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Explore eastern Cuba by bike, from vibrant Havana to Varadero and the peaceful beauty of the pristine Yumuri Valley. Explore Cuba by bike, from vibrant Havana to Vinales and the quiet beauty of Soroa

Experience Cuba from two wheels as you cycle around the east of this laidback Caribbean island. Travel the colourful streets of Havana, cycle alongside vintage cars on your way to the verdant Bay of Pigs, discover UNESCO Word Heritage Sites of Cienfuegos and Trinidad and experience Cuba beyond the rum and cigar scene. Pay homage at Che Guevara’s final resting place in Santa Clara, cycle the pristine and untourised Yumuri Valley, and enjoy the perfect beaches of vibrant Varadero. Enjoy the very best of eastern Cuba as you traverse this fascinating region.

See Cuba from two wheels as you cycle around this laidback Caribbean island. Travel the colourful streets of Havana, along dusty roads past farms and tobacco plantations in Vinales, beside vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages and get a taste of Cuba beyond the rum and cigar scene. Swim in Cayo Jutias’ clear blue waters, explore Che Guevara’s former HQ at the Cueva de los Portales and cool off in bubbling river pools near UNESCO-listed Las Terrazas. Soak up the best of Cuba as you traverse this fascinating country.


Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Destination
Cuba
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
QBXCC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Cycling through Caribbean Cuba gives you unique access to parts of the island that are off the beaten track.

  • Cycle through the lush valley of Soroa. Known as Cuba's Rainbow, the valley is rich in plant and wildlife

  • Cuba is recognised as the world’s finest cigar manufacturer. Learn how to roll a cigar with a local tobacco farmer near the small town of Vinales

  • After a visit to the temporary HQ of Cueva de los Portales and a guided walking tour of Old Havana, you’ll understand Che Guevara's important role in the Cuban Revolution

  • Ride through an often surprising variety of scenery; from the decaying charm of Old Havana to long dusty farming roads to dramatic limestone karst landscapes. Cuba has it all!

  • Indulge in some sun, sand and sea on the pristine beaches of Cayo Jutias

  • Cycle through the pristine valley of Yumuri, an untouched paradise far off the usual tourist track.

  • Pay homage to the legendary Che Guevara's at his final resting place in the very heart of Cuba, Santa Clara.

  • Ride through an often surprising variety of scenery; from the decaying charm of Old Havana to long dusty farming roads to dramatic limestone karst landscapes Cuba has it all!

  • Indulge in some sun, sand and sea on the buzzing beaches of Varadero.

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed)

  • This is a cycling trip, so it requires a certain amount of cycling fitness. This being said, there’s always a comfortable, air-conditioned support vehicle following close by.

  • Cash can sometimes be difficult to access in Cuba. Credit cards (not debit cards) are essential – ideally multiple credit cards from several different banks.

  • The Caribbean climate can be very hot and humid. It's important to wear the appropriate clothing, drink plenty of water and apply sun protection regularly. Lycra cycling shorts are ideal for warmer temperatures.

  • Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it's available it's sometimes unreliable. This is, on the other hand, a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday.

  • Cuba's roads aren't always paved, but when they are they can range from smooth to downright terrible. That being said, it’s a fun experience to share the road with tractors, vintage American cars and horse-drawn carriages.

  • While Cuban food can sometimes seem limited due to a ban on imported goods, your guide will steer you towards the best eateries in each destination you visit.

  • Cuba is different and that’s what makes it such a fascinating destination. You will find that things don’t always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Regulations concerning foreigners and currency may appear strange to you, transport sometimes runs late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. Cuba may not be wealthy in a monetary sense, however if you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Cubans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.

  • Import restrictions make the purchase of new bicycles a difficult challenge - our bikes come from a variety of different manufacturers but are all mechanically sound.

Itinerary

Bienvenido a Cuba! To make your arrival into often chaotic Cuba a bit easier a complimentary transfer from the airport to your accommodation (guesthouse) is included with your trip.

If you arrive early there are a wealth of options for you to enjoy. For a fascinating insight into the Cuban Revolution check out the Museum of the Revolution, indulge your inner literary fan on an Ernest Hemingway tour, join the locals for a stroll past the fading facades along the iconic oceanside Malecón or hire an open top vintage American car and simply cruise the streets and boulevards of Havana. There’s no shortage of restaurants or bars either – the vibrant Obispo Street area of Old Havana is sure to delight.

