Cuba / Itineraries

Western Cuba Fly Drive

Map

This independent, 11 night, suggested fly drive itinerary takes in almost all of the key highlights of western Cuba. Starting and ending in Havana, there is the option, at the end, to extend your stay at one of Cuba’s numerous, wonderful beaches.

  • Day 1 — Havana

    On arrival at Havana airport, clients will be met and transferred to their accommodation in Old Havana.

    Flights from Europe all arrive from late afternoon onwards so, after a stretch of legs, something cold and a bite to eat, most clients will probably want to get an earlyish night.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casas Meals Included: None
    • — Havana, Malecon sunset
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    • — Mojito
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    • — Paladar
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  • Day 2 — Havana

    One of the world’s most fascinating, exhilarating and iconic cities, Havana is an absolute must-visit on any holiday to Cuba.

    The original settlement, known as Old Havana or Habana Vieja, is located along the west bank of the city’s harbour-mouth. Although the city has sprawled out in numerous directions, the vast majority of Havana’s historic sites, places of interest and best accommodation can be found in this compact, walkable part of the city.

    Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1982, the intervening years have seen many of Old Havana’s numerous colonial buildings and public spaces restored to their former glory while, in stark contrast, others seem on the brink of collapse. It is this juxtaposition, played out across the city, that is one of the most compelling aspects of any visit to Havana.

    Your holiday begins with a guided walking tour of Old Havana, a great introduction to the historic heart of the city as you take in the history, colonial architecture and vibrant daily, goings-on of this UNESCO World Heritage city. Including the four main squares of Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Francisco, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de la Catedral, your guide will be on hand to guide you through all the main areas of interest and to answer any queries you may have.

    After sampling a Cuban cocktail you will then be picked and driven in a vintage car through ‘New’ Havana. Along the way you’ll drive past the Capitol Building, Revolution Square, the University of Havana, Hotel Nacional and former Presidential Palace before ending your first day in time for a late lunch.

    The rest of the day is at leisure for you to relax, perhaps take in a museum or simply wander the streets of Old Havana.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casas Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Havana, Plaza San Francisco
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    • — Museum of the Revolution
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  • Day 3 — Havana

    The day is at leisure in Havana for you to further explore this fascinating city, either independently or on one of our numerous, optional Trips.

    In the afternoon, you will meet with one of our local agents to collect your hire car.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casas Meals Included: Breakfast
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    • — Havana, Finca Vigia
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  • Day 4 — Havana to Vinales

    There’s little in the way of a rush-hour to worry about but we would suggest departing Havana soon after breakfast for the 2-hour plus drive to Vinales.

    On arrival at your chosen accommodation, we suggest you park up and explore Vinales town on foot or simply go for a drive on the peaceful, surrounding roads.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Central Vinales Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Vinales, main street
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    • — Vinales, traditional house
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    • — Vinales, town
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  • Day 5 — Vinales

    The day is at leisure in Vinales for you to get out in your car and explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.

    Alternatively (or you can do both) you can book one of our optional Vinales Trips such as birdwatching, hiking or horseback riding.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Central Vinales Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Vinales, horseback riding
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  • Day 6 — Vinales to Las Terrazas

    Departing Vinales in the morning, we suggest you return to the main autopista and head back east until you reach the Paso Real de San Diego exit. Here, heading north, the road leads first to the small spa town of San Diego de los Banos and thence on to Parque La Guira.

    Parque La Guira is one of those places that very few visitors to Cuba seem to know about, let alone visit. Originally the estate of Jose Manuel Cortina, a wealthy landowner and politician who found himself on the wrong side in the Cuban Revolution; having fled the country in 1959, the estate was confiscated by the State and turned into a national park.

    The original 19th century Gothic mansion at the heart of the estate is now a ruin, and getting worse all the time, although the principal appeal of Parque La Guira resides in its gardens around which you will find numerous, scattered statues and ornaments in the Greco-Roman style. Chances are, you’ll have the place to yourself.

    These previously formal gardens form only a small part of Parque La Guira which is said to cover some 2000 hectares. Also located within the park are the Cuevas de los Portales, the caves where Che Guevara set up his base during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Afterwards, return to the autopista and continue east before exiting again, this time at Candelaria. From there it is a short, picturesque drive to Las Terrazas.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel La Moka Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Parque La Guira
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    • — Parque La Guira
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  • Day 7 — Las Terrazas

    Set within beautiful, densely forested hills, Las Terrazas is located within the UNESCO Sierra del Rosario Biosphere and is rightly popular with nature lovers.

