Map of Best of Cuba including Cuba

Salsa your way from the colourful capital of Havana through the very best of Cuba.

From Cuba's historical streets of Havana to the pristine shores of the Caribbean, stroll through World Heritage cities, relive a fascinating colonial history and experience the rich heritage of music and dance that Cuba is renowned for. Dive into the incredible marine world and history of the Bay of Pigs, prepare to be wowed as you discover Baracoa’s mountainous surrounds, visit the birthplace of salsa and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience on this two-week adventure. From historic cars to fragrant cigars, and with plenty of rum and rumba in between, this adventure will take you into the heart of all things Cuban.


Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Destination
Cuba
Style
Original
Code
QUSH
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Old-world charm, rich history, exciting nightlife – evocative Havana is like nowhere else on Earth. See the difference between city and coastal life on a guided walking tour of the old capital.

  • Receive a fascinating insight into the rise and fall of the charismatic and highly celebrated Cuban revolutionary – Che Guevara – at his mausoleum and museum in Santa Clara.

  • With its vibrant music scene and Afro-Cuban roots, sultry Santiago de Cuba is a great place to bust out some moves and hit the dance floor with the locals.

  • Experience old-world charm in the colourful coastal town of Trinidad. Delve into the city’s sultry Latin rhythms with a salsa class and enjoy plenty of free time for seaside relaxation.

  • Take inspiration from the locals and mix things up with a bicycle-taxi tour of Camaguey – roll through the winding streets on two-wheels, visiting markets, plazas and an art gallery.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The guesthouses (casas) we use are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling and each room is unique. Regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water supply are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country – but we believe that this is all a part of the local experience.

  • Part of Cuba’s appeal is its old-fashioned style – this includes the banking systems. Funds in Cuba can be difficult to access. Ideally bring multiple credit cards from several different banks just to be sure.

  • Luxuries such as air conditioning, plush pillows, and fly screens, are often scarce. Part of the experience here is learning to appreciate everyday Cuban resourcefulness.

  • Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it's available it's often unreliable and expensive. Treat this as a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday.

  • Cuba is different, and that's a big part of its allure. Things don't always go according to plan, and many things don't work the same way as back home. Patience and good humour will go a long way in this beautiful destination.

  • As this trip covers a lot of land, you'll be spending quite a bit of time travelling. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

Itinerary

Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, the day is yours to explore. Consider a stroll through Old Havana to acquaint yourself with its colourful mix of '50s Americana, colonial architecture and budding modernity. There are plenty of good museums to check out, such as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts). Perhaps line up with the locals for a taste of the legendary Coppelia ice cream, or wander along the Malecon (ocean walkway), the sea wall that skirts the coastline. With so much to do in this eclectic capital, we recommend arriving a few days early to make the most of this exciting city.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
A complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.

Please see ‘Joining instructions’ for more information about exiting the arrivals hall and connecting with your arrival transfer driver who will take you to your guesthouse.

