Cuba is a destination that never goes out of style, but it can be easy to fall into the tourist traps, and miss the most authentic aspects of the country. Cuba has two sides: the one that everyone knows, the same old spots, vintage cars… And then there’s another Cuba, a destination out of the ordinary.
Thanks to our contacts, during my trip to this Caribbean island I was able to get into “the other side of Cuba”. We were able to discover a completely different facet of this country, thanks to our excellent insiders.
Once in Cuba, Havana is a must.
Upon arrival, they picked us up at the airport with one of Nikita Khrushchev’s cars (there are only two of them in all of Cuba!), and we headed to La Reserva, a private home in the Vedado neighbourghood, ideal for groups of friends and families.
La Reserva is a charming colonial Art Deco style house with a very careful interior design. There, we felt at home thanks to their warm service.
The next day we went on a panoramic visit of the city in style, aboard a fun vintage car. During the trip we visited the most important and emblematic places of Havana.
Later, we left behind the more conventional side of Havana to explore interesting places off the beaten track, such as the dance school of the dancer Carlos Acosta, Acosta dance, where we met very interesting people.
We had lunch in an unconventional restaurant: a gastronomic bakery run by a Michelin-starred chef. There, we had appetisers and afterwards we baked our own bread. After the fun bakery class we enjoyed an haute-cuisine lunch at the bakery itself. A very original lunch!
We spent the afternoon discovering the trendiest art in the city, visiting the most fashionable art galleries with our insider and accompanied by the gallerists themselves.
We finished our tour at the Cuban Art Factory: a cultural center where exhibitions, artistic shows, all kinds of events and outdoor concerts are organised. It’s the ideal place to interact with emerging artists. In addition, during our visit we had access to exhibitions that are not open to the public.
We spent the following day wandering around Havana, discovering local areas where we didn’t spot a single tourist. Strolling around the streets of the city we met very cultured and interesting people, and we felt the flavour and rhythm of Havana, surrounded by the Cuban son and salsa that was all around.
After a few days in Havana we left the city behind to discover the rural side of Cuba. We traveled to Viñales, and we went on a hike through the green meadows surrounding the city to get closer to nature. We visited a ranch far from the city where ranchers still make their cigars by hand. A truly authentic experience!
In Cienfuegos, on our way to Trinidad, we admired the beautiful colonial mansions and traditional local architecture.
And once in Trinidad we enjoyed the charm of its old houses, its shops and restaurants.
The following day we delved into the nature of the area and went on an excursion to a beautiful waterfall, where we were able to swim, completely alone.
We bid farewell to Trinidad with a lot of rhythm, enjoying a fun salsa class on a rooftop, at sunset.
Back in Havana we stayed at the Kempinski, without a doubt the place to be in the city. An elegant hotel with a lot of style, which also hides a part of the history of the city: a section of the old wall of Havana is preserved inside the hotel.
We also rode on a bike-taxi and went in search of the most emblematic houses of the city.
In the afternoon, together with our insider specialised in photography, we wandered around the streets, shops and local markets of Havana.
In the evening we visited the Saratoga Hotel, a classic hotel in the city, where we admired many works of art and enjoyed a nice dinner. The Saratoga is undoubtedly an ideal place for the lovers of the best classic flavours.
Continuing with the history of the city, together with the Saratoga experts we discovered the emblematic shops of the city, as we bid farewell to Cuba.
Cuba is an ideal destination for those who want to discover the most authentic side of the country. I personally recommend combining the trip with a high-end beach destination, in other Caribbean islands.