Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Looking for a bucket-list destination that offers your family the opportunity to have a fun and meaningful vacation, filled with lively cultural experiences they’ll never forget? Then consider exploring Cuba and immersing your loved ones in its vibrant culture, music-filled streets, and outdoor recreation experiences. Here are 6 must-see sights on this still very mysterious Caribbean island, which you can do on our new Explore and Color Cuba trip, inspired by Colorful Havana, a coloring book produced by the Colorful Cities.
Established along the southern coast in 1514 before moving five years later, the capital city of Havana is home to 2.5 million people and a wealth of colonial beauty. Havana also offers plenty to do with kids. Start with a stroll through La Havana Vieja (Old Havana) on Calle Obispo, which starts at Plaza de Armas and ends near Parque Central. A favorite activity on Calle Obispo is to watch the street performers and taste the local chocolate.
It doesn’t get much more kid-friendly than that!Another must-see in Havana is the rooftop Camera Obscura in Plaza Vieja. This optical device of lenses and mirrors projects an aerial image of the city into a giant concave screen taking you on a birds-eye tour of Havana. The views from the top of the building are spectacular, too! Next, visit Plaza De La Revolution, where you can see Che mural and Jose Marti memorial. The plaza was created in the 1920s, but was not fully used until after the 1959 revolution for political speeches and rallies. In a dense city, its vast, eleven acres of open space is quite an unusual sight.
After dark, a favorite thing to do in Havana with kids is to attend the evening show at Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, Havana’s fortress, where every night at 9 p.m. a cannon is fired. In the colonial era, this shot used to mark the end of the day, when the city gates would close for the night. Leading up to the cannon shot is a reenactment of the 18th century ceremony.
And, of course, no visit to the city is complete without experiencing a ride in a vintage car, as well as a Coco taxi! Be sure to agree to the price ahead of time, and enjoy the ride.
#2: Viñales Valley
Only a few hours by car from Havana, the Viñales Valley, with its rolling hills, steep cliff-faces, and sprawling green tobacco fields offers the full experience of the Cuban countryside. It makes for a fun day excursion from Havana, stopping at tobacco farms en route to interact with farmers devoted to the land and to learn about the role that tobacco has played in Cuban history.
Once in Viñales, enjoy its unique landscape and expansive scenery, including horseback riding, cave touring, hiking and biking. Visit the famous mural of Viñales before returning to Havana, or spend the night and enjoy all that the valley has to offer for kids!
Thirty minutes west of Havana, Fusterlandia is a whimsical spot any Gaudí fans will appreciate – the enclave is covered in colorful mosaics which is fun for kids explore. Cuban artist José Fuster started the project in his own home and then asked to decorate for his neighbors, eventually turning a downtrodden neighborhood into a fairytale-like artist's haven.
Arguably Cuba’s best-preserved colonial town, Trinidad was established a year before Havana due to the nearby Valley de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) and gold mines. Almost five centuries later, the older portion of this city became a UNESCO World Heritage site given its impact on the sugar industry. Visit the Palacio Cantero and its 100-year-old family-run pottery workshop where kids can get their hands dirty and make a pretty piece.
You will also want to visit Trinidad for its natural beauty with the surrounding Escambray Mountains and the white sandy beaches of Playa Ancon on the Caribbean Sea. The Valley of the Sugar Mills is also just outside of the city Trinidad and is a worthwhile stop with its many historic sugar plantations, which are a reminder of the importance of sugar to the Cuban economy over the centuries. Kids will enjoy climbing La Torre Manacas Iznaga, a 148-foot high tower built by Alejo Iznaga Borrell in 1816, erected as a watchtower to oversee the slaves working in the sugar cane fields.
Known as the “Pearl of the South,” Cienfuegos is another UNESCO World Heritage site which has a laid-back vibe and fewer tourists than Havana or Trinidad. Although this town was founded within Spanish territory, French immigrants from Bordeaux and French colonies, such as Louisiana initially settled Cienfuegos in 1819. Thanks to its location in the heart of a fertile agricultural region, it quickly became a trading hub for sugarcane, mangos, tobacco and coffee. One day and overnight in Cienfuegos with kids is all you need to explore its colonial charm.
#6: Playa Larga
At the head of the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs), Playa Larga was one of two beaches invaded by U.S.-backed exiles in 1961. This lovely cove is the perfect base for exploring the Zapata peninsula, Cuba's largest wilderness area, home to birdwatching, snorkeling, and a crocodile farm.
Global Family Travels offers three distinct travel experiences to Cuba, and we can also customize one for your family if you fill out this form.
Cuba: Explore & Color with Colorful Havana : Exploring Cuba through the lens of the coloring book as a travel guide, you will discover many of Havana's colorful locations, including 9 of the Cuba's UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as explore the colonial cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos. And for those wanting more of a challenge, we have included a scavenger hunt based on the books’ illustrations!
Discover Cuba’s Artistic Culture : Immerse in Cuba’s artistic culture as we discover and learn from meaningful exchanges with Cuban artists, local actors and small business owners at inspiring community projects in Casas de la Culutura that serve as venues for exhibitions and performing arts.
Support Cuba’s Entrepreneurial & Creative Spirit: Participants on this trip will have the opportunity to meet with Cuban leaders, educators, professionals, local citizens and others who are eager to exchange views on Cuban contemporary life as well as their views of their country’s role in the future.
For those interested in traveling to Cuba, our most recent blog provides information about how to navigate the ever changing travel regulations and gives a brief history and summary of what you need to know about traveling to Cuba.