Days
8
Price from
$3,050NZD

Step back in time amongst the bewitching cities, towns and tobacco fields of Cuba

Cuba is one of the hottest travel destinations around and it is easy to see why. The country has a unique and colourful history that still dominates most aspects of Cuban life. Cuba is a Latin nation but it has a feel all of its own and on this short adventure, we experience many of these interesting facets. There's Havana, in all its faded glory, waiting to be explored. Few cities in the world can conjure up such emotions. Further on is the Vinales region, well known for its tobacco growing and cigar factories. On the south of the island is colonial Trinidad, where we can wander the cobblestone streets and listen to Cuban rhythms in the Casa de La Trova.  Throughout our Cuban holiday we are able to trace the history of the Cuban Revolution and, in Santa Clara, its famed icon, Ernesto Che Guevara.


Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Country
Cuba
Style
Peregrine
Code
PSTC
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
152 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • On the south of the island you'll discover colonial Trinidad, where you can wander the cobblestone streets and listen to Cuban rhythms in the Casa de La Trova

  • Discover the history of the Cuban Revolution. In Santa Clara you will visit the memorials dedicated to revolutionary hero, Ernesto Che Guevara

  • A guided walking tour of Havana helps you to understand the difference between country and city life in Cuba

  • Take in the colours and smells of the plants in Soroa, the valley known as the 'Rainbow of Cuba'

  • Stroll along the rural dirt roads of lovely Vinales as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages pass by

Is this trip right for you?

  • Cash is 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 kitchen sinks, are often scarce. Part of the experience here is learning to appreciate everyday Cuban resourcefulness

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

  • Most hotels in Cuba are government-run, which means renovations are few and far between. Premium guesthouses rival, If not surpass, most Cuban hotels when it comes to decor and service

  • 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, buses and planes often run 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

Itinerary

Welcome to Cuba! Bienvenido a Cuba! Arrive at Havana's Jose Marti International airport, where you'll be transferred to your Hotel. Your arrival transfer must be pre-booked, please ensure you provide your arrival flight details at least 14 days before the start of the trip. Please see "Joining point instructions" for more information about exiting the arrivals hall and connecting with your transfer driver.

In the evening, at approximately 6pm, meet your leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please expect a letter or a phone call on Day 1 from your leader to confirm the time and place of your meeting. Please come to this meeting with your passport, travel insurance and next of kin information. The briefing is followed by an included group dinner.

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.
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Revolution museum - CUC5
  • Havana - National Museum of Fine Arts - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have started their trip 15 days ago in Mexico city on Mexico & Cuba Highlights (PSCMC).
This morning at 9am your leader will take you on a walking tour of the lovely Old Havana (approximately 2.5 hours). Go to the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. The entry fee to the Camera Obscura lookout at Plaza Vieja is included. Afterwards drive west to Soroa (1 hour), where you'll enjoy some lunch and at about 2:30pm tour the beautiful orchid garden. A local expert will take you on a private tour of the gardens to identify the bird and plant species of this diverse area (approximately 45 minutes). You will easily see why the valley is known as the rainbow of Cuba.

Continue on to Vinales (1.5 hours), where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. Check in to the guesthouses around 5pm, leaving enough time to undertake a quick orientation walk before dark in the winter. Later, perhaps enjoy the porch rocking chair and soak up the slow, old-world pace of rural Cuba as oxen plod gracefully along the streets.
Accommodation
  • Standard Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour with local expert
  • Vinales - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Vinales - Live music venues - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
There are currently no Premium guesthouses in this area so you will be staying in a Standard guesthouse. Please be aware the comfort levels are much less in these rural towns than in the cities. Please see the accommodation section of this document for more information about what to expect.
At  9am go on a guided walk through the farm lands of Vinales (approximately 3 hours), which you'll soon see is home to some extraordinary scenery – some of Cuba's best. Learn more about the tobacco industry and see a farmer whip a world class cigar in seconds.
Take some time to find a local place for lunch, then regroup around 4:30pm to embrace the rhythm and learn a few steps in a salsa dancing class. Next, head to the top of the valley for dinner at an Eco-Farm. Everything is grown organically on the farm itself so get ready for one of the freshest dinner experiences in Cuba!
Accommodation
  • Standard Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
  • Vinales - Informal Salsa lesson
  • Vinales - Ecological Farm Dinner
Optional Activities
  • Vinales - Cueva del Indio (Cave visit with boat trip) - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Cave visits will require sturdy footwear, as they can involve walking across slippery rocks.
Prepare for a long travel day as you board the comfortable bus at 8am towards Cienfuegos. Drive back through Havana before stopping in the Bay of Pigs for lunch (approximately 5 hours). Use this time to take part in an informal Spanish lesson so you can converse with the friendly locals throughout the rest of your trip.

