Visit 5 World Heritage Sites – Havana, Viñales, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Camaguey

See the Che museum and mausoleum in Santa Clara

Discover Santiago, the Cradle of the Revolution and visit the famous Moncada Barracks

Day by Day

Day 1 ➤ Arrival in Havana
A Cubania representative will be waiting for you on arrival at Jose Martí International Airport in Havana. Once you’ve collected your luggage you’ll be transferred to your accommodation with time to relax after your long flight. You can either have dinner at the casa or go into town a short distance away. (dinner not included)
Casa particular, Havana
Day 2 ➤ Panoramic Havana city tour in American classic cars followed by a short walking tour of old Havana

After an early breakfast, your guide will meet you at an agreed central location to take you on your tour of Havana, Cuba’s capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. You’ll set off in classic American convertible cars from the 40s and 50s to drive through the Vedado area and Miramar district, where you can see fine examples of grand mansions which were once homes to the rich and famous prior to the Revolution. We stop at the Plaza de la Revolución for an opportunity to take pictures at this famous square where many historic speeches and marches have taken place. We head back to the old town stopping briefly at the Museum of the Revolution and then carry on to the Plaza de Armas where we leave the cars and head to one of the nearby restaurants for lunch. We visit one of Hemingway’s favourite drinking establishments, ‘La Bodeguita del Medio’ before continuing our orientation tour of the old town. Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and millions of dollars have gone into this area in order to bring it back to its original splendour. Havana has the finest surviving Spanish colonial architecture in the Americas preserved by a combination of little war damage, post revolution restoration work and the current restoration project. The late afternoon and evening are free for you to continue exploring in your own time.  Dinner can be taken at your casa or at a restaurant in the old town. (dinner not included)
Casa particular, Havana (B,L)

Day 3 ➤ Free day to explore Havana
Free day to spend exploring Havana at your leisure or re-visit some of the places you saw during your orientation tour yesterday. Lunch and dinner aren’t included today.
Casa particular, Havana (B)
Day 4 ➤ Walking tour through farming plantations in Viñales

Today we depart for Viñales, another World Heritage Site and rightly so, thanks to its dramatic natural scenery of tobacco plantations and limestone mogotes that appear to rise directly out of the landscape. This is the world’s most fertile tobacco growing region where the tobacco leaves are cut, dried and then rolled into the world-class Cuban cigars. On arrival in Vinales we take a leisurely walk through the countryside where we visit local Cuban farms. Here you’ll be able to see how typical crops such as malanga, maize, yucca, coffee and, of course the world’s finest tobacco leaves are grown. We stop for lunch at the Mural de la Prehistoria (mural depicting the first indigenous people of Cuba) before heading back into Viñales town for a quick look around and checking into our local accommodation for the night. There are a selection of good restaurants on the main street for dinner or you can eat delicious home cooked food at your casa. (dinner not included)
Casa particular, Viñales (B, L)

 

Day 5 ➤ Explore the eco-community of Las Terrazas and go zip-lining through the canopy after lunch

We spend a full day exploring the eco-community of Las Terrazas in the Sierra de Rosario biosphere reserve, a protected area of around 5,000 hectares which is being developed as a sustainable rural economy for eco-tourism. Built after the Revolution to re-plant the area which suffered badly from over-foresting, it is now a haven for migrating birds from the North.

There are plenty of relaxing things to do in the reserve; you can go boating on the lake, swimming in the crystal clear San Juan river with its waterfalls and natural pools, or go zip-lining through the canopy gliding through 1500 metres of natural canopy across the community and over the lake. You can also take a guided trek or ride on horseback into the lush surrounding hills and visit the ruins of the 18th century coffee plantations nearby. You’ll be able to have lunch and dinner at one of the reserve restaurants or at the hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Hotel la Moka , Las Terrazas (B)

Day 6 ➤ Visit the Che Memorial in Santa Clara and the quaint colonial town of Remedios

We leave Las Terrazas for Santa Clara in the morning, stopping for lunch at Santa Rosalia when we arrive in the city that played such an important part in revolutionary history. Santa Clara was the site of the last battle of the Cuban revolution in December 1958, just before Fidel Castro took control of Havana. Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba causing a major turning point which secured the victory of the revolution. We visit the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and the adjacent museum offering a fascinating insight into the life of the iconic revolutionary hero.

