Cienfuegos is called the Pearl of the South with good reason. This city on Cuba’s south coast has so much class! It has amazing colonial architecture and chique avenues. It feels like a world apart from all other places we visited in Cuba. Cienfuegos is often skipped by tourists, but it truly stole our heart. Let me tell and show you why!
Parque Jose Marti
This park is in reality more of a square, surrounded by colonial properties, a church and a theatre. Especially the Ferrer Palace, built by a sugar magnate, catches the eye. It is a blue building with a small gazebo on the roof that can be climbed for great views. At least, that’s what we were told. We tried visiting three times during our stay but were told everytime the palace would be open “Mañana”… It was pretty from outside too though!
Teatro Tomas Terry
Another building that’s already beautiful from the outside, but for just a small fee, you can see the even more impressive interior. The auditorium feels like you step back in time, with a fresco on the ceiling and lots of hand-carved wood.
Sunset from Hotel La Union’s rooftop
In each city we visit, we try to find a good spot to watch the sunset from. In Cienfuegos we opted for the rooftop terrace of Hotel La Union, offering views over the Jose Marti square. We both ordered a cocktail, found a comfy seat and enjoyed the spectacle. It was absolutely stunning, see below pictures for proof!
Palacio del Valle
Cienfuegos has two parts: the central city and “Punta Gorda”, a small zone by the bay. Both parts are connected by the Malecon. On our last day in Cienfuegos we walked to Punta Gorda via the Malecon, and visited the Palacio de Valle. This palace has an arabic feel to it and is an eclectic mixture of architecture styles. You can visit the palace and have a drink on the rooftop terrace, offering ocean views. Probably another great place to watch the sunset from! We took a bico taxi back.
Paseo del Prado
This avenue connects the central and Punta Gorda part of Cienfuegos. The part of Paseo del Prado in central is lined with beautiful colonial houses. It is nice to just take a stroll along this avenue and sit on one of the many benches to do some people watching. We had dinner along this avenue every night and found the food here very tasty and affordable. The first night we ate at Dona Nora (highly recommended). We waited for our table drinking a cocktail on the rooftop terrace, with a great view on the avenue below.
We also tried a Cuban pizza from a small stall on this avenue for lunch. I can’t remember the name (if it even has one), but you can easily recognize it by the line of Cubans waiting for their pizza! The stall can only bake a few pizza’s at a time so you have to be very, very patient, but the pizza was tasty and prices are ridiculously low (around 15 cents, bring pesos).
Colonial casas particulares
In Cuba, we only stayed at casas particulares: rooms rented out by Cuban families. The one we stayed at in Cienfuegos, Hostal Lagarto Ciudad, was a colonial house with a wonderful balcony and a quirky interior. A great way to see what these houses look like on the inside.
So, hopefully you now understand why we are so enthusiastic about this city! Let me know if you have any questions.