Cuba’s largest province, Camagüey is located in the centre of the island between between Ciego de Ávila and Las Tunas. It is a largely rural area. To the north lies the beautiful coastal scenery and abundant wildlife of the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago and stunning Santa Lucía beach. The pristine Jardines de la Reina archipelago cradles the province to the south.
Camagüey’s historic centre – considered the largest as well as the best preserved on the island – has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors delight in the city’s many lavish churches and the twisted maze of streets, formerly designed to confound marauding pirates.
Camagüey is the birthplace of former National Poet of Cuba Nicolás Guillén and the home of the world-renowned Ballet de Camagüey. It is full of charming cobblestone plazas, historic statues and intriguing museums. You’ll find plenty of tinajones [earthenwarejars] decorating the streets. The people of Camagüey originally produced the jars to collect rainwater during a drought. Today, they are one of the city’s decorative hallmarks.
Sometimes called “the city of tinajones” Camagüey’s streets are lined with the distinctive earthenware pots that were once used to collect rainwater.
Head north to the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago, once the refuge of pirates, where you will find intimate beaches tucked into beautiful coastal scenery. Close by is Santa Lucía, protected by the longest coral reef in the western hemisphere.
Escape to this gorgeous, unspoiled coral key lined with mangroves, marshes and lagoons and watch clouds of butterflies flutter above the lush landscape. Be sure to spend an afternoon at Playa Los Pinos, a standout amid the key’s many beaches, located 22 km from the town of Nuevitas.
Playa Santa Lucía
Bask in the sun and shimmering golden-white sand at this 21-km stretch of beach, bathed by warm turquoise waters. Its long coral reef is home to a surprising variety of marine life. Santa Lucia’s inland ecosystem is well preserved, allowing flocks of roseate flamingos to thrive here.
The city of Camagüey is situated between two of Cuba’s best scuba diving areas. To the north lies Santa Lucía, which has 35 fascinating dive sites along the second longest coral reef in the world. To the south you’ll find the remote archipelago of Jardines de la Reina, where you can explore the most extensive range of marine habitats on the Cuban insular shelf, and even swim with the sharks.
Scuba diving and snorkeling
Whether you head north to the shimmering turquoise Atlantic waters or south to the calm, clear Caribbean Sea, you’ll be in for some unforgettable underwater adventures.
Avalon Diving Center (Jardines de la Reina)
Jardines de la Reina, an archipelago off of Cuba’s southern coast, boasts 93 stunning dive sites where you can swim alongisde two different types of tropical sharks: Caribbean Reef Sharks and Silky Sharks. The archipelago’s diving area contains the most extensive range of marine habitats on the Cuban insular shelf. You can access the remote archipelago via boat from the town of Jucaro.
Shark’s Friends Dive Center (Santa Lucia)
Set out to Santa Lucia’s 35 dive sites, including Poseidon and Valentina, from this well-equipped dive centre. The dive masters can guide you on scuba or snorkeling adventures along Cuba’s longest coral reef formation. Be sure to inspect the assortment of shipwrecks dating as far back as the 19th century, like the Mortera and the Pizarro. Night dives are also available.
Explore the scenic Sierra del Chorrillo, which is home to birds like the blue heron, zunzún, tocororo and cartacuba, as well as a variety of exotic animals and even a petrified forest. Or trek out to the secluded Jardines de la Reina, where you’ll find a virginal landscape lined with palm trees and mangroves.
Bicycles are available virtually everywhere and offer an excellent transportation alternative to get around the city. Ask in your hotel.
The protected area of Sierra del Chorrillo is a magnificent nature reserve where you can see rare birds, exotic animals and a petrified forest. Or head to the beautifully secluded Jardines de la Reina, accessible by boat from the town of Jucaro.
Jardines de la Reina
You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into another world on this archipelago of virtually uninhabited keys curled around Camagüey’s southern coast. Flora and fauna flourish in this virgin territory: palm trees, sea grapes, mangroves, iguanas and pelicans.
Marvel at the remnants of trees that have been petrified for over three million years. This unique collection is spread out across one hectare in Sierra del Chorrillo.
La Belén ranch
This ranch within Sierra del Chorrillo functions as a bird reserve, featuring rare species like the Cuban parakeet and the giant kingbird. It is also home to exotic animals like zebras, deer and buffalos.
Sierra del Chorrillo
Gaze at the park’s incredible array of birds like the blue heron, sparrow hawk, quail, wood pigeon, zunzún, tocororo and cartacuba as you ride along one of its peaceful trails.
Spend a glorious afternoon on a tropical island bursting with mangroves, marshes, lagoons and butterflies. Or venture out to a sprawling park where you’ll find a peaceful bird reserve and a petrified forest.
Discover Camagüey’s many natural attractions, from spectacular coral reefs, to secluded islands to a nature reserve.
Sierra del Chorrillo
Explore this protected area by foot, Jeep or horseback. The park, located 36 km southeast of Camagüey, houses La Belén, a ranch that has been converted to a bird reserve where you’ll find rare species like the Cuban parakeet and the giant kingbird. For more bird-watching opportunities, head to the park’s bird trail where you’ll find birds like the blue heron, sparrow hawk, quail and zunzún. The park also contains a petrified forest, featuring fossilized tree stumps that are over three million years old.
One the refuge of pirates, this key has intimate beaches tucked into beautiful coastal scenery. The centre of the tiny island, practically untouched by man, is home to abundant wildlife, including butterflies, tree rats and wild boar.
Arts and culture
The city of Camagüey boasts the largest historic centre in the country. It is also one of the best preserved, with beautiful colonial buildings lining its winding streets, and Cuba’s finest array of churches.