From here we continue to Remedios, a gorgeous little colonial town 60 km north of Santa Clara and one of the original “villas” founded by the Spanish conquistadors, Remedios grew rich on sugar cane production. Even though its fortunes have waned, Remedios remains an important fixture on Cuba’s cultural calendar for its annual “parrandas” or fireworks festival which takes place each year on the 24th December.
Hotel El Mascotte or Hotel Barcelona, Remedios  (B, L)

Day 7 ➤ Tour of Cienfuegos before continuing on to the charming town of Trinidad

After spending one night in the town of Remedios, we depart in the morning for Cienfuegos, backtracking past Santa Clara. The well-preserved historical centre of this city also referred to as ‘La Perla del Sur’ or ‘The Pearl of the South’, Cienfuegos was once a French immigrant settlement and is considered to have one of the best examples of neo-classical architecture in the country. There are many beautiful buildings to admire on your orientation tour before lunch including the Moorish-Venetian style Palacio del Valle, and the Catédral de La Purísima Concepción. Cienfuegos was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

We have lunch at the Cienfuegos Yacht Club and then continue on to Trinidad where we check into our local accommodation. For the next three nights we’ll be enjoying Cuban hospitality, staying in a Cuban style bed and breakfast (casa particular).   Accommodation is simple but rooms are clean, with air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. You’ll enjoy tasty home cooked food in your casa this evening before you head out into Trinidad to explore this charming World Heritage Site by night.
Casa particular, Trinidad (B)

Day 8 ➤ Orientation tour of Trinidad

Today is spent exploring this charming picture perfect little town where seemingly little has changed over the many centuries. We take a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site with its cobblestone streets and pastel coloured houses where the only traffic consists of American classic cars, bicycles and farmers riding bareback or driving horse drawn carts.

Evenings are when Trinidad really comes alive with lots of open air venues you can enjoy great local cuisine, live music and dancing under the stars. The Casa de la Trova is highly recommended for having a superb atmosphere, as is the Casa de la Musica with live music and dancing on the steps beside the cathedral in the main square. If you plan to party into the small hours of the morning you may want to pop into Disco Ayala, famous for the fact it’s situated in a cave where you can continue dancing into the early hours of the morning.
Casas Particular, Trinidad (B)

Day 9 ➤ Free day to explore Trinidad

Free day in Trinidad
Casa particular, Trinidad (B)

Day 10 ➤ Visit Sancti Spiritus and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Camaguey

Heading east, we make our first stop in Sancti Spiritus, one of the original seven Cuban ‘’Villas’’ founded by the Spanish in 1514. From here we continue to Camaguey arriving in the early afternoon in time for a sightseeing tour of Cuba´s most recently awarded World Heritage Site.   The oldest part of the city is known as ‘la ciudad confusa’ – ‘the confusing city’ because of its maze-like streets and alleyways, designed to confuse pirates and raiders who threatened the town centuries ago. Its many squares, churches and gardens and symbolic large earthenware jugs are typical features of the city.
Gran Hotel or Hotel Colón, Camaguey (B)

Day 11 ➤ Discover Santiago, City of Heroes and the Cradle of the Revolution

Today we head for Santiago, the ‘City of Heroes’ and the cradle of Cuba´s Revolution. We stop at Bayamo on the way where the first steps were made to secure Cuba´s independence from Spain. After visiting this beautiful provincial town we carry on to Santiago, the island’s second largest city and first capital before it was moved to Havana. Famous for being the birthplace of Cuban contemporary music, Santiago is home to many of Cuba’s most famous musicians including most of the members of the Buenavista Social Club. All have played at the Casa de la Trova, one of the country’s most famous music houses at some point in their musical careers. Live music is still played daily at this venue and is definitely worth stopping at for an hour or two to enjoy a mojito and the great vibe.
Hotel Melia Santiago or Hotel San Basilio, Santiago (B)

Day 12 ➤ Orientation tour of Santiago city, including a visit to the famous Moncada Barracks

After breakfast we start our city tour of Santiago, visiting the Santa Ifigenia cemetery where the tomb of the revered father of Cuban independence Jose Marti lies. Every half hour there is a ceremony of the changing of the guards which is worth watching. We also visit Santiago’s Revolution Square, El Morro Castle and the Moncada Barracks. It was here that the opening shots of the revolution were fired on 26 July 1953, when Castro and his men attacked the barracks and the day is honoured as a public holiday each year. After the sightseeing tour there is free time to continue exploring Santiago on your own.   At night is when the city really comes alive so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore.
Hotel Melia Santiago or Hotel San Basilio, Santiago (B)