Today your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. As the group is sometimes spread between several (but nearby) guesthouses your leader will leave a note for you explaining where to meet and what to bring.

During the group meeting, your trip leader will ask you if you would like to contribute to the snack kitty. This is usually 20CUC per person. The snack kitty is spent on water, fruits, and local-made snacks. It is not a compulsory kitty, although as these can sometimes be hard to come by in Cuba in remote areas, the kitty is designed to make the purchasing of snacks easier and more convenient for you. The left over funds will be returned at trip end. You can find out more information from your leader upon arrival.

Your evening is then free to relax or enjoy an optional welcome dinner to get to know your riding companions a bit better – your leader will suggest some excellent options.

COMPLIMENTARY TRANSFER. Please see the Accommodation section of our Essential Trip Information for more detailed instructions.

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Ernest Hemingway tour - CUC70
  • Havana - Cigar factory tour - CUC12
  • Havana - Morro Castle - CUC3
  • Havana - Vintage American car tour - USD55
  • Havana - Revolution museum - CUC5
  • Havana Bike Hire - Ruta Bikes - CUC20
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel. This is to ensure your transfer from the airport is organised.
This morning you leave our guesthouse early with your bags and drive 15 mins to Vedado to meet your support crew and be fitted to your bike. Take a 2hr test ride from Outer Havana back to Old Havana to ensure everything is working smoothly.

Along the way we pass by John Lennon Park, Jose Marti Memorial, Plaza de la Revolucion, the Grand Theatre and the Capitol building before ending back in Old Havana at the Parque Cespedes. While the distance is a short 12kms the pace is slow as we enjoy the city and get used to riding in Cuban traffic.

Sate your appetite with lunch in a nearby café before enjoying a guided city walking tour of Old Havana, taking in the four most historic plazas, passing by Catedral de San Cristobal, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de San Francisco. Finish your walk with a special ‘one-of-a-kind’ surprise before we bundle into the support vehicle to be transported (1.5hrs) down to Soroa.

Known as the 'rainbow of Cuba', Soroa is a flourishing landscape of flora and fauna but this evening we arrive as the sun goes, with enough time to enjoy dinner then opt for sleep or meet at one of the guesthouses for Cuban cocktails and an introduction to the curious fascination Cuban’s have with the game of dominos. Be warned, the locals (and our support team!) are fiercely competitive and have spent countless hours honing their domino skills!

Riding distance: approx. 12 kms/7 miles, mostly flat with 80m/260ft of elevation gain

Road Condition – 100% tarmac in mostly good repair
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cycling Outer Havana
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we drive a short distance before taking a guided tour of the spectacular Soroa Orchid Garden. Set in 7 acres this serene oasis of flora features 250 species of plants native to Cuba as well as numerous species of birds.

From here you cycle west on good paved roads, sharing the streets with local traffic of tractors, bicycles, vintage American cars, old Ladas and horse drawn carriages to a picturesque hillside lake. Grab a quick drink or get your first taste of the famously strong Cuban coffee. Continue on to the San Juan River for a quick lunch then it’s time to join the locals for a refreshing swim in the same bubbling waters of that irrigate the local coffee plantations.

Continue by vehicle on to the small but renowned lakeside eco-village of Comunidad Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve set in beautiful green surrounds and home to a lively art community. Grab a coffee near the main square then visit the former home of the celebrated Cuban musician Polo Montañes and current studio of the famous modern artist Lester Campa.

After our visit to Las Terrazas, we drive (approx. 30 mins) back to Soroa. Tonight you can relax at guesthouse or head for drinks, pool, internet and of course, dominos.

Riding distance: approx. 24kms/15 miles, undulating with a couple of steep hills at the start, 450m / 1500ft of elevation gain

Road Condition – 100% tarmac (80% in mostly good repair, 20% in poor/broken condition)
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Las Terrazas - Eco-village Visit
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour
  • Las Terrazas - Casa de Polo entry
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Leave Soroa by support vehicle (approx. 1.5hrs) to hilly Cueva de los Portales, where the legendary Che Guevara stayed and trained the Western Army of the Cuban Revolution. This small cave gives you a fascinating insight into the life of the military mind of Che as well as the basic conditions he and his army lived in.

