Smaller than Havana, but no less exciting, Santa Clara is a vibrant and edgy city located right in the centre of Cuba. Spanish colonial architecture lines the central streets here, which are scattered with historically significant sites.
Perhaps most notable among its monuments and museums is the Che Guevara Mausoleum – an imposing memorial that is well worth a visit during your stay. Guevara and a band of just 18 other guerrilla fighters liberated Santa Clara in December 1958, when they derailed an armoured train carrying 350 troops. This arguably spelt the end of the reigning Batista regime, and today a small boxcar museum stands on the spot where this all took place – Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado. We also recommend a stop at the quirky café-come-museum Museo Historico de la Revolución, where you can enjoy a collection of original photos and artefacts with a Cuban coffee or a tasty snack.
Alongside a strong sense of history, there’s plenty of contemporary culture and cuisine to explore on a stay in Santa Clara. The city is a hub for artists and is home to Cuba’s most prestigious university outside Havana, as well as the country’s biggest rock festival: Ciudad Metal.
Santa Clara’s central location makes it a great stop on a Cuba multi-centre itinerary, breaking up the journey between Trinidad and Varadero, for example.