Santiago de Cuba Tourist Information and Tourism

(Santiago de Cuba, Cuba)

Santiago de Cuba, home to almost half a million people, is the second-largest city in Cuba. This is also perhaps the most significant city, both historically and as a hotbed of revolution - in the 19th century and during the Communist insurrection.

In spite of the US embargo, tourism is beginning to play a significant part in Santiago de Cuba's economy, and visitor facilities are comfortable, if not comprehensive. This city is all about music, dance, incredibly friendly people and strong Afro-Caribbean influences.

Santiago de Cuba's historic city centre has many well-preserved colonial buildings, as well as interesting post-revolution constructions, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site as a result. Culturally, the city is vibrant, due to its diversity of ethnicities and their heritage. Spectacular scenery surrounds Santiago, with mountain ranges to its back and the beautiful Caribbean seacoast at its feet. Tourist information is available through a number of Cuban visitor information centres, such as Cubatur in the Heredia district, and Gaviota and Havanatur in the Vista Alegre area.

Santiago de Cuba Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

The coast of Santiago de Cuba is a big draw and beaches are in good supply, with some of the best being located around the Baconoa Biosphere Reserve, backed by the Sierra Maestra range. Especially close is the seaside town of Siboney, where the Playa Siboney beachfront is the main draw.

When you first arrive in Santiago de Cuba, do consider taking a walking tour, particularly around the Casco Historico (Historic City Centre) area, where a wealth of colonial buildings surround the Parque Cespedes. The old French quarter of Barrio El Tivoli also holds much interest, while more formal tourist attractions include the Bacardi Rum Factory (Fabrica de Ron), the Diego Velazquez House (Casa de Diego Velazquez), and the Morro Castle (Castillo el Morro) - an elevated 17th-century fortress with Renaissance-style architecture and superb views. You may also like to visit the shady Plaza de Dolores, where you can enjoy a snack at one of the coffee shops whilst admiring the 18th-century craftsmanship of the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores church. More information about Santiago de Cuba Tourist Attractions and Santiago de Cuba Beaches.

The various landmarks of Santiago de Cuba tend to be dedicated to moments in history and the individual heroes who struggled for freedom. At the Casa Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president Fidel Castrol is remembered, since he lived in this house for several years whilst studying at the local university. On the centrally located Plaza de la Revolucion, the statue of 19th-century Cuban Army of Independence leader Antonio Maceo is quite symbolic. Other notable sights around Santiago de Cuba include the City Hall (Ayuntamiento), the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion), and the Moncada Barracks (Cuartel Moncada), which are today something of a museum-type attraction with much militaria. More information about Santiago de Cuba Landmarks and Monuments.

Being such a large city and with such high visitor numbers, tourists in Santiago de Cuba will be pleased to find a good choice of very decent museums. Only the Cuban capital of Havana has a bigger selection, meaning that culture vultures certainly won't go hungry. The museums offer information relating to past heroes, patriots and local literary legends and artists, with the Municipal Museum of Emilio Bacardi Moreau (Museo Municipal Emilio Bacardi Moreau) and the Museum of Cuba's Historic Ambience (Museo de Ambiente Historico Cubano) coming highly recommended. Both the Birthplace of Jose Maria de Heredia (Casa Natal de Jose Maria de Heredia) and the Birthplace of Antonio Maceo (Museo Casa Natal de Antonio Maceo) are also worth a look, as is the rather family friendly Natural History Museum of Tomás Romay (Museo de Historia Natural Tomás Romay). More information about Santiago de Cuba Museums.

If you are planning your holiday with day trips in mind, then various tourist attractions are within reach of Santiago de Cuba, suiting those who have invested in a rental car. The colonial heritage of Cuba is ever present at the various surrounding French coffee plantations, which date as far back as the 17th century and once used large numbers of African and Haitian slaves. To the east is the simply enormous Baconao Biosphere Reserve (Parque Baconao), where attractions include rainforest trails and much Cuban wildlife, as well as an aquarium, life-size dinosaurs within its Prehistoric Valley (Valle de la Prehistoria), and both the Land Transportation and Natural History museums. Less than 30 minutes to the north-west is the village of El Cobre and its grand church and pilgrimage site, the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Cobre. Excursions to Chivirico, Pico Turquino and the National Sanctuary of the Virgin are also popular, and those in the mood for a spot of island hopping may like to spend the day exploring the tiny island of Cayo Granma. More information about Santiago de Cuba Attractions Nearby.

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