Cienfuegos is located on the Caribbean coast of south-central Cuba. The deep, natural harbor here made it one of Cuba’s chief seaports during the colonial period and in the 1740s a fortress, the Castillo de Jagua , was erected to protect the port from pirates; today the area is a major producer of sugar cane, mango, tobacco, and coffee.
Languid Parque José Martí is the center on which Cienfuegos turns. It’s flanked by government buildings, a cathedral, art gallery and the Teatro Tomás Terry and features the Arco de Triunfo (unique in Cuba), celebrating the country’s independence.
Punta Gorda, a narrow piece of land jutting into Cienfuegos Bay, forms a distinctly different part of town. In the early 20th century, this area was home to aristocrats who built beautiful homes and art nouveau villas. On the tip of Punta Gorda sits Palacio de Valle , once a casino (now a restaurant) and one of Cienfuegos’s main attractions. With arched windows, Moorish tile work and details throughout, it’s like a Middle Eastern palace. Head to the rooftop terrace for cocktails and Cienfuegos’ best views.