Santiago de Cuba Casa Particular / B&B
Armando Carballo Fernandez
San Felix (Hartmann) #306
e/ Habana y Trinidad
Centro de la Ciudad
Santiago de Cuba
Tel. +53 (22) 65 13 55
Mobile +53 (52) 46 61 61
Price: 25 CUC - 30 CUC
Note: Armando and Silvia (two doctors) rent three bedrooms of their big house in the downtown, few blocks from El Parque Céspedes. All rooms have air conditioning, fans and their own bathrooms with hot and cold water. Bedrooms are cleaned daily. Many places of this house, including the terrace, invite you to read a book or chat. Guests may also use the refrigerator in the dining room. I recommend eating here since Armando is a great cook, what may be seen in his rich and diverse dishes of traditional Cuban cuisine. This house is also recommended for groups of tourists since it is quite big and there are some other neighbors renting too. This wide house is also suitable for taking dance and Spanish courses which are easily arranged by Armando with an official teacher. And finally, don´t you miss the good mojito prepared at home with mint raised in the house terrace. Remember that if you come by Cuba-Individual, Armando invites you for a free mojito!
Reservation: Also posible by e-Mail
- Cubataxi Tel.:
65 10 38/ 65 10 39 /
62 43 28
- Panataxi Tel.: 68 70
More useful phone
- Omnibus Astro
- Omnibus Viazul
Tel.: 62 84 84
- Railway station
28 36 /
65 20 20
Santiago de Cuba, currently the second capital of the country, was a time ago the capital of Cuba. Concerning population Santiago is by now the second city of the country. Havana is quite different from Santiago, which is a more Caribbean city with its streets full of life, loving and warm people, heavy traffic and loud music everywhere. It´s not surprising that Cuban Revolution triumphed from here; so this city is called The Cradle of the Revolution.
By the end of 2012 a hurricane passed through this city and drastically changed its image. Most of old and big trees were demolished, what left parks and plazas without shadows and lungs. It will take a long time to cure these deep wounds. Santiago de Cuba is not an even city but one with many contrasts. Who don´t know Santiago neither know Cuba!
In the city
- There is a lot to see in Santiago de Cuba. There are several attractive parks and plazas such as: Parque Céspedes, Plaza Dolores or Plaza de Marte. You may enjoy the atmosphere, read a book or talk to Santiagueros; since it will be easier than following a reading…
- The many museums are not only an option when it is raining or when escaping from the suffocating warmth at noon but also a good way to know the past and present history of Cuba. For breathing history I recommend visiting the cemetery Santa Ifigenia, with mausoleums of high architectural value. Here you will find tombs of many outstanding Cubans such as the National Hero José Martí, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Emilio Bacardí and several famous musicians - and of course Fidel Castro. Always every half sharp hours one may see the ceremony on honor-guard change. The cost of entrance to the cemetery is 1 CUC.
These are some options. I suggest you choose the sites of your interest in a travel guide where all details may be found.
- Visiting Santiago will demand of you a visit to a place where you can listen to traditional music live. There are many other places where traditional music is played aloud. Following is a couple of current and appropriate sites to go:
- Casa de la Trova. Surely, it is the most famous site for enjoying a live concert of Son. There are concerts thrice a day: in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. The entrance costs between 5 and 10 CUC. La Casa de la Trova is located on 206 of Heredia Street, somewhat in front of the entrance to Hotel Casa Grande. Current program is found here.
- Artex. In this attractive colonial backyard they offer traditional music concerts too. The price of admittance varies according to the musical group acting; it may be about 2 CUC. This Patio de Artex is on Heredia Street as well.
- Casa de la Música. Situated in El Parque Céspedes next to the bank, here you will enjoy a nocturnal programming, disco music, Cuban group concerts and artist shows. Price of entrance is between 3 and 5 CUC. Current program is found here.
