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Travel Western Cuba

Havana

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-Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, also known as El Morro, stands proudly at the entrance of the Bay of Havana in the Parque Historico Militar.

El Morro was built in the late 16th century and early 17th century to guard against the constant threat of pirate attacks. It was designed by Italian engineer, Giovanni Battista Antonelli and looks much the same as it did in the 17th century.

One of the main changes to the fort is the lighthouse. It was rebuilt several times and then finally replaced in the middle of the 19th century with a new lighthouse constructed of solid stone. Today, its original lamp still shines, and the fort is open to tourists. You can enjoy beautiful views over the ocean and the city of Havana from its upper reaches.

-The Malecón Strolling along the Malecón (El Malecon) at sunset is a wonderful way to soak up the feel of this evocative city and see some sights along the way.

Havana's famous seafront boulevard runs about seven kilometers from Habana Vieja (Old Havana) to the Vedado and Plaza area. Overlooking the boulevard is a colorful collection of well-preserved 20th-century buildings in a mix of architectural styles, from Art Deco to Neo Moorish. In the golden glow of the setting sun, they make a beautiful photo.

The Malecón is also a great place to meet the locals. Anglers come here to cast their lines, and families and young couples saunter along the seafront enjoying the fresh air and ocean breezes.

The historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, a World Heritage Site and a National Monument with a long list of glamorous former guests, including Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, and Marlon Brando.

-Old Havana a UNESCO World Heritage site, oozes the charm of days gone by. Elegant neoclassical and Baroque buildings border cobbled squares and narrow streets, and many have been carefully restored to their former beauty.

If you're wondering what to do in Old Havana, start your sightseeing tour by heading to one of the popular public squares: Plaza Vieja and Plaza de Armas. The latter is where the splendid Palacio de los Capitanes stands, home to the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) and a delightful leafy courtyard.

Other highlights of Old Havana include the magnificent Catedral de San Cristobal, a celebration of the Cuban Baroque style, and the stout Castillo de la Real Fuerza, an impressive military fortress.

To tap into the lively vibe of Havana, take a walk along Calle Obispo. By day, you can browse the shops and art galleries and admire the colorful Cuban Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. By night, live music lures you into buzzing restaurants and entertainment venues. Here, you'll also find the famous El Floridita restaurant, a must-do on most tourists' sightseeing lists.

After soaking up all the history of this captivating quarter, climb the 35-meter tower of the camera obscura for a breathtaking overview of these well-aged jewels.

Finally, if you're looking for places to eat in Havana, the former Hemingway hangout, La Bodeguita del Medio, serves up succulent seafood and ice-cold drinks.

-Museo de la Revolución Housed in a former presidential palace, the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution) is worth seeing even if only from the outside. The old presidential palace was designed by the Belgian architect Paul Belau and was built in the early part of the 20th century in a sumptuous version of neoclassical architecture.

Those who do venture inside are treated to a multitude of displays on Cuba's struggle for independence, colored with a revolutionary spin. Of note are the life-size wax figures of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

Behind the museum is an interesting display of the yacht Granma. It was this boat that brought Fidel Castro and his gang to Cuba from Mexico. Also on display is a plane shot down during the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.

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Vinales

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The Viñales Valley in the Sierra de los Organos near the western end of the island of Cuba is an outstanding karst landscape encircled by mountains and dotted with spectacular dome-like limestone outcrops (mogotes) that rise as high as 300 m. Colonised at the beginning of the 19th century, the valley has fertile soil and a climate conducive to the development of stock-raising and the cultivation of fodder and food crops. Traditional methods of agriculture have survived largely unchanged on this plain for several centuries, particularly for growing tobacco. The quality of this cultural landscape is enhanced by the vernacular architecture of its farms and villages, where a rich multi-cultural society survives, its architecture, crafts and music illustrating the cultural development of Cuba and the islands of the Caribbean.

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Playa Larga

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Playa Larga is placed at the Bahia de cochinos, or the Bay of Pigs, the place invaded by US-backed exiles in 1961. The invasion is famous because it culminated in a victory for the army and Cuban militias. Today it’s a touristy place, famous for one of the best diving spots in Cuba. Many resorts, restaurants and private accommodations can be found around the area. Located very close to the Zapata Peninsula, it’s also a great base for some environmental excursions around the area.

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Zapata

If diving or snorkeling is not your thing, then we suggest you  book a Zapata National park guided tour. The Zapata Peninsula is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located very close to Playa Larga. It’s great for those interested in fauna and flora exploration and bird watching. Its fauna includes 160 species of birds, 31 types of reptiles and 12 varieties of mammals.

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Cueva de los Peces, 70m deep flooded tectonic fault snorkel and dive site between Playa Larga and Playa Giron, Bay of Pigs, Cuba

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