Day 13 ➤ Visit Baracoa, where Columbus first set foot on Cuban soil

Today we have an early start for our trip to the un-spoilt colonial village of Baracoa tucked away on the north-east coast of Cuba and reached via a journey through the spectacular Sierra Maestra mountains. It’s here where young revolutionary heroes Ché Guevarra and Fidel Castro set up their secret base camp from where they waged the famous Cuban Revolution. Baracoa was the very first settlement and capital of Cuba and according to legend, was where Columbus first landed in Cuba and put a cross in the sands of what would later become Baracoa harbour. The Cruz de la Parra as the cross is known is housed today at the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. On arrival in Baracoa we stop for lunch at a local restaurant followed by a guided tour around the town. The afternoon and evening are free to spend at your leisure.
Hotel Castillo o Porto Santo, Baracoa (B, L)

 

Day 14 ➤ Fly back to Havana
Today we return to Havana and in order to avoid the very long drive back we will fly directly from either Baracoa, Santiago or Guantanamo to the capital. This evening is free to spend at your leisure.
Casa particular, Havana (B)
Day 15 ➤ Departure Day

Your final morning is free for some last-minute shopping and sightseeing or simply relaxing by the pool to soak up the last of the Caribbean sunshine! Check-out will be at mid-day and your transfer will arrive in the early afternoon to take you to Jose Marti International airport for check-in three hours before departure.
(B)

Trek Route

Activity Level

Trekking Profile

*all distances shown are approximate
Day 1
arrival day
Day 2
km
Day 3
km
Day 4
km
Day 5
km
Day 6
km
Day 7
free day
Day 8
departure day

Essential Information

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Health & Medical Insurance

No need for any complicated jabs to visit Cuba but you will need to ensure you have medical insurance in order to enter the country. Pack a copy in your hand luggage along with your passport in case Immigration asks for proof of insurance on arrival in Cuba. Drink bottled water and pack a good insect repellent and you should have a problem free trip.
See trip notes for more info

Passports, Visas, Departure Tax

You´ll need a visa (Tourist Card) to enter Cuba which can be obtained from the Cuban Consulate. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months beyond your entry into Cuba. Make sure you keep 25CUC per person for a departure tax which is payable in cash after check in for all passengers leaving Cuba.
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Money Matters

Cuba currently runs a complicated 2 currency system: the CUC (Convertible Peso) has the same value, more or less, as the USD. Most of your transactions will require this currency. The CUP (Moneda Nacional ) is used by Cubans to buy food, pay utility bills and buy certain goods. It’s unlikely you’ll use these at all during your trip.

Cuba’s economy is cash driven so make sure you bring plenty of money in small denominations (GBP, EUR and CAD are the best options). Only exchange cash at a bank or the official exchange house CADECA (Casa de cambio) on arrival to avoid being ripped off. There is very little variation in exchange rates as all banks and CADECAs are government owned!
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Food & Drink

Cuba is as famous for its delicious rum cocktails as it is infamous for its dreary food. Luckily the food is improving and you can now expect to eat, as well as drink, quite well! However, expect little variety and plenty of rice and black beans, especially when you’re travelling in the provinces. Cuba’s repertoire of ingredients is quite limited and those with special dietary requirements (especially gluten free, vegetarians and vegans) should consider bringing some extra food with them to supplement their diet.
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What to Bring

Light cotton and linen clothing suitable for tropical climates. A jacket or fleece for cooler evenings. Cubans dress casually but are always impeccably turned out. Avoid bringing expensive or flashy jewellery. Ensure you bring all necessary medication as well as a good insect repellent and some antihistamines in case you get bitten. We also recommend you bring a small first aid kit to cover any basic needs you may have.
See trip notes for more info
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Safety Matters

Cuba is one of the safest destinations to travel to and it’s highly unlikely you will feel threatened during your stay. However, common sense dictates that you take the usual precautions and avoid backstreets and uninhabited areas. Dress down and keep jewellery to a minimum.

During your stay you’ll almost certainly have an encounter with a friendly local trying to sell you cheap cigars, or take you to a local restaurant/casa particular and possibly even try to set you up with one of his family members! Known locally as “jineteros” these Cuban hustlers earn their living from commissions made from steering tourists towards the services they offer. A polite refusal is usually all you need to get rid of them!
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Tipping

Tipping is part and parcel of everyday life in Cuba. Wages here are very low so people who look after tourists expect a tip for good service. 10% is the minimum expected amount when eating out, and if you have a guide and/or driver you should budget for a tip which you can give them at the end of your tour. Usually we will recommend you on the amounts but when in doubt, set aside CUC5 per guide/driver per day for each person. Tip the bell boy 1CUC for carrying your bag to your room.
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