Cuba is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination. With its rich history, lush tropical landscape and incredible people the country has a lot to offer.
The island, the largest in the Caribbean, has sugar-white beaches and is dotted with tobacco fields. Salsa music plays in the dance clubs and cabaret shows are performed at the famed Tropicana.
Cuba is a remarkably beautiful island. And it’s a country that has maintained its character and authenticity throughout the years.
The pristine state of much of Cuba’s countryside and the lack of development in many rural areas have helped preserve some of the world’s most awe-inspiring wildlife and endemic flora & fauna in this part of the world. Cuba has an impressive 263 protected natural areas, which cover nearly 22 percent of the country’s territory.
If you want to experience some of Cuba’s unspoilt sights, there are nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country – areas of cultural or physical significance that are protected as a result.
And if I have to make a selection of things to see in Cuba, these are the three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cuba I recommend visiting:
1. Old Havana and its Fortification System
Havana was founded in 1519 by the Spanish and the city’s core, Old Havana, still retains much of its character to this day. Grand, palm-filled squares are surrounded by streets with imposing churches, pastel colored houses, tiny kiosks, and 1950s-era cars.
The former city walls still stand, as does its complex system of fortifications that protected the city. For example, the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, which guards the entrance of the canal, is an impressive sight you have to see.
You can still visit the five large plazas and outstanding buildings that were evident in its early setting, with each of them having their unique architectural character. It’s amazing to feel the authenticity and vibrant atmosphere that’s still evident in a city that oozes character and has not fallen victim to tourism yet.
2. Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios
Valley de los Ingenios (or Valle de los Ingenios in Spanish) is also known as the Valley of the Sugar Mills. It is a stunning series of three interconnected valleys; San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer, about 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) outside of Trinidad.
The area became the world’s central hub for sugar production from the late 18th to the late 19th century. Both the climate and the soil were perfect for cultivating sugar cane, which is why the industry flourished in this area.
The Valley holds a lot of cultural significance and the former plantations, mill buildings and archaeological sites are incredibly well preserved to this day.
Trinidad itself is a quaint town of cobblestone streets, pretty plazas and an aesthetically pleasing mix of 18th and 19th century buildings. The town’s neo-baroque main square, Plaza Mayor, is surrounded by grand colonial buildings. Museo Romántico, in the restored Palacio Brunet mansion, and Museo de Arquitectura Colonial display relics from the town’s sugar-producing era.
Also Read: An Ultimate Guide to Trinidad
3. Viñales Valley (Valle de Viñales)
This dramatic and striking Valley in west Cuba is quite a breath-taking sight. Encircled by mountains and dotted with dome-like limestone mogotes that rise as high as 300m, seeing this lush landscape is a once-in-a-lifetime must-see in Cuba.
If you’re looking to see authentic Cuba, Viñales Valley is a great place to go as the traditional methods of agriculture still survive here and remain unchanged. The area is best known for the cultivation of tobacco and the plantations are fascinating due to their cultural and historical significance.
The area is great for hiking, cycling or horseback riding and there are several caves to explore.
Tip: rent a car and take a road trip from Havana to Viñales!
Why these are 3 places not to miss in Cuba
I highly recommend traveling to Cuba sooner rather than later. Visit my favorite UNESCO World Heritage sites and enjoy everything this beautiful tropical island has to offer.
There are many activities in Cuba for any type of traveler and many incredible places to visit, but if you ever wondered “where should I go in Cuba?”, definitely add these 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba to your bucket list!
Each of these spots of outstanding beauty will offer you an authentic experience and a unique insight into Cuban history – perfect for any inquisitive traveler.
When to travel to Cuba
The best time of year to travel to Cuba is from January to May. The weather is nice and warm but not hot and it is less crowded with tourists than around Christmas or in July & August.
Also Read: 7 Best Things to do in Havana & my other articles about Traveling in The Caribbean & Living in The Caribbean