Five reasons to visit Cuba this year
When people think of Cuba they probably think cigars, Castro and Che Guevara, but holidays there these days are more of a revelation than a revolution.
Today's Cuba is flourishing as a tourist destination and has all the modern comforts you would expect to find in the Med - not to mention 300 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 25 degrees!
As it opens its doors further to the western world, 2016 is set to be one of the best years yet for tourism in Cuba and with this in mind the Flexicover team highlights some great reasons to visit the largest island in the Caribbean.
The Americans are coming
The reason to make an imminent trip has moved on from ‘before it changes’ to ‘before the Americans come’. Not that we’re worried about our American brethren themselves, rather the numbers: 10 million extra tourists are expected to land when the fence between the two neighbours is taken away. In a country that’s already seen visitor numbers rise 18 per cent in the last year, the demand is expected to cause a surge in prices, and make picturesque locations like Vinales and Gibara heaving with snap-happy tourists. If you can make it before, you’re likely to have a better experience for it.
Havana International Theatre Festival
Now in its 18th year, 2016’s instalment of Havana’s International Theatre Festival will take place over 10 days around October, and it’s set to build on its reputation for bringing together an interesting bill of theatre groups from across the globe. Even for those with minimal interest in theatre, it’s worth coinciding a visit as the creative influx and free street theatre makes Havana a buzzy place - not that it really needs any help on that score.
Airbnb has arrived
If any country was ripe for an Airbnb intervention, it’s Cuba. Apart from large hotels, tourist accommodation is formed of homestays, which has traditionally been difficult to organise and heavily dependent on guidebook recommendations. For example one of our team’s personal experience wasn’t great with plenty of unanswered emails and expensive calls to Cuba, only to result in a last minute cancellation after the casa particulares host double-booked. So the homestay-booking agency where location, prices and reviews are easily displayed is a blessing, and allows visitors to choose their accommodation according to need rather than lack of alternatives.
The Gran Teatro reopens
Havana has a rich architectural history – everything from the UNESCO-protected houses in Habana Vieja to the splendid complexes in the well-to-do area of Miramar are certainly worth a look. But few places come close to The Gran Teatro, the centre of Cuba’s dance world. After several years of renovations, the theatre reopened in January, and serves as a rare example of lavish expenditure in a communist country. As if its impressive exterior wasn’t enough, the opulent building contains a beautiful main theatre for 1,500 spectators, plus two smaller theatres for opera, film and more.
The food is on the up
For a long time, trade restrictions meant even the most basic food was limited in Cuba. Food of any description was in short supply, brands just didn’t exist, and even tourist-friendly hotels – which were able to take their pick of the country’s best ingredients - struggled to add flavour to their food. So it’s a sign of the times that famed chefs Massimo Bottura, Enrique Olvera and Andoni Luis Aduriz are opening a restaurant in the capital this year. Better still, restrictions on Paladres – home restaurants – are loosening and markets are busying with more ingredients than ever. So now, we can expect cuisine just as rich as the culture.
With its gorgeous architecture and one-of-a-kind culture making the trip to experience what Cuba has to offer is bound not to disappoint. And while some travel insurance providers don’t cover Cuba as a destination, we do.
So wherever you head to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day while away.