Things to do

Explore Cienfuegos With Our Handpicked Activities Just for You

Flamingos at Reserve Laguna de Guanaroca near Cienfuegos

Photo: Alamy

Planning a Trip to Cienfuegos? Or Maybe You’ve Already Landed...

Either way, you're about to discover that there's more to Cienfuegos than just hitting the usual hotspots. Forget merely walking the paths of José Martí Park, snapping pics of the Cienfuegos Cathedral, or strolling down the Paseo de Prado—unless you enjoy just scratching the surface!


Dive deeper with us! Local secrets are the spice of life here, offering adventures and surprises that are anything but ordinary. Ready to add some zest to your trip? Here are our top six picks for unforgettable experiences in Cienfuegos.

Castillo de Jagua near Cienfuegos

Photo: Anton Lau

1. Visit the historic Castillo de Jagua fortress

Don't miss the chance to visit Castillo de Jagua, a fortress with over three centuries of history and a key cultural landmark in Cienfuegos province. This imposing structure, situated on the western shore of the Bay of Cienfuegos, has served as a defense against pirate invasions since the 17th century.


Pack your camera and start your adventure with a bus or taxi from the city center to the bay entrance, followed by a picturesque 10-minute ferry ride to the fortress itself.


Once there, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in Castillo de Jagua's rich history through a guided tour offered in both English and Spanish. Explore ancient corridors and archways, each echoing tales of maritime battles and historical fortitude.


Nearby, El Pescador restaurant offers local flavors and ice-cold drinks. Alternatively, you can grab a quick bite from one of the street food vendors in the area. Remember to carry some Cuban pesos and keep track of the ferry and bus schedules for a smooth return journey.

Flamingos at Reserve Laguna de Guanaroca near Cienfuegos

Photo: Alamy

2. Get up close with Cuban birdlife at the (almost) secret flamingo lagoon

Before exploring the historic Castillo de Jagua, why not start your day trip with a visit to the nearby Flamingo Reserve? This lesser-known nature sanctuary offers a serene escape where you can observe flamingos, herons, and pelicans thriving in their natural habitat. You’ll set out in small boats for a gentle cruise across the lagoon—a spectacular sight especially in the morning, as the lake comes alive with the vibrant hues and graceful movements of flamingos flocking together.


The best time to visit is around November and December when the flamingos return from Florida. You might also spot newborn flamingo chicks and mating pairs. With an admission fee of 100 Cuban pesos, the experience is truly worthwhile. Tours are available in both Spanish and English.


Remember to bring sunscreen, as the journey around the reserve takes about two hours, and the tropical sun can be intense. It’s essential to arrive early—before 7:30 AM—to secure a spot due to a daily visitors quota, ensuring minimal disturbance to the birdlife.

Teatro Tomás Terry in Cienfuegos

Photo: Anton Lau

3. Catch a performance at the grandiose Teatro Tomás Terry

Throughout the year, the grand Teatro Tomás Terry hosts an array of events, from theatrical productions and dance performances to lively concerts, all showcasing some of the best talents around.


Located in the heart of Cienfuegos at Parque José Martí, the theater is a marvel both inside and out. Its stunning architecture and exquisite interior, adorned with intricate details and meticulously restored artworks, offer the perfect backdrop for your next profile picture.


Be sure to check their social media for the latest show schedules. Tickets go on sale an hour before performances and are reasonably priced, making it accessible for everyone. A tip for first-timers: arrive early to snag tickets, as the theater's popularity can lead to long lines.


We also recommend visiting Café Tomás Terry inside the theater, one of the essential things to do in Cienfuegos. Open from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM, it offers a cozy spot for a cup of Cuban coffee or a casual lunch with friends, all at affordable prices.

Cementerio de Reina in Cienfuegos

Photo: Anton Lau

4. Explore the city’s history at Cementerio de Reina

A short 15-minute walk from the city center will bring you to the remarkable Cementerio de Reina. More than just a resting place, this cemetery serves as a gallery of poignant sculptures that tell the tales of past residents of Cienfuegos.


Among these, "La Bella Durmiente" (meaning The Sleeping Beauty) stands out. Sculpted by an Italian artist, this hauntingly beautiful piece commemorates a young woman whose 1907 death inspired a legend still mentioned among the locals today. The sculpture echoes the famous "Sleeping Beauty" of Granada, but with a uniquely Cuban twist.


As you wander the expansive grounds, you’ll also discover the solemn figures of Spanish soldiers from the 17th and 19th centuries, each statue standing as a silent guardian of history.

Museo de las Artes Palacio Ferrer in Cienfuegos

Photo: Anton Lau

5. Step inside Cienfuegos' art hub: Museo de las Artes Palacio Ferrer

If you're passionate about art, the Museo de las Artes Palacio Ferrer is your must-visit spot in Cienfuegos. This museum showcases an impressive array of works from Cuban visual artists active from the 1930s to the 2000s. Notably, it features pieces by graduates of the renowned San Alejandro School of Plastic Arts, including the influential sculptor Mateo Torriente Bécquer, founder of Cuba’s first Experimental School of Plastic Arts.


Stroll through the museum’s corridors, and you'll discover "El Sacrificio" by Mateo Torriente Bécquer, alongside original vinyl records from the celebrated Benny Moré that echo the rich musical heritage of Cuba.


The museum doesn’t just display art, it also hosts cultural performances ranging from microtheater to symphony orchestras, spotlighting both local talents and visiting artists, making it a highlight among the things to do in Cienfuegos. Located at the corner of Bouyón Street and Avenida San Fernando, the museum welcomes visitors Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 AM to 5 PM, at an affordable entry fee.


Insider tip: before leaving, visit the museum’s rooftop lookout tower for the best panoramic views of downtown Cienfuegos.

La Casona de Toqui in Cienfuegos

Photo: Anton Lau

6. Visit the quirky home of Cuba’s beloved TV puppet

Ready for a quirky dive into Cuban TV nostalgia? Visit La Casona de Toqui, where the beloved antics of Cuba's favorite puppet character come alive. Located opposite Cienfuegos Malecón on Avenida 35, this charming spot was once a puppet's home and now opens its doors to you as a hostel. It's a must-visit activity in Cienfuegos for those interested in cultural immersion.


As you wander through the gardens, you'll feel the echoes of the 1970s all around you. Inside, discover a captivating collection of local art, including pieces by Ana María Sala, the genius behind the puppet. The place is steeped in a retro vibe, mixing Soviet nostalgia with tropical flair—imagine that for a unique cocktail of culture!


Ideal for families, the garden includes horses and a small lake providing the perfect setting for children to play and learn about this iconic character through vintage TV episodes. La Casona de Toqui is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Written by Carlos Rojas.


Published May 2024.

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