From here cycle on to Vinales. Set amongst low-lying mountains, this beautifully remote area will surprise you, being reminiscent of the limestone karst scenery of Vietnam or Southern Thailand, and is a perfect place to ride with very little traffic on the roads.

Today’s cycling route is hilly and we rate it a medium to difficult day. After a 2km ride on rough roads we hit the toughest climb we have on the tour. It’s definitely steep but thankfully it’s also short so it’s over pretty quickly – and the views from the top definitely make the challenge worthwhile. On a clear day you can catch your first glimpse of the ocean! From here the road climbs and descends before leveling out as we hit the valley floor as we continue on to the cultural interaction highlight of the trip; the delightful Mama Luisa. A local farmer for many decades, as well as providing a delicious local meal Mama Luisa specialises in giving the best hugs in all of Cuba – yes, even to sweaty cyclists!

From here the road improves as we head onwards to enjoy a short visit a tobacco farm, where a local farmer will show you how tobacco is dried and then rolled into cigars. Here you have the chance to purchase cigars direct from the maker and, if you’re lucky, you may even get a taste of this famous Cuban tradition.

Climbing back into the support vehicle we drive on a short distance to the UNESCO-listed town of Vinales, with enough time for a quick shower and perhaps a mojito before visiting a hillside farm restaurant for dinner (included). All of the food here is 100% organic grown locally and is truly delicious. Drinks aren’t included here, but in a twist you only pay for the mixers – the rum is free. Classic Cuba!

Riding distance: approx. 46kms/28 miles, undulating with a couple of steep hills at the start, 575m/1890ft of elevation gain

Road Condition – 90% tarmac (40% in mostly good repair, 50% in poor/broken condition), 10% Gravel
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vinales - Tobacco farm visit
Optional Activities
  • Vinales - Salsa lesson (per hour) - CUC10
  • Vinales - Live music venues - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast we board our support vehicle and drive (approx. 10 mins) to the Diego Rivera-inspired Mural de la Prehistoria. Painted on a cliff at the foot of the Sierra de Vinales, the huge eye-catching mural took 18 people four years to finish!

From here we cycle to the sublime Cayo Jutias. Retracing part of yesterday’s route we soon leave the towering limestone karsts behind and enter smaller roads through dry and flat farmland, with barely a vehicle to be seen. We have frequent stops today to refresh and refuel – your driver is always here with cold water straight from the vehicle’s fridge.

Despite the flat terrain today is our hardest one the bike as the conditions of the road are the poor with frequent gravel and broken tarmac sections. However the destination is definitely worth the journey and the conditions improve as we cycle across the causeway and catch our first real views of the ocean.

With its surreal white beaches and pale blue waters, Cayo Jutias is one of those perfect beaches you only dream about. After your ride stretch out on the sands and enjoy a packed lunch and fresh juice. Relax, go for a swim in the warm waters or walk away from the tourist crowd to the next beach along, where the locals often park those beautiful old cars on the beach itself.

After some time to soak in the atmosphere and splash about take the support vehicle back to town. It’s a 2hr journey so there’s plenty of time to put your seat back and snooze all the way back to Vinales.

The rest of the evening is free to take at your leisure- why not try one of the many live music venues or salsa the night away. For those craving internet access the entire main street is a wifi hotspot.

Riding distance: approx. 63kms/39 miles, undulating at the start then downhill/flat near the end, 342m/1120ft of elevation gain

Road Condition – 70% tarmac (10% in mostly good repair, 60% in poor/broken condition), 30% Gravel
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vinales - Beach excursion to Cayo Jutias
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information

After breakfast drive to the nearby lookout point for a view of the Vinales Valley before descending to the flat plains. From here we start our final ride, cycling through rural landscapes, passing through many small towns and communities on some of the smoothest tarmac in Cuba. Finish on top of a small hill – one last chance to be King of the Mountain. Celebrations are in order for finishing your own tour of Cuba as we enjoy one last delicious meal before re-boarding our transport for the short drive (approx. 2hrs) back to Havana.

