Think of Varadero, Cuba, and it’s likely a vision of turquoise waters, tropical sunshine and sipping mojitos under a beach palapa that immediately springs to mind. But for those who prefer their vacation with tee time, the popular resort town is also home to the only 18-hole golf course in the whole country: Varadero Golf Club.
Located in the middle of the Hicacos Peninsula, the island’s largest green sits on what was once the private estate of French-American millionaire Irénée du Pont de Nemours, who purchased the property in 1927 as a post-retirement winter getaway. The current par 72 golf course dates back to 1999 and has a Canadian connection: It was designed by Canmore, Alberta-based architect Les Furber — a legend in the business — who has created more than 65 original golf courses around the world.
Furber is famous for making golf courses that are visually appealing, creatively routed, and fun to play no matter what your skill level — all qualities reflected in Varadero Golf Club. If you prefer variety in terrain, you’ve come to the right place: the layout incorporates three distinct architectural styles.
Making a shortlist of Havana’s architectural gems is no easy task: The city recently celebrated its 500th birthday, and there are more than 900 sites of historical significance just in its old quarter (Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Whether you’re fascinated by Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Deco or Modernist styling, it’s all here – the eclectic aesthetic reflecting Spanish, French, American and other influences. Consider the following sites just a few starting points.
1. Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso
This neo-Baroque grand theatre serves up drama inside and out: The façade is famous for its extravagant detailing, including sculptures by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti, while the stages are the home turf of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. The building integrates what was once Teatro Tacón, an opera house opened in 1838; more recently, it has undergone a major renovation, re-opening in 2016 to reclaim its place as Havana’s pre-eminent spot for the performing arts.