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Epic colonial architecture, libidinous young salsa dancers, Che Guevara murals, white-powder sandy beaches, swaying fields of sugar cane - the images of Cuba are as transfixing as they are timeless. This is an island of unique historical heritage floating amid a sea of encroaching globalisation.
Travel in Cuba can involve anything from sipping mojittos at an all-inclusive resort in Varadero to scraping the spit and sawdust off your shoes outside the Casa de las Tradiciones in Santiago. The burgeoning tourist sector rubs up against the Cuba of communist myth.
When To Go
The best time to go to Cuba is between December and April, after the lashing rains of the hurricane season and before the hot and sticky discomfort of the scorching summer months. However this is also when planeloads of Canadians and Europeans arrive in pursuit of the southern sun, and room prices soar by up to 20%. Cubans take their holidays in July and August, so local beaches are very crowded at this time. Christmas, Easter and the period around 26 July, when Cubans celebrate the anniversary of the revolution, are also very busy. August to November is the worst time for hurricanes, while the winter months can bring in cold fronts when temperatures in the north and west of the island can dip under 15ºC (60°F).
Weather aside, Cuba has few other hurdles for visitors. Culture vultures should keep a close eye on the annual arts calendar for festivals and events; baseball fans will certainly not want to miss the post season, which runs from April to May; and political junkies may want to catch important days in the socialist calendar, particularly Dia de los Trabajadores (Labor day; May 1) and Day of the National Rebellion (July 26).