After decades of communist rule, Cuba is finally getting its time in the Caribbean sun

Lose yourself in the rhythm of vivacious Havana before setting out to explore Cuba's stunning coastline and weathered historical villages. Discover the unique combination of Spanish and Caribbean influences that shaped this country on a visit to rambunctious Santiago de Cuba. Learn whether you do, in fact, have two left feet in a salsa class and then brush up on your Spanish under the tutelage of your learned leader. Wander through the purposefully labyrinthine streets of Camaguey or marvel at the views from atop Trinidad's northern ranges. Whether you want to dance up a storm at one of Cuba's plentiful nightclubs or simply lie on its idyliic beaches, this emerging Caribbean hotspot has something for everyone. 


Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Country
Cuba
Style
Original
Code
QUSN
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we 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

  • Take inspiration from the locals and mix things up with a bicycle-taxi tour of the colonial city of Camaguey

  • Enjoy over two free days in Trinidad. Practice your Spanish in a language class, loll about on an unspoilt Caribbean beach or peddle through sugar plantations on a charmingly rickety bicycle

  • There's a lot more to the life of Che Guevara than what you'll learn from watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. Pay your respects to the famous revolutionary during an included visit to his mausoleum

  • After an informal salsa lesson, you'll be ready to hit the dance floor with the locals. With its vibrant music scene and Afro-Cuban roots, sultry Santiago de Cuba is a great place to practice your moves

Is this trip right for you?

  • The guesthouses (Casas) we use are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling but keep in mind that each and every room is unique. Regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country.

  • Funds can be difficult to access in Cuba. Ideally bring multiple credit cards from several different banks just to be sure.

  • Luxuries such as air conditioning, and even toilet seats, 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. This is, on the other hand, 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.

  • The bus used for the overnight journey is the same bus used for the duration of the trip and it’s not the kind of a sleeper bus that can be found in other destinations in Latin America. The seats have only a basic reclining function – similar to that found on planes on economy class. Sleeper buses don’t exist in Cuba just yet.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba. Attend a welcome meeting at approximately 6 pm. Please expect a letter from your leader in the afternoon of Day 1 to confirm the place of your meeting (if by 5 pm you cannot locate this letter then please ask your guesthouse owner if one has been delivered, or ask to call our assistance line listed in the 'Problems and emergency contact information' section of this document). We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. The tour briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner. As there's a great deal to do in Havana, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. If you arrive early, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.



Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Tourist bus day pass - CUC5
  • Havana - Revolution museum - CUC5
  • Havana - National Museum of Fine Arts - CUC5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please see "Joining instructions" for more information about exiting the arrivals hall and connecting with your arrival transfer driver. Please trust that your driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse.
Take a walking tour of Old Havana, a perfect first taste of the city. Your local guide will show you the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. After the tour you will have an casual Spanish lesson to help with blend in with the locals. Then, enjoy your free afternoon exploring Havana further.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance - CUC2
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion - Free
  • Havana - Vintage American car tour - USD55
  • Havana - Morro Castle - CUC3
  • Havana - Jose Marti Memorial Tower - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After lunch, start heading to the far East of the island which overall will take about 12 hours without stops. On the way (approximately 3 hours), stop in Santa Clara, one of the first major cities to be liberated by Castro's army in December 1958. Today a number of monuments commemorate this important period of Cuba's history, including the mausoleum of the legendary Che Guevara. After this stop you will have an casual Spanish lesson on the bus to help pass the time and to prepare you to blend in with the locals upon your arrival in Santiago de Cuba. Continue on until the group is ready for your included dinner. This is your last chance to stretch your legs before settling in for the night, although there will be regular enough bathroom breaks.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Informal Spanish lesson with leader
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
The bus used for this overnight journey is the same bus used for the duration of the trip and it’s not the kind of a sleeper bus that can be found in other destinations in Latin America. The seats have only a basic reclining function – similar to that found on planes on economy class. Sleeper buses don’t exist in Cuba just yet.
Stop somewhere along the way for breakfast before arriving in Santiago de Cuba around lunch, hopefully at check in time for your guesthouses. Had out for an orienation tour then enjoy some time for further exploration or take a nap. Santiago is the cradle of the revolution and home of the traditional son music, a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. With a strong Afro-Cuban heritage it's no surprise that Santiago has a vibrant music scene that will entice the shyest, most left-footed dancer out to learn some salsa moves. The city is also well known for its vibrant and energetic Carnaval celebrations, and its lively Festival of Caribbean Culture. Later, discover whether you were born with two left feet in a salsa class.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santiago de Cuba - Orientation walk
  • Santiago de Cuba - Dance lesson (1 hour)
Optional Activities
  • Santiago - Tropicana Cabaret Show - CUC35
  • Santiago de Cuba - Music instrument lesson - CUC12
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today your leader will take you on a three-hour city tour of Santiago. You'll visit El Morro Castle, Ifigenia cemetery and the Moncada barracks. For nearly a century, the city was the island's seat of power and it holds the title of ‘Hero City of the Republic of Cuba’ for its leading role in significant events during 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 in a broadcast message to the country and the world. Santiago's half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions, so you'll find many museums and cultural clubs around the city. Enjoy a free afternoon to soak up the best that Santiago has to offer – explore the city's incredible contributions to music and literature at one of its many museums, or pop in at Barrita de Ron Havana Club to sample some authentic local rum. 
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
Optional Activities
  • Santiago - Use of a Hotel Pool - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today head east along the Carretera Central to Camaguey. Today is a long travel day which, depending on how many stops are made, usually takes six to seven hours.You will get a chance to stroll around the Bayamo to break it up. If there is time on arrival into Camaguey, you will be shown around the city by bicycle taxi, otherwise you'll do this tomorrow morning. Despite its size, Cuba's third largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial heritage, and exploring the city's winding streets is half the fun. The city was planned in a deliberately irregular and confusing pattern hoping to disorient any would-be assailants. 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 with its baroque frescoes. Camaguey is also home of the Ballet de Camaguey, the second most important dance company in Cuba.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bayamo - Orientation Walk
  • Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
Optional Activities
  • Camaguey - Casa de la Trova - CUC3
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Drive approximately six hours to Trinidad. Get accustomed to the slow pace of island living on an orientation walk. For most visitors to Cuba, the World Heritage site of Trinidad is their standout favourite destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. The town rose to prominence during the sugar boom and the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town's once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets. 
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Disco in a cave - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Live music venues - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Trinidad is also steeped in religion, such as Santeria, which is one of the Afro-Cuban religions (related to voodoo). In your free time today, why not pay a visit to a Santeria priest and learn more about this fascinating religion. Alternatively, soak up the sun in beautiful Playa Ancon, a postcard-perfect coastal spot. A hike to the northern mountains is also highly recommended.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Ancon beach shuttle bus - CUC4
  • Trinidad - Cayo Blanco island catamaran cruise - CUC45
  • Trinidad - Trek to El Nicho Waterfall (taxi, entrance fee & guide) - CUC27
  • Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day) - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Massage - CUC25
  • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson - CUC8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave behind the pictureqesue beaches and mountains of Trinidad and return to Havana. There is still time to visit a cigar factory, learn more about Ernest Hemingway or simply to take the time to appreciate the city's diverse architecture. Perhaps celebrate the last night of the tour with a show at one of Havana's famous cabaret clubs such as Tropicana. Or show off your moves at one of the many salsa clubs.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Buena Vista Social Club - CUC30
  • Havana - Cigar factory tour - CUC12
  • Havana - Ernest Hemingway tour - CUC70
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Check-out time is 10 am.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Standard guesthouse (8 nights), Overnight bus (1 night)

Included activities

  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Informal Spanish lesson with leader
  • Santiago de Cuba - Orientation walk
  • Santiago de Cuba - Dance lesson (1 hour)
  • Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
  • Bayamo - Orientation Walk
  • Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

START AND END TIME:
On Day 1 there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at approximately 6pm. There are no activities planned for the final day.

COMPLIMENTARY ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
To book your complimentary arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available for purchase on this trip.

CUBA TOURIST CARD:
Tourists cards are required for all nationalities visiting Cuba. Travel Insurance is also compulsory, please refer to trip notes for further details regarding this.

CUBA:
There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and crowds.

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.

Reviews

Our Cuba Explorer trips score an average of 3.77 out of 5 based on 13 reviews in the last year.

Cuba Explorer, September 2017

Michael MacDonald

Cuba Explorer, August 2017

JOANNE RASDELL