A vibrant and energetic city, Santiago features a variety of attractions that has made a huge impact on the literature, arts, and other cultural facets of Cuba. Those interested in going here can visit the city via Antonio Maceo Airport. The airport has a number of international flights connecting to various cities in the Americas, making it relatively convenient to reach this area in the southern part of the country.
Although mainly a turbo-prop centre, this port of entry can accommodate a number of jet aircraft. It has two runways respectively measuring 13,130 ft and 4,593 ft long, which allows it to handle about 20 international flights, as well as its regular domestic aircraft movements every week. More airlines are expressing interest in connecting to Antonio Maceo Airport, though, which might make it easier to travel to Santiago in the future.
What to see & do
Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city in the country, offers a treasury of historical and cultural landmarks to appreciate. Old architecture from the forts and colonial structures mix with new buildings and industrial developments in the city. A young population also forms the majority in the city, as one of Cuba's most prominent universities is based here. Travellers confused on where to start exploring can check out Castillo de San Pedro del Morro, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Perched upon a cliff top, this old landmark is one of the best-preserved Spanish fortresses that date back to the 17th century. Those going here will now find a museum showing displays on piracy and the history of the area. It is best to visit the Castillo around sunset, however, to best enjoy the views and witness a cannon firing ceremony.
From here, one can turn to Parque Cespedes in the city centre. It makes an excellent location to start sightseeing, as various landmarks surround the square such as the Catedral de Nuestra de Señora de la Asuncion. The church is especially beautiful, with the Museo Eclesiastico welcoming visitors aiming to view religious artworks. One will also find in the area the Casa de Diego Velazquez, a former conquistador's house in the 1500s. One will find here the Museo de Ambiente Historico Cubano, which features a large furniture collection from the 16th to 19th century. The displays are impressive, with the porcelain, glass, and household items that somehow bring the feel of the ancient past. Those going to the basement will also see a gold foundry here, which demonstrates the wealth of the conquistador.
Those who want to see more of the history of Cuba can turn to the Cuartel Mocada, which houses the Museo Historico 26 de Julio. This is where the rebel forces led by Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara attacked and sought to seize weapons. Although they failed, many mark the occasion as the start of the Revolution. Visitors eager to learn can head on to the Plaza de la Revolucion, where various important events were held. Fidel Castro delivered speeches here, as well as Pope John Paul II, who once celebrated a mass on the grounds. One will also find here a statue of General Antonio Marceo, who is honoured for his deeds as a 19th-century war hero.
How to get around
Travellers will find a variety of public transportation in Santiago de Cuba. One can board the city buses that go around certain landmarks, depending on their assigned route. Camiones or trucks also run along fixed routes, allowing for convenient rides for those who need convenient transport. Taxis are also available in large numbers, which make it easier for travellers with many pieces of luggage to go around. It can be difficult to hire a car, however, due to the unequal number of supply faced with huge demand. Travellers will have to enquire around the airport and other nearby establishments if they are determined to drive around on their own.
How to get there
Those planning to visit Santiago can schedule connecting flights to Antonio Maceo Airport. Airlines serving here include Aero Caribbean, Aerogaviota, Cubana de Aviacion, Sunrise Airways, and Sunwing Airlines. They transport passengers between Cayo Coco, Havana, Holguin, Montreal-Trudeau, Port-au-Prince, Santo Domingo, Toronto-Pearson, and Varadero.
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Airports near Santiago
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