Santiago de Cuba, considered the capital city of the Caribbean, is one of the most relevant tourist zones of the country. It has a magnificent hotel infrastructure and a network of beach and mountain facilities. Its own airport allows straight international flights.
It is the second city in importance of the island. Being so, it annually hosts the EXPOCARIBE fair and a businessperson's event.
Out of the urban zone, one can visit the Church of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, built in 1927, which receives annually thousands of visitors from the whole country.
One of the most visited sites of the province is La Gran Piedra, a singularly beautiful place having an appropriate climate where wild orchids and arborescent ferns grow. There is an outstanding natural lookout point over a huge rock, giving name to the site, over 1000 m (3280 ft) over the sea level which offers an extraordinary view.
Santiago opens up in all splendor to the visitor, with its ethnic mixture that adds the physical and spiritual legacy of the aboriginals to the Spanish and African component. Another distinctive feature of Santiago's constant process of transculturation comes from the settlement of French colons in this territory from the 18th century on.
The way of being of the inhabitants of this region, where hospitality and joy are primary features, shows at the same time energy and inborn rebelliousness.
The museums offer testimony of this rich history: the Museo de la Piratería located in the
Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, built by Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli; the Museo La Isabélica, keeping the testimony of the French settlements; the Museo Provincial Emilio Bacardí and others that preserve the closest historical events; the Museo Histórico 26 de Julio, located at the former Moncada Garrison; the Granjita Siboney, the farm from where the revolutionaries departed to attack the Moncada Garrison; and the Museo de la Lucha Clandestina, where testimonies of the covert actions taking place in the city over the 50's are displayed. Other places of interest are the house of Frank País, a martyr from Santiago; the house of José María Heredia, first romantic writer of Hispanic literature; and the house of Antonio Maceo, a hero of the liberation wars against Spain in the 19th century.
Another place of veneration for all Cubans is the mausoleum of José Martí, Cuba's National Hero.
The parks of this city are genuine attractions for the visitors. The Parque Céspedes, center of Santiago's life, is also a living testimony of the history going on around it. There, we find the metropolitan cathedral, one of the oldest of Cuba.
Notable natural wonders offers the Baconao park. There, besides the unusual landscape, one can visit the Museo de Ciencias, the aquarium, a dolphin exhibit and show, and the pre-historic valley, having 200 stone sculptures.
If the traveler explores the streets of Santiago, he'll find the stair street of Padre Pico or the Trocha street, place of birth of the astonishing carnivals. In them, color, music, and dance mix up to obtain the genuine rhythm of the people. Accompanied by the Chinese trumpet or the "tumba francesa", the bodies move rhythmically and restlessly advance at the same time along the streets, infecting all the spectators.
To complete this ensemble of cultural offers, Santiago counts on the Tropicana Santiago and San Pedro del Mar cabarets, the Heredia theater, and a concert hall.