Cienfuegos is a beautiful city in the south of Cuba with many attractions in and nearby the city. These are the top things to do in Cienfuegos Cuba.
Cienfuegos: an introduction
The city of Cienfuegos is located on the southern coast of Cuba, on the bay of Cienfuegos. It is known as the “Pearl of the South” because of its natural beauty and the well-preserved colonial architecture of its historic center. The city was founded in 1819 by French immigrants. The architecture of the city has a mix of Spanish, French, and Caribbean influences. In 1960 it became an important industrial city, mostly because of sugar cane.
Because of its beauty, Cienfuegos is a popular destination for tourists and it also has a lively music and cultural scene.
The best things to do in Cienfuegos Cuba
Would you like to visit Cienfuegos during your Cuba vacation? That’s a great idea! These are the most beautiful places and the best things to do in Cienfuegos Cuba.
Explore the historic city center
Het historic center of Cienfuegos is the city’s main attraction. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, characterized by its well-preserved 19th century buildings in neoclassical style architecture. Take a stroll through the streets and admire the beautiful colonial buildings.
Tip! The best way to learn more about the city is to go on this free city tour.
Parque José Martí
Parque José Marti is the most important place in the heart of Cienfuegos. This is a beautiful square surrounded by colorful buildings like the theater, the cathedral, and the Palacio de Gobierno. There’s also a music chapel on the square, where you sometimes can enjoy live music.
Teatro “Tomás Terry”
One of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings on the Parque José Martí is Teatro Tomas Terry, a beautiful theatre. You can visit it for a small fee to admire the inside of the building.
Paseo El Prado
Paseo El Prado is one of the most important streets in the city, crossing Cienfuegos from north to south. It is a beautiful street surrounded by colorful colonial buildings. The middle lane is a pedestrian street. There are trees, benches, and several statues that are interesting to check out.
Admire the Benny Moré Statue
One of the statues in the Paseo El Prado is the Benny Moré statue by the Cuban artist Villa Soberon. He was a famous Cuban singer and bandleader, and one of the most popular Cuban musicians in the 20th century. The statue was built to honor him. Every year, in the month of September, there’s a Cuban music festival in Cienfuegos which is called Festival Benny Moré.
Museo Historico Naval Nacional
Museo Historico Naval Nacional is located on the west side of the city center and this is an interesting museum if you’d like to learn more about the Cuban revolution. The museum is housed in a very interesting building that looks a bit like a castle.
La Punta Gorda
La Punta Gorda is a somewhat fancy neighborhood in the south of town. It’s a peninsula with many parks and beaches. A great place to go if you’d like to walk around a more quiet and relaxing area.
Walk the Malecón de Cienfuegos
To get from the city center to La Punta Gorda, you can walk on the Malecón de Cienfuegos. It’s a boulevard along the water and it offers beautiful views of the city.
Watch the sunset at Club Cienfuegos
Club Cienfuegos is a well-known bar and restaurant in La Punta Gorda and this is one of the best places to watch a gorgeous sunset.
Visit the Palacio de Valle
One of the most beautiful buildings in Punta Gorda is Palacio de Valle (Valle Palace). It was built in 1917 and has Moorish influences. It has many beautiful details and ornaments. It’s now a bar and a restaurant, but you can also look around and admire the gorgeous building.
Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos
A few of the best things to do in Cienfuegos Cuba are located just outside the city, like de Jarndín Botánica de Cienfuegos. It’s a 25-minute ride and if you like visiting botanical gardens, make sure to visit this one since. It was founded in 1901 making it one of the oldest botanical gardens in Cuba. When you arrive, a local guide will show you around, so you get to learn about the most important plants and trees.
Playa Rancho Luna
The most popular beach in Cienfuegos for both locals and tourists is Rancho Luna Beach. It’s only a 20-minute drive from the city and it is a beautiful white sandy beach with some palm trees. There are also some restaurants in the area, so you can enjoy some typical Cuban food. It’s a great place to relax.
Watch Flamingos in Laguna Guanaroca
A little before you reach Rancho Luna, you’ll pass Laguna Guanaroca. Here is a Flamingos Reserve. You can hop in a boat with a guide and he will show you around. If you’re lucky, you’ll see many flamingos, pelicans, and crabs. A great place to observe them in their natural habitat.
Visit the Castillo de Jagua
Jagua is a small town south of Cienfuegos, on the other side of the bay. The main attraction here is the Castillo de Jagua. This fortress was built in the 18th century to protect the city from pirate attacks. The fortress is now a museum and it offers great views of the city and the bay.
