Like i mentioned in my previous Cuba travel post, Viazul provides several buses a day to/from major cities such as Camagüey, Havana, Sancti Spiritus, and Santiago de Cuba. A daily service to Varadero, Cienfuegos and Trinidad is also available.
Flying is also an option, and on hindsight, i should have just flown directly back to Canada from Santa Clara instead of taking the route via Havana. My advice is to get an open jaw ticket if you're headed east. Several Canadian airlines operate connecting flights between Canadian cities and the Abel Santa Maria airport so you have plenty of options. The airport connects some European cities such as Warsaw as well.
The adjacent museum provides an insight to the charismatic Che's life. There you'll see his transformation from a school boy to a revolutionary guerrilla leader.
Make a trek up Loma del Capiro aka Capiro's Hill for a view of the city. Che used this as a hideout and command center to invade the city in a battle known as Battle of Santa Clara during the Cuban Revolution.
Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado is another place where Che left his mark.
We wanted to go for the cigar factory tour to learn a little more about these pricy smokes (not that we even smoke). Guided tours (45mins for 3CUC) were said to be available. However, when we were there, we were informed that the tours have stopped since Oct 2012 even though the factory is still in operation. That said, the tours may be back in operation again with greater relaxation in policies.
Other than the above suggestions, if you're really lazy to walk around, you could just chill out by Parc Leonico Vidal, which is the main city square.
Catching a play isn't a bad idea if you understand the language. The theatre was rather packed.
At night, music and dance dominates the square. There were bands playing at different corners and people spontaneously breaking in dance. We joined in of course!
I highly recommend Casa stays in Cuba as they are a great way to interact with the locals. Also, they are cheaper than the hotels. That said, casa stays are booked using a trust system so it's the casa owner's words against yours. There can be situations of overbooking and you just gotta pray that they can find you alternatives as good as their casas. Remember to call ahead to reconfirm your reservations at least 2 days before.
For our stay in Santa Clara, we booked our lodging via BBInnVinales.com for 2 nights at Casa Hostal Autentica Pergola - Street Luis Estevez #61, Independencia (Boulevard) Y Marti, Santa Clara +53 42 208686/ +53 53427936. It was slightly more expensive than our other casa stays and costs about 30/35 CUC per night depending on the season. The casa comes highly recommended on several sites and i was really glad that i managed to book 2 nights here (it's a pretty place). However, they screwed up our reservation and we could only stay for a night. BAH!
Street vendors hawk their fares around Parc Vidal so you can dig into some porchetta sandwiches while people watching. The buns are freshly made from the bakery just off Boulevard street.
It's also interesting to see where our meals come from and I sneaked a few shots at the local market.
We had our best peso meal at Restaurante El Alba and even stood in line with the locals to get a table at this popular establishment. Another tip, remember to get your CUC changed into Pesos because you'll get access to these really cheap and good meals!
The grilled fish was only 70 Pesos and it was delicious as well.
BUT BUT BUT, we found a better quality ice cream parlor in Santa Clara!