Cut-off from most of the world until the 90s, Cuba offers travelers the unique opportunity to visit a country not yet influenced by modern consumerism.
It feels like you are stepping back in time: the classic cars and cobblestone streets will make you forget what year it is.
And the people are just as proud of their Cuban culture as ever, with little from the outside world to influence that.
Your first visit to Cuba will be nothing short of eye-opening, but now begs the question: where to stay in Cuba?
Most visitors mainly stay in the vibrant Havana, home to most of Cuba’s people and cultural attractions, but there is a lot more to see in Cuba.
To help you plan your time in Cuba, this guide will break down the top five regions by interest, and where to stay in each region, whether you want to dance the night away, visit Cuba’s most beautiful natural reserves, or relax on a tropical beach.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Cuba
- Where to Stay in Cuba
- Cuba City Guide
- 5 Best Regions to Stay in Cuba
- 1. Old Havana – Where to Stay in Cuba for a First Visit
- 2. Santa Clara – Where to Stay in Cuba on a Budget
- 3. Centro Havana – Where to Stay in Cuba for Nightlife
- 4. Trinidad – Coolest Place to Stay in Cuba
- 5. Varadero – Where to Stay in Cuba for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Cuba
- Where to stay in Cuba first time – Old Havana
- Where to stay in Cuba on a budget – Santa Clara
- Best area to stay in Cuba for nightlife – Centro Havana
- Coolest place to stay in Cuba – Trinidad
- Best Neighborhood in Cuba for families – Varadero
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Dive deep into Cuba’s history with a visit to the Museum of the Revolution
- Visit Catedral de San Cristobal, one of the most beautiful and prominent buildings in Havana
- Enjoy stunning architecture and amazing views of the Plaza de la Catedral
Where to Stay in Cuba
Want to stay in a cool apartment or beautiful hotel without a specific town or city in mind? Below we’ve listed our favorite places to stay in Cuba. For more inspiration, check out our hostel guide for Havana.
Best Hostel in Cuba: Hostal El Artista
Charming, colorful and steps from the center of town, you won’t find a better hostel in Santa Clara, Cuba.
Surrounded by great restaurants and interesting sights, this hostel is within walking distance of the town’s main attractions. Enjoy clean, comfortable and spacious rooms, modern amenities, and a relaxing central courtyard at this delightful and artistic hostel.
Best Hotel in Cuba: Hotel Telegrafo
We think this is the perfect base for your time in Havana, Cuba. Located in the Old Havana neighbourhood, this four-star hotel is surrounded by the city’s top attractions.
Enjoy great restaurants, and cultural and historic sights steps from your front door. Featuring spacious and air-conditioned rooms, and a range of facilities, this hotel is a relaxing home away from home after a long day of sightseeing.
Best Airbnb in Cuba: Casa Nivia y Pepe en Aguacate
A short walk from the historic centre of Trinidad, this one-bedroom flat is the perfect home away from home. Located on the second floor, this bright, spacious, and peaceful home has its own private entrance and two delightful terraces.
Enjoy modern amenities, comfortable accommodations, and delicious Cuban meals throughout your stay in Trinidad.
Cuba City Guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Cuba
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Cuba is a country with a rich and diverse history.
Unrest, instability and travel restrictions stopped many people from travelling here. For nearly 30 years, the country was closed to tourists. Since re-opening its doors in the early-1990s, the situation in Cuba has improved.
Although it is far from perfect, it is significantly safer than it once was, and offers travelers the opportunity to “step back in time,” and visit a country not yet influenced by modern consumerism or capitalism.
As the largest island in the Caribbean, there is a lot to see and do here for intrepid travellers. From enjoying authentic Cuban cuisine and dancing salsa to experiencing the unique historical and cultural attractions, you won’t have a hard time filling your days in Cuba.
Cuba is home to more than 11.3 million people. Nearly 2.2 million people living in the capital of Havana with the remainder spread out throughout the island.
To help you plan your time in Cuba, this guide will break down the top five regions by interest, and where to stay in each area of Cuba.
Starting in the west you have the bustling and vibrant regions of Havana and Old Havana. These two neighbourhoods in the capital city are home to many of Cuba’s top historical and cultural attractions.
