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Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Latin America » Cuba
Author: Koen De Boeck

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Santiago de Cuba is the second largest and most Caribbean city of Cuba and offers you colonial buildings, different museums and revolutionary monuments.  

Outside the city, you will find a variety of possibilities to hike, swim and visit. 

Getting to Santiago de Cuba

From Habana to Santiago de Cuba:  

  • Night train (43 US$)  
  • Domestic flight (90 US$) (1/99).  
  • Viazulbus service : Daily departures at 15:00/20:00 hrs in Havana with arrival at Stgo de Cuba at 6:50/11:35 hrs and daily returns at 20:00/15:30 hrs and arrivals to  Havana city at 11:30/07:20 hrs. 45 minutes of dinner time included in the trip. Intermediate stops: Entronque de jagüey, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Tunas, Bayamo, Holguin. For more info look at general info 1 (link to website Viazulbuswebsite). 

From/to Santi Spiritus  

  • Viazul Bus : intermediate stop from the bus Havana-Santiago-Havana. For more info look at general info 1 (link to website Viazulbuswebsite).  
  • There is no railway in Santi Spiritus. 

From/to Camaguey  

  • Viazul Bus : intermediate stop from the bus Havana-Santiago-Havana. For more info look at general info 1 (link to website Viazulbuswebsite).  
  • Astro bus : (12.5 US$) (5/99)  
  • Night train Havana Santiago de Cuba which stops in Camaguey 

Where to stay  

Vilma T. Aranguren Logas, Calle Terraza nr. 158 entre 5ta y 7ma, Santiago de Cuba, tel. 4-1295. For a double room with AC and fan and private bathroom, they charge 20 US$ a night. For a double room with fan and shared bathroom they charge 15 US$. In both cases there's no private entrance, daily cleaning, quiet, breakfast and dinner possible. It's 2 blocks away from the big hotel Santiago (*****) and a 30 min. walk from the city center.  

Angel Pimentel Iglesias, Aguilera 1374, c/Anacaona y centro Gallego, tel (53-226) 42818. This is a very good place, quiet and in a residential area. They charge 20 US$ for a double with AC and shower. People are very friendly and will help you find another room if they have no vacancies anymore. It's at 20 minutes walk from the center and there's an excellent palador in the neighbourhood.  

Sra. Juana Isabel Hernandez Verastequi, calle L nr.203 entre 4ta y 5ta, rpto. Sueno, tel. 2 7477. Room with AC, private bathroom (20 US$ a night). The house has a patio and lies close to the towncenter. Quiet place. Sra. Juana speaks a bit French and English. Breakfast and dinner is possible.  

Raimundo Ocaña y Bertha Peña, Heredia N° 308, e/ Pio Rosado y Porfirio Valiente, Tel. (53 226) 24097. 9 USD for two, no breakfast or dinner (but there is coffee). Ask Bertha if she can find Zapote : the juice is very special.   

Rafael Gonzalez, Ave Raul Pujols #251, e/. 9 y 11, Reporto: Vista Alegre phone + 53 226 44140 Nice and big rooms with air conditioning, private entrance,   kitchen, shower and terrace. The casa privada is situated near the zoo. Price: $ 20 (10/2000)  

Villa Gijon, Small house with a double bedroom (27 US$), private bathroom with hot/cold water, private patio, AC and fan available, 300 meter from hotel Melia Santiago. Pictures, more explanation and reservation at their website . 


There's a very nice bakery on S-E corner of Plaza Marte with nice sandwiches. It's hardly recognisable, but it is the shop with the darkened windows. Ideal for breakfast.   

Santiago 1900 (entre Bartolomé Maso y Hartmann) looks very expensive with the big hall, but is cheap (+/- 0,4 USD for pizza, 0,65 USD for steak).   

Peso restaurant "La Fontana de Trevi" (1,5 USD for two, drinks included). You might have to queue. 

