Old meets new, Cuba is a little bit of everything all rolled into one. It's a tantalizing destination that has been drawing in tourist for decades. Cuba is well known for is topical beaches with crystal clear waters and delicious cocktails. But don't be fooled. There is so much more to this topical paradise than just sipping Mojitos on a beach. The interior is equally as spectacular. There are fantastic hiking opportunities and beautiful waterfalls dotted all throughout the interior, but local favorites include Viñales and the Cienfuegos region.
Asides from outdoor activities, Cuba boasts some of the best and most beautiful architecture in the Caribbean. Havana's old colonial buildings are breathtaking but down south, Santiago de Cuba also has a lot to offer.
It may be an old cliche, but Havana (La Habana to the locals) is simply stunning. The old crumbling colonial architecture mixed with vintage cars and swinging night life is intoxicating. Don't be afraid to step out of old town and head to the western parts of the city for more of an authentic experience. In the western parts of Havana you will find the restaurants and hole in the wall places where the locals eat and drink, for a fraction of the price as in old town. The same can be said for accommodation. Hotels are centered within the old town, and there are also a couple of hostels emerging in Havana. Hostels in Havana are much cheap and generally good quality. Currently they tend to be centered in the western parts of Havana near Calle Hospital.
If you ever manage to drag yourself away from the gorgeous sites of Havana, you will find a multitude of smaller but still charming towns. Reaching other locations in Cuba is fairly easy and you have a few options. You can rent a car, which is by far the most expensive option, but probably your best option if you are traveling in a group. Or you can take a collective taxi or use the Viazul bus. Busses are generally reliable, depart regularly, and are comfortable.
Cienfuegos is another beautiful location in Cuba. Most travelers only stop here for a night or two. However if you wish to truly experience Cienfuegos, stay a little longer. The town of Cienfuegos can easily be explored on foot in a day or less, but beyond the town are beautiful beaches and hiking opportunities. All possible either on bike or with a collective taxi. Hostels and accommodations in Cienfuegos are only slightly cheaper than the ones in Havana and are located on the Main Street of Calle Prado.
Trinidad is another popular tourist destination, famed because of its pretty old town and lovely beaches. Hostels in Trinidad predominantly center around the Viazul bus station and can vary in price according to the quality. If you wander a little further from the main part of town, it is possible to find lower quality accommodation at cheaper rates.
Be aware that Cuba has a duel currency system that is tied to the US dollar. You will need CUC (convertible pesos) for larger purchase such as taxis and accommodation and the local currency CUP (money national) for smaller purchases such as food.
Hostels in Cuba all seem to have similar rates depending on the time of year you go. Cuba can be an expensive country, but if you travel wisely and stay in the right hostels and Casa Particulars and eat at local places you will see your cash go further.
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