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Santiago de Cuba: Fact file

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When to go

Santiago is hot all the year around but especially in summer when there is little breeze to relieve the high temperatures (Carnival, Jul, is a strong draw though). Oct is the rainiest month but there is plenty of sun all year around. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency

You can purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at banks or in money exchanges (cadecas). US dollars are not accepted so you need to take cash in sterling. Euros are also accepted but the rate may not be as favourable. There are some ATM machines which supposedly accept debit cards but they are not always reliable. You can also get cash with a credit or debit card (not issued by a US bank).

The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.

Time difference

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

Getting there

Santiago is 861 km by road from Havana (10+ hours) or 2 hours by air; 138 km from Holguin airport.

Combines with

Baracoa, (234 km) small, unspoilt colonial coastal town; Camagüey (327 km); Trinidad (581 km) the most well preserved colonial town; the beach at Guardalavaca (174 km).

Key events

Festival de Baile: Santiago, 15-19 May. 
A street dance festival.Carnival: Santiago, 18-27 Jul. The biggest and best Carnival in Cuba, incorporating the celebrations of the revolutionaries’ attack on Moncada Barracks on 26 Jul. Buildings are adorned with lights and there are parades and floats.

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