Santiago de Cuba lives and breathes music. Between the dusty streets of this easterly city, nestled at the foot of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, the majority of Cuban music genres – from salsa to son – were born. Cuba’s second largest city is an explosion of colour and culture, which is no better epitomised than during the annual Carnival in July with non-stop street fiestas and intoxicating music.
Santiago de Cuba is also an important stop on the revolutionary trail: this is where Fidel Castro and his army rose to arms in 1953, and you can visit museums and prominent sights like the Moncada barracks today. Then there’s the Sierra Maestra to the west, which sheltered Fidel during his fugitive years, which makes for a fantastic day trip from the city. Admire the view of the coast on the drive, climb Cuba’s tallest peak at Pico Turquino and explore historical coffee plantations: you might just get it all to yourself.