Located in the center of Cuba, 300 miles or so east of Havana, Camagüey is the perfect stop for those wishing to discover a less touristic side of Cuba.
Activities include wandering around the colonial city centre, exploring the architectural heritage of Camagüey and discovering local gastronomy. Follow the guide!
With approximately 300 000 inhabitants, Camaguey is the third biggest city in the country. It is located in the largest province of Cuba, the province of Camaguey, in the centre of the island.
Camaguey was nicknamed “the city of churches” for its countless pastel-coloured colonial and religious buildings. Its colonial city centre and its labyrinthine streets are an invitation to discover another side of Cuba.
Dicovering Camaguey’s history
Camaguey is one of the seven cities that were first founded by the Spanish in Cuba. It was originally called Santa María del Puerto de Príncipe.
The city was first built on the northern coast of the island, but it was gradually moved to its current position in order to escape the attacks of pirates who roamed the Caribbean sea. According to legend, these attacks are also the reason why the city was built in a maze-like fashion.
Camaguey has always gone against the trend. When the rest of Cuba grew sugar cane, the city chose cattle breeding instead.
Even now, the city of Camaguey has remained strong headed and strikes as quite a free spirit compared to Havana or Santiago de Cuba.
The city is very well connected to the rest of the country. Indeed, Viazul buses serve Camaguey from most major cities in the country. Six buses depart daily from Havana.
From Havana, the drive is long: 9 hours (33 CUC). That being said, most of the tourists go to Camaguey from Trinidad or Santa Clara: the drive is shorter, 4,5 hours (15 CUC) from both cities.
Taking a “collectivo”, a collective taxi, is also an option. From Trinidad, the drive will amount to 30 CUC and last 4 hours or so.
Camagüey also has its own airport, Ignacio Agramonte International Airport. The company Cubana offers daily flights from Havana for 102 CUC.
You will have enough of one day to visit Camagüey. To explore the city, there’s nothing better than simply strolling around its maze-like streets and discover the city’s numerous points of interest along the way.
Plaza San Juan de Dios
In the heart of Camaguey’s historic centre, Plaza San Juan de Dios is a beautiful colonial square, one of the best preserved and best known in the country.
The square was built in 1728. Stop to admire the Hospital of San Juan de Dios, as well as the Church of San Juan de Dios. Climb on top of the steeple to enjoy a breathtaking panorama of Camagüey’s old city.
Parque Agramonte was named after independence leader Ignacio Agramonte, whose bronze statue stands in the middle of the square.
The park is a peace haven in the heart of Camaguey. Its four palm trees honour the four Cuban fighters who were executed for their participation in the city uprising of 1851.
While on the square, don’t miss the beautiful blue and white Moorish façade of Casa de la Diversidad.
Art lovers will also head to the Casa del Arte Jover, where painters Joel Jover and Ileana Sánchez exhibit their pieces.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
Located on Parque Agramonte as well, the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Camagüey, the Virgin of Candlemas. This baroque cathedral was rebuilt in 1864 where an old chapel used to stand. It was restored in 1998 for the visit of Pope John Paul II.
Visitors can climb on top the bell tower for 1 CUC.
Casa de la Trova
Camaguey’s Casa de la Trova is also located on Parque Agramonte. It is a paradise for music and dance lovers. Here, strollers are invited to a moment of relaxation while listening to Cuban music.
Camaguey’s Casa de la Trova is one of the best known in Cuba and often welcomes renowned artists.
Plaza del Carmen
Recently fully restored, Camaguey’s Plaza del Carmen is a peaceful break, a stone’s throw from Avenida República.
Statues representing Camaguey’s inhabitants, as well as tinajones, big terracotta jars, are scattered around the square.
Plaza de la Soledad & Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
You will find Plaza de la Soledad right on the corner of Agramonte and Republica, in Camaguey’s shopping area.
The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, with its beautiful ochre facade, is Plaza de la Soledad’s main attraction. Built in the 18th century, this church has come to stand as a symbol of Camaguey.
Plaza de los Trabajadores
Head to Plaza de los Trabajadores for one of Camaguey’s most memorable sight: a giant portrait of Che Guevara adorning one of the square’s buildings. You’ll find this image on most of the city’s postcards.
It’s also on Plaza de los Trabajadores that you’ll find the Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte: the house where famous independence hero Ignacio Agramonte was born. A small museum retraces Agramonte’s life and role in the First War of independence.
Before leaving Plaza de los Trabajadores, don’t miss the Iglesia y Convento Nuestra Señora de la Merced.
Parque Martí also deserves a stop, if only for the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. With its neogothic architecture, which is quite rare in Cuba, the church does look like it is straight out of Barcelona.
Camaguey’s Casino Campestre is the largest city park in Cuba and a meeting place for the inhabitants of the city.
The park features a baseball field, a football pitch and athletics tracks. Many cultural events, activities and concerts are also organised here.
A number of statues are scattered throughout the park. Don’t miss the gazebo by the entrance: it is dedicated to the aviators who made the first direct flight from Camaguey to Seville.
Our recommendations in Camagüey
Accommodation in Camagüey
Looking for a place to stay in Camaguey? We have a few recommendations:
- If you’re running on a tight budget, we recommend Casa Guerra, Casa Andres & Hostal Los Torralbo.
- If you’re budget is more comfortable, we suggest staying at Hotel E El Marques. It is ideally located in a beautiful colonial building right in the centre of Camaguey, on Parque Agramonte.
- Il est idéalement situé dans un joli bâtiment colonial au centre de Camaguey, sur le Parque Agramonte.
Restaurants in Camaguey
You’ll quickly realise that Cuba isn’t exactly a paradise for food lovers. We’ve found two restaurants which are absolutely perfect to break the monotony of chicken and pork cutlets!
You will find Restaurante 1800 on Plaza San Juan de Dios. The food is delicious and the staff is nice and friendly. Prices are decent: we paid 30-35 CUC for the two of us: mojitos tapas, main course and tea.
Café Ciudad is another really good restaurant located on Parque Agramonte. It is located in a nice colonial building with a patio. We strongly recommend the fish and shrimp skewers: they were delicious!
Services in Camaguey
Banks & currency exchange agencies:
- Banco de Crédito y Comercio: on the corner of Avenida Agramonte & Avenida Cisneros
- Banco Financiero Internacional: 21 Independencia
- Cadeca: Calle Republica, between Santa Rita & Oscar Primelles
- Bus station: Carretera Central
City information desk / Excursions & tours desk:
- Infotur: Ignacio Agramonte
- Cubanacan: Maceo n°67, inside the Gran Hotel
- Etecsa: Republica, between San Martin & Jose Jamon Silva
Around Camagüey: Santa Lucía
Head 70 miles north-east of Camagüey to find the seaside resort of Santa Lucía and its 12 miles of beaches.
Be warned however: Santa Lucia is quite a big resort. If you’d rather opt for a more intimate option, we strongly suggest to have a look at Cayo Levisa instead. That being said, if you’re looking for a nice beach where to sunbathe, dive and snorkel, Santa Lucia will do the job!