The so-called Pearl of the Antilles and the largest island in the entire Caribbean Sea, Cuba can seem a world apart from the refined paradisaical holidaying spots that surround it.
For one, its history is still very much alive.
Revolutions and communism are still fresh on the mind, and the museums showcase weapons that helped overthrow the government only decades ago.
The hills are still marked by the footprints of men like Che Guevara and Castro, while sugar plantations belie the colonial boom and dark tales of slave driving.
Then there’s historic Old Havana, bursting with age-stained Baroque builds and glorious palazzos, beset by plumes of cigar smoke and the sounds of lively jazz and cabaret after dark.
Meanwhile, Cadillacs unchanged from the 50s whizz by down pot-holed roads, and the locals erupt in ad hoc fiestas of dance, song and barbeque.
Check out this selection of the best things to do in Cuba:
1. Stroll the Havana Malecon
The Malecon of Havana is the Pearl of the Antilles writ small.
It’s a place where leather-faced locals puff cigars the size of plantains, where Cadillacs bounce and bump over the uneven roads, where gloved boxers spar with the tropical airs and street entertainers coalesce with lovers amidst the salty sea breezes that roll in from Florida and the Key West straits to the north.
A whopping 7 kilometers from beginning to end, this bustling promenade is a veritable symbol of the city.
It’s gained historical status and oozes with Baroque and Art Deco styles, is painted in hues of Cuban pink and yellow, and throbs with Spanish chatter and energy.
It’s simply not to be missed!