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Sunday, October 1, 2023

New flight connects Yucatán to this underappreciated region of Cuba

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As in virtually all of Cuba, Santa Clara is a paradise for antique car aficionados. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Viva Aerobus has announced a new direct flight between Mérida and the laid-back historic Cuban city of Santa Clara. It’s a chance to explore one of Cuba’s most historically significant cities, particularly for followers of famous revolutionary leader Che Guevara.

This small city is known for its casual atmosphere, coffee houses and for being the location where the final battle of the Cuban revolution was fought in 1958, led by none other than Che Guevara.

The city is home to various cultural attractions, including museums and theaters. The Teatro La Caridad, a neoclassical theater built in 1885, offers performances ranging from theater to dance and music. The Museum of Decorative Arts displays an impressive collection of Cuban art and antiques.

Like in virtually every Cuban town and city, images of the revolution are everywhere. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Roughly 200 miles to the east of Havana, Santa Clara has a population of around 22,0000 people — around a 10th of the country’s booming capital. 

Santa Clara is closely associated with Che Guevara. Apart from the mausoleum, visitors can also explore the Tren Blindado Monument, which commemorates the derailment of an armored train during the revolution. The monument showcases the actual train cars used by the revolutionaries. 

Other popular attractions include the several beaches in the area. But it’s important to remember that, unlike Havana, Santa Clara is not a coastal city, with the closest beaches being about one hour away. 

Beaches near Santa Clara, like Cayo Santa María, tend to be much less crowded than those surrounding Havana or Varadero. Photo: Courtesy

Though US citizens are still technically not allowed to visit the Communist island for tourism, as of 2021, these rules appear to have been loosened considerably. 

Music is everywhere in Cuba, and a surprising amount of people make their livelihood this way. Make sure to tip generously. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

That said, visiting Cuba remains a thorny issue for many who consider such an activity as a means of support for the totalitarian regime. But especially outside of Havana, tourists usually rely on staying at private accommodations in Cuban homes and eating at “semi-formal” local restaurants, which is a real economic lifeline for many families on the island who depend on tourism. 

Flights will depart every Thursday. Viva Aerobus says travelers can expect the route to begin operating sometime this summer. 

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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