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Havana's history is as colourful as its cars and buildings, and today you’ll get to experience the magic of Old Havana on a walking tour with your local leader. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1982, this well-preserved area within Cuba’s capital remains virtually unchanged, making it one of the Caribbean’s most impressive historical cities. An air of faded glory comes through in the peeling paint of some of its grand old buildings and its narrow streets, spacious plazas and Spanish architecture make it a charm to explore on foot. Visit La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras and the Plaza de Armas. Also visit the Museo de la Revolucion, to learn about the history of the Cuban Revolution. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to further explore on your own – perhaps check out a cigar factory or cruise around outer-Havana in a vintage American car.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Leader-led walking tour of Old Havana
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say goodbye to Havana for now and head towards Santa Clara (approximately 3.5 hours), the final resting place of Cuba’s most famous son, Che Guevara, where you’ll visit his mausoleum and memorial. Che's remains were brought here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. Check out the impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and learn about his incredible life. Then, continue to Sancti Spiritus (approximately 1.5 hours). Founded in 1514 as one of the original seven settlements by the Spanish, Sancti Spiritus is now declared as a historic monument and the well-preserved architecture of long-gone centuries lives on. On arrival, enjoy some free time to explore this ancient town and perhaps check out Cuba’s oldest bridge and church.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Clara - Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum (entrance fee)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Hit the road this morning for a longer drive to Holguin (approximately 5.5 hours). The journey may be long, but the awe-inspiring scenes of central Cuba will make you wish it would never end. On arrival to Holguin, don’t be surprised if you don’t encounter any tourists – this lesser-visited city provides a real look into local life. Follow your leader on an orientation walk to get acquainted with the buzzing streets, charming plazas and colourful buildings, then make the short climb the Loma de la Cruz lookout point to see the city bathed in the sunset. In the evening, a visit to a live music venue awaits – Holguin is famous for its numerous music festivals and other cultural festivities held in the city throughout the year.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Holguin - night live music
  • Holguin - La Loma de Cruz (sunset lookout)
  • Holguin - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, hop back on the bus and travel to Baracoa (approximately 3.5 hours) through central Cuba, tucked between lush green forests and the vast Caribbean sea. An essential stop on the way is Bayamo, also one of the original Spanish settlements and a city that’s frozen in time – you’re more likely to see locals travelling on horses than in cars. Take a walk through this delightful, slow-paced city, then get back on the road and continue to Baracoa. Clinging to the coastline, Baracoa was Cuba’s first town, and stories of its past are every bit as intriguing as the beautiful city you see today. Join your leader on an orientation walk to get your bearings, plus some tips on how to spend your time here. You'll have a couple of days to explore the city and relax on its dazzling beaches. As one of Cuba’s major agricultural zones, Baracoa is a great place to try local foods including chocolate and local specialties like prawns in coconut sauce and banana-stuffed tamales. One particularly sought-after Baracoa specialty is the cucurucho, a sweet treat of coconut, sugar, and fruit wrapped in dried cone-shaped palm leaves.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bayamo - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Baracoa - Leader-led Orientation Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day to explore Baracoa. The town was only accessible by sea until 1960, and even after a road linking Baracoa to Guantanamo was built, the settlement maintained a small-town colonial feel. Uncover its individuality as you wander along its beautiful malecon or ramble over various forts that were built to withstand pirate attacks. The Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion boasts a bust of the indigenous leader Hatuey, who was burned at the stake for refusing to accept the Spanish and their Catholicism. You might prefer to chill on a beach or get active with a hike to El Yunke, the famous table-top mountain sighted by Columbus during his first voyage to the island.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Most activities in Baracoa have a minimum passenger number so that the suppliers avoid using some local cars which do not meet our safety requirements, and instead use a new model minivan. We recommend you avoid using a car known as a ‘Willy’ particularly if requesting a taxi for any activity – Willy cars are open-air jeeps with bench seats without seatbelts. Your leader will be able to communicate this if you require assistance in ordering a taxi.
A spectacular 5-hour journey to Santiago de Cuba will take you through verdant mountains from Baracoa, along the dramatic Atlantic coastline to the dry region surrounding Guantanamo, dotted with cacti and wiry goats. On the way, if time permits, you will get the chance to visit a lookout for a view of the Guantanamo Naval Base and surrounding bay (Mirador de Malones tower fee not included). In the afternoon, arrive at Santiago, the hottest place in Cuba – both in temperature and atmosphere. Set between the indomitable Sierra Maestra mountain range and the Caribbean, this city's historical centre and colonial architecture retain a timeworn air ideal for photographers. After an orientation walk with your leader, perhaps join with some of your travel buddies and head out for a group dinner. Alternatively, get a good night’s rest ready for a day of exploration tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santiago de Cuba - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Guantanamo Bay Viewpoint (time & weather dependent)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Set off on a 3-hour city tour of Santiago. You'll visit El Morro Castle, Ifigenia cemetery and the Moncada barracks and learn about the city’s rich history. For nearly a century, the city was the island's seat of power and it also played a vital role in the Revolution. The people of Santiago were the first to rise up in arms against government troops in 1956, and it was in Santiago on January 1st, 1959 that Fidel Castro declared the triumph of the Revolution. With a strong Afro-Cuban heritage it's no surprise that Santiago has a vibrant music scene and is seen as Cuba’s capital of music. It’s the home of son music, which is a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. Santiago's half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions, so you'll find many museums and cultural clubs around the city. The city is also famous for its energetic Carnaval celebrations and its lively Festival of Caribbean Culture. All this will entice the shyest, most left-footed dancer and the non-musically inclined to learn some salsa moves or take a lesson in local music.