Camagüey is Cuba’s easternmost, largest, and flattest province. Throughout the 17th century, sugar crops and cattle breeding significantly improved its economy and brought money to the province. It is bordered by the country’s two largest archipelagos: Sabana-Camagüey, known as the Jardines del Rey (Gardens of the King), to the north, and the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), to the south. Camagüey is a perfect place to discover peace and enjoy the greatest treasures of Camaguey, so here’s our guide to the best things to do in Camaguey, Cuba. Camaguey is the place to come to if you don’t want to be bothered by jiniteros, hustlers trying to sell you tours, or casa particulars to stay in.
The city of Camaguey is Cuba’s third-largest and surprisingly attracts few international visitors. Most people arrive here by way of the Ignacio Agramonte International Airport, but the Viazul bus transports visitors here too.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS. MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER
The Best Things to do in Camaguey, Cuba
Camagüey, in Cuba’s eastern half, is one of the island’s jewels. It is one of Cuba’s initial seven colonial communities, founded by Spanish colonists in the early 1500s, only a few years after Christopher Columbus first arrived in the New World. As a result, its UNESCO-listed meandering pastel-colored alleyways ooze history. At the same time, Camagüey, Cuba’s third-largest city, has also become a stronghold of art, and there’s enough to do in Camagüey no matter how long your visit. Here’s a list of things you should do while you’re here.
Stay in a Casa Particular in Camaguey
Casa Particulars are an awesome way to expand your knowledge of Cuban culture and a great accommodation option in Cuba. Casa Particulars are a type of guest house or bed & breakfast that rents rooms to travelers looking to live in a private residence, close to the authentic country, and within the heart of its neighborhoods and people. We’ve stayed in casa particulars the length and breadth of Cuba and love them. If you arrive in Camaguey on the Viazul Bus (read our guide here) then you’ll likely be met by Casa Particular owners wanting to sell you their rooms for your stay. Want to know more about Casa Particulars? Our guide is here.
Explore Camaguey’s Centre
The Historic Center of Camagüey World Heritage Site is an exceptional example of Latin American urban architecture. Its irregular urban plan has resulted in a unique system of squares, minor squares, twisting streets, lanes, urban blocks, and plots.
Visit the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church is the most unique structure in Camaguey because of its architecture, monumentality, and importance to the religious heritage. The church has a close relationship with the Institute of the Pious Schools and Dolores Betancourt Agramonte, a key figure in the city’s Catholic faith.
Visit Camaguey’s other churches
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced – This is undoubtedly Camagüey’s most magnificent colonial church, dating from 1748. Its past is rife with legends, including the one where a miracle figure floated from the ocean here in 1601, and it has been a place of devotion ever since.
Iglesia de San Lazaro – The Iglesia de San Lazaro is a lovely (though small) cream-colored church from the year 1700. The surrounding cloistered hospital was later built by pious Franciscan friar Padre Valencia to care for leprosy sufferers.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria – A tour through Camagüey’s religious history should begin with the city’s most notable church, which is named after the city’s patron saint. The cathedral was totally renovated using monies obtained after Pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit. It was rebuilt in the 19th century on the foundation of an older chapel dating from 1530. While not the most visually appealing church in Camagüey, it is notable for the majestic Christ figure that rises on top of a bell tower.
Iglesia de Nuestra Corazón de Sagrado Jesús – Parque Mart, a few streets east of Parque Ignacio Agramonte, is home to one of Cuba’s few neo-Gothic churches. The ornate stained glass, ornamental ironwork, and pointed arches of the triple-spired Iglesia de Nuestra Corazón de Sagrado Jesus belong to the architectural subgenre of Catalan Gothic.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad – This magnificent baroque structure, which dates from 1779, is gleaming following a much-lauded 2007 refurbishment. The church’s charming cream-and-terracotta tower really predates the rest of it. The beautiful baroque paintings and the sacred font where national hero Ignacio Agramonte was christened in 1841 make it a striking sight on the city skyline.
Iglesia de la Caridad – This church was built as a chapel in the 18th century on the city’s southern outskirts. It includes a magnificent silver altar (from about 1730) and an image of the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, complete with an embossment of Cuba’s national flower, la mariposa (white jasmine), and was renovated twice in the twentieth century (in 1930 and 1945).
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen – This 1825 twin-towered baroque beauty is a work of art. Monasterio de las Ursalinas, the old convent, is a strong, arched colonial tower with a lovely, secluded courtyard that previously offered sanctuary for victims of the devastating storm of 1932. Today, it houses the City Historian’s offices.
Iglesia de San Cristo del Buen Viaje – This church, located next to Camagüey’s Necropolis and facing a peaceful plaza, is perhaps the least frequented of Camagüey’s ecclesiastical octet. Still, it’s worth a look if you’re visiting the cemetery. Although a chapel was built here in 1723, the present construction is mostly from the nineteenth century.
Hang out at Casino Campestre
Take a relaxing wander around the Casino Campestre Park, taking in the monuments along the way.
The Parque Gonzalo de Quesada (Gonzalo de Quesada Park), also known as the Parque Casino Campestre (Casino Campestre Park), is located on the opposite bank of the Hatibonico River from Camagüey’s historic center. The city’s green center is a haven for recollections and a larger urban park that spans Cuba.
The Park, which was built in 1860, has numerous shaded seats, a baseball stadium, concerts, and other events. It also has lush trees, gorgeous sculptures, and historical artifacts in its interior.
