Santiago de Cuba Travel Guide

Fidel Castro and others launched their revolutionary movement from here in 1953 with the attack to the garrison named "Cuartel Moncada".

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Travel and tourism in Santiago de Cuba. How to get in, maps, activities to do, where...
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Second largest city of the island, Santiago stands out for its rich history and broad cultural development, especially in music. Considered as the most Caribbean of all Cuban cities, it houses festivals expressing its people’s talent.

The Sierra Maestra is a remarkable area in its geography, being the most extensive mountain range in the island, with 243 km long and large areas of ecological value as Baconao Biosphere Reserve. High mountains of excellently preserved landscapes, valleys, rivers, high standard accommodations and a Convention Center, perfectly equipped characterizes it. Water sports, cruise industry and health tourism and life quality are also available.

Santiago is the second city of Cuba, and the birthplace of the current government. Fidel Castro and others launched their revolutionary movement from here in 1953 with the attack to the garrison named “Cuartel Moncada”.

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GET IN

By plane

  • There are several flights per day to Santiago de Cuba from Havana on Cubana and Aerogaviota.
  • Sunrise Airways offers flights four times per week to Santiago from Port-au-Prince.
  • There is also a weekly Service from Montego Bay, and a twice weekly service from Kingston, Jamaica on Air Jamaica Shuttle. The Cost of a return journey is approximately US$360.
  • A taxi to/from the airport to the city centre should cost 10 CUC.

By train

There is a daily overnight train to/from Havana with stops in Camagüey and Santa Clara. This service is the Tren Francés on alternate days, which is more reliable and comfortable than other Cuban trains. There is a daytime train to Camagüey and Santa Clara on Thursdays and Sundays, returning on Mondays and Fridays. Local train service to Holguin has been suspended due to poor track conditions.

By bus

Four daily Viazul buses run to/from Havana, with some stopping in Sancti Spiritus, Camagüey, and Santa Clara. There are also daily buses to/from Baracoa, Trinidad and Varadero. Many of these buses also pass through Holguin and Bayamo. From the east there are two daily Viazul buses from Baracoa, stopping along the way in Guantanamo.

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Thanks to Cuba’s relatively low traffic, and the compactness of the the city centre, Santiago is easily walkable. Nevertheless, it can be searingly hot (which is why you won’t see many people out on the streets in the middle of the day), and the city is very hilly so stay hydrated, and don’t overestimate your own energy levels. Taxis can be easily found around most of the major plazas in the city.

SEE

  • Parque Cespedes. One of the main plazas in the city. It is ringed by impressive buildings, spanning from the colonial Casa de Diego Velazquez to the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) from whose balcony Fidel Casto proclaimed the triumph of the Revolution in January 1959.
  • Museo del Ron (Rum Museum), Bartolomé Masó No 358. A small museum in an attractive old house with displays (in Spanish) on the history of rum and sugarcane production in Cuba and its importance to the country, a walk through the rum-making process and a shot of Santiago de Cuba rum. 2 CUC admission.
  • Plaza de Marte Another large plaza, with monuments and pergolas. It becomes quite animated on weekend nights, especially when there is live music or a festival going on.
  • Balcón de Velázquez, at the corner of Bartolomé Masó & Mariano Corona. A balcony with lovely views over the city and the bay (only slightly tainted by the smokestacks rising from the harbor). Entrance is free but there is a 1CUC charge if you want to take pictures.
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DO

A place not to be missed for live, indigenous music in the city of Santiago de Cuba: La Casa de Trova. While tourists get inside fairly easily, many of the locals dance and listen in the streets below. Located near the plaza at the center of town just down the street from the Cathedral, across from the hotel.

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Spanish

If you want to learn Spanish during your stay in Santiago de Cuba you can take an Intensive Spanish course from one week up to four weeks. The classes are held 4 hours per day and give you the opportunity to improve your Spanish quickly during a short time period.

  • Babylon Idiomas offers a wide range of affordable and high quality Spanish courses for all levels with experienced native teachers. Cultural and social activities are included in the programme. The school is located in the heart of the city in the district “Reparto Sueño” close to the Céspedes Park. New students can start on any Monday of the year.

Salsa

  • Rafael M. Martinez Santisteban, Padre Pico No. 303 e’ Heredia y San Basilio, phone: 653219, 669160, 52468507.
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EAT

  • Paladar “Salon Tropical.” One of the best place to eat in Santiago.
  • St. Pauli Although the restaurant is named after a German football club, and has several German words painted in the colorful corridor leading in from the front door, it’s difficult to detect any German influence in the menu, which has a selection of Cuban staples such as Ropa Vieja, and lots of seafood options. A starter, main and cocktail can easily be had for 10 CUC.
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Hotel Casagranda Drinks on the 6th floor roof top give you a spectacular view of the city at night.

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Casa Particulares

  • Sra. Vilma de los Milagros Román Jaén, Trinidad (General Portuondo) No. 159 (Entre Gallo (Diez de Octubre) y San Pio (Brig.H.Vázquez)), ☎ (53 – 22) 623315. Clean Casa, only one room, very friendly hosts, english spoken, air condition CUC 25.
  • Dra. Irina Ramos, San Germán no. 641 (Entre Barnada y San Agustin), ☎ (53 – 22) 628591. In the city center, steps from Plaza de Marte and the center. Two air-conditioned rooms, hot water, safe area. Friendly and helpful family. English spoken. CUC 25.
  • Ing. Ruben Camara Pascual y Lic. Caridad Arafet Arafet, Jose A. Saco No. 515 (entre Reloj y San Agustin), ☎ (53 – 22) 620 305. Air Conditioned, Cold & Hot Water, Private Bathroom, Excellent Food, Security, and Comfort CUC 20.
  • Lic. Elma Barrera Peña, Rey Pelayo No. 6 e/ Carniceria y Calvario, CP90100, Santiago de Cuba, ☎ 53-22 675004. Excellent location, just 2 minutes walk from the main square. Big and clean room with air conditioner and private toilet, breakfast included. A casa hosted by an old lady Elma and her son David (who can speak English), both are very nice and helpful. CUC 15.
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Second largest city of the island, Santiago stands out for its rich history and broad cultural development, especially in music. Considered as the most Caribbean of all Cuban cities, it houses festivals expressing its people’s talent. The Sierra Maestra is a remarkable area in its geography, being the most extensive mountain range in the island.

Travel and tourism in Santiago de Cuba. How to get in, maps, activities to do, where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Santiago de Cuba Travel Guide.


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Michel Piccaya

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As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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