Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuban province of Villa Clara.
Santa Clara is most central with regards to the province as well as the country. Santa Clara is the 5th largest city with 242,000 inhabitants (2010).
There are several trains from Havana each day. Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba are served by a daily overnight train and a twice weekly daytime local train that runs west on Thursdays and Sundays and east on Mondays and Fridays. A local train may leave Cienfuegos for Santa Clara (very) early in the morning, returning in the evening. Another local train may travel from Sancti Spiritus to Cienfuegos via Santa Clara in the morning, returning in the afternoon. Check that the local trains are running in advance.
As of October 2016, the fare for a shared taxi to Havana was approximately US$50-80.
Santa Clara is served by Abel Santamaría Airport. This airport is used by tourists who are going to all inclusive resorts in Cayo Santa Maria, as well as many travelers from the US who are engaged in person-to-person cultural travel. Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, Westjet and Cubana serve many Canadian cities from this airport, while American Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest airlines serve US cities. Bahamasair provides direct service to Nassau, Interjet to Mexico City, and Copa to Panama City. Many European carriers offer connections from France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK.
The waiting areas are hot, crowded and have little seating so if you will be in this area for as significant period of time it is best to walk cross the street and enjoy some refreshments at the outdoor cantina (open to the air but covered with an awning.
The post-security waiting area is climate-controlled and very comfortable with lots of seating. There is a small cafe serving snacks and cafe Cubano. There is also good selection of gift shops in the waiting area for departing passengers after clearing security, which includes leather crafts, clothing, books (in English and Spanish), postcards, and rum. Most prices are fairly comparable to prices elsewhere in Cuba.
Getting there: Travelers connecting with all-inclusive resorts and tours will often board buses in the parking lot across the street from the airport. Independent travelers can sometimes find taxis but more likely will need to rent a car or arrange for the 16 km (30 min) car ride to town from the operators of the rental car company at the airport. One should expect to pay approximately US$20 for the ride.
Currency exchange: For currency exchange at the airport, there may be an office open inside the terminal but often it will be closed. If it is closed, walk around the building to the northeast corner of the building as there will sometimes be a window open for currency exchange. The currency exchange stations are painfully slow but are accurate and will give you the best exchange rate possible. You will be asked to show a passport for currency exchange.
Pedicabs and horse carriages operate in the centre of town and can take you to Che's mausoleum. The price will vary based on distance but will likely range from US$1-5.
Taxis are also plentiful and cheap, but it is advisable to agree on a price before departure. Taxis can be used for both local travel as well as travel to other cities.
- Mausoleum for the fallen of the Revolution. Santa Clara contains the mausoleum for the fallen of the Revolution. Included in this mausoleum are the remains of Che Guevara himself. In order to maintain the sanctity of the place, photography inside the mausoleum is strictly prohibited. Also, there are no souvenir-sellers to be found nearby. There is also a Che Guevara museum, as well as a huge square (Plaza de la Revolucion) overlooked by a large statue of Che. Americans are, unofficially at least, not allowed inside the museum and mausoleum, although they don't ask for ID but just where you are from.
- Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado (5/10 min east of the center). The site of one of the most important battles in Cuban history, where Che Guevara and his men ripped up the railway line, derailing an armoured train, and defeated the men inside. The site shows the actual bulldozer used, and a number of the actual train carriages in situ. Inside the carriages are exhibits, with accompanying text, in Spanish only.
- Embalse Zaza. The largest man made reservoir in Cuba, 110 km SW of the city.
- 1 The Constantino Perez cigar factory. A working factory in Santa Clara open for visitors.
- Gift shops in the post-security area of Abel Santamaria Airport - Lots of handcrafts made of wood, leather and fabric. Books in English and Spanish. Cuban rum. Most vendors will accept pesos and major currencies.
- 1 Dino's Pizza, Marta Abreu No. 10. Has decent pizza. Internet access US$5.
- El Castillo. Peso-priced. Pork, chicken, salad, etc.
Cafes and cantinas are located in one section of Main Street (listen for the live music) where the usual Cristal Cerveza, rum and cafe abound. In fact, a real treat is the ridiculously cheap and fantastically fresh and tasty espresso located on the strip aka main boulevard.
- Casa Amneris, E.P. Morales No. 60 (between Villuendas and Juan B. Zayas), ☏ . 2 excellent rooms for rent. Optional breakfast and/or dinner.
- Hostal Park, Leoncio Vidal 1 Altos, Entre Parque Y Maceo, ☏ . Beautiful old casa overlooking the central square in Santa Clara City. Welcoming family. Breakfast included, other meals available.
- Isidro y Marta, Calle Maestra Nicolasas (Candelaria) No. 74 e/ Colon y Maceo, ☏ . Two rooms with private bath, hot water, air conditioning, meals available. Really nice family! The teenage boy and girl speak English. ~US$15.
- Hostal Julio, San Miguel (9 de Abril) No. 70 e/ Colón y Maceo, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Rooms with two beds, private bath, hot water 24h, air conditioning, fridge available. Breakfast available.
- 1 Santa Clara Libre, Máximo Gómez 6, ☏ . This is the largest building in the city center. €26 with nice breakfast.