Cuba Select Travel can tailor make any travel and tour arrangements in Cuba to fit your requirements, whether you wish to explore the many romantic cities of the country or experience some of the islands beautiful nature and beaches.
Cuba Select Travel, a British company based in Havana, with eight years experience in Cuba ensuring a premium service for individuals, groups and incentive events. We take care of all the details of arrangements in Cuba; tailor making programmes to suit the requirements of travelers, ensuring the best this unique Caribbean island Joe Prem Managing Director has to offer. Requests are handled personally by one of our British or Cuban staff who will provide you with the best options and prices. As we live and work in Cuba we have firsthand local knowledge and experience of the country. We are approved by the Cuban Ministry of Tourism and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce. You can book direct with confidence for an assured service and preferential local prices.
If you wish to experience gay life in Havana which includes the scene on the street (much of the gay life occurs outdoors) and on the gay part of the Malecon. Nightlife can include clubs and sometimes gay fiestas that are large gay public parties set up in private locations. Like Havana, Santa Clara a city located in Central Cuba is perhaps the most openly gay city in Cuba and there is an annual gay and transvestite carnival in the middle of May.
LGBT rights in Cuba
Private, non-commercial sexual relations between same-sex consenting adult 16 and over have been legal in Cuba since 1979, although same-sex relationships are not presently recognized by the state as a possible marriage. Despite elements of homophobia in Cuba's history, Havana now has a lively and vibrant gay scene. Public antipathy towards LGBT people is high, reflecting regional norms. This has eased somewhat since the 1990s. Educational campaigns on LGBT issues are currently implemented by the National Center for Sex Education, headed by Mariela Castro. Cuban citizens can have sex reassignment surgery for free. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
Cuba has epic colonial architecture, libidinous young salsa dancers, Che Guevara murals, white-powder sandy beaches, swaying fields of sugar cane - the images of Cuba are as transfixing as they are timeless. This is an island of unique historical heritage floating amid a sea of encroaching globalisation.
Havana is a vibrant, modern and cosmopolitan city; where past and present mingle at the cultural, political, economic and social heart of Cuba. Old Havana has been declared part of the heritage of mankind by UNESCO, and the beauty of its paved streets, colonial balconies, Baroque and Gothic buildings makes this accolade well deserved. Smiling faces greet you at every turn. At night, this lovely Caribbean city becomes a magical carnival of shows, night-clubs and discotheques inviting you in to join the fun.
Old Havana is a treasure trove of Cuban history and culture. The Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and the Parque Central are fine examples of Colonial architecture. A walk through these old lanes is a real delight. Everywhere, cafes, restaurants and bars offer the perfect excuse to escape the tropical sun for a Cuban cocktail or traditional meal.
Vedado is near the nightspot street of La Rampa and the Malecon sea front wall known as the 'sala' by Cubans. Vedado is one of the most charming areas of the city, with its 19th-century houses and mansions, many of them now housing embassies, ministries and cultural organizations. On the corner of La Rampa and L Street is the ice cream parlor Coppelia, famous for its excellent tropical fruit ice cream and sorbets and where a scene of the Cuban film 'Fresa y Chocolate' was shot. Up a short slope from here, you will come to the Plaza Ignacio Agromonte and Havana University, a set of impressive Neo-Classical buildings. There are also two museums: the Montane Anthropology Museum and the Felipe Poey Natural History Museum. Continuing in this direction, you will eventually come out onto the Plaza de la Revolucion, where President Fidel Castro makes his Mayday speech to the masses every year. At the center of this vast, star-shaped space stands a huge Monument to Jose Marti, the national hero. The view from the top is sensational. Opposite the statue, on the other side of a broad avenue is a fresco of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.
Miramar is one of the most exclusive areas of Havana, Miramar, is full of beautiful colonial houses, now home to embassies, cultural centers and foreign companies. The ponds of the Emiliano Zapata Park (Avenida 5- Malecon) are worth a visit. The little boats on the River Almendares are also a pretty sight. Palm trees line the avenues and there are a good number of cafes, bars and restaurants around the Marina Hemingway. Try Sakura, Don Alfredo or Don Cangrejo Restaurant.
Try the Bodeguita del Medio or the Floridita, where Hemingway used to drink his Mojitos and Daiquiris. This historic quarter is also home to several important museums, such as the Museo de Autos Antiguos (if you like antique cars), Casa del Arabe, La Casa de Africa, La Casa de Asia, Museo de la Ciudad, and the fortresses El Morro and La Real Fuerza, where you will see an emblem of Havana, the weather vane on La Giraldilla tower. This is the chief tourist area of the city.?Centro Havana, located in the northern central part of the city is home to many hotels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Another feature of Centro Havana is its Chinatown, or barrio chino, which is located here. In Centro Havana, you can visit the world famous Tabaqueria Romeo y Julieta for an interesting visit about one of Cuba's most famous products. Also located in the area is the Camilo Cienfuegos Museum, dedicated to the revolutionary hero. A few more attractions in this district are the Havana Cultural Center, the Church of the Sacred Heart and the Estadio Latinoamericano (Latin American Stadium).
