Year-round Length: 15 days
The 15-day Original tour of Cuba is our most long-standing itinerary. It packs into 2 weeks what we consider the most fascinating elements of this unique country. As well as visiting many of Cuba's natural and historic highlights, our focus is on contact with the Cuban people and their culture. A local Cuban tour guide accompanies the group throughout, and accommodation is mostly in the homes of Cuban families.
Group Size: Minimum 2 / Maximum 12 / Average 7
- All accommodations — B&B Homestays, plus occasional hotel on a twin-share basis
- Land transport along the route
- Guide service throughout
- 14 breakfasts
- 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
You are free to arrive in Havana at whatever time you can today. We have set aside this first day for this purpose, so you won't miss out on anything, even if you arrive late in the evening. Your included airport arrival transfer will be provided. This will be either a government taxi or a private car, and will take you directly from the Havana airport to the homestay in Old Havana that you will accommodated in for the first night of the tour.
Your tour guide will leave a note for you in the homestay with some information for you to get settled and details of any group meeting times. The first of these will be a get together for dinner on the first night for those group members that have arrived in time.
If you do happen to arrive earlier in the day, you may have time to go and explore some of Havana. At some stage during the tour, your tour guide will include a walking tour of Old Havana. After confirming your tour booking with us, we will also send you a set of maps for each city you will visit in Cuba. This is like a mini guidebook that we update every year - so it is usually more up-to-date than a typical guidebook. We do recommend the guidebooks for Cuba however, specifically for the background historical and cultural information sections.
- Day 2: Cienfuegos via Bay of Pigs
The official group meeting with your tour guide usually happens this morning. By now, all the group participants will have arrived (hopefully). Your tour guide will collect your travel insurance details and cover some formalities before our private transport (taxi or microbus for small groups, and a minibus for larger groups) picks us up to take us towards the Bay of Pigs.
Before reaching the French founded city of Cienfuegos we first pass through the densely vegetated Peninsula de Zapata swamp-lands, and then along the beautiful Bay of Pigs. This is where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961. The ensuing battle with the Cuban Revolutionary forces resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. Your guide will explain in more detail the dramatic events.
If the conditions are favourable, we can stop for a swim at a beautiful spot on the bay that is ideal for snorkelling. Snorkelling masks are available at a small cost.
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 ambiance to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”.
- *Day 3: Trinidad via Santa Clara
Cienfuegos is a very pretty town, and you'll have time for a pleasant stroll along the boulevard and to the main square. However, we only spend a short time here as there are more interesting things ahead. Upon entering Santa Clara, we encounter a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara. We take time to visit the museum that is directly under the statue, and which tells the story of Ché's fascinating life. There is also a mausoleum with an eternal flame that commemorates his death and that of the revolutionaries who were with him in Bolivia. We then head back to the Caribbean coast to the beautiful colonial town of Trinidad.
- Day 4 & 5: Trinidad
Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. 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.
The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets.
- Day 6 & 7: Camagüey
Cuba's third largest city lies about halfway between Havana and Santiago de Cuba - about a 5-hour drive from Trinidad. Camaguey was designed in the 17th century to disorientate potential invaders such as pirates and plunderers, so the street layout is a jumble of narrow alleys where no two streets are parallel. There are large parks, various private art galleries, and a thriving market garden, and one will enjoy strolling through this city. This is also a university town and has a rich cultural tradition, and like just about everywhere in Cuba, there is plenty of night time entertainment to be had.
Camaguey is a proud and cultural city, and has some of the best schools and institutions in Cuba. We include a guided visit to a ballet school.
- Day 8 & 9: Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is known as the “cradle of the Revolution” and is home to much of Cuba’s famed music, like the Son. There are also museums, colonial churches and buildings of more recent historical importance, such as the Moncada Barracks, which are well worth exploring.
Santiago de Cuba has a very vibrant traditional music scene, which will entice even the shyest dancer out to experiment with some salsa moves. Here you will have the opportunity to experience a night out with local Santiagueros - get up on stage and play maracas with a Cuban band, learn some dance moves from professional dancers, a complete interactive night of music and dance!
Culturally, Santiago has a different feel to the rest of Cuba, undoubtedly coming from the mix of French-speaking slaves from Haiti and its proximity to Jamaica.
- Day 10- 12: Baracoa
A spectacular drive past the region’s most controversial leasehold of Guantanamo Bay, then along the coast and finally through lush mountains of eastern Cuban, brings us to Cuba’s first colonial capital. When Christopher Columbus first encountered Cuba it was here, and he duly noted in his log-book that this was the most beautiful land that human eyes could set upon. You will understand what he meant when you see the beaches and verdant mountain landscape that surround Baracoa. Situated on a beautiful bay with the mountains of the Sierra del Purial in the background, Baracoa was the first settlement founded by the Spanish in Cuba, and was only accessible by sea until the end of the 1960s. There are numerous options for outdoor activities in the nearby mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and beaches. There is wide variety of delicious seafood available in Baracoa.
Day 13 & 14: Havana
The Caribbean's largest and most exciting urban concentration. Havana is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Options are to take the included walking tour of the Old town with the guide or to find your own adventure.
- Day 15: Depart Havana
If you have more time to spend in Cuba before flying out, the tour leader can suggest a number of excellent options for spending a few extra days, and give you details on how to get there and where to stay.
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.