Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Thu January 07 2016

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  • Nick and Dariece | January 7, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    5 Quintessential Cuban Experiences For Travelers

    5 Quintessential Cuban Experiences For Travelers

    Photos by Goats on the Road

    It's no surprise that the largest island in the Caribbean is jam-packed with experiences that every traveler should have. Cuba is filled with culture, nature and history, and though many of the sights and activities are already on most tourists’ radars, they're on there for good reason. Touristy or not, here are five quintessential Cuban experiences.

    Cruising Down The Malecon In An Old Car

    When is the last time you were in a car dating back to the 1950s? Well, in Havana you have the opportunity to be chauffeured down the popular seaside promenade (Malecon) and enjoy the sights from your beautiful classic car!

    classic cars havana cuba

    Starting east in Old Havana, you'll hop aboard the vehicle and take off down the waterfront passing through the neighborhoods of Central Havana and Vedado. Although most of the cars are convertibles, make sure you get a soft top so that you can feel the wind in your hair and the sea on your face.

    If your driver is really kind, he'll even let you sit on the very back of the car, with your feet resting on the seat. Passing by the crumbling buildings and iconic National Hotel in a shiny Ford from the '50s is quite the experience. Hire your car and driver at Central Park, or near the Castle of the Royal Force in Plaza de Armas.

    A 30-minute ride should cost you between $15 and $25, depending on your bargaining skills. Make sure to shop around to find the ideal car for you!

    Dancing All Night Long

    If there's one thing that Cubans love, it's music! You'll hear salsa and rumba beats blaring from homes, vehicles and bars. One of the most incredible things to do in the evening is to enjoy a drink and a meal at a restaurant while listening to the live band. Cubans have amazing rhythm and unbeatable moves on the dance floor. But, don't let that intimidate you, get out there and give salsa dancing a try! The locals will love your attempts at shakin' it, and will appreciate your efforts — no matter how good or bad you may be.

    trinidad cuba

    Many tourist restaurants in Old Havana have musicians playing during dinner, and oftentimes people will just get up and start dancing in between the tables. If you can't afford the meals on offer there, just stand on the sidewalks as many people do, and dance on the streets! There are bars and nightclubs everywhere if you're into a more "all night" scene.

    Learning About Cigar Making

    Cuba is known worldwide for its smooth, high quality cigars, which are also popular with locals. For American cigar lovers, getting your hands on a famous Cohiba can be difficult, but hopefully soon our friends to the south will be able to enjoy these cigars as easily as the rest of the world.

    Visiting a tobacco plantation and farm is a must when you're in Cuba, and whether you smoke or don't smoke is irrelevant as it's still a very interesting process and makes for a great day trip out into the countryside.

    tobacco vinales cuba

    You'll learn about the whole cycle of tobacco from harvesting to curing, and fermenting to rolling. You'll most likely be able to try to hand-roll a cigar yourself (which is difficult!). The most popular area for visiting a tobacco farm is around the Province of Pinar del Río, and in particular, the town of Vinales.

    Staying With a Local

    One of the most interesting aspects of traveling to Cuba is that staying in homestays (casa particulares) is the norm rather than the exception. You'll find these registered homes all around the country and in our opinion, this is the best accommodation option in Cuba. You'll be given your own private room with attached bathroom and oftentimes, you'll even have a whole living area and kitchen to yourself. The owners will be around if you want to talk about anything, but they will also give you your privacy.

    casa particulares in trinidad cuba

    Meals are available for an extra cost of between $7 and $10, which is an excellent deal especially considering the huge portion sizes. Booking casas is easy, you can either ask each of your casas to call ahead to the next one for you, just turn up and walk around looking for the one that you want, or book online with

    Learning About The History

    Cuba has a very tumultuous history, and in fact, much of the instability and issues of the past remain in the present day. Hopefully the hardships that this country faces daily will be eased soon, thanks to relations with the U.S. becoming more relaxed.

    Travel in Cuba learn history

    To learn about the history of the country, and the Revolution, make sure to visit the Museum of the Revolution and the Fort of Saint Charles, both in Havana. The city of Santa Clara is famous as the place that Che Guevara captured in just 12 hours. You can visit the museum there to learn more. Santiago de Cuba is another city with a rich history, although located in the far east of the country, it's worth a visit.

More Cuba


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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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