- Patio de los Abuelos. Poetry and romantic music rule in this place. Price of entrance depends on group concerting; usually price is about 2 CUC per capita. You will find El Patio de los Abuelos in Plaza de Marte. Current program is found here.
- Casa de las Tradiciones. In a more formal environment you will find some groups playing present-day music, mainly Salsa. At any hour you can eat fast food. Casa de las Tradiciones is on Padre Pico Street, between R. Salcedo and D. Mesnir.
The billboard of the most important concerts this week in Cuba is found here.
- Castillo El Morro y Cayo Granma. At least the fortres "El Morro" you have to visit, but also Cayo Granma, a small island located in the harbour of Santiago de Cuba, is somehow special and worth to visit. You may take a truck or the local bus to Ciudad Mar. Bus stop is in front of the bank in El Parque Céspedes. From here you walk 15 minutes to reach El Castillo del Morro. In Ciudad Mar you may as well take a small ferry to get to Cayo Granma. This ship goes every hour. All these transports may be paid with Cuban Pesos. This excursion could also be done in a taxi, what would avoid a long walking that is not advisable to do when it is too hot or when carrying with you some valuable goods as a costly camera, for instance. From Santiago to El Castillo del Morro a taxi costs between 6 to 8 CUC (round-trip); it is the same price to Ciudad Mar. A longsurrounding from El Castillo to Ciudamar has to be done since there is not a straight street from one point to the other.
- La Gran Piedra. This is a big mountain that is not too far from the city. If you want to get out of Santiago for a couple of days, enjoy a good view and breathe pure air, then this is the site to go. Once in La Gran Piedra there are at least three sites you must see. First you have to climb to the top of the mountain; there are 400 steps waiting for you! From top the view is breathtaking, especially when you arrive before 11:00 in the morning, since after noon the view is short. The stairway and mirador belong to the small hotel, so you will be charged at least 1 CUC for going up. You can visit coffee plantation La Isabelita, two kilometers from the hotel. The house of the French founder is today a museum that tells you about growing and processing coffee and about past time life. The entrance to the museum is 1 CUC. The third place to go is the Jardín Botánico located one kilometer from the hotel. You might encourage yourself to stay one night at the hotel, in a very silent place. A taxi will cost 35 CUC for a round-trip and waiting. Very early in the morning there is officially a bus but it does not always work. This excursion may also be arranged with the travel agency in Hotel Casa Grande. If you think of going on a motorcycle, the bad conditions of roads should be considered.
- The nearest beach to the city is Playa Siboney, about 16 kilometers from Santiago de Cuba. This is not a long beach but at least it has sand. The hurricane left only three palms. You can practice snorkeling and even diving. I believe submarine life here is far more interesting than out of water life…Near the beach, in the town of Siboney you may eat and even stay, if in love with the beach. Attention: in May and June there are usually lots of jellyfish. During July and August you will hardly find room in this beach because almost all Santiago is enjoying here. The rest of the year it is a very restful place with clean waters inviting for a relaxing bath. As expected, during vacation months of July and August you may easily reach this beach in a truck, because you will be one among many looking for the refreshing waters. Well, refreshing might be an exaggeration…! Out of these months you may try to go in a bus. Simpler and more expensive could be taking a taxi (15 CUC round-trip).
- About 20 kilometers from Santiago de Cuba is La Finca Porvenir, suitable for pool fans. Once built by local farmers a couple of years ago, later ¨modernized¨, it is now a tourism resort. The ticket cost 1 CUC per capita. Sometimes you are charged higher for a consumption credit included. The swimming pool should receive all water from a river, but when it has low flow they put too much chemical in the water to keep it clean. There is a small restaurant serving inexpensive food. This is really a "very Cuban" place; I mean there is loud music, people drinking a lot and refreshing in the water. It´s something special, what you will like or hate…A taxi costs 15 to 20 CUC (round-trip).
