Santiago de Cuba – City Guide for Nomads and Expats

The second-largest city in Cuba and the birthplace of the revolution. 

Many Haitians and Jamaicans settled here before Fidel took power, so there is a noticeable black population. The city is older than Havana, and its age is reflected in its deteriorating buildings and rustic dwellings. The city feels bigger than Camaguey, and the layout of the city is more straightforward. Like most of the country, the people here are friendly and outgoing! You’ll need a visa to visit Cuba, so reminder to get a Green or Pink Tourist Card before you go.

POPULATION: 475,000

 

WEATHER

Tropical savannah (20-30 °C). Rarely dips below 20 °C

 

SAFETY IN SANTIAGO, CUBA

A bit sketchy, but only by Cuban standards. Petty theft occurs here more often than in other Cuban cities, so keep an eye on your goods. Violent crime is rare but not unheard of.

 

DAY TRIPS & THINGS TO DO IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA

Check out Vista Alegre. Take a stroll through the formerly posh pre-revolution neighbourhood.

Visit the Bacardi Rum Factory. This is a must, of course.

Visit the Casa de la Cultura Miguel Matamoros.

Visit the Museo de Historia 26 de Julio, a museum dedicated to the Cuban revolution..

Visit the Padre Pico Steps. This is a great place to take Instagram photos.

 

RENT AN APARTMENT IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA

$500.00 – $600.00 for a month in a casa particular.

 

NIGHTLIFE IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA

6.25/10 

As is the case for all of Cuba, going out for a local is much different than going out for a tourist like yourself. For a local here, I imagine it would be quite good, but you will have to deal with higher prices, and not feeling welcomed in certain Cuban-oriented establishments.

I recommend: Club 300 for something more casual. Bello Bar for something classy. Any hotel bar is a good choice for an upscale scene.

 

DATING IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA

5.75/10 

Many prostitutes (especially in Club 300), and basically no girls who will give it up without expecting something in return (money, usually). You can hook-up here, but you’re going to have to pay for it in some way. Many normal girls here are quasi-prozzies.


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GROCERIES

Milk (1L)= $1.25   Loaf of Bread= $0.35   Eggs= $0.70   Water (1.5L)= $1.00   Cigarettes= $1.00

 

TAXI

Tourist taxis will run you $1.00-$2.00, but bicycle taxis for short distances more better options. For these you’ll pay under $1.00.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Santiago is a lively city with a lot of character and a good vibe. It’s not my favourite Cuban city, but I’d recommend it over Cienfuegos or touristy Trinidad. Like Santa Clara, it is best to spend a few days here to really get a feel for things. I don’t doubt that you’ll have a good time.

Still need your Cuban visa? MyLatinLife recommends EasyTouristCard.com for getting your Green or Pink Tourist Card. 


OVERALL RATING: 7/10


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