Travel to Cuba to experience the spirit of Havana and the rhythmic Caribbean vibe

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
Country
Cuba
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
QUSH
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

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

  • 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 bust out some moves

  • 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

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.

  • As this trip covers a lot of land, you'll be spending quite a bit of time looking out of a bus window. Don’t forget your headphones!

Itinerary

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

Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! Set to the soundtrack and backdrop of the 1950s, tumbledown Havana is a capital unlike any other. A complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip. 

There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please expect a letter from your leader in the afternoon of Day 1 to confirm the place of your meeting (if by 5pm 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 - Buena Vista Social Club - CUC30
  • Havana - Cigar factory tour - CUC12
  • Havana - La Cabana Fortress canon blast ceremony - CUC8
  • Havana - Baseball game (Oct - Apr) - CUC3
  • Havana - Tourist bus day pass - CUC5
  • Havana - Ernest Hemingway tour - CUC70
  • Havana - Tourist bus to the beach (return) - CUC5
  • Havana - Vintage American car tour - USD55
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.

Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may be continuing on from Havana to start the second part of their trip – Grand Cuba (QUSZC). Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.
Havana's history is as colourful as it's cars and buildings. Today, you will be taken on a guided tour of the Havana vieja. Havana remains one of the great colonial cities of the Americas. An air of faded glory comes through in the peeling paint of some of its grand old buildings. Narrow streets, spacious plazas and Spanish architecture make it a charm to explore on foot. Pick up some Spanish during an informal Spanish lesson.
Afterwards, enjoy some free time to further explore on your own. Stroll along the Malecon or check out a vibrant baseball game (from October to May). Maybe try out your newly learnt phrases when you join the hundreds of locals lining up to eat a Coppelia ice-cream. Heavily subsidised by the government, a whole bowl will set you back about 10 cents. 
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
  • Havana - Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
On the way to Cienfuegos today, you’ll stop at the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron (approximately 2.5 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. Today you’ll discover the story of the Cuban victory at the Museo Giron, which holds displays of various military equipment and photos of the men who fought here. 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. Strap on a hired mask and some flippers and take a dive into sapphire-coloured water teeming with tropical marine life. Afterwards, travel on to Cienfuegos (approximately 1.5 hours), 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.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
  • Playa Giron - Museum Giron Entrance and Film
  • Bay of Pigs - Visit and swim
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Cienfuegos and head north to the final resting place of Cuba’s most famous son. In Santa Clara (approximately 1 hour), you'll visit the Che Guevara 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 it’s a short drive south, through the Topes de Collantes National Park to Trinidad, which sits on the scenic Caribbean coast (approximately 1.5 hours). For many visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is a standout destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is as well preserved, and the local 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 cobble-stoned streets. 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
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Live music venues - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit - CUC2
  • Trinidad - Disco in a cave - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Perhaps continue yesterday’s walk into the town’s history with visits to the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad. Both chronicle the struggles of the revolutionary period in the town's history.  At some point while you're here, you will undertake 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 local venue hidden within a cave!
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Informal Salsa lesson
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day) - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Musical instrument lesson (guitar, double bass, tres, percussion - per hour) - CUC10
  • Trinidad - Ancon beach shuttle bus - CUC4
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Trinidad is also the gateway to the Valle de los Ingenios, and a bike is a great way to explore the local area. Be warned however, Cuba's bicycles, like its cars, are vintage. 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).
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Trek to El Nicho Waterfall (taxi, entrance fee & guide) - CUC27
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today travel through the centre of the country to Camaguey (approximately 5-6 hours). Despite its size, Cuba's third largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial heritage. Exploring the city's winding streets is half the fun. The city was planned in a deliberately confusing pattern 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 to see its baroque frescoes. Camaguey has a rich tradition of cultural and technological leadership within Cuba. It is 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 - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Camaguey - Casa de la Trova - CUC3