- The most important site of Cuba is undoubtedly the Iglesia El Cobre. It is 20 kilometers out of Santiago city on the way to the town of San Luis. The visitor or pilgrim usually carries some offering for La Virgen de la Caridad; for instance, a bouquet of yellow flowers which are sold in many kiosks near El Cobre. A visit to this place is worthy thanks to its countryside environment. The easier transport to get here is a taxi that costs 15 to 20 CUC round-trip and wait. There is also the possibility of arriving in a collective taxi, because it is a place often visited by Cubans. Believer or not there are many Cubans visiting El Cobre, at least once in their life.
- Visiting Sierra Maestra is a good opportunity to walk out of the city for a couple of days. I propose doing an excursion for two or, better, several days. Sierra Maestra has many sites to visit but I advice two of them:
Advice 1: In Santiago de Cuba take a truck that will carry you to the town of Contramaestre and from here take preferably a taxi to Hotel El Saltón. The taxi will cost 10 CUC and the truck up to 20 CUC. A taxi may be taken too from Santiago de Cuba. The hotel is something special since it is located in a rural environment with a marvelous vegetation and a swimming pool in a natural fall (during dry season it doesn´t have too much water). In the hotel they offer massages, Jacuzzi, sauna, etc. It is a place to relax, enjoy the tranquility and breathe pure air; and hike may be also done. A room costs around 40 CUC a night.
- Advice 2: Take a truck to Bayamo and from here a taxi to Hotel Santo Domingo. From this place they arrange a hike to the Pico Turquino (the highest mountain of Cuba) or to La Comandanciade la Plata (historic site of Cuban Revolution). The road to the hotel has some unpleasant hills; so be sure to go in a car with good brakes. Each way costs 20 CUC. There are several renting houses in Bayamo, just in case you want to stay one night in the city. An address that I don´t know personally but I was recommended is this one: Sra. Dolores Marson Sosa, Pío Rosado # 171, entre Capote y Parada. Tel: 424584 (neighbor).
Attention: Before going to Santo Domingo for a journey to Pico Turquino or Comandancia de la Plata get informed whether the National Park is open; since these two sites are within a national park that sometimes is closed for visitors. If you are interested in these advices I suggest you rent a vehicle, because it is always difficult to find a transport in this zone.
Santiago de Cuba - arrival and departure
- Trains. There are two trains between Havana and Santiago de Cuba almost every day. Both depart from Havana in the afternoon and get to Santiago in the morning of next day. The regular train doesn´t have air conditioning and stops in each province. The special train (also called French train) has first and second class wagons; it generally has air conditioning and stops in Santa Clara and Camagüey. Only five fares for each train are sold 30 days beforehand. So I would advise to buy the ticket as soon as possible if you want to travel on train. It is easier to get a ticket from Santiago to Havana than vice versa.
Local trains circulate between Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo-Manzanillo and Camagüey-Santa Clara. These trains are quite slow, inexpensive and often their trips are cancelled. A telephone number at the railway station in Santiago de Cuba where you may be informed is this one: 62 28 36 / 65 44 35.
Check also the actual timetable!
- Viazul offers four bus travels between Havana and Santiago de Cuba; besides there is a daily frequency between Varadero, Trinidad, Baracoa and Santiago de Cuba. For further information this is the phone number of Viazul in Santiago de Cuba: 62 84 84. For more information check the current schedule.
- Cubana offers two daily flights between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Fare is about 135 CUC. Santiago de Cuba airport receives international flights as well. There is, for instance, a weekly connection with Jamaica, Santo Domingo and Haiti and a direct flight from Paris. Get informed at the web page of Cubana.
- Trucks and taxis circulate between cities and interesting sites around Santiago de Cuba. Among others there are connections between Santiago and Holguín, Bayamo and Guantánamo. Furthermore there are trucks via Siboney, Uvero and El Cobre. Most trucks departs in front of Astro bus station and Viazul in Plaza de la Revolución in Santiago de Cuba.