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santiago de Cuba - Half-day City Tour including El Morro Castle, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery & Moncada Barracks (guide, transport &entrance fees included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Head east along the Carretera Central to Camaguey. The journey takes about 5-6 hours with plenty of stops for you to relax and stretch your legs. Despite its size, Camaguey, Cuba's third largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial heritage. Exploring Camaguey’s winding streets is half the fun as the city was planned in a deliberately confusing pattern to disorient any would-be assailants, and as you walk through the city you may still see tinajones – large clay pots used for collecting water. On your explorations, stop by the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad to see its baroque frescoes. Camaguey also has a rich tradition of cultural and technological leadership within Cuba, it’s the birthplace of poet laureate Nicolas Guillen and home of the Ballet de Camaguey. Cuba's first radio and television emissions were broadcast from Camaguey, and the country's first airport and commercial flights were planned and executed here.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Camaguey - Leader - led orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a tour of Camaguey by bicycle taxi. Cycling is a popular form of transport in Cuba, and bicycle taxis are very common – in the confusing streets of Camaguey, it's a particularly good way to get around. On the tour, you'll visit a local market, parks, plazas and an art gallery. Your leader may suggest visiting a local farmers' market where you’ll get a fascinating insight into daily Cuban life and the local economy – this is where farmers can sell their produce after meeting the quota they have to sell to the state. Camaguey's is a particularly busy and colourful market and there are separate areas for produce sold by the state and produce sold by farmers directly to the public. There are plenty of interesting tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs available. Later, your leader will take you to a local bar where you'll get to compare a white rum to an aged rum – Cuba specifically is known as the origin of some of the smoothest and most sought-after rums on the entire planet.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Camaguey - Rum tasting in a local bar
  • Camaguey - Bicycle Taxi City Tour (guide and transport included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Each bicycle taxi carries two passengers and the tour is led by an English-speaking local guide.
Travel through the centre of the country to Trinidad (approximately 5.5 hours), which sits on the scenic Caribbean coast. On the way, stop at Ciego de Ávila for a lovely visit to a local jewellery workshop that sprung from a community-based project that trains the youth and the unemployed and much of the work on display are from local artisan made from discarded old silverware repurposed and recycled from stocks left over from the past more prosperous times in the country. Continue to Trinidad after the visit. For many visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is a standout destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is as well preserved, and the residents are extremely friendly and festive. Trinidad is steeped in religion, including the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, which has connections to Voodoo. On an orientation walk today, see the former wealth generated by the sugar industry in the town's once-grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill work and cobblestoned streets.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Ciego de Ávila - Jewellery workshop (Community-based project)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a good opportunity to visit the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Martires de Trinidad – both chronicle the struggles of the revolutionary period in the town's history. At some point while you're here you'll have the opportunity to get involved in an informal salsa class. Cuba has a hugely rich and varied dance and musical tradition that draws its roots from Africa and France. Many styles that have greatly influenced music worldwide originated in Cuba, such as Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, son and rumba. There’s also a chance to get a hands-on lesson with the musical instruments themselves in a percussion workshop. By now, hopefully you've learnt enough of the local rhythms to join in with the locals – maybe at a certain venue hidden within a cave!
A bike is a great way to explore the local area. However, Cuba's bicycles, like its cars, are vintage, which means a little bit of practicality may be sacrificed for the romantic element! There are also some great treks to be made in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains – maybe drive along the legendary twists and turns of the road to El Nicho, then hike to its beautiful waterfall. Playa Ancon is also close by – there’s plenty of opportunity for relaxing on its long, unspoilt beaches or snorkelling through the clear waters (just watch carefully for sea urchins, which can be a problem here). Party the night away at one of the town’s live music venues or why not take in a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson (1 hour)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel on to Cienfuegos (approximately 1 hour), known affectionately as 'The Pearl of the South'. Part of the city's appeal lies in its colonial centre, which features wide Parisian-style boulevards and elegant colonnades. Drive along the peninsula to see Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy, the Moroccan-influenced Palacio del Valle. On arrival, join your leader on an orientation walk to admire the city’s elegant architecture and glittering bay, then enjoy an afternoon for your own discoveries. The province is known for its coffee production, so perhaps find a spot to enjoy a fantastic brew, visit the Jardin Botanico de Cienfuegos, Cuba’s oldest botanical gardens, or head to Club Cienfuegos to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cienfuegos - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Cienfuegos - Palacio de Valle (entrance fee)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Onwards to the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron (approximately 2 hours), which sits on the eastern side of the Bahia de Cochinos, better known as the Bay of Pigs. It was famously here that the CIA sponsored a failed invasion by exile forces in 1961. It’s not just the history that’s the attraction here – with crystal clear Caribbean waters, a deep underwater wall, and an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it’s a haven for snorkelers. If there's time, hire a mask and some flippers and take a dive into sapphire-coloured water teeming with tropical marine life. Then continue your journey back to Havana (approximately 2.5 hours). On arrival, you may like to head to Plaza de la Revolucion for your final taste of Cuban revolutionary history, watched over by the memorials of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Jose Marti and Camilo Cienfuegos. In the evening perhaps take a stroll along the malecon or soak up the atmospheric vibes of the Old Town. At the end of a long day, it's time for a mojito or cuba libre and final night of salsa in Habana Vieja's bars. Hit the streets and celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bay of Pigs - Coastal swim stop
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end this morning. Check-out time from the guesthouse is 10 am.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