Enjoy lively streets, colourful colonial houses, and authentic cuisines in the urban heart of Cuba.
East of Havana, you have the resort town of Varadero. Here you will find pristine sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and a myriad of activities perfect for the whole family. For a tropical vacation in paradise, look no further than Varadero.
Travel southeast of Varadero to the city of Santa Clara. Located in the centre of the country, Santa Clara is a city brimming with revolutionary history. Famous for its historical obsession with Che Guevara, this city is also where you’ll find new trends and insatiable creativity.
Continuing south of Santa Clara you’ll arrive in charming Trinidad. One of the best preserved colonial towns in Cuba, here you will find cobblestone streets, vibrant colonial houses and authentic Cuban music, food and life.
Still confused about where you should stay in Cuba? Don’t worry we’ll discuss each of these regions below.
5 Best Regions to Stay in Cuba
Depending on the purpose of your visit, certain areas of Cuba will be better suited to specific interests. Do you want to dance and experience a traditional Cuban night out?
Or, would you prefer to spend your days diving deep into Cuban history? Perhaps you’re keen to lounge on the beach enjoying sun-filled days and breathtaking views of paradise.
No matter what your vacation goals are, there’s a region of Cuba that’s perfect for you.
Here are the best areas of Cuba broken down by interest for your stay.
Old Havana is the beating heart of the city. Located on the Bay of Havana, this section of the capital is where you’ll find the core of the original city. Made up of narrow streets and cobblestone lanes, Old Havana is bursting with charm and character.
Old Havana is also where you’ll find many of the city’s historical and cultural sights. From picturesque fortresses to castles and frescoed cathedrals, this region of Havana is a must-see for anyone visiting Cuba for the first time.
Enjoy the colourful colonial houses, gigantic mansions, and fascinating natural scenery as you explore this urban time capsule.
Things to See and Do in Old Havana
– Visit Castillo de Morro, a striking fortress and former guarding entrance to the city of Havana.
– Explore the impressive 18th century La Cabana fortress, which sits on the east side of the Havana Bay.
– Visit Catedral de San Cristobal, one of the most beautiful and prominent buildings in Havana.
– Dive deep into Cuba’s history with a visit to the Museum of the Revolution.
– Take in a show, ballet performance, or cultural event at the Gran Teatro de la Havana.
– Browse works of art by local and international artists at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
– Learn about the history of Cuban rum and how it’s made at the Museo del Ron Havana Club. Take the tour and you’ll even get to sample a shot of rum or two.
– Enjoy stunning architecture and amazing views of the Plaza de la Catedral.
– Stand in the centre of Plaza de Armas, the oldest square in the city that has been used extensively for military exercises.
Best Hostel in Old Havana: Cuba 58 Hostel
This hostel is located in a historical building in the heart of Old Havana. Situated near restaurants, attractions and across from the water, this hostel is the perfect base to explore the neighbourhood.
Featuring private rooms or shared dorms, this hostel offers guests quiet and comfortable accommodations, and each stay includes a delicious breakfast.
Best Hotel in Old Havana: Hotel Telegrafo
This hotel is the perfect base for your time in Cuba. Located in the Old Havana neighbourhood, this four-star hotel is surrounded by the city’s top attractions.
Enjoy great restaurants, and cultural and historic sights just steps from your front door. Featuring spacious rooms, a range of facilities, and air-conditioned rooms, this hotel is the perfect place to lay your head after a long day of sightseeing.
Santa Clara is situated in the centre of Cuba. It is located more than 71 kilometres from the Caribbean Sea and nearly 52 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean. Home to more than 230,000 people, it is the 5th most populous city in the country.
Santa Clara is Cuba’s most revolutionary city. The site of the last battle in the Cuban Revolution, Santa Clara is where you can find the remains for the iconic political figure, Che Guevera.
But there’s more to Santa Clara than a rich political past. The city is also home to eclectic buildings, numerous lush parks, and a bustling and vibrant creative community.
Things to See and Do in Santa Clara
– See the impressive Mausoleo del Che Guevara, a brilliant monument to the revolutionary figure.
– Enjoy live music at Club Mejunje, an arty establishment with a rebellious vibe and delicious local cocktails. Visit on a Saturday to take Cuba’s first official drag show.
