Cuba has many beautiful places and it is difficult to fit all of them into a short trip unless you go for more than two weeks. We were lucky enough that we travelled for a entire month in Cuba and even within that month we missed a few spots especially because Cuba on the map looks small but it is a large country if you would like to move from one extreme of the island to the other.
Something that I loved about Cuba is that the locals are always willing to give you travel advice, they are proud about their country and they love to tell you stories about their life in this beautiful island. Talking with my host in the casa particular in Santa Clara, she suggested adding to my “must check this place out” list the cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos. Trinidad because it is a vibrant colourful city with a colonial heritage and Cienfuegos for its elegant and fine architecture.
The city of Cienfuegos is known as the Pearl of the South (La Perla del Sur) and we realised the reason it has this name when we arrived in the city, it is very clean city, with elegant buildings and a waterfront with turquoise waters. In comparison with the rest of the country, Cienfuegos is the only city in Cuba founded by French settlers. Although, people usually spend one day in the city on their way to another major city such as as Viñales or Trinidad, we suggest spending at least 2 days (if possible) to explore what this beautiful city has to offer.
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Parque Jose Marti
This main square is a must see, the historical centre of Cienfuegos is a UNESCO Site. The Neoclassical architecture of some its buildings combined with the French influence has an important historical and cultural value. The park is one of the places in the city where it is possible to call your family because it has a Wi-Fi spot, to use it you will need a ETECSA Wi-Fi card.
Teatro Terry (Terry Theatre) was built in 1889; music and theatre performances are still played here. This auditorium has an Italian design with a stunning carving, painted in gold leaf on the stage’s frame.
One of the main features is the large Baroque painting on the ceiling. Teatro Terry entrance fee: $2CUC including guided tour.
El Palacio de Ferrer
A Neoclassical light blue building known as Casa de La Cultura built in 1918, offers the best view of the main square. Entrance fee: $1 CUC and you will have to use the spiral staircase to go to the top of the tower.
Palacio del Valle
On the other side of the city, walking through Avenida El Prado (Prado Avenue) you can find one of the most famous buildings in Cienfuegos is the marvellous Palacio del Valle.
This luxury palace was built by a wealthy man, Acislo Valle Blanco in 1917. It is believed that in its constructions, people from different nationalities including French, Cubans and Arabs participated. It has Gothic, Indian and Moorish styles combined in its architecture.
On the inside the place is astonishing, carved windows, decorated walls with Moorish arches and mosaic floors. It was built as a private residence but later converted to a restaurant with a rooftop bar and now part of the Hotel Jagua. If you would not like to eat here, perhaps you would like to have a drink or a nice coffee meanwhile enjoying the ambiance.
Castillo de Jagua
The Fortaleza de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua is located at Cienfuegos Bay. To visit this fortress you have to take a ferry($1cuc) from Cienfuegos city that takes 1 hour. Entrance fee of the fortress: $5CUC.
Jardin Botanico de Cienfuegos
If you like plants, trees and nature, Jardin Botanico is the best place to visit. This large garden of 97 hectares is located 17 km east of Cienfuegos city, it will take 30 minutes to drive there. It exhibits several species of plants including many different types of orchids, ~230 types of palms , 65 types of ficuses and 29 types of bamboos.
By Bus: There Via Azul buses departing from Havana to Trinidad stopping at Cienfuegos.
By private taxi: from Havana to Cienfuegos can cost ~120 CUC per ride. The trip will take 3 to 4 hours.
Accomodation: Casa Particular
We stayed in this lovely casa particular that we would like to recommend: Hostal Sta. Elena. Our room was very nice, clean, with a comfortable bed and private bathroom.
Hostal Sta. Elena
- Contact person: Maydell and Daniel
- Address: Avenida 60, #3702 entre las calles(between the streets) 37(Prado) y calle 39 – Cienfuegos
- Contact information: [email protected]
Have you visited Cienfuegos? How was your experiencia?
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