What to do

About the revolution  

Moncada barracks, the place where Castro and his rebels took their first attack on Batista on 26/7/53. (Open daily from 9 am till 5 pm, 1 US$, recommended)  

Museo de la lucha Clandestina, describes the underground opposition against Batista (Tuesday to Sunday, 9 am -5 pm, 1 US$).  

Plaza de la Revolucion and Plaza de Marte.  

Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, famous cementery with tombs from for example José Marti and Emilio Bacardi and graves from those who fought for the case of revolution (1 US$, recommended). 

Good views  

Balcon de Velazquez, offers a good view on the harbor of Santiago.  

Padre Pico, the steepest street with steps in Santiago.  

Hotel Santiago de Cuba (*****): Disco, swimming pool (can be visited as non-client), I

talian restaurant and an excellent view on the city from the rooftop bar. 


El parque Cespedes with the Casa de Diego Velazquez, museum with a collection of colonial furniture (daily 9 am to 5 pm, 1 US$) and the Catedral de San Juan de Santiago (both recommended).  

Museo Municipal Bacardi, private art and antique collection of Emilio Bacardi( 2 US$). Bacardi rum factory, the original rumfactory of Emilio Bacardi (recommended).  

Museo de Carnaval, history of the carnaval in Santiago which happens during the last week of july (daily 9 am to 5 pm, 2 US$). 

Trips around Santiago 

La basilica de Nuestra Senora del Cobre (20 km from Santiago de Cuba): It's a church situated in the village El Cobre and well known as the pilgrimage site of Cuba. At the back of the church is a room where you can see the offers (medals, coins, photos...) brought by the faithfull to thank the holy virgin. From the area around the church, you will have a good view on the only coppermine of Cuba.     

Castillo de San Pedro del Morro (10 km from Santiago de Cuba): A coastal castle built on a hill to protect the harbor of Santiago de Cuba against pirates. Inside is a museum "museo de la Pirateria" (daily 9 am to 5 pm, 1 US$). From the castle you have a splendid view on the harbor and surroundings (recommended).     

La Gran Piedra (28 km from Santiago de Cuba): It's a giant rock (1214 m, part of the Sierra Maestra mountains) from which the top can be climbed up by steps (admission US$ 1). From the top you have a good view on the sea and mountains especially early in the morning (less clouds). Some taxidrivers will refuse to bring you there because their car can't climb up the steep road. Don't rely on the local bus, it's always broke (recommended).  

Hotel la Gran Piedra : It is very quiet and maybe a bit boring for some people, but very naturally Cuban. And just under the steps to the great view over the Caribbean Sea. Transport back to Santiago de Cuba is difficult, certainly when the common bus went broke or doesn’t come anyway. Waiting for tourists who want to take you back with their hired car or calling a taxi is the only option.    

Valle de la Prehistoria: an area with 170 concrete animals and people dating back to the prehistoric period. Some have an altitude of 2 to 3 metres. It's just like being on a visit at the Flintstones. In fact stupid and funny (1 US$, recommended).     

Playa Siboney: (19 km from Santiago de Cuba). A small clean beach only visited by the Cubans. Good choice to relax a day with the locals.   Ernesto Salmontaset and Alfredo Zalasar, avenida Serrano nr. 43 entre la 5ta y 4ta, playa Siboney, tel 39324. House with two floors, two bedrooms, livingroom, kitchen, two bathrooms, private parking and a covered terrace with view on the sea. (40 US$ a night). Livingroom can be turned in a bedroom. The owners can serve breakfast and dinner (1/99).     

The province of Granma (Accommodation in Manzanillo / Bayamo)  There is the hotel Guacanayabo in Manzanillo, located in the bay with that name. The sight is breathtaking. They have all kind of facilities including stores and three restaurants and 2 cafeterias. The prices are very competitive. $4.00 to $10.00 por plate, including shrimp, lobster and crabs!. Unfortunately it is the only nice place to eat that you can find in that area.   Renta de habitaciónes Daniel León Tamayo, Hermanos Lottis No. 121, entre Parada y Capote, Bayamo Granma, c.p. 85100 - ten minutes walk from centre. Facilities: Airco, shared bathroom, nice and friendly people. Costs: $15 per night including fine breakfast  Tel: 42-3822. (1/2002)     

