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Pastel hues, '57 Chevys, neoclassical architecture — most of us imagine Cuba as a bubblegum-pink time capsule that smells like cigar smoke and coffee.

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And we want in.

Havana always steals the tourist spotlight, but to truly understand this destination, give yourself a week beyond the capital to explore the valleys of Viñales, Trinidad, and Veradero. Budget travel will be a bit more difficult than you probably realize -- and there are other things you should know before you go, too, like how the island has two currencies or how toothpaste and WiFi is 100% pure luxury.

You'll most certainly live differently here, but you'll love the "Pearl of the Antilles" all the more for it. Especially once you try the rum and authentic Cuban food.

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Watch: Freakish and rare water tornado in Cuba astounds people

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A Cuban love story

I’m Cuban-American. Here’s how I feel about Castro, Trump, and what history tells us.

Dear American travelers to Cuba: Please don’t come until you’ve understood these 11 things

Americans in Cuba: Everything you need to know

Videos From Cuba

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Bad news for Americans wanting to discover Cuba

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‘I love you, but you made me drink too much rum!’ — a video homage to Cuba

Tour companies are getting around the Cuba travel ban. Here’s how.

Can I still go to Cuba? Your Cuba travel ban questions answered

Cuba’s most famous food isn’t even from Cuba — or Miami

The 20 funniest Cuban expressions and how to use them

What it’s like traveling to Cuba as a Cuban American

Travel to Cuba just got a lot easier thanks to these airlines

This moment, exactly so — My 20-year portrait of Cuba

The exhaustion and exhilaration of survival — what I learned from 9 days in Cuba

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