When we told people about our plans to visit Bayamo, everyone had an opinion. Lester, our host in Havana gave it two thumbs down, Roberto in Santa Clara told us it was a time-warp, people there are old fashioned but it's "muy interesante", and our taxi driver at the bus station told us it was "muy bonito! muy antiguo!" (very pretty and very old!). So, we weren't sure what to expect, or whether the 7 hour bus journey would be worth it.
Well, there was no need to worry because we loved it. There aren't many "sights" in the town itself, but with a refreshing lack of tourists compared to the other places we visited in Cuba, it felt relaxed and authentic. Our interactions with Cubans were more genuine here (there aren't many touts) and we really enjoyed just wandering around and people-watching in the little squares. Plus it's so pretty! On Saturday nights the main plaza fills with people for the weekly street party, with music and entertainment (and there's also meant to be street food stalls, although we didn't see any).
Our main reason for visiting Bayamo was to visit the Sierra Maestra, an hour away. After a beautiful drive through the mountains, we hired a guide to take us to the Commandacia La Plata (Fidel's hide out – if you've seen the film Che, then you know what I'm talking about). It was an easy walk through the jungle to the hideout, with plenty of good views along the way.