Influenced by African and Caribbean cultures, Cuba’s cultural capital Santiago is far closer geographically to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than Havana.
Crumbling, yet magnificently reminiscent of Cuba’s heyday, the Spanish colonial historic centre is best explored on foot. Santiago is rebellious and charismatic – Fidel Castro began his revolution here. The birthplace of salsa, the streets are filled with rhythm, day and night. Carnaval celebrations in July see vibrantly coloured percussion parades and dancers pass through the city’s winding streets.
Bordered by the Sierra Maestra, Santiago is an excellent launch pad for hiking and mountaineering expeditions. To the other side, Santiago de Cuba is flanked by Caribbean shores, Playa Baracoa being our favourite.