All the main highways merge into (or radiate out from) the city of Santa Clara, which boasts the must-see Complejo Escultórico Memorial Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara. A full day is sufficient for this city.
Northwest of Santa Clara, the Circuito Norte linking Villa Clara with Matanzas Province skirts the north coast and offers little of visual appeal. You can enjoy a massage and steep in mud at Hotel Elguea & Spa. Northeast of Santa Clara, the route passes through Vuelta Arriba and is superbly scenic.
I recommend overnighting in the town of Remedios to savor its historic charm. If possible, time your visit for Christmas week, when the entire town explodes in revelry; accommodation is in short supply at year’s end. When the dust settles, head out to Cayos de Villa Clara for sunning, swimming, and to reel in some game fish from the placid jade waters.
The Carretera Central through central Villa Clara will take you through aged provincial towns, although there are no sites of significance. The Autopista (freeway) runs through northern Cienfuegos and southern Villa Clara Province. East of Santa Clara city, the scenery takes a dramatic turn as the Autopista cuts through the beautiful hills of the Alturas de Santa Clara and passes into Sancti Spíritus Province. The main turnoff for the city of Cienfuegos is at Aguada de los Pasajeros.
The city of Cienfuegos is a popular destination with an intriguing historic city core. Nearby, the ho-hum beach at Playa Rancho Luna has a Delfinario with dolphin shows, and anyone with a love of flora will find fascination in the Jardín Botánico Soledad. By following the scenic southern coast road, you can use Cienfuegos as a gateway for exploring the Sierra Escambray.
You’ll need at least a week to see all the highlights, with two days for Cienfuegos, a day in the Sierra Escambray, one night in Santa Clara, at least one night in Remedios, and one or two days in the Cayos de Villa Clara.
Santa Clara and Cienfuegos are served by Víazul buses, and Santa Clara is a stop for Havana-Santiago de Cuba trains.