With a world of culture and a vast array of beautiful beaches at your fingertips, it’s easy to sit still and soak it all up. But you’ll want to jump in the car to discover a side of Cuba that only a day’s drive can uncover.
7 milesErnest Hemingway certainly left his mark on Cuba, and it’s an easy task to follow his footsteps through the hotels and bars of Havana. But for a real writer’s experience, you have to make a short 15-minute drive outside the capital.
Finca Vigía, now Museo de Ernest Hemingway, was the home of the famous writer between 1939 and 1960 and was the writing place for the famous novels, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and, more obviously, "The Old Man and the Sea." The house became property of the Cuban government in 1961 and has been a museum ever since, with Hemingway’s possessions exactly as he left them.
47 milesA forward-thinking eco-village founded by Fidel Castro himself, Las Terrazas is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and home to Cuba’s oldest surviving coffee plantation. An activity centre means it’s the perfect day trip from Havana, and it offers Cuba’s only canopy tour. The village was opened to tourists in 1992 with an overnight stay in the only accommodation onsite, Hotel Moka.
The whitewashed village nearby has a vibrant art scene that is perfect for authentic souvenirs, but the real beauty is found in the surroundings — dense forest with unique wildlife perfect for long walks or simply sitting back and taking it all in.
114 milesThe most visited location in the region of Pinar del Rio, the Viñales Valley is situated in a remote area on the island, which retains its sense of pre-tourism Cuba.
The must-see sight has to be Mogote Dos Hermanas or the “twin sisters,” two huge mounds sitting next to one another on the west side of the valley. For the best view of the entire valley, head up to Hotel Jazmines, a few hundred metres’ detour off the main road. It’s well worth the queue.
175 milesThe town’s liberation at the hands of Che Guevara’s forces in December 1958 marked the end of Fulgencio Batista’s reign of Cuba, and Santa Clara still has a sense of that revolutionary spirit today. The mausoleum in the west of city centre is the resting place of Che Guevara and sixteen of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during the Bolivia campaign.
The home of University “Marta Abreu” of Las Villas, Santa Clara today is a hotbed for creativity and has Cuba’s only official drag show as well as the island’s most notable rock festival, Ciudad Metal.
196 milesIt may sound like a long trip, but trust us, the drive is worth it. Situated south of Santa Clara, Trinidad is located on the Caribbean coast in the shadow of the Escambray Mountains.
The town was built on the back of the sugar industry and slave trade of the 19th century and is entirely shaped by its history — huge colonial mansions, squares and churches stand today as a reminder of the era of profit.