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Central America Cienfuegos (Cuba)

Cienfuegos is a big busy city. Once passed the ugly periphery you will find a pretty main square with a reconstructed church, theater and a nice touristy café. Streets around the square are typical Cuban. Empty shelves, long lines, a small sewing fabric and burocratic offices with piles of paper. Among all this you can find cheap restaurants and local cafés where a cup of good expresso will cost 1 Cuban peso (not even 10 cents!). Ok, you have to drink it from a slightly dingy cup standing at an old rusty table

Cienfuegos is a port city. Its main attraction, Punta Gorda, is a piece of land streching into the huge bay at the very end of the city. Punta Gorda has the nicest houses and villas, expensive restaurants, hotels and a beautiful building of what used to be a private yacht club.
What here: Take a walk on „Malecón“ (sea parade) all the way to Punta Gorda. At the very end of Punta Gorda is a little park with few shady kiosks and a possibility to buy a drink here. You can sit down, watch the ships in the bay or the nuclear plant on the horizon, which was actually never finished. Luckily.

About 10 km from Cienfuegos is a botanical garden (with 280 kinds of palm trees) and about 50 km far away is a beautiful waterfall „El Nicho“. If you are following the road from Cienfuegos to Trinidad (and you should because Trinidad is a colonial jewel) you will encounter various pretty bays on your way. They are a good spot for a refreshing stop and a short swim. Beware that only one, Yaguanabo, has also restaurants, the others are just sand and water.

If you are coming from Havana, you might want to stop at the crocodile farm „La Boca“ and try crocodile meat which looks like beef but is very soft and taste more like a fish.

Where to stay: The majority of casas particulares (private house accommodations) are located in Punta Gorda, some with nice views at the bay. The average price is 30 CUC per double per night. Few of them could also be found along Malecón and some are in the historical center. As for hotels, there is the four-star Jagua hotel at Punta Gorda which actually looks a little worn out or a small nice blue hotel on the way (on the pictures above).
How to get here: It is about a 3 hours drive from Havana following the highway number 1 or one hour from Trinidad. You can get here either in your rented car or with Viazul bus that stops here on its way from Havana to Trinidad (twice daily, about 22 CUC).