Everyone, it seems, is talking about Cuba. Go now, before it changes, they say. Before the 1950s Chevvies disappear and a Starbucks pops up on the corner of Havana’s Plaza Vieja. Recent thaws in diplomatic relations mean that this country is evolving. But, for the time being, it is changing slowly. Vintage cars still prowl the streets, music spills out of cafes and sartorially savvy buskers entertain on street corners. Here’s another good reason to book your Cuba holiday now; the British winter is the best time to visit this island.
Cuba with children might not be an obvious choice, but it certainly can be done. We travelled for 10-days to Cuba and it was a fascinating insight into what really felt like another world. During our trip we discovered street art in the crumbling alleys of Havana, swam under waterfalls at El Nicho and explored the colourful streets in Trinidad.
I was recently contacted by Thomson to explore additional options for families wanting to travel to this unique Caribbean Island and to offer some suggestions on ‘must-see’ highlights. There is a lot to see in Cuba but if time is not on your side then a city, country, coastal holiday would work well.
Your first port of call will be – and should be – Havana, a city of great beauty despite the run-down Art Deco facades, peeling paint and dangling power lines. Highlights of Havana include the four main plazas of UNESCO protected Old Havana; we particularly liked Plaza Vieja, which is popular with families at dusk. Other don’t miss sights include the panoramic views from the Camera Obscura, the John Lennon Park (particularly interesting given that Fidel Castro once banned music by The Beatles) and the former home of Ernest Hemingway; see if you can spot the room where he scribbled on the walls. You can’t leave Havana without taking a classic car tour, such as this one in a cherry red 1951 convertible Chevrolet!
A relatively easy day trip from Havana is to Viñales, a picturesque valley and tiny agricultural town in the north-western end of Cuba. The area is famous for its karst topography and centuries-old tobacco farms. Although cigar production might be lost on kids, there are other activities that will keep them entertained such as a horse ride through the red hills. Children will also enjoy a spooky boat ride through La Cueva del Indio, one of four main caves in the area.
Finish off your Cuba holiday with a few days at the beach. The island’s coastline boasts warm Caribbean waters and pure white sandy beaches. Varadero, just two hours’ east of Havana, is a popular spot with families. Tourists first discovered this island paradise in 1870 and visitors have been coming ever since. Kids, in particular, will love the shallow ocean and searching for plump starfish. Cuba is changing. But for now, it is still a world away.