Holguin

There’s something strikingly honest and self-assured about Holguín. As the island’s fourth largest city, it’s primarily comprised of parks and sacred religious sites — Loma de la Cruz being a particularly well-known hilltop landmark.Walk through one of the central squares for a bit and you’ll soon learn Holguín doesn’t make any effort to entertain its visitors. Overall, it feels less commercialized and more authentic. Rather than a handful of four and five-star hotels to choose from, you’ll find a group of casa particulars with generous hosts ready to welcome you into the family as long as you stay.It’s apparent in Holguín’s dining scene that locals appreciate homemade goods, from meals to beer. In fact, they brew their own beer. Apart from that, you’ll find dozens of tiny pop-up restaurants that serve lavish portions, yet won’t even nearly exhaust your wallet.Holguín also happens to have a baseball team known as The Cachorros. See them at the popular Calixto García Stadium, and feel the crowd explode just before the ninth inning. Watch as teenagers patiently stand off to the side awaiting autographs from their heroes. And while you won’t find hot dogs at this game, try the sweet cakes.About 45 minutes north of Holguín, you’ll find the coastal fishing village of Gibara filled with charming squares and worn Spanish-era buildings with a bay view. This is the place to visit if you truly want to get away — in fact, there’s no access to internet. A film festival draws travelers to Gibara just once each year, and as a result, the city is slowly opening casas and restaurants. But, as a point of interest, Gibara still remains primarily off-the-radar, for now. If you’re visiting Holguín, it’s certainly worth at least half a day’s trip to explore this relatively untouched land.

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