Located on the Caribbean coast of Cuba, some two hundred and fifty kilometers from Havana, Cienfuegos is a pleasant city.
Formerly known as Fernardina de Jagua, today Cienfuegos is known as “The Pearl of the South”. She more than deserves it, even if she does not have the crazy charm that you recognize in Havana or Trinidad. Neoclassical architecture is thus omnipresent in Cienfuegos. Especially in the historic center, which earned it a UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2005.
THE JOSÉ MARTI PARK
Located right in downtown Cienfuegos, José Marti Park is home to the Arco de Triunfo (Arc de Triomphe), which commemorates Cuba’s independence.
There is also a marble statue of José Marti. A national hero and founder of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. Scattered throughout the park, the Tomas Terry Theater, the Casa de la Cultura, the Catedral de la Purisima Concepcion, the Palacio del Gobierno and the Casa del Fundador, are very beautiful buildings. You never tire of admiring the marble, the meticulously carved wood and the frescoes.
THE PASEO DEL PRADO AND THE MALECON
Connecting the Rio el Ingles to the Punta Gorda, the Paseo del Prado is the longest avenue in Cuba. While strolling on the Prado, one can observe beautiful buildings of neoclassical style with pastel colors. To the south, the Prado becomes the Malecon; you can enjoy a superb view over the Bay of Cienfuegos which is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
When the Malecon ends, we find ourselves in Punta Gorda, the old chic district of Cienfuegos, whose shingled houses and turreted palaces add character. The Palacio Azul, Club Cienfuegos (former yacht club) and Palacio de Valle bear witness to the taste for luxury in the 1920s, at the time of American interference.
THE ARTEX PATIO FOR FANS OF “SON CUBANO”
Cuban music lovers will be delighted to discover the Artex patio, a renowned garden in the Punta Gorda district which offers concerts and sound shows (Cuban popular music), salsa, trova and other traditional music in the evening.
VISIT THE SURROUNDINGS OF CIENFUEGOS
RANCHO DE LUNA
Rancho de Luna is a small seaside resort located less than twenty kilometers from Cienfuegos. Protected by a coral reef, the place is suitable for diving, whether with mask and snorkel or bottles. There are around thirty spots to explore, discovering caves and wrecks where many marine species coexist. Also worth seeing in Rancho de Luna: the Delfinario where you can observe dolphins and sea lions in a saltwater lagoon. Entrance to the Delfinario costs between 3 and 5 CUC and for 50 CUC you can even swim with dolphins!
CASTILLO DE JAGUA
Built between 1738 and 1745, nearly a hundred years before the city of Cienfuegos, the Castillo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Jagua is located near the entrance to Cienfuegos Bay (Bahia de Cienfuegos). It is the third largest fort in Cuba after that of Havana, and that of Santiago de Cuba. It was originally used to protect the bay from attack by pirates and the British. Today it houses a museum and offers a breathtaking view of the surroundings. Entrance to the fortress, open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., costs 1 CUC.
THE BOTANICAL GARDEN
El Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos is arguably the most beautiful garden in Cuba. Created at the start of the 20th century, today it covers an area of 92 hectares where nearly two thousand plant species grow (palms, cacti, ficus, bamboo, fig trees and others). Access to the park is between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and costs 5 CUC.
THE EL NICHO WATERFALLS
At the place called “El Nicho”, there are beautiful waterfalls digging natural pools where it is good to swim. But it has to be earned! Indeed, the path to get there is very damaged and you can only venture there in 4 × 4. The easiest way is to get there on an organized excursion.