Situated midway between Santiago de Cuba and Santa Clara, Camagüey makes an ideal stopover for a day or two. Renowned for its colonial architecture, nature reserves, earthen pots and twisting streets, you’ll want to explore Camagüey for days on end. But even if you only have 24 hours, you can still get a taste of what the island’s third largest city has to offer.
Get Back to Nature
Morning is an ideal time to view wildlife outside Camagüey. You’ll find one of the premier reserves along the road into the city coming from Santiago de Cuba. Sierra del Chorrillo is a ranch turned bird reserve that shelters rare species such as the giant kingbird and Cuban parakeet. Take a walk along the birding trail and you’ll see zunzuns, herons and other local species, as well as a petrified forest dating back 3 million years.
The Soul of the City
Spend the bulk of the day exploring the city’s twisting streets, with their hidden plazas and towering churches. Start at the north end of the historic district at Plaza Joaquin de Aguero where you can shop at the Mercado El Bosque under the shade of tall trees, or take a history tour that begins at the Joaquín de Agüero House of Culture. If you prefer to explore on your own, an abundance of bicycle taxis make it easy to get around and spend as much time as you like at each site.
Just for Fun
When it’s time to relax in the shade, grab a taxi and head for Camagüey’s newest park, El Lago de los Suenos. The “Lake of Dreams” provides more than a square mile of creative recreational space centered on baseball, canoeing, volleyball and other sports. You’ll find aircraft and trains on display, boat rides on the lake, a colorful playground and an artificial pool where kids can splash. Cool off on a hot day with ice cream from Creameria 1514, located inside an old Soviet airplane.
Eat it Up
Camagüey’s historic district is home to several restaurants where you can dine in rustic style. Step inside an 18th century house and nestle into a cowhide chair at Plaza del Carmen. Or enjoy the ambiance at El Ovejito, which includes ceramic murals and vases by renowned artists, soaring beamed ceilings and dramatic arches. The house specialty is mutton. Try the lamb stuffed with bacon and carrots and marinated in Cuban sauce.
Viva La Nightlife
There’s no better way to finish a day in Cuba than with some music and dancing, and Camagüey has a host of both relaxed and lively bars to choose from. For an authentic, laid back experience, head to El Cambio, a hole in the wall drinking spot in the Plaza de Agramonte that features a ceramic mural by local artist Oscar Lasseria. Or turn up the excitement at Galería Colonial, a complex of restaurants and bars whose patio becomes one of the liveliest dancing spots by night. Locals and tourists alike stand in line to get in here.
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