Cuba needs little introduction. Though the rest of the world has known how damn beautiful this Caribbean island is for quite some time, Americans are finally getting in on the action (Obama, please don't go). Just an hour flight away from Miami and you'll find yourself in the world of cigars, vintage cars, and a whole lotta rum. But the capital, Havana, is more than just this, thanks to its lively, infectious charm and streets full of stunning Spanish colonial architecture. Check out art museums that really aren't boring (e.g. Bellas Artes), gorgeous antique bookstores, and arty markets aplenty. After a big night out (brush up on your salsa, ASAP), get a room at Hotel Conde de Villanueva, a renovated mansion with a dreamy cigar bunker.
Don't stick to just the capital, however. Head to Baracoa, Cuba's first settlement, for its famous white chocolate – cocoa trees grow here in abundance. Then head to the highest point on the island, Pico Turquino, for a cheeky mountain hike, before taking a well deserved rest at one of the nation's crazy beautiful beaches. Varadero is usually the resort people pick, but we advise going to lesser-known Playa Larga, a diving paradise with the clearest waters, like, ever. The last place on your must-go list is Trinidad, a town with the prettiest architecture, dazzling water views, and a nightclub in an actual cave. What's not to love?
FYI, you need a tourist visa to explore here, and, as an American, should really book through a travel agency like Intrepid Travel or Insight Cuba. But enough of the boring stuff, and back to the beautiful pics:
Cuba was one of VIVA's 10 hottest destinations for 2017. To see the rest, click here.