Santiago is the second city of Cuba, and one of the most picturesque. This whole area is known for being the cradle of the Revolution, and its mountains hid Che and Fidel Castro himself while convincing the people to join the revolution.
Its color, the innumerable hills and its always warm climate make visiting this city can be tiresome, especially in the hottest hours of the day, but it is also what gives it its particular charm. Like its people, mostly mulattos, a mixture of Spaniards, French and Haitians of the most charming and friendly.
Castillo del Morro
If you leave early for Baracoa, we recommend you stop at El Morro Castle. Built in the 17th century and declared a World Heritage Site, it has magnificent views of the Bay of Santiago and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Inside is the Museum of Piracy, which is something interesting (entry 4 CUC, 5 CUC if you take pictures). There are free guides available although they are usually given a tip when finishing. In the vicinity of the castle there is a lighthouse and a craft fair. At 6 o’clock in the afternoon they do the cannon ceremony, with typical costumes of the time, but the truth is that it becomes quite heavy.
If you are not too lazy to make the trip to Baracoa with salt water, from here you can access a small beach where you can take a bath to cool off from the suffocating heat!
To arrive, take the Circumvallation that surrounds the city in the direction of the airport. Once past the airport, follow the Carretera del Morro to the castle. It’s about 15 min by car.
La Gran Piedra
If you have time before taking the flight, the weather is good and it is clear, do not stop going up to the Great Stone. This huge block of volcanic rock, measuring 51m long, 25 high and 30 wide, is the highlight of the Sierra Maestra mountain system and the views from its viewpoint are truly impressive. It allows to see all the coastal coastline of the southeast, from the Baconao park to the city of Santiago de Cuba.
The road is full of curves (it goes up from 0 to 1,200m in only 20 minutes), and then you have to walk up 452 steps to the top, but in addition to the reward of the views, along the way you will see innumerable species of ferns and orchids.
To get there, leave Santiago by the Siboney Highway and then merge with the Carretera la Gran Piedra on the left. If you do not have a car, a taxi to the Gran Piedra will leave you for about 35 CUC round trip, and paying 10 CUC more you can go to visit the Castillo del Morro later and be dropped off at the airport. Agree everything previously with the taxi driver.
Known for the unpopular US naval base at Guantánamo (a few miles north of the city) and also for the popular song “Guantanamera,” this city is home to more than 200,000 Cubans.
The social life of the city unfolds around the Marti Park, and you will pass very close to it as the Central Highway of Cuba (S del Prado) crosses the city through this area. We recommend a paradita in this park, take a look at the golden Parroquial Church of Santa Catalina and take a walk through the streets Perez and Calixto Garcia where you can see curious houses.