Cienfuegos is mandatory during your trip to Cuba. The reason is that neoclassical buildings of the so-called Pearl of the South, have been awarded the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Apart from the urban center where most of the tourist attractions are concentrated, what we liked most about Cienfuegos was the sunrise and sunset from its Malecón (boardwalk) – those in Havana didn’t really compare.
THINGS TO DO IN CIENFUEGOS IN ONE DAY
Cienfuegos can be visited perfectly in a day. Most points of interests for tourists are centered around the José Martí Park. The area that we liked the most was Punta Gorda. This can be reached by walking through the entire Paseo del Prado until it has become the Malecón of Cienfuegos. From here, you can enjoy the sunrise/sunset which make it worth staying at least one night in the city.
JOSÉ MARTÍ PARK
Surrounding the José Martí Park are the most emblematic buildings of the city. It is, so to speak, the heart of Cienfuegos. Most of the tourist shops are located bordering the park itself.
This eclectic style building from the late 19th century is the jewel of the park. The Ferrer Palace, located at the José Martí, takes away the prominence of any other building. Its intense blue color, which we will also see in other buildings in the city, hides that it has been in a long process of restoration.
What stood out most from the palace is its lookout tower from which you can see all over Cienfuegos. The Catalan merchant who built this tower intended to control the entry of ships and goods to the port. From here, you can absolutely see all of Cienfuegos.
PROVINCIAL HOUSE OF THE CULTURE BENJAMIN DUARTE
Perhaps what surprised us most about Palacio Ferrer is the use of its lower floor as the Provincial House of Culture. This space has been reserved so that local artists can show their most carefree works, as well as to rehearse plays and dance performances, etc.
CATEDRAL DE LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN
At the other end of the park is the neoclassical style Catedral de la Purísima Concepción. Cienfuegos had not been inhabited before colonization. However, when the Spaniards arrived, they decided to establish a city there since the bay of Cienfuegos was ideal for building a port. With the foundation of Cienfuegos, the first mass was celebrated in the same land that occupies the cathedral today.
Two other buildings that will not go unnoticed during your visit to the José Martí Park are the Government Palace and the Tomás Terry Theater which are arranged one in front of the other.
PASEO DE PRADO
The Paso de Prado is the main artery of the city. If you explore Cienfuegos in one day, it gives you time to walk at least a large part of it. Although few tourist attractions are here, this is where you find the essence of Cienfuegos. Justtwo kilometers in length, it is the largest promenade in Cuba. And just as Cuba itself, the Walk of Cienfuegos is also a permanent contrast between decadence and splendor.
The Paseo del Prado avenue cuts Cienfuegos from North to South. In the middle of the avenue, there is a pedestrian crossing with palm trees and very nice benches where you can sit and relax.
In the southern most part, the Paseo del Prado momentarily becomes the Cienfuegos Malecón. From here, we will find a Cuba that you have not imagined. Intermingled style mansions make Cienfuegos the most eclectic city in Cuba. This is the end of Cienfuegos, Punta Gorda, as fat as the wallet of the owners of these historic homes.
The best part of discovering Cienfuegos in one day is the walk along its boardwalk. The Cienfuegos Malecón does not overlook the sea but to the Bay of Jagua. Its calm waters are navigable by those ships that cross the narrow channel that connects to the Caribbean Sea.
The best time to visit is during sunset. When the heat stops, local Cubans comeout to enjoy life on the boardwalk. This is the best time to approach and talk about any topic with the locals.
Walk over to the West Coast where the seawall ends, and we promise there will be dreamy sunsets. You will have the best shots right at the moment when the sun crosses the horizon.
Unlike the Malecon in Havana, the one in Cienfuegos is much more painstaking. The decoration of palm trees will be the icing on the compositions of your captures.
PALACIO DE VALLE AND OTHER MANSIONS OF PUNTA GORDA
However, even after the sun goes down, Punta Gorda does not stop shining thanks to all the super luxury mansions that will literally leave you speechless.
You will find striking mansions such as the Cienfuegos Club or the Blue Palace, with indefinable styles since they are a mix all kinds of elements.
The Palacio de Valle is at the end point and now functions as a restaurant. The interior, with all kinds of Moroccan decoration, is not something we expected to see in Cuba ! Although without a doubt, the best would be its upper terrace and take a look to panorama.
If you have more time don’t miss
the ancient cemetery of Cienfuegos
It is better to take a bici taxi from Parque Marti to go there because it is a long walk …