While current U.S. law restricts tourist travel to Cuba, recent changes to the Cuba regulations policy make travel to Cuba a lot easier—and soon with our daily service to Havana, Camagüey, Santa Clara and Holguín—a lot less expensive!
For an authentic Cuban cultural experience, head to the eastern city of San Isidoro de Holguin, where industrial meets tropical. Though Holguin is Cuba’s fourth largest city, a day is the perfect amount of time to explore its colonial-era buildings and open spaces that have inspired the nickname “City of Parks.”
A Holguin Kind of View
Grab some water bottles and start your day with an invigorating hike up 456 steps to Loma de la Cruz—Spanish for “Hill of the Cross”—which offers sweeping views of Holguin. The original cross was placed here in 1790. From Holguin, you can walk 20 minutes to the foot of the hill or hire a bicycle taxi—the quintessential way to get around—to take you.
People Watching Spots
After hiking, relax at Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Park, which locals still refer to by its former name, San Jose Park. Photo ops include a statue of the namesake figure, a hero of the War of Independence and the Church of San Jose. Also visit Plaza Calixto Garcia, a prime people-watching spot. Along the plaza is the Museum of Provincial History. A few blocks south of Plaza Calixto Garcia is Parque de las Flores, where you can admire the Catedral de San Isidoro de Holguin.
Among the buildings that line Plaza Calixto Garcia is the Casa de la Trova, a must-see if you’re curious about local entertainment. On any given night, you can witness the African-inspired ballroom dance known as danzón. Cubans are also passionate about baseball, and Holguin’s residents are no exception. You can root, root, root for the home team, the Holguin Perros, at Estadio General Calixto Garcia.
When hunger strikes in Holguin, fuel up at 1910 Restaurante & Bar, where the extensive menu features both surf and turf, as demonstrated by the house specialties: steak with ham and pineapple prepared au gratin, and shrimp in a spicy sauce with caramelized pineapple. If you’re looking for a place to grab a beer—Holguin is known for its local brews—stop by La Begonia Snack Bar near Plaza Calixto Garcia, where you are likely to strike up a conversation with locals or fellow travelers.
At the end of the day, retreat to one of Holguin’s “cases particulares”—private homes that rent out rooms to visitors and provide glimpses of local life. Consider Hostal Villa Laba, a 1950s mansion with an interior patio, where meals evoke the owner’s Lebanese heritage. A typical “casa particular” offers only one or two rooms, so call ahead to make the proper arrangements.
Alternatively, on the outskirts of the city, atop a hill known as Mirador de Mayabe, you’ll find an inn that offers cabins and several rooms with balconies and is home to a beer-drinking donkey named Pancho.