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.
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. 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. Ask your leader to help you book one of the many optional activities such as a Cigar factory tour, the Ernest Hemingway tour, or a cruise around Outer-Havana in a vintage American car.
Alternatively you could simply stroll along the Malecon or 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.
Take a one-and-a-half hour flight from Havana to Baracoa. Please note that it is not uncommon for these flights to be delayed. 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.
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.
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.
Today is another free day in Baracoa. Why not head 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 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.
A spectacular five-hour journey to Santiago de Cuba winds through verdant mountains, then along the dramatic Atlantic coastline, before taking you through the dry region surrounding Guantanamo, dotted with cacti and wiry goats. Time dependent, on the way you might get the chance to visit the Mirador de Malones for a pretty good view of the Guantanamo Naval Base and surrounding bay. At present the base 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. Continue on to Santiago de Cuba, picking up some Spanish during an informal Spanish lesson from your leader – 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. Santiago is the hottest place in Cuba – in terms of both temperature and the vibe of the city!
Today, head west along the Carretera Central to Camaguey 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. 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.
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.
Today travel through the centre of the country to Trinidad (approximately 5-6 hours), which sits on the scenic Caribbean coast. 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. You'll then have over two days to explore the area and soak up the atmosphere.
Today is a free day in Trinidad. 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, why not take in a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues. 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!
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).
On the way to Cienfuegos today, you'll drive north through the Topes de Collantes National Park 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 (approximately 1.5 hours) to Cienfuegos, 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 the way to Havana 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. 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. Then you’ll have the rest of the evening free. 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, perhaps it's time for a mojito or cuba libre and a final night of salsa in Habana Vieja's bars. Hit the streets and celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure.
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Check-out time from the guesthouse is by 10am.
1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. A single supplement is available for purchase on this trip. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. For the included internal flight ticket, please provide your full name exactly as per passport, at the time of booking or at least 45 days prior to travel.
4. We run the same itinerary in the alternate direction to offer another start day of the week due to flights - please see ""Best of Cuba"" (QUSH) if you are looking for more date options.
5. 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 14 days prior to travel.
6. The airport arrival transfer driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. If you have not booked the transfer prior to departure, or will not utilise it due to independent plans, please ensure you ask your booking agent inside 7 days of departure for your confirmed guesthouse name and address.
7. Guesthouse and rooming allocations are finalised inside a week from departure based on the configuration of each travelling party. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
8. A visa or tourist card, organised prior to arrival, is required for all nationalities visiting Cuba.
9. 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.
10. 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 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.
11. Certain aircrafts used by domestic Cuban airlines do not meet our safety standards. For your safety and that of our staff, we plan trips so that only approved aircrafts are used. Regardless of this, unfortunately Cuban airlines may change the aircraft from an approved to a non-approved one at last minute (i.e. at time of boarding). Should that be the case, alternative arrangements will be made. Alternative arrangements include, flying to a nearby airport and travelling the remainder of the journey by land, running the itinerary in reverse, or in some cases, completing the intended flight leg by land. The safest and most time efficient alternative will be preferred. Flight delays or cancellation may trigger similar alternative arrangements too.
12. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
Bounded to the north by the Atlantic, and in all other directions by rivers, mountains and forests, Baracoa is still largely isolated, which is one of its prime attractions. It has been called one of Cuba’s most charming travel destinations, thanks to the stunning diversity of local landmarks, like the distinctive flat-topped mountain El Yunque, and vibrant cultural scene, such as the annual street festival each April commemorating the beginning of Cuba’s War of Independence.
Cuba’s largest province, Camagüey is located in the centre of the island between between Ciego de Ávila and Las Tunas. It is a largely rural area. To the north lies the beautiful coastal scenery and abundant wildlife of the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago and stunning Santa Lucía beach. The pristine Jardines de la Reina archipelago cradles the province to the south.
Cienfuegos is a charming waterfront city situated on the bay of the same name. Its picturesque nautical setting has earned it the title, “the Pearl of the South,” a description that has endured for centuries.
Havana, the capital of Cuba, is the largest city in the Caribbean, and one of the most culturally rich urban centres in the world. The city’s appreciation of its glorious colonial past is on display at a dizzying array of castles, cathedrals, mansions and museums. The historic neighborhood of Vieja Habana (Old Havana) is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, with over 900 landmarks, including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral Square.
Santiago de Cuba has soul. Cuba’s second-largest city is justifiably proud of its heroes, beautiful plazas and vibrant musical tradition. Proximity to Jamaica and other tropical isles has infused the city with a distinctly Caribbean spirit that is seen in its art and architecture, heard in its music, and celebrated in its exuberant festivals – including the Festival del Caribe and the renowned Carnaval.
It’s easy to see why Trinidad has been called “the museum city of Cuba.” The meticulously preserved town offers a window into the past, from its sprawling colonial palaces and plazas to its remnants of sugar mills and slave barracks from another era. Soak up the rich Spanish colonial architecture by taking a stroll through the picturesque cobblestone streets of this very walkable city.
Plaza de Armas Square is the oldest one of the four Colonial squares in Old Havana, designed around 1520. At that time it was known as Plaza de la Iglesia (Church Square), due to it housed the Parroquial Mayor Temple, demolished in 1770 and located where nowadays is the Capitanes Generales Palace.
Discover the part of the recent history surrounding the Cuartel Moncada Headquarters, linked to the history of the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Contemplate the commemorative sculpture for the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Guevara in Bolivia.
If you are interested in the history of Cuba, you should visit this museum, since its walls summarize an important part of it through the testimonies which have remain of the moment in which Cuba tasted the victory for the first time.
Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes del Morro (Morro Castle) was erected between 1589 and 1630 to protect the mouth of the Havana port from pirates and invaders. The fortress stands on a rocky promontory known as El Morro, over the Atlantic.
The Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras Palace is located on the west side of Plaza de la Catedral Square, in Old Havana.
Topes de Collantes is a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountains range in Cuba. It also refers to the third highest peak in the reserve, where a small settlement and tourist center is located, all sharing the same name.
The ultimate in kitsch comes near the end of Calle 37 when, with a sharp intake of breath, you'll stumble upon the Arabian Nights–like Palacio de Valle. Built in 1917 by Acisclo del Valle Blanco, a Spaniard from Asturias, the structure resembles an outrageously ornate Moroccan casbah.
Batista planned to convert this colorful riot of tiles, turrets and stucco into a casino, but today it's an (aspiring) upscale restaurant with an inviting terrace bar.