Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, was, until recently, considered the forbidden fruit of travel destinations for Americans. In 2015, the U.S., which had placed a 50-plus year embargo against the country, loosened its travel restrictions, thrusting the exotic, enigmatic spot on the map in the spotlight. The first commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba took off from Fort Lauderdale in August 2016, and in October of the same year, former president Barack Obama lifted restrictions on Cuban rum and cigars. Cuba soon soared to the top of travelers’ bucket lists as well as many travel publications’ must-visit destination round-ups. Today, the gorgeous beaches, fine cigars, friendly locals, colorful yet crumbling Spanish colonial homes, vibrant clubs, and nary a McDonald’s in sight are all major draws for sun worshippers, culture buffs, and history enthusiasts. And while visiting Cuba still feels like stepping inside a time machine—thanks to its vintage cars, scarce Wi-Fi, and charming cobblestone streets that sit alongside fruit stands and food counters in Old Havana—the country is certainly developing. Major hotel brands, like Starwood, are starting to set up shop in Cuba and mainstream cruise ships are setting sail. For a further glimpse into this mesmerizing destination, check out our video below and take a tour through the country (no passport required).
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