Cheap Holidays to Cuba
Popular Destinations in Cuba
Cuba Holidays & Hotels
Hotels in Cuba
With its mix of pastel-coloured buildings, vintage cars and white-sand beaches, there are fewer destinations more vibrant than Cuba. Featuring a rich history, the laid-back towns and cities of Cuba ring out with salsa music into the late hours of the evening. Dance your shoes off in the bars and sample tipples of traditional Cuban rum, or head out to the rural areas to discover tobacco fields, mountain ranges and coral reefs off pristine beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a getaway in the centre of all the colourful action, Cuba has accommodation to suit all preferences and budgets. Large hotel chains have opened up resort in recent years, with many luxury 4 and 5* hotels centred around the big tourist destinations of Havana and Varadero. There’s also a mix of stylish boutiques, smaller hotels and homely B&Bs dotted around the cities and smaller towns inland. No matter where you choose, Cuba is guaranteed to wow you!
Where to stay
As Cuba’s capital, Havana is one of the most popular destinations in the country. By day it hums with sights such as colourful vintage cars, imposing Colonial buildings and lively cafes spilling out into the narrow streets. As evening descends, the city comes to life with live music, salsa dancing and locals and tourists alike gathering along the Malecón, an 8km esplanade which stretches along the coast.
Many of the luxury hotels can be found on the outskirts of the city’s Old Havana, especially around Parque Central. As well as boasting amenities such as rooftop pools, restaurants and spas, these hotels sit just a stone’s throw away from all of the famous sights. If looking for a stay with a difference, check out some of the casas particulares - private rooms within local people’s homes. For a quieter stay, try the modern Miramar district, just a 17-minute drive away from the city centre; alternatively, a mix of affordable and luxury hotels line up along the beach at Playas del este, 30 minutes away from Havana itself.
Varadero is a popular resort town located on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic ocean. Travellers flock here for its world-class beaches, golf courses and all-inclusive hotels, wrapping holidaymakers up in an exotic world of sunny weather and laid-back vibes.
Alongs its 20km of coastline sits a host of hotels ranging from luxury all-inclusive resorts to sprawling family-friendly hotels with a variety of on-site entertainment. Budget hotels and simple B&Bs with easy beach access can also be found. No matter where you stay in Varadero, you’ll never be more than a 15-minute walk from the white sands and crystal clear ocean, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers!
Cayo Santa Maria
A small island situated off Cuba’s northern coast, Cayo Santa Maria is easily reachable from the city of Santa Clara. While it may take a little time to get there - one hour and 40 minutes - the journey is more than worth it. The island is a flurry of quiet, picture-perfect beaches, as well as thrilling water sports. Whether you’re honeymooning or travelling with friends and family, a trip to Cayo Santa Maria will be one to remember forever.
Across Cayo Santa Maria there are a number of high-end 4 and 5* hotels, designed to surround guests in luxurious facilities such as expansive outdoor pools and stylish rooms. Visitors will also find a smattering of budget accommodation available, offering a more affordable option for those wanting to experience paradise.
What to see
Holidays in Cuba have something to offer for just about everyone, whether you’re a passionate beachlover, hardcore partier or a history buff. Plus, no matter which destination you choose, your trip is likely to include a healthy dose of stunning landscapes and old-world charm - not to mention daiquiris and mojitos!
Havana is the beating heart of the country. Crumbling buildings in a variety of pastel colours make up the Old Havana district, now officially a UNESCO world heritage site. Take in the stories of Cuba’s past at the Museum of the Revolution, admire the iconic National Capitol Building, and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Christ of Havana. Havana is also a fantastic place to base yourself if you want to explore the wider area: the rolling hills of Viñales offer up a completely different side to the country. Swap busy city streets for a natural world that’s full of hiking, cycling and horse-riding opportunities.
In Varadero, the focus is much more of family fun and soaking up the surrounding landscapes. Delfinario is a small marine mammal park that offers dolphin shows and experiences, while Josone Park is a green oasis and a peaceful retreat.
In Cayo Santa Maria much of the action takes place on the stunning beaches. Guests have the option to take in the views from the comfort of dry land, or head out into the water for an exciting mix of water sports.
The nightlife opportunities in Cuba are naturally more plentiful when you head into the larger cities. Havana, for instance, comes to life after dark with salsa-playing bars, open-air dancing and clubs. One of its most famous nightlife venues is the world-famous Tropicana Club, a cabaret show that’s home to an all-dancing, all-singing Cuban troupe. For a more subdued evening, head to some of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drinking haunts including El Floridita and El Floridita.
In Varadero, nightlife can be found in the comfort of your own hotel, but it’s also home to a number of nightclubs and lounges. Throw some shapes on the dance floor, give a round of karaoke your best shot, or simply sip on cocktails at the chic bars.
What to eat
Traditionally Cuba hasn’t had the best of reputations for its local food, but all that is beginning to change. Pop into any cafe or restaurant and chances are you’ll be confronted with a menu that’s brimming with dishes that have Spanish, African and Caribbean influences. Far and away the best type of place to eat at in Cuba is a paladar - an independent restaurant that’s run by individuals, not the Cuban government. While meals can be a little on the pricey side, the paladares offer the most unique dishes. Be sure to try an authentic Cuban sandwich, made with sliced roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and dill pickles. Moros y Cristianos - rice cooked in black beans - is another firm favourite that’s sold almost everywhere.
As a result of Cuba’s Communist political landscape, large international chains are virtually non-existent. That doesn’t mean that shopping in Cuba isn’t worthwhile - you just need to look a little harder. Cigars, rum and crafts are key purchases for loved ones or as souvenirs. Head to any of the country’s local markets to pick up gifts; in Havana there’s the Almacenes San José Artisans’ Market, where you can pick up local crafts such as quirky paintings and jewellery. Over in Varadero there’s a large street market that sits in and amongst the large resorts. While you’re unlikely to find anything overly unique, it’s a one-stop shop for souvenirs.
Fast Facts about Cuba
- Direct flight time: 9 hours 45 minutes from London
- Time Zone: 4 hours behind the UK
- Currency: Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) for travellers; locals use the Cuban Peso (CUP)
- Language: Cuban Spanish
- Average price of a domestic beer: 1.50 CUC
- Average price of a bottle of wine: 6.50 CUC
- Number of Brit tourists per year: Unknown