Get behind the scenes and discover real Cuban life. Explore avant-garde sculpture with a local artist in Ciego de Avila, visit the tobacco fields for a snapshot of rural life in Vinales and take a private tour of a ballet theatre in Santiago de Cuba. History enthusiasts will not be disappointed. Visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum in Santa Clara, and learn about the Bay of Pigs Invasion at the Gion Museum. The French-founded port town of Cienfuegos is a real slice of heaven. Enjoy a drink on the roof of its crown-jewel building, the Palacio del Valle. See why Trinidad is a favourite among so many Peregrine travellers. Your time in this old-world Cuban town includes a salsa dance lesson and plenty of time for seaside leisure
Experience Cuba’s finest on a 13-day journey across the colourful Caribbean island. Combining leisure, culture, coast and country, discover the depth of Cuba’s most fascinating traditions. Look behind the legend of Che Guevara, witness daily life in Vinales’ verdant tobacco fields, peel back the curtain on Santiago de Cuba’s ballet culture, wander the French-infused waterfront of Cienfuegos, dance to Cuban rhythms in Trinidad and go snorkelling in the Bay of Pigs. Finish it off with a cruise through Havana’s grand old streets in a classic American convertible.
Breakfast Included: 12 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 2
Welcome to Cuba's capital. Your tour begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, the day is yours to explore. Consider a stroll through Old Havana to acquaint yourself with its colourful mix of '50s Americana, colonial architecture and budding modernity. There are plenty of good museums to check out, such as the Museo de la Revolucion (Musuem of the Revolution), which is housed in the former Presidential Palace, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts). We recommend arriving a few days early to make the most of this exciting city.
Vinales / Havana
Take a day trip to Vinales. Located in the beautiful province of Pinar del Rio, Vinales is a landscape of tobacco and agricultural fields dotted with limestone outcrops. Enjoy a walking tour of verdant farm lands and tobacco crops for insight into rural life, then have lunch at an organic eco-farm with sweeping views over the valley. Spend the afternoon here before returning to Havana.
Santiago de Cuba
Get picked up at 8 am to head to the airport and take a two hour flight to the opposite end of the island. Santiago de Cuba is the hottest place in Cuba – arguably in terms of both atmosphere and climate. Drop your bags at the guesthouse and head out for lunch (optional), while your rooms are made ready for check-in. Afterwards, your leader will take you on a short orientation walk and then you are free to relax or explore for the rest of the afternoon and evening. This ‘cradle’ of the revolution is home to a large Afro-Cuban population and a vibrant music scene so there is lots to experience after sundown.
Santiago de Cuba
Today your leader will take you on a three-hour city tour of Santiago where you’ll learn about the town’s vital role in the revolution while visiting sites such as El Morro Castle, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery and the Moncada barracks. Santiago's half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions, so you'll find plenty of museums and cultural clubs around the city. The city is also famous for its energetic Carnaval celebrations and lively Festival of Caribbean Culture. In the evening, you’ll get the unique chance to dine with a local family in a humble Cuban home. Here you will sample local food for a real slice of Cuban life. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the locals and perhaps learn some Spanish.
Santiago de Cuba
Enjoy a free day in Santiago de Cuba. If you want to delve into Santiago’s sizzling music scene, perhaps learn a few moves in a salsa dancing class. For a taste of the city’s vibrant Carnaval celebration, visit to Museo del Carnaval (Carnaval Museum) to see floats, costumes and the occasional dance show. Those looking to get active may want to climb the 452 steps to La Gran Piedra (The Big Rock), a natural viewing platform 1225 metres (4019 feet) above Santiago for stunning panoramic views of surrounding hills and mountains. In the evening, there are plenty of atmospheric venues with good Cuban rum and even better music for locals and tourists to showcase their dance moves.
Today, head west along the Carretera Central to Camaguey. The drive (about six to seven hours) is broken up with a stop in Bayamo, where you can stretch your legs on walking tour and enjoy an included lunch. Those hoping to brush up on their Spanish can also benefit from an informal Spanish lesson with your leader during the bus ride. When you arrive in Camaguey you’ll soon notice that the city has maintained much of its colonial heritage. It is also characterised by winding streets, which are a joy to explore. Get acquainted with the city on a leader-led walking tour, including a stop at the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (Church of Our Lady of Soledad) to see its Baroque frescoes.
Today you’ll tour the sights of Camaguey the same way the locals get around – from the back of a bicycle taxi. Hope on and visit parks, plazas and local markets. Each taxi carries two passengers and the tour is led by an English-speaking local guide. Enjoy a free afternoon after the tour. The town is home to an excellent farmers market brimming with colourful vegetables, tropical fruits, herbs and lively local merchants. Later, visit an esteemed ballet theatre for a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain. Meet some of the people who keep the school running like the seamstresses, shoemakers and costume designers. As it is not possible to purchase things such as ballet shoes in Cuba, everything for the ballet school is made on the premises.
Ciego de Avila/Trinidad
Travel through the centre of the country today as you make your way to Trinidad (approximately 5-6 hours), a well-preserved colonial town that sits on the scenic Caribbean coast. Stop at Ciego de Avila to visit a well-known local gallery that showcases sculptures made with silver cutlery along the way. Arrive in Trinidad and acquaint yourself with its colourful streets on a leader-led orientation walk.
Delve into Trinidad’s sultry Latin rhythms with a salsa class. Afterwards, the day is yours to explore. Perhaps enjoy some swimming at Playa Ancon. Alternatively, cycle Trinidad’s colourful streets past once-grand mansions, pastel buildings and wrought iron features. Attending a traditional Cuban dance show is also a fine choice.
Continue along the picturesque coast to Cienfuegos, a slice of Paris in the Caribbean. Take an orientation walk through its charming streets, before stopping at the opulent Palacio del Valle, hopefully in time for a sunset rooftop drink. Enjoy free time to perhaps stroll the promenade before reuniting with your tour leader for an included group dinner.
Bay of Pigs / Santa Clara / Havana
Begin the day by travelling to a peaceful sandy arc on Cuba’s southern coast, commonly known as the Bay of Pigs. Stop for a dip in its tranquil waters, either at Playa Larga or Playa Giron. With a deep underwater wall just off the shore and an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it just might be Cuba’s best-kept secret. Continue to Santa Clara to the final resting place of Cuba’s most famous son, Che Guevara. Visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum and Memorial where letters, firearms, medical devices and other interesting artefacts are on display. Continue to Havana.
This morning, you will be picked up from the infamous Hotel Nacional to see outer-Havana in a convoy of classic American vintage cars that cruises via points of intrerest such as the Malecon, Revolution Square, Vedado and ending in Old Havana. Next, your leader will take you on a walking tour of the lovely Old Havana (approximately 2.5 hours). Go to the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. Now that you are orientated in Old Havana you have the rest of the afternoon to lunch at leisure and explore futher. Havana is the former stomping ground of Ernest Hemingway (the author wrote some of his most acclaimed novels in Cuba and lived near Havana for almost 22 years), literary-types may want to visit some of his favourite haunts, like his bar of choice for a mojito, La Bodeguita del Medio. Alternatively, you may opt to visit a local Cuban cigar factory or your leader can assist you to take a taxi if you wish to return to the hotel.