Exploring History, Art & Culture in Santa Clara

Reading Time: 4 minutes There is something very intriguing about Santa Clara. Located right in the centre of Cuba, this vibrant city is steeped in history and culture. While Santa Clara owes its popularity to Cuba’s revolutionaries, the city also has a very edgy art and culture scene.  It is home to the country’s longest-running drag show, as well as playing host to regular exhibitions of political and satirical cartoons. In fact, a trip to Santa Clara shouldn’t just be about seeing the main sites, and you should also try spending some time exploring the city’s quirkier side. Although Santa Clara is one of the largest cities in Cuba, it has a very compact historical centre. Many of the city’s attractions are located along Parque Vidal. This large park is also a great place to just people-watch and absorb the city’s social life. Here are our top picks for things to do in Santa Clara. 1. Learn more about Che and the Cuban Revolution Santa Clara played an important role in the Cuban Revolution. The city was the last place to be captured by the revolutionaries – an event that marked the fall of Batista’s regime. If you want to learn more about the Revolution, a trip to Che Guevara’s mausoleum and statue is a must. The mausoleum contains the remains of Che Guevara and other guerilla fighters who were killed in Bolivia. Their remains were exhumed from a mass grave in Bolivia and buried in Santa Clara during a ceremony led by Fidel Castro. This outstanding landmark also houses a museum dedicated to Che and his legacy. A large statue of Che stands above the mausoleum and is a popular photo spot for visitors. Another significant site in Santa Clara is the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado – a monument and museum which mark the place where Che Guevara and his soldiers derailed a train carrying Batista’s troops by using a bulldozer. To this day, the train carriages and bulldozer remain in the same spot where the attack took place. 2. Visit Teatro de la Caridad Like many other Cuban cities, Santa Clara is home to several beautiful colonial-era buildings. One such place is Teatro de la Caridad, a Neoclassical theatre that was financed by Marta Abreu, who was the city’s benefactress in the late 1800s. It is one of the few remaining colonial theatres in Cuba and boasts an exquisite interior, with a stunning ceiling fresco and white marble structures. The theatre serves as the headquarters of several dance and music groups and is a popular venue for national and international performances. 3. See the street murals You don’t have to be an art aficionado to appreciate Santa Clara’s street murals. Melaíto, a local magazine, has been publishing caricatures and cartoons for over 50 years. In recent years, its artists have started displaying their work in public spaces. Street art with political themes grace some of the city’s walls. On Carretera Central you can find a strip of colourful (and sometimes satirical) murals, which you can visit on your way to Che’s mausoleum. The artwork changes regularly and often reflects a current political and global issue. 4. Enjoy a drink at La Marquesina Parque Vidal is the city’s social hub. This is where locals meet up for a chat. The cafes around the square are also a popular hangout among locals, especially local university students. Housed in Teatro de la Caridad, La Marquesina is a great place to just enjoy a nice cool drink. The cafe is open from early morning till after midnight and often hosts local bands. You can sit outside and watch the world go by, or just enjoy the live music indoors. 5. Explore local culture at La Casa de la Cuidad There is no shortage of cultural events in Santa Clara. One of the best places to explore the city’s culture scene is the recently renovated Casa de la Cuidad. This 19th-century dwelling is used as a cultural centre and plays host to various events throughout the year, including art exhibitions and traditional dance shows. It also houses a film museum. You can often find local musicians and dancers rehearsing in the house’s beautiful courtyard. Pop into the house to meet local artists and learn more about this interesting community project.

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How to Explore Cienfuegos Beyond the Main Plaza

Reading Time: 5 minutes Whether you want to spend a few days in Cienfuegos or visit the city on a day trip, there are several must-see attractions besides the famous historic centre.  Here are some of the best things to do in Cienfuegos.

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6 Amazing Things to Do in Las Terrazas

Reading Time: 6 minutes The beautiful nature reserve of Las Terrazas is often overlooked by visitors to Cuba. Nestled deep among the evergreen mountains of the Sierra del Rosario range, Las Terrazas lies between two major tourist destinations, Havana and Vinales. Despite being home to stunning scenery, a vibrant art scene and possibly the best coffee in Cuba, this small rural community remains a lesser-explored site, overshadowed by the popularity of nearby attractions. However, this is what makes Las Terrazas a truly hidden gem.

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Introducing Our New Assistant Travel Manager

Reading Time: 3 minutes Get to know our new Assistant Travel Manager, Helen, who started at Caledonia this month. She is excited to be heading out to Cuba next week!

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5 Must-Have Adventures in Viñales

Reading Time: 5 minutes Whether you want to smoke authentic Cuban cigars or venture into the Cuban wilderness, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Viñales. Here are our top picks.

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cuban farmer in tobacco field

Travel to Cuba from the US

Reading Time: 2 minutes Given the recent tightening of travel to Cuba from the US (announced on 4 June 2019), we would like to reassure you that you can still travel legally from the US to Cuba, or from a third country via a US airport to Cuba.   You can still have your dream trip in Cuba!  