Sierra Maestra Mountains  

Hotel El Saltón, Carretera Puerto Rico a Filé, Contramaestre . : It is a Cubanacan hotel located right underneath a beautiful high waterfall, with the water running all around the hotel (with an outdoor barbecue and a thatch-roofed restaurant). It is a small hotel in the middle of nowhere, so beautiful in the middle of unspoiled nature. There is satellite tv and you swim in the small pond under the waterfall. Bring a travelling mosquito net for over your bed and bug spray for the evenings. Otherwise it is very peaceful and you have good opportunity to talk with the local people who work there. They are very friendly. If you ask, the local guide will take you on a tour of the mountains and the many small waterfalls above the hotel, which are beautiful to swim underneath. There are also coffee and banana and cacao plants to see as well as Cuban people still living in bohios in the forest. It is a very special and small place and maybe you won't meet any other tourists when you are there - sometimes Cubans go there for a stress cure, and bus tourism passes through for lunch. You can best go there by rental car. I do not think buses go there, but certainly a Cubanacan tour bus will take you there. Especially if you book from a Cubanacan hotel in Santiago de Cuba or Holguin or Guardalavaca.  

Go on to Baracoa  

For questions on Cuba  send an e-mail to Steven Buvens.

Article Comments:
Lis (1)
i was borned in Cuba(i just came 2 years ago) Cuba and is really cool that all of you are planning in going or already went.If u are of those people that are very picky go prepared, is a "third world country" and you won't like what you are going to see unless you stay only at the tourist places.Now answering some questions,THERE ARE SHARKS AT VARADERO BEACH BUT NOT PRETTY BIG THEY ARE JUST WHAT WE CALL SAND SHARKS, AND I HAVEN'T HEARD ABOUT SNOW? IN Cuba, the only snowy place is the Pico Turquino in SaNTIAGO AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, tHAT BY THE WAY, IS THE HIGHEST PLACE IN THE whole island.If U HAVE ANY qUESTIONS POST THEM HERE OR WRITE TO MY EMAIL. TIP:IF YOU DON'T KNOW SPANISH TRY TO LEARN THE AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND DON'T LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE THAT COULD GO UP TO YOU IN THE STREET TRYING TO HELP YOU, THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO GET SOME MONEY. I HOPE THE BEST TIME IN CUBA FOR ALL OF YOU
pam (1)
Does it snow in Cuba and is it in the northern hemisphere?
Raphael haasz (5)
I am going to study there in october for 3 months and id like to see all the cultures and places there. Iam also going to study the weather there and visit a few hotels and rate them....Cheers Raph
Gregory (1)
I am studying the French/Haitian emigres from 1803 into the Oriente provinces. Any historians out there with contacts in the area? Any hotel recommendations in Santiago? Many Thanks.
Walter (5)
I have no information on Mountain Tabaccai, nor do I know if there are sharks on the Varadero beach, but since its the most popular beach in cuba among tourists it should be pretty safe. General climate in Cuba: tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October). If anyone could answer Emily's questions regarding Mountain Tabaccai and Varadero beach I would greatly appreciate it.
emily (1)
I read that it can snow in Cuba--on Moutain Tobakai, is this true, is it possible in March to see snow. Also, can you tell me if there are sharks at the beach of Varadero, and can you tell me something about this beach area??? Also, about the weather there??? Danke, from Germany, Emily
Walter (5)
1.) During dinner, beer and water are usually the beverages of choice. 2.) Guava marmalade with yellow cheese is a typical Cuban dessert. 3.) Breakfast consists of a tostad a (buttered toast) and cafe con leche, a combination of strong espresso and warm milk. 4.) Pork and Beef are the most common meats in Cuba. 5.) Pollo al bloqueo (chicken a la blockade) is a popular recipe.
Nic (4)
I am going to study there in Jan for 4 months, what should I be expecting to eat, (I am allergic to seafood)... Cheers Nic

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