16 Things Cuba is Famous for…

No other U.S. tour company or Motorcycle Club is currently offering group motorcycle tours of Cuba, and shipping a bike there is illegal under U.S. embargo regulations. Now, Exit Tours MC offers riders a unique opportunity to join U.S.-legal (and thrilling)  ‘Cuban Adventure Ride‘ by BMW GS F700.

Ride along the coast of Cuba
Ride along the coast of Cuba

16 Things Cuba is Known & Famous for:

1. Havana
2. The Revolution
3. Breathtaking nature
4. Pristine beaches: 2,321 miles of coastline
5. Cocktails
6. Cigars
7. Vintage cars
8. Dance music
9. A troubled relationship with the U.S.
10. Rum
11. Fascinating people
12. Mouthwatering cuisine
13. Great public health
14. Amazing coffee
15. Historic towns
16. Sports culture


16 Things Cuba is Known and Famous For:

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is definitely one of Latin America’s hidden gems.

Cuba is known for its crystal-clear beaches, delicious cocktails like the mojito, and the unpolished beauty of Old Havana. Cuba is also famous for its music, for the revolution that turned it upside down in 1959, and for its Cigars of unrivaled quality.

While not as elegant as places like, say, Milan, Cuba is a feast for the senses in the best possible way.

Pin Havana
Havana pinned
  1. Havana

Apart from the political and economic capital of Cuba, Havana is the core of the Cuban civilization, so to speak. Almost every historically and culturally significant event that happens on the island takes place in or near the city.

With its mix of colonial and Art Deco architecture and the evocative Malecón, the seafront promenade that encircles the central districts, Havana is simply stunning.

Not only that, there’s always something going on at the city’s plazas, boulevards, cafés, and nightclubs, especially around the old town.


And if you think the revolution has turned Havana into a serious and drab town, you couldn’t be more wrong. The Vedado neighborhood has a park honoring John Lennon, complete with a statue of the legend — turns out Fidel Castro was a fan.

  1. The Revolution

On New Year’s Eve, 1959, a bunch of ragged and bearded rebels finally defeated dictator Fulgencio Batista’s army following 5+ years of guerrilla fighting in the mountains.

Oddly, the group remained ideologically ambiguous for a short time and were even hailed as heroes in the U.S. and Europe.

The new regime would soon align itself with the USSR and receive substantial financial aid from Moscow. That’s also when the state nationalized the entire Cuban economy.

Upon the collapse of the Eastern bloc in 1991, the 90’s were a challenging period for Cuba.

From then on, minor changes started being adopted, such as private citizens being allowed to own small businesses. Yet Cuba stands as a one-party socialist country to this day.

  1. Breathtaking nature

Cuba was once covered by forest, much of which was torn down by the timber industry or replaced with sugarcane plantations.

Today, rainforests, shrublands, and mangroves make up between a quarter and a third of the island’s territory.

Cuban Jungle
Cuban Rainforest

Biodiversity is the norm in Cuba. Only there you’ll find the bee hummingbird, aka the smallest bird on Earth.

It’s home to thousands of animal and plant species, as well as to a particularly large crocodile population.

vinales valley
Mogate in Vinales Valley

One of Cuba’s natural wonders is the Viñales Valley and its unique rocks known as mogotes.

The valley has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, thanks to the region’s centuries-old tobacco farming culture.

  1. Pristine beaches

2,321 miles of coastline, or the world’s 31st-longest. Cuba is surrounded by sun-kissed white sand beaches and the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean in the Gulf of Mexico.

Guardalavaca Beach
Guardalavaca Beach

Secluded beaches on may of Cuba’s countless keys, such as the suggestively named Playa Paraíso (or Paradise Beach).

Hammock on a secluded beach
Hammock on a secluded beach

  1. Cocktails

When in Havana… Do as Ernest Hemingway did. The iconic novelist would grab his his mojito in El Floridita, which has been operating since 1817.

Mojitos, plus rum and Coke, aka the ‘Cuba Libre’, are all made with white rum and are certainly among the top things Cuba is known for.

The mojito is an old concoction, but what really matters is to try the best mojito ever in the historic spot of El Floridita, just like many have done in the last two centuries.

  1. Cigars

Natives smoked tobacco in the Caribbean. The Spanish soon took a fancy to it, though, and by 1542 they’d set up a factory in Cuba.

Throughout the following centuries, the island’s cigars gained an international reputation and are now widely considered the finest on the planet.

Touring a factory and a tobacco farm in Viñales are awesome experiences for cigar aficionados and curious visitors alike.