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll take 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. Each taxi carries two passengers and the tour is led by an English-speaking local guide. 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. 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. This is where the locals come to buy their food once their monthly food ration runs out.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
Optional Activities
  • Camaguey - Ballet performance - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, head west along the Carretera Central to Santiago de Cuba with a stop in Bayamo. Today is the longest travel day of the trip. Depending on how many stops are made, this usually takes six to seven hours. Santiago is the hottest place in Cuba – in terms of both temperature and the vibe of the city! Set between the indomitable Sierra Maestra mountain range and the azure Caribbean, this city's historical centre and colonial architecture retain a timeworn air ideal for photographers.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
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 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
Optional Activities
  • Santiago de Cuba - Dance lesson (1 hour) - CUC15
  • Santiago de Cuba - La Gran Piedra Mountain (Entrance only) - CUC1
  • Santiago - Use of a Hotel Pool - CUC5
  • Santiago de Cuba - Music instrument lesson - CUC12
  • Santiago - Tropicana Cabaret Show - CUC35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
A spectacular five-hour journey to Baracoa will take you through the dry region surrounding Guantanamo, dotted with cacti and wiry goats, and then along the dramatic Atlantic coastline, before winding through verdant mountains to Baracoa. On the way you will get the chance to visit the Mirador de Malones for a pretty good view of the Guantanamo Naval Base and surrounding bay. At present this is not open to the public. If you are keen to see this, please ask your leader, and they will tell you if visits are currently allowed.
Baracoa is set on a beautiful bay, this was the first colonial town, and it’s one of the most beautiful in Cuba. You'll have a couple of days here to explore and relax. Take a walk around the town to get your bearings, then maybe head to a lovely black sand beach an easy walk from town. As one of Cuba’s major agricultural zones, Baracoa is a great place to try local foods. It’s one of the best places for chocolate, and street vendors and small restaurants offer 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
  • Guantanamo Bay - Viewpoint & Tower (Time & weather dependent)
  • Baracoa - 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)
Optional Activities
  • Baracoa - Bar and nightclub entries - CUC1
  • Baracoa - Duaba Finca tour - CUC15
  • Baracoa - El Yunque waterfall hike - CUC18
  • Baracoa - El Yunque mountain hike - CUC25
  • Baracoa - Hike to caves - CUC10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you have another free day in Baracoa. Why not set out on a hike through the rainforest to explore nearby caves and waterfalls. Perhaps pay a visit to Humboldt Nation Park, looking out for colourful parrots, lizards and hummingbirds. Take a boat tour down a nearby river, spotting wildlife along the way, or maybe stop in at a working farm to learn about life on the land. After the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail near the beach or check out the town's nightlife.
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Baracoa - Yumari river tour - CUC15
  • Baracoa - Humbolt park hike - CUC25
  • Baracoa - Maguana beach (return taxi) - CUC25
  • Baracoa - Duaba Finca river tour - CUC8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today take a one-and-a-half hour flight from Baracoa to Havana arriving approximately 4pm. Please note that it is not uncommon for these flights to be delayed. After arriving back into the capital, head to Plaza de la Revolución for your final taste of Cuban revolutionary history, watched over by the memorials of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, José Martí and Camilo Cienfuegos. In the evening Perhaps take a stroll along the malecon (ocean walkway) 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
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Jose Marti Memorial Tower - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is departure day. As there are no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Check-out time from the guesthouse is by 10am.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

14 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Private vehicle, Plane, Local transport

Accommodation

Standard guesthouse (14 nights)

Included activities

  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
  • Havana - Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
  • Playa Giron - Museum Giron Entrance and Film
  • Bay of Pigs - Visit and swim
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Trinidad - Informal Salsa lesson
  • Camaguey - Orientation walk
  • Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
  • Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
  • Guantanamo Bay - Viewpoint & Tower (Time & weather dependent)
  • Baracoa - Orientation walk
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion

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.

DUPLICATE ITINERARY: 
We run a reverse version of this itinerary - please see "Best of Cuba Reverse" QUSHR if you are looking for more date options.

 

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 Best of Cuba trips score an average of 4.58 out of 5 based on 332 reviews in the last year.

Best of Cuba, October 2017

Diane Rachinger

Best of Cuba, October 2017

Roshni Francis