Santiago de Cuba City: The hot land

Santiago de Cuba is called "the hot land", and lives up to its name every day of the year. While this area has the highest temperatures in the country, it is the birthplace of a charming people who expound energy. The people of Santiago treasure one of the most iconic festivals of Cuba: the carnivals. This is a must-see spot if you’re traveling to the Oriente of Cuba.  From here you can make your own plan, and get to know an authentic area and the musical, culinary and historical culture that is native to this Caribeña nation. A destination with city, beach and mountains. What more could you want?

Not to miss

  • Learn to dance. It is said that santiagueros are very musical and are natural dancers. Their roots speak for them: they have a mix that is uinque in Cuba, of Africans, Haitians, French, Spaniards ...
  • The most diverse and contrasting landscapes of the country. The city is surrounded by a mountain range that challenges you to explore.
  • Discover the history of the island. A lot of the most important events in national history occured in this area. Because of this, it is called "The Hero City.”
  • Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.One of the religious sites most revered by Cubans. Every day, more than 500 people come here and every morning there is a mass.
  • The Diego Velázquez House. Founded in 1522, this is the oldest known building in Cuba, and you can see historical pieces and decorations that date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.
  • The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. Created in 1868 to bury the heroes of the Ten-year War, it is a sacred place with strong patriotic meaning for all Cubans. Here are the remains of the “Father of the Nation,” Carlos Manuel de Céspedes; of the “National Hero,” José Martí; and the martyrs of the Assault on the Moncada Barracks.
  • The Castle of San Pedro del Morro. Designed in 1587 by the famous Italian military architect Giovanni Antonelli, it is the best-preserved military complex in the Caribbean from the 17th century. It has historical significance also because it is now a museum that displays the remains of the naval battle that was fought between Spain and the United States in 1898.It also has become a symbol for international music, since there is an autograph by a member of the Beatles, Paul McCartney.
  • La Gran Piedra. This gigantic mass of stone, 51 meters long and 25 to 30 meters wide, with a calculated weight of 63,000 tons, is located on the top of a mountain at 1,225 meters above sea level.
  • St. Pauli. This is presently one of the most fashionable establishments in the city. Fun fact: the restaurant is not air-conditioned.Instead it has an ingenious water recirculation system that reduces the temperature by up to three degrees (a real advantage, since Santiago can be very hot).
  • El Cayo Restaurant. The location of this restaurant is one of the biggest attractions since it offers a beautiful view of the city. You can get to Cayo Granma by boat, which crosses the bay from Punta Gorda for 3 CUC. It is an ideal place to enjoy seafood as a family - especially shrimp and lobster - for a price that ranges between 15 and 18 CUC. A plus of the restaurant is that you can take a walk on the cay and explore the small town that is located there.
  • Iris Jazz Club. Santiago de Cuba is not just rumba and tumba francesa. Jazz has made its way into this populous city of more than one million inhabitants and this is one of the places where you can enjoy live bands.

How to get there

Each week there are more than 15 flights between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The International Airport is approximately 10 kilometers outside the city. If you want to travel by land, you can rent a car at the different points on the island (keep in mind that there is limited availability, so book in advance). Another way to access the city is through the port, one of its most beautiful areas. Many cruises of the Caribbean stop here.

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