Year-round Length: 8 days
If your time is limited, and you are more interested in Cuba's culture and its people than beach resorts, then we highly recommend this 8-day tour of Cuba. In one short week, it's an optimised way to sample some of the most interesting areas of Cuba within a day's drive from Havana. The tour takes you from the bustling and vibrant Havana, to the historic Santa Clara, and gives you the chance to experience the more traditional and rural sides of Cuba, with stays in Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Viñales. These places are common favourites for travellers who have come to Cuba seeking authentic cultural experiences. While Trinidad presents us with beautiful white sand beaches, colonial architecture, waterfalls, and a charming village atmosphere, Viñales offers stunning mountainous scenery, sprawling tobacco fields and friendly locals. A local Cuban tour guide accompanies the group throughout, and accommodation is nearly entirely in the homes of Cuban families.
Group Size: Minimum 2 / Maximum 12 / Average 7
- All accommodations — B&B Homestay in a twin-share
- Land transport along the route
- Guide service throughout7 breakfasts
- Airport arrival transfer
- International Flights
- Visa and passport fees
- All meals (except for breakfasts)
- Optional activities/day-tours/excursions
- Departure taxes and excess baggage fees
- Day 1 Arrive Havana
Havana has to be one of the most exciting cities in the world. Its definitely intriguing and unique. Your base in Havana during the tour is in one of our homestays in the middle of Old Havana. This part of Havana is Cuba at its most intense - narrow streets with old crumbling buildings and full of locals who are not placed there for the tourists but rather because this is their home. You will see them working, going to school, socialising, and going about their daily lives. Simply wandering the streets will give you a new experience and fill you with many questions about how the country functions.
The tour package itself does not include much time in Havana, so we recommend that you book an extra night or two in Havana, either before or after the tour. After the tour is probably preferable, as by then, you will have learnt a bit about how things work in Cuba and how to get around. Plus you'll have the chance to talk to your tour guide and get some recommendations of what to do and see in Havana. When you book the tour you can request these extra nights.
The tour package includes an airport arrival transfer. This is a private car that will take you directly from the airport to your homestay accommodation in Havana for the first night of the tour. Today is programmed as and arrival day so we haven't included any activities until tomorrow morning. You tour guide however will be in touch with you at your homestay, and communicate any group meeting times. For those who arrive early enough, the tour guide will arrange to get together and go out for dinner to explore Havana at night.
- Day 2,3 - Vinales - via Soroa
Before departing Havana, we have a guided walking tour of the historic centre of Havana (approx 2 hours).
An image of the valley of Viñales, Cuba From Havana to Viñales its about a 4 hour drive, and on the way we usually stop for lunch. Surrounded by picturesque limestone pincushion hills (“mogotes”), Viñales is a small and culturally rich village, with friendly and welcoming residents and wide variety of outdoor activities available. Exploring caves, hiking, biking, horseback riding or simply enjoying the views of the valley and sprawling tobacco fields below are all options. Viñales is one of the more agriculturally productive areas, so an abundance of local seasonal fruit and vegetables is always on offer such as enormous avocados and mangoes, pineapples, papaya, guava, and a several varieties of sweet potatoes. Its one of the cooler areas of Cuba, so its also a nice escape from the hotter parts of the country. The nightlife is very active in this village with the local residents more than willing participants in dancing to the local live music.
- Day 4 - Bay of Pigs / Cienfuegos
We head back past Havana to the French founded city of Cienfuegos through the densely vegetated Peninsula de Zapata swamp-lands, and along the beautiful Bay of Pigs. This is where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occured in 1961. There is a musuem here that recounts the events of this conflict which resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. We will also make stops at a beautiful swimming hole (cenote) which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank, and if the conditions are favourable, at beach for snorkelling.
Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades, and there is an ambience to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”.
- Day 5, 6 - Trinidad
For many visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is their standout favourite destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. Trinidad is steeped in religiosity, none the least of which is Santeria, which is one of several Afro-Cuban religions.
The thing however that visitors most love about Trinidad is the nightlife. There are no less than 10 live music venues all within a short walking distance. Many of these have lovely outdoor settings, in courtyards, and within the walls of old colonial ruins.
We are near the lovely Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) and Playa Ancón - where you can enjoy long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches. Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls, and horse-riding are other optional activities.
- Day 7 - Havana
On the way back to Havana we stop in at the town of Santa Clara, a key city in the Cuban Revolution. Upon entering Santa Clara, there is a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara, to commemorate his death and that of the revolutionaries who died along with him in Bolivia. There is also a museum here dedicated to his amazing life. Its one final night of the tour in Havana, and your tour guide will have some suggestions for a farewell dinner and fun night out.
- Day 8 - Depart Havana
Today you are free to depart at anytime.
Notes - Itineraries for the tour of Cuba can and do change during the course of the year due to a variety of reasons. We are not always able to advise you in advance of these changes. We ask for your understanding and flexibility in these cases.
Deposit: A deposit of US$200 (or equivalent) is accepted as an initial payment to reserve a place on a tour, and full payment is due 60 days before tour departure day.
Travel Insurance: Trip Cancellation/Interruption Travel Insurance is recommended and should be taken out at the time the deposit is paid. A comprehensive insurance package is also available which covers trip cancellation/interruption, excess hospital/medical benefits, baggage and travel accident insurance. Some exclusions for pre-existing conditions do apply. Please ask for details.
Additional Comments: Cuba is a lot more expensive than most developing countries. Be prepared to pay as much on the tour in Cuba for food and services, as you would in any western ‘developed’ country.In total as an estimate, where no meals or activities are included, you need to allow about 35 to 50 CUC per day for expenses for the tour not including local payment and souvenirs.
All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated and may be subject to change. Great Expeditions reserves the right to make changes in itinerary if it is deemed necessary.
B.C. Reg. 2622-4