It's hard to beat the spirit and beauty of this largest of the Caribbean islands, and while the tourism boom of the last few decades has brought plenty of new hotels, you'll still come across moustachioed cowboys, classic American cars and old ladies smoking cigars on the Malecón. This is also, according to a WWF report, the only country in the world meeting their criteria of sustainable development.
This improbable combination of transformation and stasis is symbolic of a country riddled with contradictions and ironies. In a place where taxi drivers earn more than doctors, and where capitalist reforms are seen as the answer to preserving socialist ideals, understanding Cuba is not easy, but it's worth a try!
Things to do with kids in Cuba
Discover the capital Havana, an amazing place crammed with crumbling Spanish mansions, with large families living amongst the falling masonry. Its narrow streets, countless churches, cobblestone plazas and 16th-century fortresses make it one of the most complete colonial urban centres in the Americas. Its people are the descendants of slaves, pirates, colonists, planters and sea-farers, and there's music, dance and song on every street corner. Walk along the Malecón before dinner to feel the wind on your face and watch the waves crashing up against the seawall.
Hire a 1950s car and travel to one of the white sandy beaches near Havana, or down to Trinidad with its French/Haitian history – a beautiful spot with music and dance to rival Havana.
Venture to spectacular Baracoa, long isolated because it was accessible only by sea. The only place where the original indigenous Cuban population still live, it's set at the foot of the hills, by the sea, surrounded by plantations of cocoa trees – you drive through the Cuchillas de Baracoa mountains to get there.
Landscape in Cuba.
Finding somewhere good to eat in Cuba can sometimes be a challenge, especially with fussy kids – partly because of the poverty and partly because nearly everything that is eaten here has been grown or caught on the island.
But when you do find a good restaurant, the fruit and veg will be fresh and usually organic, the chicken, pork, rabbit and beef will have come from a local free-range farm, and the fish will probably have been caught that morning (don't be surprised to whispered at from corners about illegal lobster feasts). About 70% of the veg and herbs grown on the island today are organically grown in urban gardens within walking distance of those who will consume them.
A local village.
When to go to Cuba
The best (and hence most expensive) time for holidays in Cuba is December to April, to avoid storms and hurricanes plus the uncomfortable sticky heat of the the Cuban summer.
Fun in the sea in Cuba.
Cuba might not be the budget family holiday destination that you expect given the poverty of its people, with most families likely to stay in an upmarket resort hotel (see Places to Stay tab) or to come on an organised family adventure holiday (see Trips tab). All-inclusive package holidays can work well with kids on an island not known for its great cuisine.
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Flying time0hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.
Carbon footprint8.48 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.
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