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Cienfuegos, Cuba

Discover Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South of Cuba, and enjoy its maritime environment and natural sites

Cienfuegos, Cuba
Cienfuegos, Cuba
© Eric

The city of Cienfuegos preserves one of the most homogeneous urban centers in Cuba. It is full of classical facades and slender columns that provide an atmosphere reminiscent of 19th-century France, which inspired it. In fact, the city was founded in 1819 by a French emigrant, don Luis D'Clouet.

Malecon, Cienfuegos
Malecón, Cienfuegos
© Guillaume Baviere

Cienfuegos is known as the "Pearl of the South of Cuba" and not a surprise, since this small city has managed to seduce travelers from all over the world. Travellers come to see the elegant mix of its cultivated French spirit and its affable Caribbean style. In the bay itself you can read a sign that says "The city I like best", quoting the words of the famous singer Benny Moré.

Cienfuegos is open to the sea and is situated right on Cuba's largest natural bay. The whole city enjoys an enviable coastal environment, which, along with the tranquility that can be found in its renovated streets devoid of crowds of tourists, are some keys that have been declared a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2005.

Index:

What are the best places to see in Cienfuegos?

Palacio del Gobierno, Cienfuegos
Palacio del Gobierno, Cienfuegos
© Dan Lundberg
Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos
Palacio de Valle
© Wilder Mendez
El Castillito, Cienfuegos
El Castillito
© Tai Pan of HK

Cienfuegos is a colorful city where the emerald green of its leafy lands and the turquoise blue of its waters stand out. The province is full of small coves, caves and coral reefs; but its main attraction is really inland, in the waterfalls of El Nicho, a lush natural enclave located in the Sierra de Escambray, within the Parque Natural Topes de Collantes.

Cienfuegos can be divided into two distinct areas: the central area, where the Prado and Parque Martí are located; and Punta Gorda, a small territory that cuts across the bay and is home to numerous eclectic palaces dating from the early 20th century.

The most fascinating points of interest in the central area are the Parque José Martí, the Paseo del Prado, the Arco del Triunfo, the Catedral de la Purísima Concepción (Cathedral), the Teatro Tomás Terry (Theatre), the Colegio San lorenzo, the Casa de la Cultura Benjamín Duarte, the Museo Histórico Provincial (Regional Museum), the Palacio de Gobierno, the Casa del Fundador, the Museo Histórico Naval Nacional, the Cementerio de la Reina, the Museo de Locomotivas, the Malecón de Cienfuegos, the statue of Benny Moré, the Museo del Deporte. While in the area of Punta Gorda stand out: the Palacio Azul, the Club Cienfuegos, the Parque de Esculturas, the Palacio de Valle, the Centro Recreativo La Punta. A little further away is the monumental Necrópolis Tomás Acea.

On the outskirts of the town is the picturesque Playa Rancho Luna (Beach), with its hotel resorts; the hometown of Benny Moré, Santa Isabel de Las Lajas; the Castillo de Jagua (Castle), the Laguna Guanaroca (Lagoon), the Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos (Botanical Garden), the El Nicho Waterfalls, the Ciego Montero spa, Cayo Loco and Yamaraguas

What are the best plans to make in Cienfuegos?

El Nicho, Cienfuegos
El Nicho, Cienfuegos
© Manuel Marrero

Cienfuegos is a city that offers numerous activities to do. Due to its proximity to Trinidad they transformed it into an ideal city to visit during your trip to Cuba.

Undoubtedly, one of the best plans is to visit El Nicho, a couple of spectacular waterfalls in the heart of the Sierra de Escambray. To get there, you'll have to walk on trails and cross bridges but the reward is more than adequate. Besides, once there, you can refresh yourself in one of the paradisiacal natural pools.

If you want to get to know the spirit of Cienfuegos in depth, the best thing to do is to take a walk in the central Parque José Martí and discover the wonderful eclectic architecture of the 19th century that surrounds it, such as the Arco del Triunfo, the Palacio del Gobierno or the Catedral de la Purísima Concepción.

If you are looking to relax on the beach the best thing to do is to enjoy Playa Rancho Luna and its crystalline waters. A little further away, between Cienfuegos and Trinidad, you will find Villa Guajimico, a destination for diving lovers.

Other plans you can make are to follow in the footsteps of singer Benny Moré in nearby Santa Isabel de Las Lajas. If you love flamingos, you can't miss the flamingo reserve at Laguna Guanaroca, north of the city

What are the best dates to go?

It all depends on your tastes. If you want to enjoy the beach and diving, the best time is from January to April; but if you like music and dance you'll prefer to go between August and September, as that's when the Festival de Benny Moré and the Carnaval de Cienfuegos are held. Whatever date you choose, let us help you prepare your organized trip to Cuba.

What are the best excursions to go on from Cienfuegos?

If you are an animal lover, your perfect excursion is Cienfuegos - Guanaroca - Delfinario, the first stop is in one of the most spectacular natural reserves due to the amount of water birds that find refuge there. Later in the dolphinarium you will be able to enjoy a show of these fantastic animals.

The excursion for you, nature lover, is jeep safari El Nicho, you will discover and swim in these spectacular waterfalls and pools. Then you can decide whether to continue your trip in Trinidad or return to Cienfuegos.

If you are not going to spend much time in the city, a day trip on an electric bike from Cienfuegos is ideal. You will get to know every corner of the city, accompanied by a local guide.

What is the best way to get there?

Cienfuegos is located in the heart of Cuba, perfect for a stopover when traveling from Havana to the keys like Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco or Cayo Guillermo. Also you can stop to visit the fantastic El Nicho Waterfalls. In addition, it is very close to Trinidad, known as the city-museum and one of the most Cuban spirited places on the island.

The best way to get to the city is through the Circuito Sur from Havana, since the best option is to fly to José Martí Airport and start your trip from there.

Where to stay in Cienfuegos?

Cienfuegos is ideal to visit during your trip. In case you want to spend a night in the city, the best option is to stay in casas particulares (private homes). This way, you can get to know the authentic Cuban spirit and hospitality.

If you prefer a hotel, here are some options. The five-star Hotel Meliá San Carlos is located in the heart of the city. The Hotel Jagua, located at the end of Punta Gorda with its wonderful views of the bay and the Sierra de Escambray. Finally, the Hotel La Unión, located in a 19th century building in the historical centre of Cienfuegos.

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