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Places to Visit Details

Baracoa, Cuba

One of the highlights of eastern Cuba is beautiful Baracoa, the oldest city in the country. It was founded in 1511 in the province of Guantanamo, and construction began on the first church here around that time. Cut off from much of the outside world until the 1960s, when the La Farola highway was built, the city still has a remote feel. Today, visitors come here for the charming colonial architecture and lush countryside, where waterfalls and pretty beaches provide a cool counterpoint to the steamy jungle. The flat-topped peak of El Yunque presides over all this tropical beauty, beckoning hikers to take the guided ascent to its 589-meter summit. The hillside is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where rare birds and plants thrive.

To really appreciate the spectacular scenery, take a drive down the winding La Farola highway, a 49-kilometer stretch from Baracoa over the mountains to Cajobabo. The Museo Municipal is also worth a look. Housed in the Fuerte Matachin military fortress, it provides a glimpse of Baracoa's fascinating history, and the fort itself offers great views over the bay. About 20 kilometers northwest of Baracoa is one of the area's best beaches, picture-perfect Playa Maguana. If you're adventurous, you can rent a bicycle in Baracoa and peddle out here. Flights to Baracoa depart frequently from Havana.

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