Santiago de Cuba
By planeCubana flies in from Havana several times daily for $110 each way.
There is also a weekly Service from Montego Bay, and a twice weekly service from Kingston, Jamaica on Air Jamaica Shuttle . The Cost of a return journey is approximately US$360 (June 2012)
Sunrise airlines flies to Santiago de Cuba from Port-au-Prince some 3 times per week for about $400 (round trip) (June 2015)
By trainOvernight train service along the main line from Havana via Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Camagüey runs 2 of every 3 days. The Tren Francés, running every 3 days with refurbished coaches from the old Paris-Amsterdam service, is Cuba's premier train, and the most reliable train in Cuba (which is not to say it is reliable). It theoretically departs Havana at 6:27 PM and arrives in Santiago the next day at 9:12 AM, stopping overnight in Santa Clara and Camagüey. The other train is a simple express with a few more stops and also runs every three days. One-way from Havana on the Tren Francés costs $73 CUC in first class (which is well worth it) and $50 CUC in second class (called especial), while especial on the other train costs $30 CUC. Note that unlike Víazul, students studying in Cuba pay in pesos. There are other services, such as a daytime train to Camagüey and Santa Clara on Thursdays and Sundays, returning on Mondays and Fridays. Local train service to Holguin has been suspended due to poor track conditions. As elsewhere in Cuba, check in advance before planning train travel–the schedules are always in flux. And expect to arrive late, maybe by more than 10 hours, even on the Tren Francés.
Santiago's is on the relative outskirts of town, so you'll want a taxi or bici-taxi to your accommodations.
By carTaxi fare from/to Holguin Airport is $30CUC/person.on a shared ride.
By busViazul busses depart from the train station. Four daily Viazul buses run to/from Havana, three local and one express (stopping in Camagüey only). There is also a daily bus to Baracoa, another to Trinidad (which runs daytime to Santiago and overnight to Trinidad), and a daily overnight from Varadero. From Havana, the price is $51 CUC.
The local is (too) relatively remote from the city center, so you'll need a taxi to get to/from there. A fairly nice plaza right next to it can be used, if you need to spend 1/2 hour or so.
Getting to Santiago from Havana takes about 15 hours on the local bus, and 12 hours on the express overnight.
Most of the historical center is accessible by foot, in fact for tourists it's the only reasonable option.
To get farther away, taxis in the city will "happily" take you for a ride for the whole day, for a price. Plenty of them can be found standing between Plaza de Marte and Parque Cespédes.
Parque CéspedesA kind of central park, picturesque part of the city - with the cathedral Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, few museums and pubs around. Castro announced victory here in 1959 from the town hall. The place is quite noisy, as it serves as an intersection for the traffic. Additionally, be prepared for street sellers, street music and especially in the evening jineteras.
Plaza de MarteA small park on the other side of the historical center of the city than Parque Céspedes.
Museo Provincial "Emilio Bacardí Moreau"
Balcon de VelazquezA terrace with a nice view of the bay.
San Juan HillA park, originally a place of fight in the Spanish-American War. Good views, displays of various monuments and old canons, souvenirs.
Outside the city:
San Pedro de la Roca castleInscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, easily combined with the following in a single day.
- Baconao nature park.
Valle de la PrehistoriaIn-line with similar "attraction" in Vinales, this somewhat remote and bizarre theme park displays statues of dinosaurs, mammoths and such. A cafe in Fred Flinsone style is also present.
Casa de la TrovaA famous music club, with (probably) nightly live music, with drinks available too. You can expect it being very full, esp. of 1-day and elderly tourists.
- Babylon Idiomas offers a wide range of affordable and high quality Spanish courses for all levels with experienced native teachers. Cultural and social activities are included in the programme. The school is located in the heart of the city in the district "Reparto Sueño" close to the Céspedes Park. New students can start on any Monday of the year.
José Antonio Saco streetA quite busy souvenir shopping street, esp. by Cuban standards.
- Every Saturday and Sunday, a street fair full of vendors of cheap eats starts up on Avenida Victoria de Garzón. This is a good place to try local specialties, including lechón or whole roast pig, Cuban-style fried fish, Cuban-style fried chicken, and chichurrones or fried pork rinds. Prices are in pesos and amazingly low. Probably Santiago's cheapest eats overall.
- Paladar (private restaurant) "Salon Tropical." The best place to eat in Santiago.
Hotel Casa GrandaOne of the most notable buildings, built in 1914 for Cuban Railroad Company. Drinks on the 6th floor roof top give you a spectacular view of the city at night, but also a normal bar and restaurant is available at the 1st floor.
Casas ParticularesAs is generally the case with booking casas in Cuba, don't assume the email works! It's often best to make a phone call once in Cuba.
Casa Elma & Davidphone: +53 22 62 06 56, +53 58 814996address: Rey Pelayo #6Centrally located, a few blocks away from Parque Céspedes. Extremely clean and spacious room, recently refurbished with two double beds, air-conditioning and balcony. The host Elma and her son David are honest and well-mannered. CUC 30 including breakfast.
Hostal Las Terrazas Santiago de Cubaphone: +53 22 620522address: Diego Palacios 177Lovely hostel in the heart of the old city and four blocks away form the central park and the cathedral. The terraces and the roof garden are lovely, with exotic plants and an amazing view of the harbour and Sierra Maestra mountains. The food is delicious and the service is spectacular. They speak four languages: Spanish, French, Italian and excellent English.
Casa Colonial 'Maruchi'phone: +53 22 22-07-67address: Hartmann 357A lovely colonial house that feature a large open atrium that is filled with all number of tropical plants. The rooms are small and a bit dark, but quite made up for by the rest of the cada. Maruchi is a wonderful cook and also something of an animal lover, with roughly 5 animals plus a fish tank at any given time. She'll send someone to pick you up at the bus station for 3 CUC
Sres. Odalys López Rodrígez Miguel Angel (Chichi)phone: +53 22 65 72 15address: Avenida Marti No. 159Casa colonial, clean casa, three room, very friendly hosts, excellent food with best coffee in Cuba, security, comfort, air condition
Sra. Vilma de los Milagros Román Jaénphone: +53 22 623315address: Trinidad (General Portuondo) No. 159Clean Casa, only one room, very friendly hosts, English spoken, air conditioning
Ing. Ruben Camara Pascual y Lic. Caridad Arafet Arafetphone: +53 22 620 305address: Jose A. Saco No. 515Air Conditioned, Cold & Hot Water, Private Bathroom, Excellent Food, Security, and Comfort
Hotel Casa Grandaaddress: 201 HerediaDating from 1914, this hotel right on the main square was a favorite of Graham Greene, who used it as a setting in his Our Man in Havana
ETECSAaddress: Cnr. Hartmann and Tamayo FleitesThis ETECSA is the only place in Santiago where tourists can get internet. As usual, no wifi is available, and the terminals here are particularly slow.