Charming Camagüey, Cuba

Camaguey, Central Cuba
Camaguey, Central Cuba
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Nestled in the heart of Cuba, Camagüey is a city brimming with history, culture, and an irresistible charm. One of Cuba’s oldest and largest cities, I found myself captivated by its cobblestone streets, colonial squares, and welcoming people.

Looking back, Camagüey was one of my favourite places in Cuba. While Havana and Varadero receive the headlines, I found that this was another piece of authentic Cuba where I could have spent a couple of days just wandering through the streets and wallowing in the history and ambience.

Let’s see what I discovered in the charming little town of Camagüey:

Historical Sights

The city’s UNESCO-listed historic centre is a labyrinth of winding alleys, showcasing Spanish colonial architecture. I loved the pastel-coloured houses, many of which were in a poor state but that only added to the charm. Fruit and veg sellers were on street corners alongside bike taxis offering tours of the town. Locals were intrigued by our presence and came to their doors to observe our movements and in many cases pose for a photo.

Back in the day, locals created these streets as a defence mechanism against marauding pirates, so if you choose to wander alone make sure you know where you are going! Our tour guide made a point of keeping an eye on us, particularly me, who kept loitering at the back to take photos.

The Iglesia del Carmen (Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) church is a focal point of the Plaza del Carmen square, known for its Baroque architecture and religious significance. The church dates back to the 18th century and is an important historical and cultural landmark.

The Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte (Birthplace of Ignacio Agramonte) is located near Plaza del Carmen. This house is the birthplace of Ignacio Agramonte, a key figure in Cuba’s fight for independence. The house is now a museum showcasing artefacts and exhibits related to Agramonte’s life and the struggle for independence.

Arts & Crafts

Camagüey has a creative spirit in its dynamic arts scene, demonstrated by the many local galleries and theatres. Visitors can immerse themselves in Camagüey by exploring these cultural venues, witnessing live performances, and interacting with the city’s artistic community.

We visited a gorgeous gallery – the Estudio Taller, where the artist Martha Jimenez was present and proudly talking to tourists about the sculptures and art on display. Make sure to check out the garden area at the back too!  

Callejón de los Milagros (Alley of Miracles) is a narrow alleyway, also close to Plaza del Carmen, adorned with vibrant colours and local artwork. It’s a charming place to wander and soak in the artistic and cultural vibes of Camagüey.

On departure from the town, we were offered little clay wall pots with the word Camagüey etched on the side. This was a little token of the local’s appreciation for our visit and it meant the world.

Restaurants & Bars

Our group took lunch at the lovely Restaurant La Campana de Toledo, overlooking the pretty plaza San Juan de Dios. A large open-shaded garden terrace at the back was the perfect setting to eat and recharge.

The little bar and busy staff also added to the ambience of what was a delightful stop although the shot of Havana Rum to send us on our way certainly sent me on my way – just one for the road mind.

Camagüey By Night

In the evening, Camagüey comes alive with music and dance, echoing the rhythms of Afro-Cuban traditions. Locals and visitors alike gather in lively venues, such as the Casa de la Trova. This lively venue is where you can experience traditional Cuban music, including son, bolero, and other genres. It’s a great place to enjoy live performances and immerse yourself in the local culture.

The streets and bars around Plaza Juan de Dios are also popular for those who wish to enjoy local music and dancing.

Out and About

The countryside around Camagüey is dotted with sugarcane fields. Visitors can venture into the countryside and experience a wide variety of activities including:

Horseback Riding Tours: Many local tour operators offer horseback riding excursions that take you through the scenic countryside, allowing you to experience the natural beauty of the region.

Visit Local Farms: Explore the rural landscapes by visiting local farms where you can learn about traditional agricultural practices. Some farms may offer guided tours, providing insights into the cultivation of crops such as tobacco, sugarcane, and coffee.

El Circuito Turístico de la Cuchilla de Toa: Take a drive through the Circuito Turístico de la Cuchilla de Toa, a scenic route that passes through the hills and valleys surrounding Camagüey. This area is known for its lush landscapes and provides a peaceful escape from urban life.

Bird Watching: The countryside around Camagüey is home to diverse bird species. Birdwatching enthusiasts can enjoy observing both resident and migratory birds in their natural habitats.

Countryside Villages: Visit small villages in the countryside to experience local life and interact with residents. You may find opportunities to learn about traditional crafts, music, and culinary traditions.

Fishing Excursions: If you enjoy fishing, consider joining a fishing excursion in the surrounding rivers or coastal areas. Fishing trips can be a peaceful and rewarding way to spend time in nature.

Caving Adventures: Explore the underground wonders of the countryside by visiting caves such as the Cueva de los Portales. This cave system has historical significance, as it served as a hideout for Che Guevara during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Where To Stay Near Camagüey

I was based at the Gran Muthu Rainbow on Cayo Guillermo, one of the many Cayo Islands of Cuba, so I did not stay in Camaguey. Wherever you are in Cuba there will be excursions that will take you into Camaguey and I would very much recommend a visit.

Final Thoughts of Camaguey

Camagüey, with its historical significance, cultural richness, and warm hospitality, is the authentic soul of Cuba.

As I come back to again and again in my notes, the people’s charm and smiles were infectious. In Camagüey, more than anywhere, the local people greeted us openly and genuinely with all that they have, and that is a memory that will live long for me!

I loved the place and all its rough edges. When I look back and remember this epic trip, I will recall my visit to Camagüey with great affection.

With Thanks

My Thanks to MGM Muthu Hotels, Gaviota Tours and the Ministry of Tourism for Cuba (MINTUR) for sponsoring my trip to Cuba which included this visit to the town of Camaguey.


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