Holguín is known euphemistically as 'the city of parks' but they're more squares than parks. It is Cuba's fourth largest city and has a laid-back and friendly atmosphere that puts visitors instantly at ease. Safe, charming and relatively easy to navigate, the gridlike central core is a great place to dip into everyday Cuban life without the violation of jinetero (tout) hustle. Indeed, local life ticks along sensuously here to a gentle rhythm all of its own. Check out the local sports program, drop by the dynamic Uneac (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba; National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists) cultural center or just sit outside on colorful Parque Céspedes drinking in the sights and sounds of a city of sturdy survivors going industriously about its daily business.

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