A roundabout at the park’s entrance houses one of the park’s most prominent monuments. It is named after the Spanish pilots Mariano Barberán and Joaquin Collar. They were key figures in the first nonstop flight between Spain and Cuba, notably between Sevilla and Camagüey, in 1933.
Drink Wine in Camaguey
You probably never expected to come upon a wine cellar in Cuba! And La Cava provides a unique experience for visitors to Camagüey, with a wide selection of wines from Cuba and throughout the globe, some as little as US$10 per bottle.
The tapas are delicious and reasonably priced, and the cold, oak-scented environment makes you feel like you’re in a lovely old basement. If you want a fancy atmosphere with non-pretentious food, this is the place to go.
Explore Camaguey’s Museums
Martha Jiménez’s Studio Workshop – The art studio of female artist Martha Jimenez Perez, who has been called “one of Cuba’s greatest living painters,” is open to the public and is located at 282 Hermanos Ageero Street between Carmen and Honda in Camaguey, Cuba. Ceramics, lino prints, paintings, and sculptures, as well as an overview of her work and famous pieces, may be found at Martha’s studio.
Estudio Galeria Magdiel – Magdiel is a great wood sculptor who makes a wide range of little and large sculptures, many of which can be dismantled and rebuilt with ease, which can be seen at Estudio Galeria Magdiel. Estudio Galeria Magdiel is located at San Juan de Dios No. 26 B, Camaguey, Cuba near Restaurante 1800 and La Campana.
Casa de Arte Jover – Joel Jover and his wife Ileana Sanchez, two of the most talented contemporary painters, owned this studio near General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square. It’s a big, renovated colonial mansion with galleries in the front displaying his and his wife’s paintings.
Museo Provincial General Ignacio Agramonte – This museum, located in Av. de los Martires 2, Camaguey 70200 Cuba, is one of the best in Camaguey. The front exterior belies the interior’s style. Rooms full of things from ancient homes, classical paintings, and a minor natural history area surround a big courtyard/garden.
Fine Art Studio Noguel – Fine Art Studio Noguel located in Plaza del Carmen, Camagüey, Cuba. Fine Art Studio Noguel has handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces with high aesthetic and semantic importance.
Visit Plaza Del Carmen
Around 600m west of the madness of Repblica lies another sublimely lovely square, one that is less used than the major plazas. It is backed on the east by the magnificent Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carmen, one of the city’s most beautiful churches.
Plaza del Carmen was a ruin more than a decade ago, but it has since been restored to a better condition than the original. The center cobblestone plaza has been imbued with massive tinajones (large clay pots), ambient street lighting, and one-of-a-kind life-sized statues representing camagüeyanos going about their everyday business. There are so many of these clay pots around that Camaguey is known as the city of tinajones
Go to the Calle de los Cinemas in Camaguey
Cinema Street is a whole street devoted to all things related to movies. With five theatres, cafés, and other businesses paying tribute to the big screen, this is a must-see if you like watching movies.
Many of the complexes were built in the late 1940s and early 1950s but were neglected and finally fell into ruin. However, to commemorate the city’s 500th anniversary in 2014, the whole street was given a spectacular makeover. The theatres now show everything from the newest Hollywood blockbuster to indie Cuban flicks.
Drink Fabulous Cuban Cocktails in Camaguey
Most Cuban alcoholic beverages include rum, and the country is well-known for its cocktail culture. Cuba and Cuban drinks are well-known around the world for their flavor — to learn more about Cuban cocktails, check out our guide to the best Cuban cocktails. Here are some of the best spots to get yourself a great Cuban cocktail in Camaguey.
Gran Hotel Terraza Bar
The Gran Hotel’s cocktail master will mix mojitos and daiquiris as you look out the window over the city’s best view — all of Camagüey laid bare before you. Drop down to the swimming pool for the curiously addictive water ballet presentations, which take place multiple times a week at 9:15 p.m.
Bodegón Don Cayetano
This simple Spanish-style taverna, tucked underneath Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, is especially suited as a drinking establishment. There is an excellent wine selection, but more delicate cuisine may be found elsewhere. Tables spill onto the alley next door.
Bar El Cambio
This dive pub has one room, four tables, and a lot of atmosphere. It has graffiti-splattered walls and wonderfully named beverages.
This Beatles-themed pub has an expansive inner terrace as well as life-size bronze statues of the Fab Four. Locals visit for food and cold beers.
This lurid-purple boutique bar-restaurant attracts local youths. The sports shop attracts scantily dressed 18-to-25-year-olds for date nights and beverages before Noche Camagüeyana adventures on its mezzanine level.
Why come to Camaguey?
Camagüey is often forgotten by tourists traveling through Cuba. It isn’t as colorful as Trinidad or as intriguing as Havana, and it lacks the big-ticket attractions that bring travelers. But it’s precisely this aspect that draws in visitors for a unique and entertaining visit.
Where to Stay in Camaguey
Final Words on the Best Things to do in Camaguey
Camagüey is the easternmost, biggest, and flattest province in Cuba. The city of Camaguey is very different from other places that you’ll visit in Cuba. It’s completely non-touristy and you’ll get to experience a little normal life in this part of Cuba, the city of the tinajones! Camagüey is a beautiful spot to find calm and appreciate Camaguey’s finest attractions. Come to Camaguey and tell me if you like it as much as I do.