Cuba / Itineraries

11 Night Cuba Tour

Map

This 11 Night Cuba Tour is a small group escorted tour that takes in the key highlights of the island, starting in Havana and ending in Holguin before returning to the capital.

  • Day 1 — Havana

    With flights from Europe arriving late afternoon onwards, and having checked in at their Old Havana accommodation, most clients will probably want to take it easy and have a brief wander around the neighbourhood followed perhaps by a light bite to eat.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casas
    • — Havana, Malecon sunset
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    • — Mojito
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    • — Paladar
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  • Day 2 — Havana

    After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at your accommodation, your guide will meet up with you for your tour of Havana.

    Your day begins with a visit to that most iconic of Cuban institutions, a cigar factory, where you will learn all about the process of turning raw tobacco into the world’s most sought after cigars.

    You will then continue to the nearby Museum of the Revolution, ironically (by design) located in the former Presidential Palace, one of the largest and most ostentatious buildings in the city.

    After lunch, you’ll get a chance to work off just a few of those calories with a walking tour of Old Havana, including visits to its four most famous squares or ‘plazas’ – Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco and Plaza de la Catedral.

    Having explored Havana’s historic centre on foot, and after a break to freshen up a bit, the late afternoon will see you partake in another must-do on any holiday to Cuba, taking a ride in the back of a classic American car.

    Your route will take you down the iconic Malecon, through Revolution Square and around the old mansions and modern-day embassies of the Miramar neighbourhood before ending up at Bosque de la Havana, a tranquil and attractive woodland park that is known as the lungs of this congested city.

    After a busy day sightseeing, you will be dropped off at Jibaro Bar where, after a lesson in how to make some of Cuba’s classic cocktails such as the Mojito, a light dinner of tapas will be provided.

    Dinner over, you will be returned to your accommodation although, if you want to keep going, your guide can make suggestions as to the best local bars and live music venues.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casas Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Havana, cigar factory visit
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    • — Havana, Plaza San Francisco
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  • Day 3 — Havana to Las Terrazas via Vinales

    This morning, after an earlyish breakfast, you will depart Havana and head west towards Pinar del Rio province.

    After a couple of hours driving along the near deserted highway, you will reach the Vinales Valley, home to stunning countryside as well as the tobacco farms that produce the all-important crop for Cuba’s iconic cigars.

    Located within the beautiful Sierra de los Organos, the region around the Vinales Valley is defined as a karst landscape and is celebrated (not to mention highly photographed) for the limestone mogotes that rise up from the valley floor.

    On arrival in the Vinales Valley, you will undertake an easy walk along the valley floor, visiting a traditional farm as well as taking time to explore the charming town of Vinales. Due to the fact that the Vinales Valley is built on limestone, there are numerous caves in the area including perhaps the most famous, Cueva del Indio, which you will explore on a subterranean boat ride.

    Naturally, having been to a cigar factory in Havana, you can’t visit the Vinales Valley and not take the opportunity to visit a tobacco farm and learn how and when the crop is cultivated before being dried in huge barns.

    The Vinales Valley is famous for its numerous, breathtaking views and lunch today will be served at an organic farm and restaurant that has some of the best in the area. There will also be a chance to learn all about the workings and mission of the farm that can boast no less than Barrack Obama as a previous visitor.

    As the afternoon draws to a close, it will be time to head out of Vinales and back the way you came towards Havana, before stopping for the night at the small, rural community of Las Terrazas, located in the idyllic setting of the UNESCO Sierra del Rosario Biosphere.

    Having checked in at your hotel for an overnight stay, there will be a brief tour of the community with an explanation as to the various farming projects and eco activities undertaken locally.

    In keeping with the ethos of the community, dinner will be at a local, vegetarian and organic restaurant that sources all of its ingredients locally.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel La Moka Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Vinales Valley
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    • — Vinales, tobacco barn
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    • — Las Terrazas
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  • Day 4 — Las Terrazas to Trinidad via Santa Clara

    Departing Las Terrazas, you will continue heading east, passing to the south of Havana and onwards along Cuba’s main highway to the city of Santa Clara.

    Your first port of call will be Che Guevara’s mausoleum and museum on the outskirts of the city.  Then, heading into the centre, you will visit the Tren Blindado, what is left of an armoured train that was dispatched to Santa Clara by the Cuban government in 1959 but which, in a turning point in the Revolution, was seized by forces led by Che Guevara.

    Lunch will be taken in Santa Clara after which you will continue east, meandering along quiet roads through the picturesque Escambray Mountains, en-route to the Valley of the Sugar Mills.

    Part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage site, the Valley of the Sugar Mills was once the thriving heart of the Cuban sugar industry, with numerous plantations dotted between the towns of Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad.

    Most of the estate houses linked to these vast plantations low lie abandoned and decaying, the Manaca Iznaga one of the very few that has been saved and converted into a visitor centre. At the heart of the centre is the original house together with a huge tower offering panoramic views from the top. In its days as a sugar plantation, this same tower was used to watch over the estate’s slave workforce.