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Exploring Havana Beyond the Guidebook

Reading Time: 8 minutes Want to get off the beaten path in Havana? From cycling through urban areas to taking music classes, here are 5 ways to explore Havana beyond the guidebook.

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8 Interesting and Little-Known Facts about Cuba

Reading Time: 5 minutes Cuba is known for its beautiful classic cars, world-famous revolutionaries and remarkable cigars, but there are many other things that make this Caribbean island such a fascinating place.Here are 8 interesting and little-known facts about Cuba.

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Taking dance classes in Cuba with Ballet Folklorico Cutumba

Taking Dance Classes in Cuba

Reading Time: 5 minutes Want to take dance classes in Cuba? Learn salsa, rumba and other Cuban dances with professional dancers from Ballet Folklorico Cutumba and learn to dance like a Cuban!

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Exploring Cuban Music in Santiago de Cuba

Reading Time: 6 minutes Music is the heart and soul of Santiago de Cuba. It fills the air day and night. You can hear music pulsing from open doors and windows as you walk through the city’s colourful streets, and on every corner you are likely to come across a group of musicians entertaining spectators with upbeat rhythms and hypnotic beats. Many passers-by stop to enjoy the music, while others sing along or move their body to the drum beats.

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green bird on a branch

6 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Eastern Cuba

Reading Time: 7 minutes Eastern Cuba is a hidden paradise. While the dreamy beach resorts of Varadero and the photogenic streets of Havana are teeming with tourists almost all year round, Cuba’s eastern region remains largely untouched by mass tourism. Here are six good reasons to visit eastern Cuba.

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Group of people on stairs, Santiago de Cuba

5 most frequently asked questions about Salsa holidays in Cuba

Reading Time: 4 minutes With almost twenty years experience of running Salsa holidays in Santiago de Cuba, we have had hundreds of people travelling with us over the years to learn how to dance salsa and other Cuban styles. Based on the questions we most get asked by people enquiring about our Salsa holidays in Cuba, we hope the following might be useful!

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Caledonia is recruiting!

Reading Time: 2 minutes Caledonia Worldwide has been operating since 1996 and is a small specialist tour operator focusing on cultural and educational travel. Over the last 5 years the business has seen steady growth, particularly for bookings to Cuba, and we are now looking for an enthusiastic individual to join our team in our bright, sunny offices in Leith, Edinburgh.

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Kath Bateman

Big change for Caledonia Worldwide

Reading Time: 1 minute Some of you will remember that we recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Caledonia Worldwide in Cuba with a big party in Edinburgh. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the event, whether on or off the stage.  We all had a fantastic night and here’s the official video with highlights from the evening:

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people walking under archway in sunshine

Gibara Film Festival, off the beaten track in Cuba

Reading Time: 4 minutes The Gibara Film Festival is off the beaten track in Cuba, in a small friendly town located at the end of a winding road heading northeast from Holguin. We have been intent on visiting this small town for several years after hearing about the popular annual film festival hosted each May, and it was definitely worth making the effort!

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Caledonia Worldwide celebrates 20 Years of Cultural Travel in Cuba

Comment are off

Reading Time: 3 minutes All those years ago, in February 1998, we launched the very first of our Cuban dance holidays, hoping that they would appeal to people who wanted to  learn to dance and also experience a slice of authentic Cuban culture. And here we are, 20 years on, celebrating 2 decades of  Cuban dance (and music) holidays with hundreds of happy travellers.

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In search of the real Cuba: A tailormade trip around La Isla Bella

Reading Time: 6 minutes Are you looking for a more culturally immersive holiday? Val recently travelled to Cuba on a tailormade holiday organised by Caledonia. Read on to find out more about her trip in search of the real Cuba and why escaping the from the gates of the beach resort is more rewarding.

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singers dressed in white giving a concert on stage

International Choir Festival Cuba – a musical adventure of a lifetime

Reading Time: 3 minutes If you love to sing and love to travel to exotic locations, this is the trip for you!  Santiago de Cuba, the second city of Cuba nestling in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, is the undisputed home of choral music in Cuba and hosts this well respected choir festival every two years. Join us from 28 Oct – 3 Nov 2019 for a musical experience of a lifetime.

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musicians in red tshirts with instruments

Why visit Cuba? The connection between Cuban culture and music

Reading Time: 5 minutes Are you ready for a cultural adventure in Cuba? Read our latest blog post by Patty who along with her husband Bob, took a tailormade trip to Cuba arranged by Caledonia. Both musicians, they became immersed into the world of Cuban music and fascinated by it’s presence in everyday life and culture.

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Learn Spanish in Havana: more than just learning a language!

Reading Time: 6 minutes Have you ever fancied going on holiday to Cuba and learning Spanish? Read our guest blog post by Val who enrolled on a Spanish course in Havana and gained much more than a new set of language skills!

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