Known as ‘The Pearl of the South’, Cienfuegos is a small city overlooking a large Caribbean bay, which served as a refuge against storms for explorers and pirates long ago. In 1745 the ‘Castillo de Jagua’ was built at the entrance to the bay for protection against Caribbean pirates and the colonial town was later founded in 1819. Initially settled by French immigrants, Cienfuegos became one of the chief seaports of the Cuban sugar, coffee, and tobacco trades. This rich and culturally diverse heritage has left an eclectic legacy of French influenced colonial and neo-classical style buildings in the UNESCO listed historic centre. The beautiful bay, historic buildings, and harbour front Malecón make it a wonderful city to explore for one or two nights.
DISCOVER THE CITY
In the busy centre is Parque Jose Marti, here you will find locals relaxing under the shade of a tree. Surrounding the park are a variety of buildings of interest including the ornate Teatro Tomas Terry and the Paseo del Prado. The longest boulevard in Cuba is close by, also lined by many beautiful buildings.
PALACIO DE VALLE
Along the bay, just outside of the centre is a beautiful old Moorish style palace called Palacio de Valle. This building is well worth a visit to see the stunning architecture, or you may want to enjoy a meal in the restaurant or have sunset drinks at the rooftop bar. The palace is in the Punta Gorda area of Cienfuegos, a narrow headland in the bay. Here you can find many excellent Casas Particulares and private restaurants, and visitors and locals enjoy spending time in this area.
In the evening there is a good choice of venues to listen to traditional Cuban music throughout this small city, and Cienfuegos has a strong link to Cuban music as it was the home to the world-famous musician Beny More.
Within a short drive of Cienfuegos, you can find unspoilt beaches, ideal for a peaceful walk, swim or relaxation and the foothills of the Escambray Mountains are also not too far away. Cienfuegos also boasts one of the largest botanical gardens in the Americas on the outskirts of the city, and another off the beaten track location is the small bay popular with hundreds of flamingos.
Take a leisurely boat trip around the bay and see exceptional views of the city, the keys, and the coast. Visit the Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua Fortress, built in 1745. Cienfuegos’s Botanical Gardens are one of Cuba’s largest gardens, and also the oldest on the island. Visit Guanaroca Lagoon, a bird watcher’s paradise, and home to more than 170 varieties of bird including pelicans, hummingbirds, and most notably a colony of flamingos. El Nicho Park is a marvel of nature with dozens of waterfalls and natural pools in an area virtually untouched, hidden among the mountains and one of the most beautiful spots in Cuba.
Formerly known as ‘paladars’, Cuba’s privately owned restaurants, are highly recommended and undoubtedly offer great food. These sought after eateries range from hip to elegant, offer varying cuisines, creative menus, have passionate owners, and are great for foodies. Talk to us about our favourites suitable for groups including a rooftop venue with arguably the best views in Cienfuegos.
There is an abundance of interesting and varied venues to host groups in Cienfuegos including Villa Logarto or Restaurant Camilla, both located bay front in Punta Gorda a short car ride from the centre of town. Other ideas include Restaurante 40&41, a cool eatery with delicious cocktails and suitable for a small group, or the Museo de las Artes Palacio Ferrer a traditional and beautiful venue.