    From Manaca Iznaga, it is just a short drive to the town of Trinidad, your beguiling base for the next two nights. Dinner tonight will be at your accommodation.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casas Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Santa Clara, Che Guevara
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    • — Santa Clara, Tren Blindado
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    • — Trinidad, Valley of the Sugar Mills
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  • Day 5 — Trinidad

    One of the oldest towns in Cuba, having been settled by the Spanish in 1514, Trinidad is now one of the undoubted highlights of any holiday to Cuba.

    In tandem with the nearby plantations of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, a number of landowners and local businessmen in Trinidad made vast fortunes from the sugar trade. Many of the homes and civic buildings they built with the proceeds are still intact today, giving rise to the town’s oft used moniker as Cuba’s ‘Museum Town’.

    After a leisurely breakfast, you will set off on foot for a walking tour of Trinidad’s colonial centre, including a visit to a museum such as the Romantic Museum or the History Museum, which focusses on 19th century family life in the region.

    Having hopefully built up a slight thirst, your tour of Trinidad ends at La Canchanchara, the most famous bar in town and housed in an 18th century building. The bar is known for its house cocktail, not surprisingly made from sugar and rum, which will be available to taste. Lunch will be at a local restaurant with the rest of the day free for you to explore further on your own.

    Later, dinner will be at a paladar in town after which there are numerous bars and live music venues in which to see the night out.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casas Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Trinidad, Iglesia De La Santisima
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    • — Trinidad, Museo Romantico
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    • — Trinidad, La Canchanchara
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  • Day 6 — Trinidad to Bayamo

    Departing Trinidad early in the morning, and heading back through the Valley of the Sugar Mills, the tour heads east through the flatlands of Camaguey province, home to sprawling, government owned farms.

    After breaks en-route for coffee and then lunch, you will eventually leave Camaguey province and enter the far more mountainous Oriente province, before arriving in the historic town of Bayamo in the late afternoon.

    During Cuba’s first revolution, the war of independence from Spain, Bayamo was at the epicentre of the struggle and an anti-colonial stronghold, so much so that its residents burned the town to the ground rather than see it fall into enemy hands. Bayamo was also the hometown of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, viewed by most Cubans as the father of the independence movement.

    Today, Bayamo is a charming, laid-back town with an attractive centre and famous for the large number of traditional, horse-drawn carriages that are still widely used for getting around.

    After checking in at tonight’s hotel, there will be a brief walking tour of the town centre including Parque Cespedes, San Salvador Cathedral and the Bayamo theatre.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Royalton Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Bayamo, Main street
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    • — Bayamo, Cathedral interior
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    • — Bayamo, Horse & carriage
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  • Day 7 — Bayamo to Santiago via La Plata

    In marked contrast to the flat terrain of yesterday’s drive, today you will head into the spectacular Sierra Maestra and decamping at the small village of Santo Domingo.

    Here you will switch to jeeps, which will transfer you higher into the hills and the starting point for the hike to La Plata, the secret base from which Fidel Castro and his fellow revolutionaries based themselves at the start of the Revolution.

    Returning down the mountain, lunch will be served in Santo Domingo. After lunch, there will be time to explore the village and picturesque river before returning to the road and continuing to Santiago de Cuba.

    On arrival into Santiago de Cuba early that evening, the rest of the day is free for you to do as you please. Dinner is included at the hotel and can be taken at the time of your choosing.

    (La Plata: please note that the trek to La Plata is uphill throughout, over uneven ground and with parts that are slightly steep. If you have concerns regards attempting this, our advice would be to remain at Santa Domingo and explore the nearby countryside).

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Melia Santiago Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Sierra Maestra
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    • — La Plata hike
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    • — La Plata
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  • Day 8 — Santiago De Cuba

    Cuba’s second city might only be a fraction of the size of Havana but don’t say that to anyone in Santiago de Cuba.

    The city is often described as being the most typically ‘Caribbean’ in Cuba, a reference to the more diverse ethnic and racial mix of Santiago de Cuba compared to elsewhere on the island. It is also has a reputation as Cuba’s most musical city and boasts a broad variety of live music venues.

    With so much to see, there will be a near full day’s tour of the city beginning with one of the most iconic buildings of the Cuban Revolution, the Moncada Barracks and Museum, attacked by Fidel Castro and a small band of follow revolutionaries in July 1953.

    Next up, you will proceed to the heart of the city, Parque Cespedes, which is surrounded on all four sides by historic and notable buildings including the Ayuntamiento, Cathedral and Casa Granda.

    From there, you will head to beautiful Santa Ifigenia cemetery. This is where Fidel Castro is buried and, with his mausoleum under constant guard, there will hopefully be the chance to witness the changing of the guard. Other notable long-term guests at Santa Ifigenia include national poet Jose Marti and members of the Bacardi (rum) family.

    With a stop at Calle Padre Pico, where there seems to be a game of draughts almost constantly on the go, you will then head out of the city entirely, to the mouth of the Bay of Santiago de Cuba, which is guarded by the UNESCO San Pedro de la Roca castle. After time to explore the castle and take in the superb views along the coast, lunch will be taken at a nearby restaurant.

