If you are on a budget & want to explore the hidden towns & cities of Cuba & meet local people, you should include Hotel Islazul Santiago Habana in your itinerary.
Santiago Habana hotel is right in the middle of historic Ciego de Avila & so ideally placed to explore its colonial features, parks & shops. And if you still want to spend some time at the beach then you are spoiled for choice, whether you go north or south.
Santiago Habana is a budget hotel but it is well looked after & provides adequate facilities for a comfortable stay, including a bar, cafe & restaurant. But best of all for those wanting to enjoy the warmth & fun of local people is the hotel’s popular La Cima disco, where you can party until the small hours.
Islazul Santiago Habana is a good base for exploring the north & south of the island. You may prefer somewhere else in the area if you are looking for a quieter stay, though a night or two at Santiago Habana will provide a memorable experience of authentic Cuba & its people.
The city, 460km east of Havana and 110km west of Camaguey, has developed as something of an historical halfway house; travellers used it as an overnight watering hole before continuing on to the islands of Trinidad and Santo Domingo in the 19th century.
An interesting place to visit is Parque Marti and a few blocks from there it is the Teatro Principal, a 500-seater theatre which is due to undergo further restoration works. This was built by a rich socialite, Angela Hernandez Viuda de Jimenez, who battled to create a cultural mecca in her home town.
The Museo Provincial on Calle Jose Antonio Eschevarria is worth a visit if you are interested in the area's role in the struggle to overthrow Batista while the Centro Provincial de Arte building on Calle Independencia may appeal to some. The Casa de la Trova on Libertad No 130 can occasionally deliver a raucous night out.
Traffic in the town is almost all horse-driven, and the longest possible journey should only cost a few pesos by pony trap. The town is built on a strict grid system centered on Parque Marti but there are few buildings of note, the most popular meeting place on the square is the Casa de Agua (Water House), which serves free glasses of the local mineral water, as well as homemade refrescos (soft drinks) and fruit juices.