On arrival in Havana, we bid farewell to our bikes and our support team before checking into our guesthouse/s. Make the most of a free afternoon to reacquaint yourself with Cuba's charming capital. Perhaps visit the Jose Marti Memorial Tower or your guide can help organise a final group meal in one of the many paladars in Old Havana.

Riding distance: approx. 42kms/26 miles, lightly undulating with 320m/1050ft of elevation gain

Road Condition – 100% tarmac (90% in mostly good repair, 10% in poor/broken condition)
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Jose Marti Memorial Tower - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information

Today is a free day for you to explore all that fascinating Havana has to offer. If the weather is fine this is the perfect day to hire an open-top vintage American car and check out the sights while cruising the streets or take in some culture at the National Museum of Fine Arts.

This evening you will have a welcome meeting at 6 pm to meet any new riders for the eastern section of the trip. Your leader will let you know the meeting point well in advance.

Riding distance: none
Optional Activities
  • Havana - National Museum of Fine Arts - CUC5
  • Havana - Revolution museum - CUC5
  • Havana - Buena Vista Social Club - CUC30
  • Classic American Car Tour of Havana - Urban Adventures - USD56
  • Havana - Jose Marti Memorial Tower - CUC2
  • Havana - Ernest Hemingway tour - CUC70
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the day with a bike fitting for the new riders, then transfer to the Bahia de Cochinos, better known as the Bay of Pigs, for your first cycling tour (approx. 30 kms).

Begin at Playa Larga; sitting at the head of the bay, this is one of the two beaches that was invaded by US-sponsored exiles in 1961. Cycle along the tree-lined eastern shoreline, past an incredible flooded cave called Cueva de los Peces (the Cave of Fish) to the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron – the other beach that was invaded – where you’ll get to rest your weary legs in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters. The bay boasts a deep underwater well and an outstanding variety of coral and fish – it’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing dip. For an extra treat, once you've finished swimming in the salty sea simply cross the beachside road and jump in the refreshing waters of a beautiful cenote, a flooded cave full of tropical fish.

Afterwards, head to Cienfuegos. Set out on an orientation walk with your leader before a free evening to spend how you please.

Riding Distance: about 30 kms/18 miles on sealed tarmac roads with approx. 190m/620ft of elevation gain
Included Activities
  • Havana - Leader led City Tour of Old Havana
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After fuelling up on an included breakfast, today you’ll set out on a 60-kilometre/37-mile bike ride to Trinidad. Cycle through along the rolling hills and past mango trees in the tranquil countryside before nearing the coast and it's stunning views.

Sitting on the picturesque Caribbean coast, Trinidad is a standout destination for many visitors. With its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, large plazas and sizzling salsa scene, it’s not hard to see why. Get acquainted with the town’s once-grand mansions, pasted-hued buildings, cobble streets and stunning gardens on an orientation walk. In the evening, why not practice your dance moves at one of the many live music venues or take in a folklore show at an open-air venue. Your tour leader can suggest a few of the latest hotspots for a night out on the town.

Riding Distance: about 60 kms/37 miles on 100% tarmac roads. Rolling terrain with approx. 460m/1510ft of elevation gain
Included Activities
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle - Free
  • Trinidad - Museo Romantico - CUC2
  • Trinidad - Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos - CUC1
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Now that you’ve experienced Cuba’s serene coast and atmospheric towns, today you’ll discover the country’s lush, tropical side at Parque Natural Topes de Collantes. This heavily protected nature reserve is a jungle-covered wonderland of limestone mountains, cascading waterfalls, caves, grottoes and incredible flora and fauna.

Drive to Topes de Collantes (approx. 20km), stopping at Mirador del Escambray to enjoy a fantastic view of Trinidad and the Caribbean, then climb onto the bikes and explore the Guanayara section of the reserve by bike, covering about 40-kilometres on mixed tarmac and gravel terrain, both within and outside of the reserve. Make a stop at Mirador del Hanabanilla for sweeping views of Lake Hanabanilla then lunch with the local before a swim in a natural pool with a beautiful waterfall.

Ride on a further 20kms then board the support vehicle and make tracks for the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Check out the bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and learn about his incredible life before arriving in Santa Clara, where you’ll enjoy an orientation walk with your group leader.