– Visit the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado, a boxcar museum that marks the site of one of the most important battles in Cuban history.
– Take a seat on a bench and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of people watching in the central Parque Leoncio Vidal.
– Grab an insta-worthy snap at the Melaito Murals, a series of comic book-style paintings by local graphic artists.
– Take in a show at the marvellous Teatre La Caridad.
– Enjoy a fresh, delicious and cheap espresso at the cafes on Main Street.
– Take in the amazing panoramic views of Santa Clara from the Loma del Capiro.
– See cigars being rolled at the Fabrica de Tabacos Costantino Perez Corrodegua.
Best Hostel in Santa Clara: Hostal El Artista
Charming, colourful and just steps from the centre of town, you won’t find a better hostel in Santa Clara, Cuba. Surrounded by great restaurants and interesting sights, this hostel is within walking distance of the town’s main attractions.
Enjoy clean, comfortable, and spacious rooms, modern amenities, and a relaxing central courtyard at this delightful and artistic hostel.
Best Hotel in Santa Clara: La Casona Jover
This hotel is comprised of five rooms, perfect for visitors to Santa Clara. Located in the centre of the city, this hotel is surrounded by historical and cultural sights, restaurants, cafes and more.
These simple but comfortable rooms are outfitted with beds, private bathrooms, and a range of essential amenities. Just steps from Santa Clara’s main attractions, this hotel is perfect for budget travellers.
Located in the epicentre of the Cuban capital is Centro Havana. Bordered by the Cerro, Vedado and Old Havana neighbourhoods, this region of the city is where you’ll find many charming historical and cultural sights.
Centro Havana is also where you’ll find the hottest clubs and trendiest bars in Cuba. Brimming with energy, this district of Cuba is made up of fun, funky, quirky and ultra-hip establishments.
Whether you’re looking for a cool jazz bar or a vivacious dance club, there’s something for every taste in the Cuban capital. Stay here if you want to experience Cuban nightlife and dancing. For more inspiration, check out this Havana city guide.
Things to See and Do in Centro Havana
– Enjoy dance performances at the Callejon de Hamel, a community centre preserving Afro-Cuban culture, which is located in a small graffiti and street art covered alley.
– Take a stroll along the Malecon, a seawall that runs along the northern shore of the city.
– Enjoy a daiquiri at El Floridita Bar, a Havana haunt where author Ernest Hemingway spent many a night in the early 20th century.
– Spend a night at Havana’s most famous cabaret, Tropicana nightclub.
– Explore the colourful buildings and cobblestone lanes that make up this central Havana neighbourhood.
– Take in a baseball game at the Estadio Latino Americano.
– Enjoy a night of great jazz at La Zorra y el Cuervo, a funky and cozy subterranean club.
– Visit La Casa de la Musica for the biggest and best party in Havana. Enjoy vibrant salsa music and great drinks at both of the central Havan locations.
Best Hostel in Centro Havana: Casa Caribe Havana Hostel
Casa Caribe Havana Hostel is perfectly situated in the heart of Centro Havana, and just a few minutes walking distance from the areas top attractions, bars and clubs.
It boasts a terrace, kitchen, and common areas, and offers guests clean accommodations, air-conditioned rooms, and daily breakfast throughout their stay.
Best Hotel in Centro Havana: Hotel Deauville
This hotel is located on the eastern edge of Centro Havana. Just a few minutes walk from Old Havana and the neighbourhoods key attractions, this hotel is at the centre of Havana’s tourist district.
Across the street from the beach, this hotel features a sun deck, rooftop pool, and an on-site bar and restaurant. Enjoy the best of Centro Havana from this three-star hotel.
Located on the south coast of central Cuba is the town of Trinidad. It is one of the best-preserved colonial towns on the island and the old part of the city was a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
The city is famous for its vibrant and colourful décor, and the majestic colonial houses and buildings that line the cobblestone streets.
Travel just a few kilometres outside of Trinidad and you’ll discover stunning natural attractions. From pristine beaches and crystal clear seas to cascading waterfalls and lush forests, this region of Cuba has something to offer every traveller.