9 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle, Taxi

Accommodation

Standard guesthouse (14 nights)

Included activities

  • Havana - Leader-led walking tour of Old Havana
  • Santa Clara - Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum (entrance fee)
  • Holguin - night live music
  • Holguin - La Loma de Cruz (sunset lookout)
  • Holguin - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Bayamo - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Baracoa - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Santiago de Cuba - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Guantanamo Bay Viewpoint (time & weather dependent)
  • Santiago de Cuba - Half-day City Tour including El Morro Castle, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery & Moncada Barracks (guide, transport &entrance fees included)
  • Camaguey - Leader - led orientation walk
  • Camaguey - Rum tasting in a local bar
  • Camaguey - Bicycle Taxi City Tour (guide and transport included)
  • Trinidad - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Ciego de Ávila - Jewellery workshop (Community-based project)
  • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson (1 hour)
  • Cienfuegos - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Cienfuegos - Palacio de Valle (entrance fee)
  • Bay of Pigs - Coastal swim stop

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Best of Cuba trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Read details here.

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1 in Havana. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time. 
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 5 days prior to travel
4. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel to aid guesthouse and rooming allocations, which are finalised 10 days prior to departure based on the configuration of each travelling party. You may request your confirmed guesthouse name and address inside 7 days of departure from your booking agent. Rest assured, the transfer driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse.
5. A visa or tourist card, organised prior to arrival, is required for all nationalities visiting Cuba.
6. The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers. Proof of insurance may be requested at Havana Airport by immigration officials. 
7. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now, compounded with the impacts of the pandemic. This means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand for infrastructure, accommodation, and services. To help set your expectations correctly, please read the ‘Is this trip right for you?’ and ‘Joining point description’ sections in the Essential Trip Information Document.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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