While mainly downhill today’s ride can be a tough one due to the short sharp inclines – but the views alone make it worth it (and the support vehicle is always there if you want the views without the effort)

Riding Distance: about 40 kms/25 miles, in hilly terrain on a mixture of approx. 70% tarmac and 30% gravel roads, with approx. 570m/1870ft of elevation gain
Included Activities
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast, drive 2.5hrs east towards Matanzas province and to the small town of Jovellanos where you begin riding today. The province is thankfully largely flat, with an enormous marsh to the south, rocky terrain to the north-west and cays and mangroves to the north-east. Uncover part of this vast province on a 30 kms bike tour, enjoying mostly flat roads passing through little towns and citrus and sugar cane plantations before arriving into the maritime port city of Cárdenas. This is a historical city where many things happened for the first time in Cuba, including the first ever raising of the modern Cuban flag. It is also considered to be the Cuban city of bicycles due to the amount of cyclists in the city.

From here it’s just a short drive (30 mins) to the resort town of Varadero and its outstanding beaches. Your accommodation for tonight is a bit more authentic than the string of all-inclusive resorts that line the coast however – you’ll be staying in a Varadero guesthouse.

Riding Distance: about 30 kms/20 miles with approx. 180m/590ft of elevation gain
Included Activities
  • Varadero - Orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Experience Cuba’s version of beach life with a free day in Varadero. After the past few cycling-heavy days, free time in the sun and sand is bound to be a welcome change of pace. Ask your tour leader about possible water-based activities and optional excursions on offer. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and snorkelling are all popular options. Perhaps head out on a dolphin-watching expedition or take a boat trip to nearby mangroves where flamingos, crocodiles, parrots and other wildlife can be found. Alternatively, simply find a patch of golden sand, grab a pina colada and enjoy the glorious views.

Riding Distance: none
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is an early start as we drive (approx. 45 mins) to Matanzas before getting on our bikes to explore the historic city then riding on to a seldom-visited paradise not far from Varadero’s popular beaches – the Yumuri Valley.

Tucked behind the hills that line the province’s northern edges, your 20-kilometre bike tour of the Yumuri Valley will reveal a stunning mix of rolling pastures, fields of palm trees, small forests and agricultural plots, with views of a faded colonial city and of course the beautiful valley itself.

The road in the valley is poorly maintained as is practically deserted and traffic free, meaning there are frequent potholes, but this only adds to the feeling of cycling through a part of Cuba so few tourists ever experience. This is your last planned bike ride for the trip, so make sure to enjoy it.

Afterwards, head to Matanzas city, the capital of Matanzas province, for a guided walking tour with your leader. Though slightly rough around the edges, Matanzas boasts a fantastic literary and musical heritage. It’s known for its poets, Afro-Cuban folklore and as the birthplace of danzon and rumba (two important Cuban dances). Then it’s a 2 hour drive to return to Havana. Take a closer look at Old Havana on a leader-led walking tour, finishing up at an excellent micro-brewery where you can toast the end of your active adventure a cold brew.

Riding Distance: about 20 kms/12 miles on poorly maintained tarmac and gravel roads, with approx. 290m/950ft of elevation gain
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Your Cuba cycling adventure comes to an end this morning after breakfast. There are no activities or cycling planned for the day. If you have not already organized a transfer to the airport, your guesthouse can usually arrange one for you – please discuss this with them the day before you need to depart.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Bicycle, Support Vehicle (Bus)

Accommodation

Guesthouse (13 nts)

Included activities

  • Cycling Outer Havana
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Las Terrazas - Eco-village Visit
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour
  • Las Terrazas - Casa de Polo entry
  • Vinales - Tobacco farm visit
  • Vinales - Beach excursion to Cayo Jutias
  • Havana - Leader led City Tour of Old Havana
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Varadero - Orientation walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

2019 is the first year we have run this combined East and West Cuba itinerary (although we have run trips very successfully in the west of Cuba for the last 5 years)
1. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
2. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
3. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitably sized bike.
4. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. You are unable to purchase or hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
5. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed)
6. 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.
7. The laws around health and safety in Cuba are very different than in more developed countries, even for government licenced accommodation. While we endeavour to source accommodation that is compliant to our own health and safety standards there will be occasions where the accommodation will not have a marked fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. Please ask your casa owner to explain the fire evacuation plan to you when you check in.

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.