Best things to do in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Cienfuegos is a city on the southern coast of Cuba. The city was founded by a French immigrant Don Luis de Clouet in 1819 and now is a must see town that is definitely worth a visit. This colourful city is famous for its beautiful landscapes, blue waters, beautiful little streets and natural parks. In 2005 Cienfuegos was placed on the World Heritage list as the best example of early 18th century Spanish Enlightenment in urban planning.

If you wish to travel to Cienfuegos to enjoy the beautiful beaches you must travel from January to April, in August and September the city holds festivals and nonstop parties. No matter when you choose to travel to Cienfuegos there are plenty of activities and fun things to do all year around. Your guided tours will allow you to see the towns longest promenade, parks, and museums later ending up at the beach or enjoying a drink at one of the local bars. The beautiful architecture, harbour and bay will allow you to experience the city during a long weekend trip which is plenty to see all the main attractions.

Stroll along the Malecon

Malecon is an 8 km long seawall along the bay of Cienfuegos famous amongst the locals as well as travellers a perfect place to meet up with friends, play music and maybe even join in a dance. Enjoy the fresh ocean breeze and enjoy the beautiful sunset. Even when the sun goes down the Malecon does not go dark, the streets shine with the lights from the stunning mansions such as Cienfuegos club or the Blue Plaza. Once you are done with the walk head to one of the restaurants where you can enjoy a meal accompanied by live music concert. The Malecon walk does not overlook the sea although the view of the Bay of Jagua is not half as bad. Two minute walk from the Malecon Boardwalk you can visit the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Refuge, or visit the Vallarta Art walk which is only 3 minutes from the Malecon.

José Martí Park

Jose Marti Park, listed as a National Monument, is the central park of the region of Cienfuegos, and is located in what used to be the town’s main square. The construction of the park ended in 1850 and it was used as old Arms Square (Plaza de Armas) and had several names. It is located in the San Fernando and San Carlos streets (54th and 56th avenues), between the Bouyón and Santa Isabel streets (25th and 29th).

Once you enter the park the view opens up to Cienfuegos Arc de Triomphe with its unique structure built to honour the independence of Cuba. The statue of José Martí was added in 1906, in tribute to the Cuban National Hero. Around the park you can see the Teatro Tomás Terry the national monument which has played host to luminaries including Sarah Bernhardt and Anna Pavlova,  Palace of Ferrer built in 1918 hosting art exhibits, concerts, and dance performances as well as Catedral de la Purísima Concepción with beautiful stained-glass Windows.

El nicho waterfalls

Located in the Sierra del Escambray mountains not far from Cienfuegos you can find one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Cuba.  Turquoise waters, series of waterfalls, river pools and the beauty of the forests and Tocororo bird chirping definitely makes El Nicho worth visiting. We suggest visiting the waterfall with a tour guide, the tours start from Cienfuegos and the ride takes approx. 2 and a half hours. El Nicho is open from 8am-5pm, and currently, the price is 10 CUC for adults. Once you arrive at the Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes park you will embark on a little hike through the woods, that is for all age groups as well as difficulties of levels. We recommend arriving early in the morning as the swimming pools at the waterfall tend to get very busy during the day. Keep in mind that there are limited facilities around the park, although it is possible to grab some snacks and water at a restaurant near the entrance, we suggest bringing swimwear, slippers, hats, as well as hiking boots for a more enjoyable hike and swim in the pool. The tours are available in Spanish, English and French.

Palacio de valle

Built from 1913 to 1917 by Asturian Acisclo Valle Blanco, The Palacio de Valle is one of the most important historic gems in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The villa was built using materials from Spain, Italy and the USA and it is a mix of Gothic, Mudejar, Byzantine, Venetian and Baroque styles. The architectural styles are diverse as the building was constructed and designed by French, Arab, Italian and Cuban artists. The buildings signature Moorish tiles, wooden carvings, roof tiles, turrets and stucco walls makes It a must visit when visiting Cienfuegos.

The building consists of two floors, the ground floor has a Gothic style hall as well as a spacious dining room while the second floor consists of terraces corridors and private rooms. The Palacio de Valle holds a lot of meaning for example the three towers symbolize strength, religion and love.

The Palacio de Valle has serves many purposes at some point the property was sold to be a casino, but now serves as a restaurant and a museum with a lovely bar-terrace. To learn more about the history and design of the palace make sure to visit at Avenue 37 (Prado ends) between 0 & 2. Punta Gorda. Cienfuegos, you can visit the palace every day.

Rancho luna

Once you have visited Cienfuegos and seen the beautiful bay it is time to head to the beach. Rancho Luna is located only 18 kilometres from Cienfuegos which is only a short car ride away. Don’t be tricked of the size of the beach area, the Rancho Luna has plenty of fun activities. If you are a fan of snorkelling, swimming, scuba diving, beach volleyball or simply laying in the sun Rancho Luna is the beach for you. The depth of the beach varies from 6-40 meters and there are more than 30 available diving areas, Rancho Luna also provides diving courses. If you wish to get to Rancho Luna you can catch a bus which departs daily from Cienfuegos, other options include shared taxi or renting a car.

For animal lovers Rancho Luna Delfinario offers tourists a chance to swim with the dolphins that have been trained to do various tricks like lifting the visitors above the water. The dolphin shows as well as the swimming opportunities are for all age groups and it is open every day from 9:30 am to 4 pm, except on Wednesday. It has two shows, one at 10 am and another at 2 pm.