    Heading back to the hotel in the late afternoon, the remainder of the day is free for you to relax. Dinner is again taken at the hotel after which, why not head back into the city centre and enjoy some live music at the famous Casa de la Trova?

    Suggested Accommodation: Melia Santiago Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Santiago, Moncada
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    • — Parque Cespedes, Santiago
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    • — Santiago, Santa Ifigenia cemetery
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    • — Santiago, San Pedro fort
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  • Day 9 — Santiago to Baracoa via Guantanamo

    Departing Santiago de Cuba and heading east along the coast, there will be a brief stop at the sleepy town of Guantanamo.

    Guantanamo is a small, attractive town but is famous around the world for two very contrasting reasons. On a happy note, the town is known for the song ‘Guantanamera’ (which you will hear once or twice in Cuba). Less happily, the US naval base of the same name is just a short drive away.

    Not long after leaving Guantanamo, the coastal road gives way to La Farola, a winding road that carves its way up and through spectacular mountain scenery before finally dropping back down to the coast near Baracoa.

    On the final run into Baracoa, you will stop for lunch at a little restaurant by the beach with time afterwards for a stroll or, if you have your costume with you, a quick swim in the sea.

    On arrival in Baracoa, and having checked in at the hotel, you are free to spend the late afternoon having a wander on your own before dinner is served at the hotel.

     

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel El Castillo Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Baracoa, La Farola
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    • — Baracoa Bay
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  • Day 10 — Baracoa

    In a country teeming with colonial history, perhaps nowhere can claim to be quite as historic as Baracoa, founded in 1511 as the first Spanish settlement in Cuba and, accordingly, the oldest colonial town in the Americas.

    Despite this impressive badge, Baracoa lacks the magnificent colonial architecture found in other parts of Cuba. Instead, the town’s main draws are its beautiful coastal setting and the wonderful, unspoiled, countryside all around it.

    After breakfast this morning, you will head out of town to one of Cuba’s wildest, most picturesque rivers, the Toa, which runs through a protected national park. A boat journey along the Rio Toa is a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of this near deserted tropical wilderness.

    At the end of your trip along the Rio Toa you will proceed by road to Finca Duaba, a small, traditional farm where lunch will be served. After lunch, there will be a tour around the grounds of Finca Duaba, principally known for its cocoa which, as for the region as a whole, is highly regarded by the experts.

    Returning to town in the afternoon, dinner this evening will be at a restaurant in town. Following dinner, there are plenty of bars and live music venues in which to extend your evening.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel El Castillo Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Rio Toa
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    • — Lizard
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    • — Quiet road
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  • Day 11 — Baracoa to Holguin

    Returning over La Farola and back towards Santiago de Cuba, before reaching the city you will take a sharp right and head inland into Holguin province.

    Driving along minor roads and passing through numerous bucolic little villages, you will eventually arrive at the tiny village of Biran, nestled in the foothills of the Nipe Mountains.

    Due to its remote location, Biran receives relatively few visitors. However, this unassuming little village was where both Fidel & Raul Castro were born and raised and where their parents are laid to rest. After a visit to the family home, you will enjoy a simple, traditional lunch nearby.

    From Biran, you will continue along quiet roads until you reach the regional capital, also called Holguin. Mainly used as an entry and exit points for the nearby beach resorts at Guardalavaca, the town’s main appeal is its lack of visitors and the resulting insight into ‘everyday’ Cuba.

    That is not to say that Holguin is without any attractions of its own. Having arrived in town in the late afternoon, and having checked in at your hotel for the night, in the early evening you will be driven the short distance outside town to Loma de la Cruz to enjoy the panoramic views on offer.

    Dinner will be served in a nearby, hilltop restaurant after which you will return to your hotel in town.

     

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • — Holguin countryside
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    • — La Periquera, Holguin
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  • Day 12 — Holguin & Tour Ends

    Today’s itinerary will largely depend on your post tour arrangements and plans.

    For those with time, there will be a morning walking tour around the centre of Holguin after which it’s time to say your goodbyes.

    There are domestic flights linking Holguin with Havana while, for those wishing to head to the beach, beautiful Guardalavaca is only an hour’s drive away.

    In addition to this 11 Night Cuba Tour, we also offer small group, escorted tours last 7 & 14 nights.

     

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Guardalavaca

Please Note

Dates & Prices - 11 Night Cuba Tour

Selected Saturdays & Sundays throughout the year - please email or call for details

Prices from £1990pp

The quoted prices are per person based on two adults sharing the same room throughout. Single supplement on request.

The quoted prices are for the ground arrangements from Havana to Holguin only and do not include either any domestic flights (should clients need to return to Havana) or any international flights which we are happy to arrange as part of an ATOL protected package.

Beach Extensions

Beach Extensions

For clients wishing to extend their holiday with time at the beach, the two main options are (1) to make the short transfer from Holguin to nearby Guardalavaca or (2) fly back to Havana and transfer to either Jibacoa (pictured) or Varadero.

Suggested Accommodation

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