11 days

Classic Cuba

Classic Cuba

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Havana

Santiago De Cuba's Afro-Cuban culture

Havana's fortress, cigars and rumba

Ernesto Che Guevara Monument in Santa Clara

Camaguey's labyrinthine streets and alleys

Cayo Macho catamaran cruise

Trip rating
  • So much of Cuba’s charm comes from its people. Years of hardship have not dampened their enthusiasm for life and their friendliness and hospitality seem boundless; we can be sure of a warm welcome. After discovering the delights of Havana, we fly to Santiago de Cuba. This great city is the centre of Cuban music, so apart from enjoying the sights there’s time to sit back, relax and watch the world go by, as we sip our Cuba Libra and tap our feet to some great Cuban 'son' music. In Topes del Collantes we pause in our travels to enjoy some easy walking in the highlands before discovering the delights of colonial Trinidad. A cruise on the bay on board a catamaran gives us a day to relax, with the chance to swim and snorkel in the warm, clear waters. Crossing the island we arrive in Santa Clara, a city steeped in revolutionary history. Here we visit various monuments honouring Ernesto Che Guevara who fought alongside Fidel Castro and was one of the key figures of the Cuban Revolution. Our trip comes to an end upon our return to Havana.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Havana

    On arrival at Havana Airport you are transferred to your centrally located hotel. In the evening you meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please check the noticeboard at the hotel reception for confirmation of the exact time and place of the meeting. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

    Day 2-3 - Havana

    Havana (known locally as La Habana) is the centre of all things Cuban and to walk around its streets is like being on the set of a Hollywood movie. 1950s and 1960s American cars cruise wide boulevards, while paint pools from glorious Spanish colonial buildings. Old men in straw hats puff on huge Cuban cigars as Cuban ‘son’ music fills the air; it’s hard not to be drawn in by this evocative atmosphere. There is much to see in Havana and we explore both old and modern districts. In the Old Town we take a walk to the various squares such as Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja (Old Square) and Plaza de Cristo. We also visit the Palacio de los Capitanes Gernerales (which now houses the City Museum) and the impressive Capitolio Nacional, which is remarkably similar to the US Capitol Building in Washington DC. Stopping outside the Morro Cabanas Fortress, we enjoy great views of the city looking back on the famous waterfront esplanade known as the Malecon. In the newer part of town we see Revolution Square, Miramar Vedado and Havana University. Our organised sightseeing is usually done in one day with the next day left free to make our own discoveries. Highly recommended is a tour of a cigar factory or a visit to the Necropolis Cristobal Colon - a massive cemetery that looks like a small suburb (please note that we will be visiting an equally impressive cemetery in Santiago de Cuba). Ernest Heminway aficionados can take an excursion to visit his house and museum (closed Tuesdays) in the suburb of San Francisco de Paula, about 15km from the centre.

    Breakfast

    Day 4-5 - Santiago de Cuba

    We are transferred to the airport for our flight to the eastern part of Cuba (please note that this could be a very early start, depending on flight schedules which are variable and change at the last minute). Santiago de Cuba is the home of Afro-Cuban culture and rhythm and rivals Havana in literature, music and politics. The city has a noticeable Caribbean flavour, thanks to the French planters and Haitians who settled here in the 19th century. During our stay we visit Moncada Barracks, Bacardi Museum and Rum Museum, as well as the oldest house still standing in Cuba - the house of Diego Valazquez (1522), which is located in the centre of town. We also head out to visit the Santa Efigenia Cemetery, which houses the mausoleums of various members of the Barcadi family as well as that of Jose Marti - the man regarded as the 'father' of modern Cuba. An interesting changing of the guards ceremony takes place at Marti's tomb every half hour. Down on the coast of the Caribbean Sea we visit the Fortress of San Pedro del Morro. Constructed between 1633 and 1693, it is today a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered the best-preserved 17th century Spanish military complex in the Caribbean.

    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Camaguey

    We continue to the town of Camaguey, located in the country’s lush interior approximately halfway between Havana and Santiago. The surrounding countryside is dotted with cattle farms, citrus orchards and sugar plantations. The city of Camaguey always manages to surprise, with its twisting streets and alleyways that often manage to confuse travellers. It is a historic city that lends itself to exploration, so in your free time it is possible to hire a bicycle taxi (cost approximately 5.00 CUC) and do a optional tour without getting lost! Another renowned feature of  the city is the proliferation of huge earthenware water pots known as ‘tinajones’, which can be seen all over the place. These were originally used to store water in times of drought.

    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Trinidad

    We continue today by road through the hills and down to the historical town of Trinidad. Trinidad and its surrounding hills were declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Established by the Spaniards in 1514 and lined with cobblestone streets and colourful houses, the town of Trinidad is easy to wander around and almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities – from locals casually smoking their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes to old Chevrolets cruising by. It is easy to see why Trinidad is one of the most visited towns in Cuba.

    Please note that there is a shortage of reliable accommodation in Trinidad and many of the hotels experience constant water and electrical shortages. From time to time it is necessary for us to stay just out of town.

    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Trinidad

    Today we have a walking tour of this small, charming town. We will visit the Romantic Museum, which is located right by the evocative Plaza Mayor and houses a collection of beautiful period pieces. We also stop at the Canchanchara Tavern and sample its famous cocktail made from rum, honey and lemon. In the afternoon there is free time to wander and further explore this ancient town. There is open-air music on most evenings at the Casa de la Musica, which spills over in the cobblestone stairway on the side of the main church.

    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Cayo Macho Boat Cruise - Trinidad

    Today we board a catamaran for a journey across the water to Cayo Macho. This coral key, renowned for its pristine white beaches and thick mangroves teaming with bird life, is a great place to go swimming and snorkelling. We spend the day exploring the area and dining on a tasty seafood lunch before returning to Trinidad for the night.

    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 10 - Codina Trail - Santa Clara

    We get an early start after breakfast and drive into the hills to Topes de Collantes, located near the top of a range that separates the Provinces of Villa Clara and Cientfuegos with the coastal part of Sancti Spiritus Province. Here we embark on an easy hike along the beautiful Sendero Codina Trail and enjoy sweeping views over the surrounding countryside. After lunch we continue on to the city of Santa Clara, the site of a major battle in the Cuban Revolution. It was here that Ernesto Che Guevara defeated government troops, even though his forces were significantly outnumbered. Upon hearing of this defeat President Batista fled Cuba, thus assuring victory to Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries. Murals of Che Guevara and revolutionary slogans are plastered all over the city, commemorating the significant part it played in the revolution. We visit the Tren Blindado (Armoured Train) Monument, which marks the spot where the actual victory took place. Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia and his remains were uncovered and identified in 1987. They were brought back to Cuba and interred in Santa Clara along with those of other revolutionaries who were killed with him. We visit the impressive Ernesto Che Guevara Monument which is part mausoleum, part museum and undoubtedly one of the most significant memorials in the country. We visit the Che Guevara memorial and the Armoured Train. There is a dearth of reasonable standard hotels in Santa Clara, so we need to stay in one on the outskirts of town.

    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 11 - Havana

    After breakfast we return to Havana, where our tour ends. If you wish to extend your stay in Havana it is possible to book additional accommodation - this should be done at the same time you book your holiday. If you are planning to fly out from Havana today, we advise that you do not book to depart until at least after 2.30pm (14:30 hrs).

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, arrival transfer, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International flights, airport departure tax, visas where required, meals not included in the itinerary, insurance, laundry, any optional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSCC
Group size 4 - 15
Start City: Havana
End City: Havana
Style: Small Group

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