If you’re thinking of finally taking the plunge and booking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Cuba, then you may want to consider penciling Costa Rica into your plans. In recent years, twin-country holidays have been trending amongst globetrotters, as travelers seek to get the most out of the time and money they’ve invested in journeying halfway across the world. Those looking to be seduced by the rich colours and history of revolutionary Cuba will find that Costa Rica’s verdant jungles and volcanic hot springs can offer the perfect contrast, throwing the Caribbean’s largest island into new and exciting contexts. A bio-diverse Central American treasure and a communist Caribbean time-capsule, Costa Rica and Cuba complement each other through their cultural and geographical diversity. And they’re conveniently close too – lying just across the stretch of the glittering Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is only 2h20 mins away from Cuba’s vibrant capital!
Carnival season may be coming to a close across much of the world, but in Cuba the party hasn’t even begun.
In most Roman Catholic countries, Carnival is a pre-Lenten festival; a time of excess before 40 days of austerity. But in typical Cuban style, things on the island are a little different, with celebrations taking place throughout the summer in various towns and cities. Lucky for you, that leaves plenty of time to organise your Carnival trip.
Travelling with kids can feel daunting, particularly in places like Cuba where there are a lot of unknowns for first-time travellers. What most people don’t realise, is that Cuba is quite the family-friendly destination, especially since Cubans are so welcoming and kind to children. In fact, you’ll often find Cubans quoting their national hero and poet, Jose Marti, who famously said that “children are the hope of the world, because they truly know how to love”.
Cuban-style roast pork, congri, yucca with mojo and a refreshing mojito: there's no better way to explore Cuba’s multi-cultural heritage than through its syncretic gastronomy. Tantalise your taste buds and prepare yourself for a journey full of flavour – here’s the lowdown on what dishes and drinks to try on your next trip to this beautiful island, along with some bits of history and advice on wining and dining in Cuba.
1. Buy your Tourist visa online
Some might stress at hearing that the UK Cuban Embassy opening hours are only 9:30-12:30 am (Mon-Fri). Realistically, who wants to take a day off work just to travel to the embassy and queue for a visa? Hack your holiday before you even step foot in Cuba by buying your visa online. Your visa will be delivered direct to your door.
With the motto leer es crecer (reading is growing), the 27th edition of Cuba’s International Book Fair opens this February. The Cuban publishing industry’s largest annual event transforms the usually-deserted La Cabaña fortress into a huge book market, selling new and old titles of all genres. Attracting publishing companies, book-lovers and curious tourists alike, the fair also includes book presentations, award ceremonies and musical concerts at night. Havana hosts the event for 10 days before it travels to other cities across the island, ending four months later and almost 500-miles away in Santiago de Cuba.
Whether you find yourself in drizzly London, bustling Barcelona or frenetic Hong Kong, you can’t help but sail away to a sunny Caribbean beach when you hear the mellow and rounded beat of bongos. Cuba is the land of percussion: life on the tropical island is soundtracked by the Afro-Cuban rhythms of rumba, Son, Timba, Guaguancó and everything in between. All these percussion-based musical genres meet at Fiesta del Tambor, a Havana festival and competition that showcases the work of both famous and debutant instrumentalists eager to show off their skills on the tambores (drums). If your feet (or at least your heart!) vibrate to the beat of batás, bongos, or drums, this is the event for you!
It's February and once again Havana is preparing for hundreds of cigar aficionados from all over the world to descend on the city, eager to enjoy fine hand-rolled Habanos (premium Cuban cigars) and share their passion for a culture deeply rooted in Cuba's identity as a nation. The Habanos Festival is one of the most important events in the island's calendar. Learn more about the event, Cuban cigars and their link to one of the United Kingdom's most famous sons, Winston Churchill.
Cuba's Romeo and Juliet
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we wanted to reflect on Cuba’s most beautiful and tragic love story.
In the centre of Colon Cemetery lies the embalmed remains Catalina Lasa: the most beautiful woman to walk the streets of Havana and the protagonist of Cuba’s greatest love affair.