Viñales, a town in the western province of Pinar del Rio in Cuba, has been selected by the New York Times as one of 52 places to go in 2016.
“It’s a big world out there, so we’ve narrowed it down for you,” reads the introduction to the selection released today in the NYT Travel section.
The NYT has been publishing this ranking every January since 2008, but no mention of Cuba would be made until 2015 -in an astonishing second place, by the way- when the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba brought a lot of attention to the island, and helped to ease travel restrictions.
On that occasion, Cuba was included on the list as an entire country, so Viñales is the first region to be singled out in the country as a special destination.
The announcement came only one day after the NYT devoted one of its “36 hours in…” pieces to the capital of Cuba.
36 hours in Havana highlights what the author, Damien Cave, consideres to be some of the best spots to visit in the city.
Havana. 36 Hours. My take on the city’s changes and perennial charms and challenges. https://t.co/XQmippEhx3
— Damien Cave (@damiencave) January 6, 2016
How did Viñales make the list?
This year, the editorial staff published details about the selection process, anticipating frequent questions they get every year:
“First we contact dozens of contributing writers, many of them based overseas, for suggestions. We receive a few hundred ideas, and start with those.
“We aim for a selection of places that we expect to be particularly compelling in the coming year; reasons might include a museum opening, a new transportation option or a historical anniversary. So even though cities like Paris, Rome and Tokyo are always exciting, they didn’t make the cut.
“We discuss the merits and drawbacks of each suggested destination in a marathon-length meeting (or two) before cutting down the list. Our main goal is to have a variety of regions and interests, with some surprises mixed in. We also try for a mix of scale, including cities, regions and even entire countries.
The brief review of Viñales accompanying the entry on the tenth position describes it as “the real Cuba,” and points out that the “accessibility of Cuba for American travelers goes well beyond Havana.”
The area is renowned for its peculiar mountains called mogotes, and for its cigars and tobacco plantations.