Matanzas is the capital of the Cuban province of Matanzas (the second largest province in Cuba). The city is located on the north coast of the island of Cuba, on all three sides of the Bay of Matanzas. The bay cuts deep in the land and three rivers flow in the bay inside city, those rivers are: Yumuri River, San Juan River, and Canimar River. To the south, the landscape rises into a hill called Pan de Matanzas, which is the highest mountain in Matanzas and the 133rd highest mountain in Cuba.

Matanzas is called the City of Bridges, for the seventeen bridges that cross the three rivers that traverse the city. For this reason it was referred to as the "Venice of Cuba." It was also called "La Atenas de Cuba" ("The Athens of Cuba") for its poets. Matanzas is known as the birthplace of the music and dance traditions danzón and rumba.

Matanzas most distinctive features are an enormous marsh called ‘Ciénaga de Zapata’, the subterranean cave network of the ‘Cuevas de Bellamar’; the wide Canímar river, host to some great boat trips; and the enchanting tropical landscapes of the Yumurí Valley, but even though those are the most known places to visit in Matanzas there are hidden gems that any visitor would not like to miss.

Here is our selection of places to visit, to stay and to eat while you are visiting Matanzas

Places to Visit

Bellamar cave


Bellamar Caves

These caves are considered to be one of the oldest tourist attractions in Cuba; they are open to visitors since the 1860s. They are also one some the longest and deepest natural caves in Cuba. The impressive halls and galleries are filled with beautiful stalactites and indigenous paintings.

cuevadesaturno 1Cueva de Saturno (Saturn Cave)

Cueva Saturno is a very popular stop for all visitors in Matanzas, this big opening in the ground (cenote) is filled with fresh crystal clear water. You can swim of snorkel to see the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formations, fish, and blind shrimps.  

Cueva de los peces (Cave of the fish)

Another natural wonder in Matanzas is the Cave of the fish a natural aquarium cenote - described as Cuba’s largest natural flooded salt water cave that leads to the ocean. 

Ambrosio Cave ( in Varadero)

Feeling like Indiana Jones, come and see this cave, it is small cave but quite interesting…..

Río Canímar

Canimar river is a broad river host to some great boat trips that will let you enjoy the beauty of the Cuban countryside nature.

Cienaga de Zapata National Park (Zapata swamp)

Ciénaga de Zapata (Zapata swamp) is the largest swamp in the Caribbean and is also one of Cuba's most diverse ecosystems.   The marshes support more than 190 bird species, 31 types of reptiles, 12 species of mammals, plus countless amphibians, fish and insects . There are more than 900 plant species here, some 115 of them endemic. It is also an important habitat for the endangered manatí (manatee), the Cuban cocodrilo  and the manjuarí , Cuba's most primitive fish with an alligator's head but a fishlike body.  

cayo blanco

Cayo Blanco

Gorgeous land, white sand beach and beautiful blue water…


Coral Beach

It is a Coral reef of more than 5km along the bay, next to Carbonera Town and close to Varadero’s airport. At the Coral Beach you can do excellent Shore Dives and Snorkeling. There is more than 30 different Kind of Corals, small caves and lot of fish…  

Playa Giron

Playa Giron

Playa Girón is a beach and village on the east bank of the Bahia de Cochino, Ciénaga de Zapata area. Very peaceful and simple.



Host of great places to visit like the ‘Taino Village’ and ‘Guama Cocodrile farm.

Yumuri Valley

Enjoy its charming tropical landscapes and visit the ‘Iglesia de Monserrate’ (Monserate church),  this renovated church dating from 1875  perches high above the city and it was built by colonists from Catalonia in Spain as a symbol of their regional power.

Playa Jibacoa

Beautiful sandy/rocky beach that is popular with the locals and tourists alike.

House of Rum (Varadero)

Enjoy visiting the House of Rum and tasting some of the different Cuban rum.

Josone Park

It is one of the most popular attractions in Varadero. This nine hectares park, located in the center of Varadero is a real beauty do not miss.

Varadero Beach

Cuba's top beach destination that sits on over 13-mile-long peninsula with powder soft sands… 

Matanzas city

  1. San severino castle

    Viewpoint of Bacunayagua
  2. Castillo de San Severino

    Formidable castle built by the Spanish in 1735 as part of Cuba's defensive ring.  San Severino remained a prison until the 1970s and in more recent times has become the scantly populated slavery-themed Museo de la Ruta de los Esclavos .The castle itself, with its well-preserved central square, has great views of the Bahía de Matanzas (pictured right)

  3. Pharmaceutical Museum

    It is one of the city's showcase sights. Founded in 1882, the antique pharmacy was the first of its type in Latin America. The fine displays include all the odd bottles, instruments and suchlike used in the trade.

  4. Hershey Train Station

  5. Sauto Theater

    The defining symbol of the city according to Mexican painter (and admirer) Diego Rivera, the Teatro Sauto (1863) is one of Cuba's finest theaters and famous for its superb acoustics. The lobby is graced by marble Greek goddesses and the ceiling in the main hall bears paintings of the muses.
  6. catedral de san carlos

    Cathedral of San Carlos de Borromeo

    Beautiful cathedral full of history (pictured right)

  7. Laguna de Maya

    The Laguna de Maya is a Flora and Fauna. There are a reported 300 species of fish here and visibility is a decent 15m. The Laguna de Maya also incorporates a snack bar, a ranchón -style restaurant overlooking a small lake with boat rental and opportunities for horseback riding

Places to stay in Matanzas City 

  1. Hotel E Velasco 

Places to stay in Varadero

  1. Hotel Blau Varadero
  2. Meliá Marina Varadero
  3. Hotel Melia Las Americas
  4. Melia Las Americas

Places to eat in Matanzas City 

  1. El Bukan  Restaurant
  2. Paladar Mallorca  Restaurant
  3. Le Fettuccine  Restaurant
  4. Romantico San Severino  Restaurant
  5. Bistro Kuba Bar Cafe

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