Matanzas is one of the most industrialized provinces of Cuba, on the territory of which oil refineries and sugar factories are located. The province is known for the beautiful beaches of Varadero, the city of Cardenas, the Zapata Peninsula, where the Biosphere Reserve and the Bay of Pigs (Bahía de Cochinos) are located.
Major cities: Cardenas (Cárdenas), Jovellanos (Jovellanos), Varadero (Varadero). Capital: Matanzas. Check 800zipcodes for other cities and countries as well as population and geography of Central America.
How to get there
Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport is located 20 km east of the provincial capital.
Viazul buses from Havana and Varadero arrive in the city of Matanzas three times a day. Several trains a day go to Havana, Santa Clara, Camagüey, there are also night trains to Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus and Santiago de Cuba.
In the capital, you can rent a car or moped at Micar, Servi-Cupet and Havanautos.
Weather in Matanzas
The climate is tropical and mild. The average temperature of the coldest month of the year, January, is 25-27 degrees. In August, the air warms up to 30-32 degrees. The rainy season runs from May to November, with the most rainfall in June and October. The water temperature in winter reaches 24 degrees, in summer – 28 degrees.
In the city of Matanzas there is a Mercado La Plaza market, located near the Puente Sánchez Figueras bridge.
Cardenas also has its own market where they sell fresh vegetables and fruits. The market is located on Av 3 Oeste y Calle 12.
To the northwest of Cardenas is a rum factory – Fábrica Arrechabala – here, in 1878, the Havana Club company was founded.
East of the city of Matanzas on the San Felipe road to Varadero, there are two restaurants specializing in Caribbean cuisine and seafood, respectively, El Ranchón El Paso and El Marino.
Creole cuisine can be enjoyed at Restaurante Teni, located next to Reparto Playa. Another Creole restaurant, El Ranchón Bellamar, is located near the Cuevas de Bellamar caves.
The beaches of the province of Matanzas
In the Bay of Pigs on the Zapata Peninsula, there are two magnificent beaches – Playa Giron and Playa Larga, where diving enthusiasts will be pleased with the variety of marine life – coral formations, gorgonians, sponges. Several flooded caves are also of interest.
The beaches are located in the southern part of the peninsula, 108 km from the city of Matanzas, 140 km from Varadero and 120 km from Cienfuegos. You can get to them by car.
Entertainment and attractions of the province of Matanzas
In the provincial capital, you can visit the castles of San Severino (Castillo de San Severino) and Castillo del Morrillo, the Pharmaceutical Museum (Museo Farmacéutico), the El Retablo Museum and the Museo Histórico Provincial Historical Museum.
San Severino Castle was built by the Spaniards as part of Cuba’s defensive ring in 1735. In the 18th century, slaves were housed in the castle, and later it was used as a prison where Cuban patriots were executed. The castle served as a prison until 1970, and now it is a museum dedicated to slavery (Museo de la Ruta de los Esclavos). The museum is located on Av del Muelle and is open to visitors from 9:00 to 17:00. The cost of visiting is 2 CUC (convertible Cuban pesos).
Castillo del Morrillo, built in 1720, is now a museum dedicated to student leader Antonio Guiteras Holmes, founder of the revolutionary group Joven Cuba.
The Pharmaceutical Museum is housed in a pharmacy founded by the Triolett family in 1882 and operating until 1964. The pharmacy was the first of its kind in Latin America. The museum is located on Calle 83 No. 4951 and is open to visitors from 10:00 to 17:00. The entrance fee is 3 CUC.
Castillo del Morrillo, built in 1720, is now a museum dedicated to student leader Antonio Guiteras Holmes, founder of the Young Cuba revolutionary group.
Theater lovers should definitely visit the El Retablo Museum, which contains collections of fantastic costumes and puppets. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00. Entrance fee – 1 CUC. Every second Saturday of the month there are performances at El Retablo.
The Historical Museum houses a collection of exhibits on the history of Matanzas from 1693 to the present day. The museum is open from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.
5 km southeast of the city of Matanzas are located the caves of Bellyamar, more than 2.5 thousand meters in length, and which are already more than 300 thousand years old. The caves were discovered in 1861 by a Chinese worker employed by Don Manual Santos Parga. One-hour tours to the cave are organized 7 times a day, starting at 9:30. To get to the caves, take bus number 16, 17 or 20 in the direction of the Canímar river and get off near Calle 226. Then a mountain path leads to the caves (the walk takes about 30 minutes). The cost of visiting is 8 CUC.
In Cardenas, located just 20 km from Varadero, the Jose Smith Comas sugar factory is located. There are guided tours around the plant where you can taste the sugar cane juice called Guarapo, visit the cane field and see the process of cutting it with a machete. And then go to Cardenas on an early 20th century steam locomotive and visit local attractions – the Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion church and the Museo de Oscar de Maria Rojas historical museum. The church dates from 1846 and is believed to be the first neoclassical building in Cárdenas. And the Museo de Oscar de Maria Rojas contains valuable collections in the field of history, art, natural sciences, archeology, numismatics and colonial weapons.
On the Zapata Peninsula (Península de Zapata), located in the province of Matanzas, there is a Biosphere Reserve “Zapata Swamp” (Ciénaga de Zapata), on the territory of which more than 900 species of autochthonous plants grow, 115 of which are endemic. Ciénaga de Zapata includes several zones – in fact, the Zapata swamps and the Las Salinas wildlife reserve.
On the Zapata Peninsula there is a place called Guama, which is a model of an Indian village, consisting of 12 small islands connected by wooden bridges.