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Cienfuegos

Photo © Ronnito

Travel Guide Caribbean Cuba Cienfuegos

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Introduction

Cienfuegos , the Pearl of the South, is a small city in the Central Cuban province of Cienfuegos. The historic centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cienfuegos is the only city in Cuba that was founded by the French. As a result, it feels a little different than other Cuban cities, with wider streets. There are two main areas of interest to tourists; Pueblo Nuevo, the city centre; and Punta Gorda, a peninsula with lots of 1950's homes. It's a nice place to visit for a day or two, but after that, you might run out of things to do.

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Getting There

By Plane

Jaime González Airport has three flights a week: leaving Miami at 8:00am Mondays and Fridays, returning 10:45am; and leaving Miami 5:30pm Wednesdays and returning later in the evening.

By Train

There are two trains that run from Havana: a very slow daytime train (every second day) that returns the following day, and a somewhat faster late-evening train (every second day) that operates via Matanzas and returns overnight. Trains may also leave for Santa Clara (very) early in the morning and return in the evening, and leave for Santa Clara and Sancti Spiritus in the afternoon, returning the following morning. Check that the trains are running in advance.

By Car

From Trinidad it is about an hour, just stay by the coast most of the way. Not all turns are signposted.

By Bus

The two daily Viazul buses between Havana and Trinidad stop at Cienfuegos, as does the daily bus between Varadero, Santa Clara, and Trinidad. This last bus arrives from Varadero heading for Trinidad at noon, and arrives from Trinidad heading for Varadero at 4:00pm (it is missing from the Viazul website). Travellers heading east and wishing to catch the 8:00am Viazul bus from Trinidad to Santiago de Cuba can sometimes arrange for an early morning minivan through Viazul. Ask at the bus station.

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Getting Around

Both the centre and Punta Gorda are easy of walk around, but are about 3km apart. They are joined by Calle 37 (del Prado), which runs by the sea. If you don't fancy walking, the principle public transportation is coches or horse-drawn carts that seat 6 or 8 people. They go up and down Calle 37. The price is 1 CUP for Cubans or 1 CUC for tourists.

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Eat

  • Club Cienfuegos (Yacht Club). Quite touristy but pleasant to eat in the formal restaurant upstairs or the informal snack bar in the basement.
  • Palatino, Av 54 e/ calles 25 y 27 (south side of Parque Marti). Nice, quiet restaurant for lunch. The grilled tuna salad sandwiches are delicious!
  • Mi Ringcón, Av. 37, btw. 50 and 52, #5020. A small cafeteria catering for Cubans where you can have breakfast. Offers a variety of sandwichs, some juice and coffee. Try the Café Bonbón, a coffee made with condensed milk and choclate. Pay in National Pesos. CUC 0.04-0.50.
  • Restaurante, Calle 31, btw. 56 and 58 (on the right-hand side of # 5606, mint-colored door). Cuban restaurant that offers a variety of creol food as well as a vegetarian option on request. Pay in National Pesos. CUC 1-2.
  • Food stalls, Paseo del Prado (Cl 37) btw. Av 48 and 58. On the Paseo del Prado you will find a good number of Pizza stalls, icecream shops and juice vendors. All payed in National Pesos. CUC 0.10-0.50.
  • Te Quedara's, 3509 Boulevar (Avenue 54), ☎ +53 432 551105. 11:00-01:00. Bar and restaurant a few floors up. It has a small balcony where you can sit and study the life on Boulevar. Live music in the evenings. CUC 2-15.

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Drink

  • Benny More - A nightclub which features Salsa Music and dancing.
  • Palacio - Adjacent to the Hotel Jagua south of the Malecon, this is an amazing building, lavishly decorated in Moorish style. There is a fairly standard fare restaurant, but it is worth climbing to the rooftop bar for a drink sitting under an arched gazebo looking over the city and the harbour.

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Keep Connected

Internet

In many cities the only way for tourists to access the internet is through the government's communications centers. Look for buildings bearing the name "ETECSA", which stands for Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. ETECSA also has internet stations in some of the larger government hotels and resorts. The connection speed is comparable to analog dial-up speed in Havana or slower in smaller locations, at a cost of 6 CUC/hour. This is payable by purchasing a prepaid scratch card with a PIN code granting you access for one hour. The same card can be used throughout the country at any ETECSA terminal, allowing you to disconnect after your session and use the remaining time on the card further at the next hotel/city you go to.

WI-FI in hotels and restaurants is certainly uncommon if not non-existent and tourists should not rely on this being available when planning their means of communication.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Cuba is 53. To make an international call from Cuba, the code is 119. The emergency number is 116 and information number 113.

GSM cell phones will work in Cuba (900 MHz). Cuba is one of the most expensive countries in which to communicate. When bringing your own cellphone, incoming phonecalls to Cuba cost about $1/minute. Outgoing calls from Cuba are similarly expensive, and can be as high as $5 per minute for making international when roaming with your cellphone from overseas.

A better way is to rent cellphones, which is possible at several stores in Havana, including one in the airport. The rates are 9 CUC per day (6 CUC for the phone and 3 CUC for the SIM card), plus about 36 cents a minute for prepaid cards. If you bring an unlocked GSM phone operating at 900 MHz (or quad-band world phone) you can buy a SIM card for 111 CUC, plus your prepaid minutes. If you're staying two weeks or more it makes sense to bring a cheap phone, buy a SIM card and prepaid minutes, then give the phone to a Cuban friend when you leave. Cellphones are among the most desired items for Cubans (bring a case for the phone too, Cubans are very fussy about keeping their phones scratch-free). You will have to go to a cellphone store with your friend and sign a paper to give the phone to your friend.

Post

Correos de Cuba operates the Cuban postal service. They are generally quite slow, and delivery is never guaranteed. Mail is read by Cuba’s censors; avoid politically sensitive comments. Also, never send cash! Post offices (correos) usually are open weekdays 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturday 8:00am to 3:00pm, but hours can vary widely. Most tourist hotels accept mail for delivery as well, which might be a better option. International airmail (correo aereo) averages from at least 2 weeks to over one month, and even domestic posts might take 1-2 weeks. When mailing from Cuba, write at least the country destination in Spanish (as well). International postcards, cost CUC 0.50 to all destinations; letters cost CUC 0.80. Within Cuba, letters cost from 15 centavos (20 grams or less) to 2.05 pesos (up to 500 grams); postcards cost 10 centavos. Stamps are available in US dollars as well (if buying at hotels, this is actually your only option) and can be bought at hotels and blue and white kiosks labelled Correos de Cuba. Parcels from Cuba must be unwrapped for inspection. It is far better to send packages through an express courier service, like DHL or the Cuban local one (called EMS), although the same regulation applies.

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Accommodation in Cienfuegos

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This is version 9. Last edited at 3:37 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 5 articles link to this page.

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