Santiago de Cuba

The church in Santaiago de Cuba's main square

Santiago de Cuba is the capital of the Santiago de Cuba province in south-eastern Cuba.

Understand

Santiago is the second city of Cuba, and the birthplace of the current government. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara launched their revolutionary movement from here in the 1950's.

Get in

By plane

Cubana flies in from Havana several times daily for $110 each way.

There is also a weekly Service from Montego Bay, and a twice weekly service from Kingston, Jamaica on Air Jamaica Shuttle . The Cost of a return journey is approximately US$360 (June 2012)

Sunrise airlines flies to Santiago de Cuba from Port-au-Prince some 3 times per week for about $400 (round trip) (June 2025)

By train

Overnight train service along the main line from Havana via Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Camagüey runs 2 of every 3 days. The Tren Francés, running every 3 days with refurbished coaches from the old Paris-Amsterdam service, is Cuba's premier train, and the most reliable train in Cuba (which is not to say it is reliable). It theoretically departs Havana at 6:27 PM and arrives in Santiago the next day at 9:12 AM, stopping overnight in Santa Clara and Camagüey. The other train is a simple express with a few more stops and also runs every three days. One-way from Havana on the Tren Francés costs $73 CUC in first class (which is well worth it) and $50 CUC in second class (called especial), while especial on the other train costs $30 CUC. Note that unlike Víazul, students studying in Cuba pay in pesos. There are other services, such as a daytime train to Camagüey and Santa Clara on Thursdays and Sundays, returning on Mondays and Fridays. Local train service to Holguin has been suspended due to poor track conditions. As elsewhere in Cuba, check in advance before planning train travel–the schedules are always in flux. And expect to arrive late, maybe by more than 10 hours, even on the Tren Francés. Santiago's train station is on the relative outskirts of town, so you'll want a taxi or bici-taxi to your accommodations.

By bus

Four daily Viazul buses run to/from Havana, three local and one express (stopping in Camagüey only). There is also a daily bus to Baracoa, another to Trinidad (which runs daytime to Santiago and overnight to Trinidad), and a daily overnight from Varadero. From Havana, the price is $51 CUC. Getting to Santiago from Havana takes about 15 hours on the local bus, and 12 hours on the express overnight.

See

San Pedro de la Roca

Do

Learn

If you want to learn Spanish during your stay in Santiago de Cuba you can take an Intensive Spanish course from one week up to four weeks. The classes are held 4 hours per day and give you the opportunity to improve your Spanish quickly during a short time period.

Eat

Santiago is a good place to try Lechón.

Budget

Drink

Hotel Casa Granda Drinks on the 6th floor roof top give you a spectacular view of the city at night.

Sleep

New in June 2015: AirBnB.com offers now peer-to-peer lodging, typically around US$35 per night. There are also many other AirBnB-like reservation websites, search for "casa particulates in XYZ".

Budget

Casas Particulares

As is generally the case with booking casas in Cuba, don't assume the email works! It's often best to make a phone call once in Cuba.

Splurge

Connect

The local newspaper is Sierra Maestra.

Cope

More so than most other places in Cuba, Santiago is full of touts. The touting starts right at the bus or train station (arrange a ride to your casa or hotel in advance, if possible), but no matter where you go you'll constantly hear calls of ¿Quieres un taxí?.

Go next

El Cobre, home to the holiest virgin in Cuba, is a worthwhile day trip from Santiago. The usual next stop on the Eastern Cuba tourist trail is Baracoa, though some travelers head west to Bayamo and the attractions of Granma Province instead.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, June 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.