With its hot-pink classic cars, swirling salsa dancers, bright turquoise waters and white-sand beaches, Cuba is a photographer’s paradise.
While many travelers only head to Havana hot spots, some of the most camera-ready places on the island can’t be found in the capital city. Up your Instagram game by snapping some of Cuba’s classic sights in its most famous metropolis and beyond, along with a few you’re unlikely to find in a guide book.
Here are the most Instagrammable places in Cuba. Ready, set, go!
Paseo de Martí
This European-style boulevard, known to locals as “Prado,” begins at the Malecón waterfront esplanade and divides Old Havana from Central Havana. The promenade hosts impromptu soccer matches during the week and an art market on the weekends.
Havana’s iconic architecture, at different stages of decay and restoration, lines the boulevard, with the most colorful and photogenic buildings near the Capitolio (Cuba’s capital building).
Classic American cars of every color and variety add to the vibrant scene, creating the perfect digital postcard from Havana.
Santiago de Cuba Welcome Sign
Santiago may be Cuba’s second-largest city, but it has the largest and most photogenic welcome sign in the country.
Plaza de la Revolución in Havana
When Havana’s main plaza isn’t being used by locals and government officials for political rallies, it’s busy being one of the most photographed sites in the entire country.
The square is marked by a towering steel sculpture of Marxist revolutionary and guerilla leader Che Guevara, above his most famous saying, “Hasta La Victoria Siempre” (“Ever onward to victory”).
Tobacco Fields in Viñales
Viñales is tobacco country, and no visit to Cuba is complete without a photo of the tobacco fields that produce what many consider to be the world’s finest cigars. While tobacco tours are available year-round, harvest season is January – April, when you’re most likely to see campesinos (Cuban farmers) harvesting full fields.
Mogotes in Viñales
Almost as famous as Viñales’ tobacco fields are the region’s iconic limestone mogotes. The best views of these steep mounds are from Hotel Los Jazmines or the nearby Visitor Center, about two miles south of Viñales.
The landscapes of the Viñales Valley are spectacular and significant enough to have earned UNESCO World Heritage status.
Havana’s most iconic hotel is a National Monument dating back 87 years. It once hosted a mob summit organized by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, and has hosted such famous guests as Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. Today, even non-guests enjoy it as a tourist hangout.
The hotel looks out over Havana’s famous Malecón, where classic cars whiz by at all hours of the day. Sunset provides an especially colorful backdrop to an already dramatic photo.
Trinidad’s “Tourist Train”
Don’t let the name fool you! While this train may be for tourists, it boasts world-class views and is anything but a tourist trap.
The poorly-named ride takes you through picturesque valleys on the way to visit former sugar plantations. Seats are on a first come, first serve basis. The best views are from the front or back of the train so be early and have your camera ready.
This 5-mile-long esplanade and seawall is the best place for people-watching in all of Havana. (Yes, all of it.)
Magnificent and often crumbling buildings line one side of the road way, while splashing, salty waves crash against the other. Fishermen gather on the seawall, casting their lures during the day; just about everyone else – lovers, friends, musicians, vendors – arrive at night.
“Viva Cuba Libre” Sign
This sign (translation: “Long live free Cuba!”) pretty much says it all. Located in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood on 23rd street, near the Habana Libre hotel, the iconic mural captures Cuban’s strong sense of patriotism while providing travelers with an excellent backdrop for photos.
Buses, collective taxis, state-run yellow cabs and bicycles regularly pass by, but patience pays off. Those who wait can get a clear shot of the mural or one intentionally blocked by a well-placed classic car.
La Reina Cemetery
La Reina cemetery in Cienfuegos is the only cemetery in Cuba that utilizes above-ground nicho graves, due to high groundwater levels. The sculptures are not quite as impressive as those in Havana’s Colón Cemetery, but they have the benefit of being set against the backdrop of gorgeous Cienfuegos Bay. Expansive sky produces spectacular, picture-perfect sunsets.
Trinidad’s Museum of the Struggle Against Bandits
It’s hard to imagine a more postcard-ready scene than horse carriages, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial architecture, and Trinidad has all of these in abundance. Add to the shot by snapping musicians performing in front of the Museum of the Struggle Against Bandits, housed in the grandiose former convent of San Francisco de Asís.
Trinidad’s Bell Tower
Even more impressive than the charming exterior of the Museum of the Struggle Against Bandits are the picturesque panoramas visible from the tower, reachable via rickety stairs. For an even more dramatic photograph, frame the landscape within one of the tower’s circular windows.
El Yunque in Baracoa, Guantanamo
Baracoa is Cuba’s oldest town and the tourist capital of Guantanamo province. While many Americans are still learning about the town that was isolated from the rest of the country until a highway was built in the 1960s, Europeans have been exploring the region for decades.
El Yunque, “The Anvil,” is Baracoa’s famous tabletop mountain, mentioned in Christopher Columbus’ chronicles about the discovery of the Americas. The most spectacular views are at sunset.
Playa Giron on the Bay of Pigs
Grab your GoPro and head to the infamous Bay of Pigs for stunning pictures of parrot fish, lion fish, barracuda and even turtles. Scuba diving equipment is optional, as many fish are visible just a few feet below the water.
For certified scuba divers, several shipwrecks and an impressive – and very steep – coral reef are a short swim offshore.
The beach is as historically significant as it is stunning; it was one of two landing sites for Cuban exiles during the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Guardalavaca’s Sparkling Water
Some of the bluest water you’ll find in Cuba is in Guardalavaca, an idyllic stretch of beach along the northern coast in the province of Holguin. Shimmering turquoise waves are the star of the show, and provide a stunning backdrop to the bright magenta flowers surrounding the all-inclusive resorts the area is known for.
Havana’s Infinity Pool
On top of the Gran Manzana Hotel in Old Havana is Havana’s first and most famous infinity pool. Technically, it may not qualify as an infinity pool, as the patio chairs and protective glass wall in the background prevent the pool’s edge from merging with the skyline. Still, this pool and its backdrop of the Capitolio building are stunning.
Sunset at the pool is especially breathtaking.
Smoking a Hand-Rolled Cigar in Viñales
Can you really say you’ve visited Cuba if you haven’t smoked a cigar? While cigars are available on just about every corner across the island, the best cigars come from Viñales, where cigars sweetened with honey and fruit juice are hand-rolled right before your eyes.
Aguacate Street Flag
There certainly is no shortage of Cuban flags in Havana – or anywhere else in the country, for that matter – but a particularly festive flag can be found at the beginning of Aguacate street, across from the Museo de Revolución. It’s the perfect place to snap a picture.
Habana Street in La Habana Vieja
The La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) neighborhood is bursting with photogenic streets full of classic architecture, Cuban flags, bicycle carts overflowing with flowers and revolutionary street art. Habana Street may be the most picture-perfect in the barrio, particularly between Tejadillo and Peña Pobre streets.