Varadero is a favorite tourist destination not only for foreign visitors, but for Cubans themselves. This gives the town a distinctive character that sets it apart from other resorts in the country.
Varadero's hotel complexes are well equipped in terms of the accommodation, recreational facilities, aquatic sports, and nightlife they offer. Tourists do not generally venture beyond these complexes to explore their surroundings, but when they do go out, they are rarely disappointed.
There are many entertainment options on the Varadero peninsula and throughout the province of Matanzas. The heavenly beaches, whose waters shimmer in every shade of blue from navy to bright turquoise, beckon you to swim, play water-sports or simply to relax and soak up the sun on the beach. If you are feeling energetic you can choose between diving, crossing the Bahia in a catamaran,fishing, and many other activities. You can visit some of the area's many important archeological sites, including the Cueva de San Ambrosio, a cave with ancient paintings on the wall, or the Cuevas de Musulmanes, another cave famous for its ceremonial use by the Siboney people. Another tourist attraction is Las Salinas, a salt mine which formed the basis of the region's economy during the colonial era.
This part of the island is equally well known for its natural beauty and as a natural habitat for rare birds, some of which are now extinct in the rest of the world. Many birdwatchers come here on vacation every year with dreams of catching a rare sighting.
The city of Matanzas, birthplace of the century-old danzon musical style that continues to enjoy great popularity, also merits a visit. There are archaeological sites here, including the Cueva de Bellamar, and good camping areas such as the Yumuri and Canasi Valleys, both of which have a rich variety of flora and fauna, rivers and natural viewpoints. If you prefer to tour the city itself, there is much to see, including parks, squares, museums, and galleries. The architecture is extremely beautiful and rich in Spanish influence, and the city has a great view of the Bahia de San Juan.
Trinidad, a city declared the Patrimony of Humanity in 1988. Any tour around the historical center of Trinidad should start in the Plaza Mayor, around which the city grew. Although only 18th and 19th-century buildings remain today, it is known that a church with a thatched roof had been built here by about 1620, in the very place where the Parroquial Mayor de Sancti Spiritus now stands. This temple was consecrated in 1892 after several reconstructions. The palaces and mansions of the Brunet, Padron, Sanchez-Iznaga and Ortiz families, which have surrounded the square since the early 19th century, have become during the last decades the Museo Romantico, Museo de Arqueologia Guamuhaya, Museo de Arquitectura and the Casa Ortiz, a gallery of art.
The blocks around the Plaza Mayor contain other interesting buildings, including the Palacio Cantero where the Museo de Historia is located, and the Palacio Iznaga, which has not yet been restored. Other historic buildings house cultural institutions such as the Casa de la Trova, Bar Casa de la Musica and the Fondo de Bienes Culturales (Cultural Properties Fund).
Down from Plaza Mayor along the Calle Real, there's a little square called Plazuela Real del Jigue with a poster and a tree commemorating the first council and the founding mass of the city. The big houses around this little square contain the Restaurante Via Reale, specializing in Italian food, the Restaurante El Jigue, specializing in poultry, and the tavern La Canchanchara, one of the most visited places in Trinidad. One block away, above the Museo Nacional de la Lucha contra Bandidos, you'll find the tower of the Convento de San Francisco de Asis, which has one of the city's best views.
Walking along the same Calle Real toward the limits of the historic center, one arrives at another small square where three crosses stand. These marked the limits of the processions during the Holy Week and Corpus Christi. There is also a temple house in which the Afro-Cuban rituals of the Cabildo de los Congos Reales de San Antonio have been celebrated since 1859. Other small but worthwhile plazas include Plazuela de Segarte and Plaza de Santa Ana. The former, lying close to the Plaza Mayor, is lined with mansions with wooden balustrades, distinctive roofs and eaves typical of the 18th century. This little plaza also has the Bar cafeteria Ruinas de Segarte and the 19th-century Casa Borrell, now the Oficina de Restauracion. In Plaza de Santa Ana, one can see the ruins of the hermitage of Santa Ana, with its facade, walls and tower intact. Also located here, Carcel Real, the former jail, now contains a gallery, a restaurant, and several bars and shops.
