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Discovering Cienfuegos

May 12, 2020

Often called La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South), Cienfuegos is among Cuba’s finest treasures. The most remarkable sunsets bathe the city in vibrant hues. Locals walk along the bay side as boats and fisherman bob on the crystalline waters. More than a natural beauty, Cienfuegos is known for its French influence and rich history. Whether visiting Cuba for the first time or a frequent traveler to the island, there is much to discover in Cienfuegos.

Discovering Cienfuegos
The city of Cienfuegos proudly boasts a wide array of architectural influences dating back to the seventeenth century.

Located on the southern coast of Cuba, Cienfuegos is just three hours outside of Havana, perfect for a day trip or stop on the way to Trinidad.  The city, much smaller than the capital of Havana, offers a slower pace and beautiful oceanfront landscapes. Nature lovers can hike through the evergreen terrain bordering the city and discover misting waterfalls like El Nicho. The clear pools rippling beneath the cascading falls are always cool and refreshing.

Discovering Cienfuegos
El Nicho waterfalls in the province of Cienfuegos.

Like the rest of the captivating island, the history of Cienfuegos is layered and multifaceted. Taino (indigenous) people lived in the region before Spanish explorers arrived in the fifteenth century. Travelers today can witness the Spanish influence in structures like Castillo de Jagua, a fort constructed by the Spanish in 1745 to protect the bay against pirate invasions.  

Discovering Cienfuegos
The fortress Castillo de Jagua guards the bay of Cienfuegos.

It wasn’t until 1819 that the city of Cienfuegos was officially established. Shortly after, the city grew as European and US settlers immigrated there, many of whom where French. Evidence of the French settlers is apparent in the street names and intricate ironwork that decorate the city.

Today, Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting some of the largest clusters of Neoclassical architecture in the Caribbean. Cuba Candela travelers dive into the history of Cienfuegos and explore the architectural wonders on a leisurely city walking tour accompanied by the sea breeze. Local guides provide an authentic view of Cuba as they share their perspectives, answer travelers’ questions and tell about daily life on the island.

Cuba Candela’s special art tours give travelers inside access to up-and-coming artists in the area. Private shops offer souvenirs to take home and a chance to learn about local trades. Bay side restaurants serve delectable ocean views and the catch of the day. As you take in the warm hues of the Cienfuegos sunset and enjoy an authentic Cuban mojito, you can reflect on your adventure in La Perla del Sur and the many treasures you unearthed. 


architecture, cienfuegos, history, places to go in cuba