We’re back from a recent trip to Holguin in Cuba and here are 5 things not to miss when you visit the city.
Hire a Cadillac
If you can, you absolutely have to ride in an old American car, as your tour parts of Holguin. Cuba is famous for its old American cars and there are plenty of immaculate Cadillac’s and Buick’s that you can hire, with a driver, for the day. These cars have been passed down family generations and are looked after like old relatives. We hired Alberto, ‘Tito’ to his friends, for the day and his gorgeous 1954 bright red Cadillac. Tito didn’t just drive us though, he gave us a proper tour from our hotel to the city of Holguin, which was about an hour’s drive. Stopping along the way at viewpoints and places of interest, Tito gave us a taste of the real Cuba. He also helped us discover some of the other things not to miss in Holguin. We even met his family and he took us to his house for coffee.
Hiring the Cadillac with Tito for the day cost about 70 CUC. There were plenty of cars in front of our hotel and we took a recommendation on who to hire.
Loma de la Cruz – cross on the hill
If you want a great viewpoint across the city of Holguin, then Loma de la Cruz is the place to go up to. You can also combine it with a bit of exercise and the 458 steps to walk back down to the centre! The wooden cross on top of the hill is said to have carried there in 1790 by a Friar from the Franciscan community. There is now a café, fort and art gallery at the top, a few stalls and a band playing, who might want a tip. We were left to enjoy the view, but I’ve read varying reports about being hassled to buy things or tip people up there. We had no problems. The 458 steps were quite a climb down in blazing heat but there were handy little benches for a rest at regular intervals. Our driver waited for us at the bottom of the steps to continue our tour of Holguin. Despite my China trek training my legs were like wobbly jelly!
La Bodeguita del Medio Bar
One of the oldest bars in Holguin and famous for the Mojito, which just happens to be my favourite drink. It was closed when we first walked past, but Tito hammered on the door and got them to open up for us! Full of character this bar has been frequented by celebrities and everyone is given a pen to add their name or message on the wall. We happily obliged and the Mojito’s were lovely! Three homemade lemonade frappes and two Mojito’s cost us about 12 CUC (£9.35 ish) which was really cheap.
In a little side street in the centre of Holguin is the very popular 1910 restaurant. With tradition food and enormous portions, it was easy to see why it was so popular. The menu is quite extensive with pages of meats and side dishes to choose from. The deep-fried cheesy croquettes with pineapple sauce were delicious. I was only sorry I couldn’t eat it all. We should have asked for a kid’s menu too, but my Son did a good job of polishing off his beef steak. Top tip would be to share a main meal between two of you!
Parque Calixito Garcia
Holguin is known as the city of parks and there are some really pretty ones including Parque Las Flores – Flower park, where the flower sellers can be found. The tradition Cuban buildings surrounding the square, a church, and there is usually a monument to a Cuba hero. The park Calixito Garcia, one of the first parks, is interesting because one of the walls on the surrounding building has a huge metal sculpture on the side. Called ‘Origenes’, it depicts the history of Cuba from when Christopher Columbus first set foot on Cuba, to the revolution and independence, with Calixito Garcia a Cuban hero of the revolution at its centre.
We really enjoyed our day in Holguin. Look out for art and sculptures on roofs and down side streets, pop into one of the many churches, we saw a queue of exquisitely dressed babies being baptized, take a moment and people watch! We felt really safe in Holguin, it was lovely and clean and anyone who did approach us were very polite if we didn’t want to buy anything.
If cities aren’t your thing and you fancy something a bit more exhilarating, then why not read about the 4×4 challenge adventure we had!
Have you visited Cuba? Do you like walking around learning the history of places you visit? Let me know in the comments.