The last point of interest is the Plaza de Carrillo, also called Parque Cespedes. Chosen as the future center of Trinidad just before the city's decline, this area has the Parroquia de San Francisco de Paula, built in the early 19th century. Nearby there are the former Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), where the Poder Popular Municipal meets today, the Hotel La Ronda and the Romelio Cornelio movie house. The Bar Cafeteria Daiquiri lies one block away as does the Casa Fisher where Casa Artex organizes cultural meetings and sells tours and handicrafts.
Although not as relevant as the old center, the peripheral neighborhoods have important sites as well, mainly having to do with modern life. The funeral home, the police station and the baseball stadium are all in the Armando Mestre neighbourhood and the airport lies a little farther on. The ceramics workshop Taller Alfarero has given its name to its neighborhood, where one may visit the ceramics galleries of Taller de alfareria y ceramica Coqui Santander and the Hospital General. In La California, to the southeast, the former Cuartel de Dragones stands, now home to the Escuela Provincial de Arte. The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de la Popa lies in a neighborhood called Popa, which also contains the Mirador de la Vigia, a good vantage point. Farther to the northeast, you will find the Hotel Las Cuevas, which includes the subterranean disco Ayala with its strange rock formations.
Santiago de Cuba Covers scarcely two and half square kilometers, some 267 hectares, lies Old Santiago, so named for its architectural splendor.
In Old Santiago, one of the most attractive places is Parque Cespedes, a welcoming park where Santiago's citizens go to seek relief from the harsh and hot climate of the urban centre. The old elm trees provide the square with plenty of shade and fresh air throughout the day.
The Santa Basilica Metropolitana Iglesia Catedral is the most important architectural monument in Old Santiago. At each side of the main door to the temple, stand two statues: one of the great Christopher Columbus, and the other of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas. Inside it is richly decorated with eclectic influences; it has a rich and remarkably interesting archdiocesan museum, where the oldest painting in the island, Ecce Homo, is to be found and admired.
The street with the most historical attractions in Old Santiago is undoubtedly Calle Heredia. Six long blocks, from Calle Calvario to Calle Padre Pico, full of samples of great architectural value, and which, today, hosts a considerable portion of Santiago's cultural life.In a privileged position, from where one can see everything that is happening on Parque CÃ©spedes, is the Casa del TÃ©, on the corner of Calle Aguilera and Calle San Pedro, in a truly stunning building dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. And only a few steps away, is the Club 300, the perfect refuge from the burning sun and summer heat, a comfortable and very traditional place, open all night, and well into the morning.
Further down, only two blocks away, along Calle Aguilera, in a setting of Spanish Colonial architecture, is El Baturro, a restaurant-bar which is the pride of all santiagueros, and rightly so.
Of great interest in the Bacardi museum are the mummies. One of them is Egyptian, perfectly preserved and over 3,000 years old. There are also two Peruvian mummies exhibited, of great archaeological value and very important testimonies of pre-Columbine Cuba.
The south side of the block on Calle Aguilera, between Calle Carniceria (Pio Rosado) and Calle Calvario, is practically intact, in spite of the years gone by. Except for an eclectic buildingâ€”numbers 402, 404, 406 and the house on the corner of Calle Calvarioâ€”the rest of the block is a beautiful architectural monument, dating back to the end of the 18th century.
Eastwards, along Calle General Portuondo, is the temple La Santisima Trinidad, which started construction in 1730 and was completed in 1787. Like other churches in the city, it had a small cemetery. The interior is very rich and its ceilings show the great woodwork, with very special techniques and star-shaped patterns.
Opposite the West door of the Cathedral, on Calle Santo Tomas, is the Cinemateca de Cuba venue, where cinema-lovers have the chance to indulge in quality films and related events.
Where Calle Padre Pico, Calle Santa Lucia (Joaquin Castillo) and Santa Rita (Diego Palacios) come together, there is a long flight of stairs, almost a century old, which has become one of the emblematic spots in the city.
El Morro, as the citizens of Santiago call the original military fort, Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, was declared 'Patrimony of Humanity' by the UNESCO in December, 1997, due to its architectural value, excellent preservation and historical value. El Morro, as any castle worthy of the name, also has its legends regarding ghosts and apparitions.
There are other important areas in Santiago, although most of the activity goes on in the historical centre of the city.The residential areas Reparto SueÃ±o and Vista Alegre are quiet places, where the beautiful old constructions are now home to families, and to some of the main hotels in the city.
On the outskirts of Santiago, on the road to Baconao, are the hotel resorts, with all-inclusive offers, and the best beaches, among which Verraco, Siboney and Daiquiri are well-worth visiting.
It is also worth mentioning Tivoli, within the historical centre, where the French fleeing from the Haitian revolution settled, mingling with the Spanish settlers, natives and Africans who were already there. Tivoli is a centre of great interest where the fusion of all these different cultures is present at every step.
After walking through the streets of Santiago, you will feel the desire to get lost forever in the midst of the magic and charm of the city.