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From the resplendent Spanish colonial architecture of the Old Town to the spectacular dilapidation of Havana Centro, a city of survivors and masterful musicians sways indefatigably to the syncopated beat of the rumba. Bereft of the consumer-driven trappings of other less colourful metropolises, Havana remains characterful, safe, and packed with a plethora of interesting museums.

For history buffs there's the living breathing essence of UNESCO-sponsored Havana Vieja; for beach bums there's the sun-splashed tranquillity of Playas del Este, and for everyone, there are some of the most charming inhabitants you could hope to meet. A stroll along the Malecón promenade is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, but time it carefully; aside from dodging entwined couples, you may need to avoid a dousing from the waves crashing over the sea wall.

All of the above are reason enough to visit, but what really sets Cuba apart is the fact that this is one of the last places on earth to see the Marxist/communist model in practice. The crumbling facades and empty shelves in government run food stores pay testament to the struggles the locals have to endure, yet endearing respect (despite a growing anti-Castro sentiment) for the revolution and its aftermath remains the norm, and plays a major part in the sense of solidarity one feels across the island.

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A Note on Price

Prices in Cuba vary greatly after having paid for flights. In Havana, luxury hotels can cost upwards of £400 per night, but out of the city, hotels cost a fraction of the price – some from just £20 a night.