After lunch, go for a dip in the crystal clear water or simply sit back and try to imagine the battle, that you will soon learn about, played out in this monumental bay.  From here you aren't far from the Giron Museum for insight into the botched US Military counter-revolutionary invasion in the Bay of Pigs.

Then it is just a short drive to Cienfuegos (approximately 1 hour), one of Cuba's prettiest coastal spots. Arrive some time after 5pm and take a short orientation walk before checking in for the night.


Accommodation
  • Hotel Union or Similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa Giron - Museum Giron Entrance and Film
  • Bay of Pigs - Visit & swim
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Informal Spanish lesson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a free morning to explore. On your departure from Cienfuegos, visit the Palacio del Valle, Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Its grandiose carvings in Venetian alabaster strike an impressive pose in this beautiful seaside city.

Head inland to Santa Clara (approximately 1.25 hours) to lunch then visit the Che Guevara mausoleum. Here you'll see the statue of the iconic revolutionary leader looming. In the museum that accompanies the mausoleum, you'll find an intriguing spread of photos and other ephemera related to Che – letters, medical devices, firearms.

At about 3pm, complete the two hour drive to Trindad. During a guided walk of the town (1 hour), take in its eye-catching combination of cobblestone streets, colourful houses and old-fashioned locals. It's a great town to explore on foot, and almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities – from residents relaxing with huge cigars on their doorsteps to old Chevrolets cruising by.

In the evening take a trip out of town to a local house for a homely and festive dinner. Be welcomed with the local drink; Canchanchara made from 'fire water', local honey and lime juice. There will even be a musician or two serenading you and your fellow travellers as you dine.
Accommodation
  • Premium Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit
  • Trinidad - Private dinner at a local farmhouse
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Today is a free day in Trinidad. For some beachside fun and perhaps a little snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon. Just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin. At some point while you're here, a great activity is to go to a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues. Cuba has a rich and varied music and dance tradition that draws roots from Spain, Africa and France, and this is your chance to experience it all first-hand, from the Mambo to the rumba.
Accommodation
  • Premium Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Massage - CUC25
  • Trinidad - Ancon beach shuttle bus - CUC4
  • Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day) - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Musical instrument lesson (guitar, double bass, tres, percussion - per hour) - CUC10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In order to make the most of your last hours in Havana, head back to the capital at 8am. Upon arrival around 2pm, see outer-Havana in a convoy of classic American vintage cars for a Havana city tour (1 hour urban adventure) that cruises via points of intrerest such as the Malecon, Revolucion Square and ending in the suburb of Vedado to drop you at the infamous Hotel Nacional. Your leader will take you around the historic grounds and the photo wall of fame.
Perhaps for the final night of celebration, enjoy a cocktail in their bar overlooking the malecon.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Presidente or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Vintage American car tour
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion
  • Havana - Hotel Nacional Visit
Optional Activities
  • Havana - José Martí Memorial Tower - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning.
Optional Activities
  • Havana - La Cabana Fortress canon blast ceremony - CUC8
  • Havana - Buena Vista Social Club - CUC30
  • Havana - Cigar factory tour - CUC12
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nights), Standard Guesthouse (2 nights), Premium Guesthouse (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour with local expert
  • Vinales - Orientation Walk
  • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
  • Vinales - Informal Salsa lesson
  • Vinales - Ecological Farm Dinner
  • Playa Giron - Museum Giron Entrance and Film
  • Bay of Pigs - Visit & swim
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Informal Spanish lesson
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit
  • Trinidad - Private dinner at a local farmhouse
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Havana - Vintage American car tour
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion
  • Havana - Hotel Nacional Visit

Reviews

Our Essential Cuba trips score an average of 4.56 out of 5 based on 152 reviews in the last year.

Essential Cuba , February 2017

Cristine Thompson

Essential Cuba , February 2017

Michael COOPER

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Important notes

ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at time of booking.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available 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.