Fun day trips from Cienfuegos
Some beautiful places are a bit further out of town or take longer to explore. These are great places to visit as a day trip from Cienfuegos.
Bay of Pigs (Bahía de los Cochinos)
This is one of the most important places in the history of Cuba. This is the place where the United States send CIA-trained soldiers to try to invade Cuba to stop the communist regime of Fidel Castro. It was a big failure. Bay of Pigs is not only an important historical place but it also has a coral reef and crystal clear water which makes it a fantastic place to go snorkeling. Go to Punta Perdiz to find the best spots.
Go on an El Nicho Waterfalls excursion
West of Cienfuegos there’s a mountain range called Escambray. Here you can find some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Cuba: the El Nicho Waterfalls. They are located in a natural park and it feels like you’re in a jungle. In the park, you can also visit a cave and do a canopy tour. The best way to explore the park, the waterfalls, and the cave is by a guided tour.
Book your El Nicho Waterfalls excursion here.
The city of Trinidad is one of the highlights of Cuba. The city is famous because of its historical center which is on the World Heritage list of UNESCO. When you’re in Trinidad, it feels like you’re going back in time. It is such a beautiful place! Right next to Trinidad is the beautiful Gran Parque Natural Topes the Collantes, where you can go hiking and explore some waterfalls. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from Cienfuegos to Trinidad, making it a perfect location for a day trip.
Read more: The best things to do in Trinidad Cuba.
Santa Clara is located inland, about 70 kilometers northeast of Cienfuegos. It is famous because of the Mausoleo del Che Guevara. He was one of the most important faces of the Cuban revolution and you’ll see his name and his face everywhere in the country. He was buried in Santa Clara. Next to his mausoleum, there’s a gigantic statue of him and there’s also a small museum.
Best places to stay in Cienfuegos
Are you excited to visit Cienfuegos during your Cuban vacation? The best places to stay are usually casa particulares, at people’s homes. It’s like a bed and breakfast. You’ll recognize them with the blue and white sign above the door. If you’d like to book your stay in Cienfuegos in advance, these are some great places to stay:
- Cienfuegos Center Hostel Raquel – B&B in the city center with great reviews.
- Hostal Ksaltos – Located in the city center and it has a roof terrace that offers great views.
- Hostal Don Carlos y Nancy – Nice place to stay in Punta Gorda.
Book a trip to Cuba
Would you like to travel to Cuba? Here are some tips to book your trip:
✈️ Plane tickets
You can find the cheapest plane tickets via WayAway. For international flights, it’s easiest to set José Martí International Airport in Havana as your destination.
🛣️ How to get around
There are three main ways of transportation in Cuba: rental car, bus, or taxi.
- Rental Car – In Cuba, you don’t have the big well-known international car rental companies, only local ones and they are owned by the state. It is wise to book your rental car far in advance through a travel agency, like Tui Cars. Make sure to bring a paper map, like the Nelles Map.
- Bus – If you prefer public transportation (which is the cheapest way to get around), you can use the Viazul buses which usually travel from one major city to another once a day. Viazul has a website, but buying tickets online doesn’t always work. It is therefore advisable to buy your bus ticket at the bus station.
- Taxi – In Cuba, it’s really easy to get a taxi to travel around. It’s more expensive than taking the bus but it is also way faster. Most of the time it is cheaper than renting a car. Just ask the driver and agree on a price. Do check the car before you get in (especially on long rides). The vintage cars look great but also tend to break down quickly.
🛏️ Where to sleep
When I traveled to Cuba it was still very difficult to book a hotel room or room in a casa online. Now you can just use Hostelworld. Here you can not only find beds in a dorm but also a lot of (private) bed & breakfasts. Staying in a casa particular is also highly recommended. This is when you stay with locals and they are usually really friendly. For hotels and more B&B options, you can also use Expedia.co.uk.
🎡 Guided tours are a great way to learn more about Cuban history. Book fun tours and activities with Civitatis.
💊 Travel Insurance
It is mandatory to take out good travel insurance when you travel to Cuba. I would suggest checking out Insubuy to find the travel insurance that fits your needs.
More Cuba travel tips
Would you like to learn more about a Cuba vacation? Make sure to get one of these amazing travel guides:
You can also read more about Cuba on this website. Check out these articles:
- The Ultimate 2-week Cuba Itinerary
- 15 fun things to do in Havana
- Cuba Travel Tips: useful tips & the best sights
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