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Have you ever considered visiting Cuba?
Many American travelers don’t even realize it’s possible. And while it’s true that traveling to Cuba was nearly impossible for Americans for over fifty years, it became easier to visit Cuba in 2015.
Now, it is possible to visit Cuba as an American as long as you purchase a Cuban travel visa (you can usually get it directly from your airline) and you qualify for one of 12 approved « travel categories » (most travelers choose » support for the Cuban people »).
According to TripAdvisor, Cuba is the number one trending destination in the world right now.
Here’s why Cuba is so popular with travelers:
1. Diverse culture
One of the main reasons why Cuba is so popular with travelers is because of its authentic and diverse culture. Nothing in Cuba is commercialized or overdeveloped like the popular resorts of Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Cuba is full of culture, including music, art, and dance (salsa originated here!)
It is also a great place to experience a cultural exchange. Instead of staying in a state hotel or an international chain, the best type of accommodation in Cuba is a private house.
This is like a cross between a bed and breakfast and a homestay, and will allow you to interact with the locals and support the Cuban people directly.
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2. Off the beaten path
For adventurous travelers, Cuba remains a destination that is somewhat off the beaten path. Although it is growing in popularity, Cuba receives around half a million tourists per year, a stark contrast to the 20 million tourists from Mexico and the 8.5 million tourists from the Dominican Republic.
Outside of Havana, you can get even further off the beaten path. Viñales, which is in the countryside, is a great place to stay and experience activities like horseback riding or watching tobacco being made.
Trinidad is a smaller city with cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings that is known for its artisans and crafts.
3. A rewarding destination
Although visiting Cuba is not as simple as visiting other destinations, it is a rewarding place to travel.
You will get a glimpse of what life is like in a country cut off from the rest of the world. In general, the Cuban people are warm and welcoming.
It’s not a destination for first-time travelers or anyone who just wants a relaxing vacation lying on the beach at an all-inclusive resort, but if you’re up to the challenge, visiting Cuba is sure to be a memorable experience.
4. Big city life
One of the highlights of Cuba is its capital city, Havana. No matter what you do in Cuba, spending a few days in Havana is a must.
Havana is full of color, from the brightly colored buildings in Old Havana to the vibrant American classic cars that cruise through the city.
Taking a tour in a classic car is one of the best things to do in Havana. You also can’t stop trying a mojito and a daiquiri, both drinks were invented here. According to Ernest Hemingway, the best mojito is at La Bodeguita, and the best daiquiri is at El Floridita.
5. Beautiful Beaches
There is much more to Cuba than just Havana. Being in the Caribbean, Cuba is also home to some truly stunning beaches.
Varadero is one of the best beach destinations in Cuba. Located 2 hours and 15 minutes from Havana, this resort is known for its fantastic beaches.
You can enjoy white sand beaches and crystal clear aquamarine waters on this beach, which is the perfect place to spend a couple of relaxing days on a trip to Cuba.
traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com