From the Gulf of Mexico, it is a quick trip southeast to the tropical island of Cuba, which lies nestled between the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and the sprawling space of the Atlantic Ocean.
On the island’s northwestern edge in the province of Villa Clara sits the beautiful capital city of Santa Clara, which offers a healthy and exciting variety of different historic attractions and island activities that will whet your appetite and leave you hungry for more.
Main Attractions on Santa Clara Cuba
1.1 Parque Vidal
Located in central Santa Clara Cuba, Parque Vidal (also known as Plaza Central and Plaza Mayor) offers a charming blend of neo-classical and colonial styles of architecture surrounding the central focus of the park itself. On all sides of the park sit historic monuments and buildings that give visitors and residents alike a glimpse into the varied and colorful Cuban past.
In the center of the park sits the Glorieta gazebo, which was built in 1911 and continues to host concerts today. Other historic attractions surrounding Parque Vidal include:
- A bust of Leoncio Vidal, a famous colonel during Cuba’s war for independence and the namesake of the park.
- An obelisk dedicated to the priest who founded the city.
- A bronze statue of el nino de la bota, (The boy with the leaking boot), a symbol of the city.
- A bronze statue of Marta Abreu, a famous local known as “the great benefactor” for her services to the poor.
- The Santa Clara Libre Hotel, which has stood since the days of the war for independence and continues to bear battle scars received during the conflict.
- The Teatro de La Caridad (Charity’s Theater), one of the Eight Grand Theaters from Cuba’s colonial days.
- The Plaza Central Hotel.
- The former City Hall building.
- The Colonial de Santa Clara center of dance.
- The Museum of Decorative Arts.
1.2 Mausoleo del Che Guevara
The construction of this mausoleum took six years and was finished in December 1988, to honor the service and sacrifice of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and twenty-nine of his soldiers, all of whom were killed in 1967 during an uprising in Bolivia.
The mausoleum is located in the greater Plaza Che Guevara and features a twenty-two-foot bronze statue of Guevara carrying a gun with the inscription Hasta la Victoria Siempre (“Until the Eternal Victory”) at its base. This memorial continues to stand in Santa Clara Cuba as a reminder to its people of their past and the figures in that past who fought for a united Latin America.
1.3 Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis
Originally built in 1692, destroyed in 1923, and then rebuilt in the 1940s, this cathedral stands as the most important religious structure in Santa Clara Cuba. With vaulting spires and severe arches, the Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis was constructed in the Neo-Gothic style of architecture.
The cathedral sports a remarkable array of lead stained glass windows and a massive statue of the Virgin Mary known by locals as la Virgen del Camino, or “the traveler’s Virgin.” The statue originally stood on a roadside leading to Havana and was considered a place for travelers to receive blessings for their journey to and from the city.
During the Cuban war for independence, the statue was removed and was not found again until 1995 where it was brought to the Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis to remain forevermore.
Other Things to Do in Santa Clara Cuba
2.1 Tour the Cigar Factory “Constantino Perez”
Known for its production of famous cigar brands such as Romeo y Julieta, Hoyos de Monterrey, Montecristo, and Partagas, Constantino Perez cigar factory in Santa Clara is a less crowded and cozy location to tour during your trip to the city. Guided tours of the factory last around 45 minutes, and there is a nearby shop that offers a wide selection of cigars, local rums, and local coffee.
2.2 Day Trip to Hanabanilla Lake
Just to the south of Santa Clara stretches the expansive Hanabanilla Lake on the gentle slopes of the Sierra del Escambray. The local Hanabanilla Hotel offers boat tours, fishing tours, as well as motor and rowboat rentals. There are also plenty of hiking trails available for exploration through the tropical rainforest surroundings. When you are ready to head back in, you can stop at the Rio Negro camp and restaurant for a dinner featuring local cuisine.
2.3 Catamaran Excursions and Snorkeling
Along the Cayo Santa Maria Beaches near Santa Clara, you can opt in to an all-day catamaran excursion that lets participants experience the wonders of two snorkeling spots located at an old sunken ship and a beautiful coral reef. Local hotels offer rental scuba equipment for these excursions.
The Best Places to Stay in Santa Clara Cuba
3.1 Hotel La Granjita
Located just outside of Santa Clara in the rural countryside, Hotel La Granjita is a cozy, rustic place to stay that will give you a sense of the country away from the bustle of the city. The hotel offers 65 rooms in a variety of 2-story wooden cabins across the hotel’s gardens.
The average price to stay at the Hotel La Granjita sits at around $81 per night, making this a highly affordable location for travelers on a budget or for families or couples looking for a quaint place to stay. Lastly, the hotel is located at Carretera de Maleza Km. 21 ½, Santa Clara, Cuba.
3.2 Hostal D’ Cordero
Just to the east of Parque Vidal, the Hostal D’ Cordero is one of Santa Clara’s highest rated accommodations with rates starting at $70 per night. Its central location is perfect for sight-seeing in the historic districts of Santa Clara.
The Hostal D’ Cordero is a series of five rooms in a large casa complete with a bilingual staff. The homey feel of the location is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. It’s great for a lone traveler looking for a good deal in a welcoming location too. The hotel is located at Leoncio Vidal Street 61, Santa Clara, Cuba.
3.3 Hotel Royalton Cayo Santa Maria
This is an adults-only luxury hotel with a private spa, sauna, tennis court, and bar. Each room has its own AC, satellite TV, coffee machine, and private bathroom with amenities.
Rates to stay at the Hotel Royalton Cayo Santa Maria start at $94. This hotel is great for couples looking for a more luxurious romantic getaway or lone travelers with money to spend. The hotel is located at Cayo Santa Maria, Villa Clara Province, 52610 Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba.
How to Get to Santa Clara
The average flight to Santa Clara from the US or Canada will involve at least two stops. This makes it anywhere between an 8 or 24-hour flight. Through JetBlue’s charter partners, you can book a nonstop flight to Santa Clara from Tampa, FL. You can also consider booking a cruise that visits the island. This will offer its own excursions into areas like Santa Clara.
Once you arrive in Santa Clara, there are a number of taxi services. If you are staying in a luxury hotel, there are hotel transportation services available.
Finally, Santa Clara is a beautiful island community in Cuba. It relates to Cuba’s revolutionary past and thus it is full of historic significance. This history displays itself in Santa Clara’s varied and gorgeous architecture, which is prevalent throughout the city. When you are ready to book your vacation, consider one of the welcoming and high-quality accommodations listed above. Moreover, remember to enjoy your stay!
Images source: depositphotos.com