A Guide to Santa Clara: Cuba’s Most Revolutionary City

Though often overshadowed by Havana and other coastal hotspots, Santa Clara is a gem in the middle of rural Cuba. Discover important historical monuments and why it’s often deemed the country’s most revolutionary city.


Photo © Evie Cheung

Best Places to Stay in Santa Clara

In Cuba, there are two options for lodging. The first is your typical hotel. Hotels tend to be pricey in Cuba, as they cater to tourists.

The second is called a casa particular, which you can think of as a Cuban homestay. Some Cubans rent out a room in their home or an entire apartment. This is a great way to get an authentic Cuban experience and see what it’s like to really live in Santa Clara.

Parque Vidal at night. Photo credit: Evie Cheung

To book a casa particular, you can call from an international phone or once you’re in the country. You can also book many of them now through Airbnb.

Some of our favorites are Hostal Familia Sarmiento, where the owner of the house is a talented photographer, and Hostal D’Cordero, where each room has its own personality and unique decor.

Most of the available lodging is close to the central town square, where the famous Parque Vidal is.

Getting To Santa Clara

Many airlines from the U.S. now offer direct flights to Santa Clara. Once you’re in Cuba, there are also several domestic flights from the bigger cities.

However, we recommend getting to Santa Clara by car or bus. A great way to see Cuba is to rent a car through a company like Transtur or Via Rent-A-Car. You can also hire a driver from city to city. Prices will vary depending on where you are traveling from.

One of the most economical and comfortable ways to travel from city to city in Cuba is by coach bus through a company like Viazul. If you have your schedule figured out, you can purchase tickets ahead of time online—just be sure to bring a printout of your ticket with you to the station.

You can also buy your tickets at the station too, but be warned about potentially long lines.

Getting Around Santa Clara

Because Santa Clara is a small city, you can get most places just by walking. If you’re not feeling the Cuban heat, you can also hire a horse-drawn carriage from town square. Be aware that cars are not allowed in the town square, in an effort to preserve the historic streets and architecture.

Local Experiences

The Battle of Santa Clara marked the rebels’ victory over Fulgencio Batista’s regime. The revolutionary spirit is still seen across the city, with many historical sites, such as The Armored Train and Che Guevara’s burial site.

If you want a truly unique experience, pay a visit to El Mejunje, Santa Clara’s cultural center. There, you can meet prominent members of Cuba’s LGBTQ community and visit the art galleries. If you want more art, be sure to check out the MelaÍto Murals and Museo de Arte Decorativos.

Annual Pride Parade marching through the town square in Santa Clara. Photo credit: Evie Cheung

Of course, remember that there is nothing more Cuban than enjoying a coffee or cafecito in the sun with some locals at any time of day.

Heading to Cuba? Download our FREE Insider’s Guide!

Put down the cigars and step out of the vintage cars! Explore historical sites of revolution, taste peso food, or go diving among vibrant marine life.

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