For another adventurous thing to do in Cuba, check out the Saturno Cave. This cave is a popular tourist attraction and features a cave with stalactites and a deep pool carved into the limestone rock. You can swim, float, snorkel, and scuba dive in this mysterious cave. For a great place to explore while escaping the heat of the day, we highly recommend a visit to Saturno Cave.
19. Ancon Beach
If you plan on visiting Trinidad, Cuba then you should definitely take the 15-minute trip further out to Ancón Beach. This picture-perfect white sand beach offers a great place to relax and enjoy some water activities like snorkeling, or just enjoy a cold drink under one of the many palm leaf huts that dot the beach.
20. Fabrica De Arte Cubano
For a fun night activity in Havana, we’d suggest visiting the Fabrica De Arte Cubano – a cultural and artistic hotspot in the city. Built into a refurbished cooking oil factory, this ode to modern Cuban culture features art galleries, dance halls, and live performance spaces to showcase the new and more open cultural climate of modern Cuba. Seeing that most of the sights and destinations in Cuba feel like historical landmarks, this one feels like a breath of fresh air in the heart of Havana.
21. El Nicho Waterfalls
If you want to experience one of Cuba’s top waterfall destinations, then you should check out El Nicho Waterfalls. These waterfalls are located in a forested nature preserve between the popular cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos. In addition to the main waterfalls, you can explore miles of trails in this reserve that feature many pristine rivers, caves, lakes, and swimming holes. For another great adventurous thing to do in Cuba, you should consider a trip out to El Nicho Waterfalls.