Explore plazas, museums and churches of diverse architectural styles from the 17th, 18th and 19th century.
General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square
Pope John Paul II officiated a mass here in January 1998. The public square honours the region’s most prominent freedom fighters of the 19th century.
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
Don’t miss the wooden alfarje ceiling and wonderfully painted pillars adorning this church, built in 1776. It is a beautiful example of Cuban Baroque architecture.
Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Merced
This magnificent Baroque church, built in 1748, features an ornate, decorated ceiling and the dazzling Santo Sepulcro, crafted from 23,000 silver coins. It is the only church in the region to boast two towers.
Iglesia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
Visitors are intrigued by the elaborate gilt altar, frescoes and stunning wooden ceiling at this church built in 1755.
Plaza del Carmen
Baroque and neoclassical influences are evident in this public square built in the early 19th century. Ceramic statues representing everyday life line the charming cobblestone plaza.
Plaza San Juan de Dios
This 18th-century square, a jewel of Cuban colonial architecture, has been declared a national monument. Here you’ll find the San Juan de Dios Church and Hospital (now a museum), a striking building erected in 1728 and updated in 1847. Its highest altar is made of precious wood from 1792, and it features a rare anthropomorphic representation of the Holy Spirit (one of only two in Latin America).
Parque Ignacio Agramonte
Camagüey’s main park encompasses part of the former Plaza de Armas, built in 1528. Highlights include an imposing bronze equestrian statue of General Agramonte and the Metropolitan Cathedral, a historic church built in 1617 that features a tower with an image of Christ, added in 1937. The park also contains the Julio Antonio Mella Provincial Library, and the Philharmonic Society of Puerto Principe, erected in the 19th century.
Camagüey’s renowned ballet company is second only to Havana’s.
The dancers of this world-renowned ballet company have performed in over 40 countries. In Camagüey, they call the beautiful Teatro Principal home.
Joel Jover Studio-Gallery
Admire work by two of Camagüey’s most noted contemporary artists, Joel Jover and his wife Ileana Sánchez at their working studio that doubles as a gallery.
Learn about local heroes like Cuban patriot, Ignacio Agramonte, and poet Nicolas Guillén at Camagüey’s unique museums.
Peruse exhibits highlighting the life and professional achievements of Dr. Carlos J. Finlay, who discovered how mosquitoes transmit yellow fever. The famous Cuban doctor was born here in 1833.
Nicolas Guillén House
This poetry-themed museum is located in the house where Guillén, the former National Poet of Cuba, was born in 1902.This poetry-themed museum is located in the house where Guillén, the former National Poet of Cuba, was born in 1902.
Museo Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte
Visit the house where Cuban patriot Ignacio Agramante was born in 1841, Built in the 18th century, the building now contains a museum dedicated to his life and achievements. A highlight is the colonial-style patio.
Ignacio Agramonte Provincial Museum
Housed inside the former Cavalry Garrison, built in 1848, the museum features furniture collections, as well as local and natural history displays.
Fábrica de Violines
Artisans carve beautiful violins out of hardwood at this factory in Minas, located northeast of Camagüey.
Estadio Cándido González
Catch a baseball game at Camagüey’s stadium.
This stunning neoclassical theatre, built in 1850, is the home of the celebrated the Camagüey Ballet. It also regularly hosts theatrical productions and variety shows.
Take the kids to Sierra del Chorrillo, where they’ll be wowed by the zebras, buffalo, among other exotic animals, as well as three-million-year-old trees.
This family-friendly ranch within Sierra del Chorrillo functions as a bird reserve, featuring rare species like the Cuban parakeet and the kingbird. It is also home to exotic animals like zebras, deer and buffalos.
The kids will be intrigued by the remnants of trees that have been petrified for over three million years. This unique collection is spread out across one hectare in Sierra del Chorrillo.
Visit an authentic Cuban market in the heart of the city, see where Pope John Paul II officiated a public mass or dine like a movie star at a cinema-themed Italian restaurant.
Nightclubs and Bars
Mamá Inés Cafe/Bar
A famous song gives its name to this cafe, located in the colonial area were you can also find some great shops and restaurants. At Mamá Inés one can buy good Cuban coffee to take home. At night the ambiance is fantastic.
Bar El Cambio
Located in the city of Camagüey, El Cambio is a place worth visiting. Located opposite Plaza Agramonte, the establishment has a charming design and decoration with ceramic elements in its floor and ceiling.
Restaurants and Cafes
Restaurante Luna Mar
If what you are looking for is some Italian flavor or a delicious fish dish, this restaurant with bar in Nuevitas, Santa Lucía is the right place.
Retaurante Don Ronquillo
Dine at this restaurant and bar specialized in Cuban and international cuisine, located in Camagüey city.
Indulge yourself with a delicious seafood dish or enjoy the Cuban and international cuisine at this restaurant with bar in Nuevitas, Santa Lucía.
Restaurante La Campana de Toledo/El Parador de los Tres Reyes
Savour exquisite Cuban and international dishes at this restaurant with bar located in Camagüey city.
Restaurante La Isabella
Dine like a movie star at this cinema-themed Italian restaurant located on the site of Camagüey’s first movie theatre.
Mercado Agropecuario El Río
Stop by this lively open-air market located above Río Hatibonico and treat yourself to one the popular fresh batidos (fruitshakes).
Festivals and events
Culture-rich Camagüey celebrates its artistic side the first week of each February.
International Video Art Festival
November 25 – 29
This event convenes the video art in all its genre variants: video performance, video installation (video sculpture and video environment), video dance and animation.
Week of Cultural Celebrations
This festival takes over Camagüey the first week of each February, and is widely recognized as one of Cuba’s best cultural fetes. It commemorates the city’s foundation.