Things to See and Do in Trinidad
– Take a walk through the Plaza Mayor, the beating heart of the city.
– Climb to the top of the National Historic Museum tower and take in the amazing panoramic views of the city.
– Visit the Iglesia Parroquial Mayor del Espiritu Santo, the largest church in Cuba.
– Wander the twists and turns of the narrow cobblestone streets and alleys that make up the city centre.
– Spend a day relaxing on the beach at Playa Ancon.
– Visit Topes de Collantes, a massive nature preserve located outside of the city. The park is home to hiking trails, waterfalls, and lush natural scenery.
– Learn all about the rich and diverse history of Trinidad at the Museo de Historia Municipal.
– Explore the history of the counter-revolutionaries of Cuba at the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos.
Best Hostel in Trinidad: Hostal Chocoday
Hostal Chocoday is a small, independently run establishment located in the heart of Trinidad. Surrounded by cafes and restaurants, this hostel is close to a number of amenities as well as all of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Enjoy air-conditioned rooms with towels and linens among the city and mountain views.
Best Hotel in Trinidad: Casa Colonial 1830
Casa Colonial 1830 is an authentic Cuban hotel in the heart of the city, ideally located just a few minutes walk from the city’s top attractions and public transit.
Featuring laundry facilities and a tranquil garden, this boutique hotel is equipped with everything you need for a wonderful stay in the city.
Varadero is a town on the northern coast of Cuba. Tourists from all over the world flock to this paradise peninsula to enjoy its fantastic beaches, clear blue waters, and glorious sundrenched sights.
While this may not be the ideal destination if you’re looking for an authentic Cuban experience, there’s a lot to see and do in Varadero.
Varadero is also home to a wide variety of activities and attractions geared at children and families. From world-class resorts and aquariums to parks and pristine beaches, there’s something to entertain travellers of all ages in Varadero.
Things to See and Do in Varadero
– Spend an afternoon in Parque Josone, a centrally located green space filled with birds, vendors, music and camel rides.
– Head out on the water and enjoy an afternoon aboard a Catamaran
– Explore beneath the waves by snorkelling the coral barrier reef.
– Visit the Delfinario and watch dolphins jump, turn, and twist in the air during the dolphin show. There’s even an option to grab a suit and swim with this playful animals.
– Visit the oldest tourist attraction in Cuba and explore the extensive and impressive Bellamar Caves.
– Browse the Varadero Street Market and pick up a souvenir or two from your time in Cuba.
– Grab an umbrella and spend a day lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun on Varadero Beach.
– Visit the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, a three square kilometre stretch of land that is home to Cuba’s oldest living cactus tree, two caves, animals, lakes, and more.
Best Hostel in Varadero: Papo’s House
Papo’s House is a family run establishment that offers private rooms. Located in the centre of Varadero, these budget accommodations are close to major cultural and tourist attractions, including Josone Park and the beach.
Featuring spacious and comfortable rooms, these accommodations are outfitted with basic amenities, free wifi and the option for breakfast.
Best Hotel in Varadero: Sol Sirenas Coral Resort
Enjoy four-star luxury accommodations in the heart of Varadero at the Sol Sirenas Coral Resort. This hotel features spacious rooms and a number of family-friendly amenities, including tennis courts, pools, and a kids club.
You be pressed to find a better hotel on the peninsula within walking distance of Varadero’s main attractions.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Cuba
This vibrant, beautiful country has plenty of things to do and places to be explored, but where to visit first!?
In this guide, we discuss where to stay in Cuba depending on your travel interests and style, whether you want to explore the buzzing cities or beautiful landscapes
To recap, our favorite hostel is Hostal El Artista. Surrounded by great restaurants and the charming town center, it’s the perfect base to explore Santa Clara, Cuba. They offer clean, comfortable, and spacious rooms, as well as a laidback central courtyard.
Hotel Telegrafo is one of the best hotels in Cuba. It’s a beautiful four-star hotel in Old Havana near great restaurants and sights.
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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Need More Inspiration?
- 20 Best Hostels in Havana
- Cuba Backpacking Guide
- Backpacking packing list: A complete travel checklist
- The Ten Best Travel Backpacks
- Things to know before traveling to Cuba
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