Fresh Tobacco Leaves
Fresh Tobacco Leaves

You might even learn a thing or two about the art of pairing cigars and rum while you’re at it.

70 year old Daily Driver

  1. Vintage cars

Because the U.S. banned virtually all exports to Cuba in the early 1960s, no American cars ever made it to the island since the early 60’s.

The Cuban government did import Soviet cars for state use, yet regular Cubans had to make do with whatever was available.

Before the Revolution, Cuba did have an affluent if small middle class that drove the bulky and outlandish American cars of the day.

Some 60,000 of the Classic American Iron can still be spotted on Cuban streets, thanks to the ingenuity of Cubans, who are constantly exchanging parts and revamping engines to keep the cars on the road.

The reason vintage cars dominate the Cuban landscape is pretty serious, yet there’s no denying they’re an essential part of the island’s picturesque vibes.

  1. Dance music

The Cuban sound is the high point of dance music from the Caribbean. Cuba was the birthplace of genres that turned into fads across the globe, such as bolero, rumba, mambo, and cha-cha-chá.

After the revolution, most nightclubs were shut down, and the musicians that didn’t go into exile turned to classical music and lyrics-driven folk songs.

It would be decades before the rebirth of the tourism industry in Cuba, spurred renewed interest in traditional dance music on the island and abroad.

Now, you can watch dancers in historic cabarets like the Tropicana Club.

  1. A troubled relationship with the U.S., Naval Station Guantanamo Bay

Though it’s hard to discuss a book-worthy topic here, the U.S. and Cuba have had strained relationships since Castro’s government nationalized American assets on the island.

Castro then sought financial and military support from the Soviet Union in the early days of the revolution.

America obviously wasn’t amused by the idea of having a national security threat a hundred miles off the coast of Florida and staged an invasion of the island in 1961.

When that failed, an all-encompassing embargo that banned any trade with Cuba was passed by the U.S. Congress.

Three decades after the end of the Cold War, the embargo remains in effect, chiefly due to lobbying by Cuban-Americans who want to keep crippling the island’s economy and weaken its government as a result.

The main symbol of this long-lasting feud between the two countries is the U.S. naval base and detention center at Guantánamo Bay, on the island’s southernmost tip.

While America has controlled the area from 1903, since 1959 the Cuban government has cashed only one check as payment for the lease of the territory.

  1. Rum

The origins of rum are actually uncertain, yet it is known it was invented somewhere in the Caribbean.

The molasses liquor went on to become closely associated with Cuban culture, a leading sugarcane producer and the birthplace of world-famous rum-based cocktails.

It was in Cuba, that Bacardi was founded in Havana in 1862.

Following the revolution, Bacardi left the island for Bermuda.

  1. Fascinating people

Witty, welcoming, and cultured are just a few of the words typically used to describe Cubans.

Western media seem to have a knack for portraying citizens of socialist states as sheepish and disciplined, though that couldn’t be far from the truth when it comes to Cubans.

Locals can be extremely critical of their government as they point out the shortcomings of daily life in Cuba, which doesn’t mean they’d rather live in a capitalist society.

Talking to Cubans can be thought-provoking to the very least, as they’ll tell you all their one-of-a-kind worldview in one sitting.

  1. Mouthwatering cuisine

Just like most countries on the Caribbean and the Atlantic coast of the Americas, Cuba has a fuson of culinary culture.

That means rice, beans, cassava, and plantains reign supreme and are usually paired with some kind of meat.

Seafood, is also a forte of Cuban cuisine.

  1. Great public health

Providing free, universal healthcare to all its citizens has been a top priority of the Cuban government since the revolution.

As a consequence, the island boasts a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than the majority of Latin American nations.

The so-called “doctor diplomacy” is another mark of Cuba’s healthcare system: each year, the state sends thousands of medical personnel overseas to help other developing countries cope with their healthcare needs.

  1. Amazing coffee

Cuba is not the leading coffee producer it once was until the mid-20th century, but a strong coffee culture is still very much present on the island.

Cubans enjoy their coffee black and sweet.

They have developed an unusual technique to that effect: they normally mix brown sugar with coffee grounds before brewing the beverage.

  1. Historic towns

Cuba is dotted with colorful colonial towns where you’ll forget Havana’s hustle and bustle in a few seconds.

A few of them, like Remedios, and Trinidad were founded in the early 16th century.

Trinidad, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.

  1. Sports culture

Baseball is huge in Cuba. Several Cubans played for the 2022 World Series Champion Houston Astros.

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