Havana will always be the most cherished colonial city in Cuba, but there are a wealth of smaller towns and cities full of beautiful architecture and special Cuban charm.

Havana is without doubt one of the most iconic cities on earth, conjuring up images of classic cars, pristine beaches, intimate music venues and long brown cigars sloping out of the mouths of wrinkled veterans, who themselves have lived through a tumultuous and fascinating period of Cuban history. But such images would not resonate quite so much if they didn't belong to a city so richly adorned by colonial era architecture, which has survived so well thanks largely to the isolation imposed on this tiny Caribbean islands over the past half-century. Decaying and often derelict buildings continue, for now at least, to hold their own alongside the renovations that have taken place and there remains many grand colonial era hotels in which to stay during your time in Havana.

One of the very best examples of a colonial era town in Latin America is laid-back Trinidad, in the province of Sancti Spíritus, on the Caribbean coast. Built from the riches of the 19th century sugar trade, it is a time capsule which transports visitors back to an age of prosperity. The cobbled streets are lined with colourful houses, colonial mansions and Baroque churches, enriched by vintage American cars and horse-drawn carriages and brought to life by the rhythmic melodies which emanate from the various music houses throughout the centre. Trinidad is also a great base from which to head out into the nearby Escambray Mountains

With its wide avenues, pastel coloured colonial architecture and its pretty waterfront Cienfuegos is another popular city. Nicknamed the 'Pearl of the South', it boasts the Jagua castle fort, an attractive main square and pristine white sandy beaches nearby. It is also close to the historic Bay of Pigs - site of the disastrous US invasion of 1961, during the Cold War.

Other notable colonial era cities in Cuba include the Afro-Caribbean Santiago de Cuba, historic Baracoa, surrounded by forts and magnificent countryside and colourful Camagüey.

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