In one short week, this tour is 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.
Day 1 - Arrival Day Havana
Day 2,3 – Viñales
Day 4 - Cienfuegos via Bay of Pigs
Day 5,6 - Trinidad
Day 7 - Havana via Santa Clara
Day 8 - Departure Day
Arrive in Havana at any time. Today is the arrival day of the tour so there are no planned activities and you can check into the hotel and relax or go and explore the city. One of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, Havana was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Adventure among the splendorous crumbling architecture of the streets of old Havana and sit on the famous sea wall (El Malecon) to take in the view and some fresh air, and to socialize with the colourful and friendly 'Habaneros'.
Before departing Havana, we have a guided walking tour of the historic centre of Havana (approx 2 hours).
From Havana to Viñales its about a 3 hour drive, and on the way we usually stop for lunch. There are quite a few attractions around this heavily forested area including a short trek to a waterfall, a steep walk to a lookout, a very impressive orchid garden.
We then make our way on to Pinar del Rio and the town of Viñales. 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. This is where you will get your first experience staying in the house of a Cuban family. 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.
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”.
For most visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is their standout favourite destination (well, for the ones that make it this far anyway). 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.
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.
Today you are free to depart at anytime.
Itineraries for the tours in 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.
Late Arrival - If you plan to arrive on Day 2 or after, we can arrange for you to catch up to the group. This may involve you paying transport costs to do so.
Early Departure - The group will arrive back in Havana, around midday on Day 7, so a departure from Cuba in the evening of Day 7 is possible. An earlier departure than this is also possible and may involve you paying transport costs for us to send you back to Havana by yourself.
We estimate you will need between US$450 and US$600 for local expenses during the tour, such food and optional activities (but not including the Local Payment).
*There will be a local payment of 200CUC per person*
B & B Homestays
* Extra nights can be requested before or after the tour in the same homestay you will have for the tour.