That Cuba Feeling

Experience Cuba’s unique flair and find out what makes it tick – just like the locals themselves.


In Cuba you can learn salsa moves or hone your skills almost everywhere – in the bars and dance clubs, at concerts, with the help of the welcoming team at the airport, or under the instruction of the teachers at your hotel. First you need to learn the basic steps so it’s “un, dos, tres”… the man leads and spins his dancing partner until you get dizzy from just watching them.


It has become very popular to stay in a private Cuban home. Quite a few of these private rooms are now very well equipped. To experience a private stay, look for the blue sign (similar to an anchor) on the door. You will feel just like you are at home in the modest homes or in the elegant – a new development – casas particulares with lovely terraces, and sometimes even access to a beach or a swimming pool.


Not only vintage car enthusiasts will enjoy the sight of all the classic American cars, with their glittering chrome, as they roll through Cuba’s streets looking as if they are part of an open-air museum. Many of the Cadillacs and Chevrolets are maintained with great care and polished to a high gloss. You will feel as though you are on a journey back through time when you are chauffeured through Havana.


The Cuban coral reef is one of the largest and most species rich in the world. The south coast is popular with divers, especially the Isla de la Juventud. In sites like Cueva Azul and Tunel del Amor, divers swim among colourful fish, eagle rays and even turtles and explore the wrecks and canyons in the deep blue waters.


Wearing a T-shirt with Che Guevara’s face on it is not enough to make you a real fan of the Revolution. So the “Adelante Comandante!” (Forwards, commander!) slogan makes the Revolution more tangible on a hike through the Sierra Maestra. Follow in the footsteps of the guerrilleros inland and pay your respects to the most famous rebel and his fellow fighters – such as at the Che Guevara monument and mausoleum in Santa Clara.


If you are carried away by the pervasive rhythm of the congas and timbales, then why not take an introductory course in the art of drumming. Finding a teacher is not difficult – you can spot a real pro if he makes his pupils do fingers exercises to warm up before they start – all you have to do is ask one of the street musicians in the Callejon de Hamel pedestrian zone in Havana. It doesn’t get any more authentic than that.


No Cuban would even dream of spending his holiday on a bicycle – most of the bikes have neither lights nor gears. But, if you decide to ride a bike, you will have plenty of routes to choose from: endless, at trails and even the motorways (where there is usually very little traffic) or more demanding serpentine roads such as La Farola at Baracoa.


Some people never want to leave Cuba simply because of the drinks; Ernest Hemingway immediately springs to mind. You don’t need many ingredients to make a mojito, the national cocktail. Mix the juice of a lime with half a teaspoon of sugar, crush six mint leaves in the glass, add a shot of Havana Club Rum (Añejo 3 Años), fill it up with soda water and decorate the glass with a few sprigs of mint – this way, you will be able to keep on enjoying the Cuban feeling after you return home from your holiday.

Buy the Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

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Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 20: Christmas in Cuba

It’s Day 20 of our Advent Calendar and Christmas is only five days away. For many of us, Christmas is the best time of the year, but there are also those who are already sick and tired of the season, which is why today we are headed to Cuba, to see how Christmas is celebrated – or rather, not celebrated – in Cuba. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!


Cuba is the ideal Christmas holiday destination for those of us who couldn’t care less about Christmas, because Christmas isn’t really celebrated at all. From 1969 until 1998, Christmas was outlawed by the communist regime, and even today Cuban families still hardly celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is a regular working day and children go to school as usual. Christmas is generally visible only at hotels and restaurants catering to tourists, though some shops and homes are slowly starting to pick up the habit of decorating for Christmas.

Christmas Day in Cuba may be business as usual, but Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, as it is called in Spanish, is still a big family celebration for Cubans, despite the three decade ban on Christmas. Families get together and feast on roast pig, fried plantains and rice, topping it off with traditional buñuelos, cassava fritter shaped like the number eight and served with anise syrup, though rum cakes are popular as well. A similar dinner is also served for New Year’s celebrations. If you can get yourself an invite to a Cuban Nochebuena fiesta, you’re certainly in for a treat.

So, if escaping Christmas is your plan and you want to enjoy good weather and sunshine, Cuba is an excellent choice!

Buy the Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.