    The area around Las Terrazas was once heavily cultivated for coffee and, once the soil eroded, the region suffered major de-forestation. The small, picturesque community of Las Terrazas lies at the heart of the successful attempt to return the area to its previous condition with most of its inhabitants either employed in the environment department or at the single, small hotel.

    Built opposite a man-made lake, the surrounding area is home to plentiful birdlife, nature trails and a lovely stream in which it is possible to swim. A short drive from Las Terrazas, and a popular excursion, are the ruins of an old coffee plantation with panoramic views of the surrounding hills. Also nearby are the Soroa Botanical Gardens.

    The day is at leisure in Las Terrazas for you to get out in your car and explore the beautiful surrounding countryside. Alternatively, you can book one of our optional tours.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel La Moka Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Las Terrazas
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    • Ruins of the Buenavista coffee farm near Las Terrazas in Cuba
      — Las Terrazas, Buenavista ruins
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  • Day 8 — Las Terrazas to Cienfuegos via Guama & Bay of Pigs

    You’ll be up and bright and early this morning for the long drive to Cienfuegos via Guama and the Bay of Pigs.

    (Leaving out the stops en-route, the drive to Cienfuegos takes around 5 hours. With the stops, driving time is a good 7 hours plus sightseeing time. If that sounds like too much, it is possible to overnight around the Bay of Pigs).

    The first part of the day’s journey is fairly featureless until, having passed to the south of Havana and joined the autopista to Santiago, you finally come off near Jaguey Grande and head south to Guama.

    Taking its name from native Taino chief Guama, it’s worth stopping here for the enjoyable boat trip that takes you through narrow waterways and then out into the wide expanses of Laguna del Tesoro before visiting the somewhat kitsch recreation of a Taino village.

    After a nearby lunch, you then re-join the road south to the coast and the iconic Bay of Pigs which, although it looms large in recent Cuban history, is actually quite limited as a visitor attraction. On the plus side, and assuming you enjoy driving, the route from the Bay of Pigs to Cienfuegos is very scenic and almost entirely devoid of traffic.

    You should then arrive in Cienfuegos in the late afternoon.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Jagua by Melia Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Zapata, boat trip
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    • — Zapata, Guama
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    • — Bay of Pigs, fisherman
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  • Day 9 — Cienfuegos to Trinidad

    Often referred to as the Pearl of the South, the city of Cienfuegos is an attractive, maritime city located on Cuba’s south coast.

    At the heart of Cienfuegos, and just a short walk from the beautiful waterfront, is the city’s vast main square, Plaza Jose Marti, lined all four sides by grand civic buildings dating back to the colonial era, the most famous of which is undoubtedly the iconic Teatro Tomas Terry.

    A short taxi ride from the city centre is Punta Gorda, a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Bay of Cienfuegos and which was once the city’s most upmarket neighbourhood. Even today, this part of the city is still home to numerous beautiful buildings, including the famous Palacio del Valle & Club Cienfuegos, as well as much of the city’s limited accommodation.

    The morning is at leisure for you to explore Cienfuegos on your own. Alternatively, you can book our guided tour of the city.

    After checking out of your hotel and lunch, depart Cienfuegos for the easy, hour long drive along the coast to Trinidad.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casas Meals Included: Breakfast
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    • — Cienfuegos, Palacio De Valle
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    • — Cienguegos, Teatro Tomas Terry
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  • Day 10 — Trinidad

    Small it may be, but the town of Trinidad on Cuba’s south coast punches well above its weight when it comes to visitor appeal and, after Havana, is the island’s number two cultural destination.

    Founded in 1514, Trinidad grew rich on the back of the sugar trade. The wealth this generated led to the building of numerous beautiful civic buildings and private homes, many of which are largely unchanged to this day. With so much of its original architecture still in place, and the colonial layout of the town centre largely untainted by modern development, Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

    Today, the historic centre of Trinidad is closed to traffic and wandering the town’s cobbled lanes it is hard not to be struck by the beauty of the town which is often described as an outdoor museum. For those who like traditional museums, the charming Museo Histórico Municipal, also known as Casa Cantero, is our top pick although the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos will appeal to those with an interest in the Cuban Revolution.

    After breakfast, you will be collected by your guide for a morning tour of this magical town. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to relax or explore further on your own.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casas Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Trinidad, Plaza Mayor
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    • — Trinidad, Museo Romantico
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    • — Trinidad, street
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  • Day 11 — Trindad to Santa Clara via Valley of the Sugar Mills

    Located between Trinidad & Sancti Spiritus, the Valley of the Sugar Mills was once the epicentre of the Cuban sugar industry and is still home to a number of atmospheric, decaying relics from that era. The most visited of these landmarks are Casa Gauchinango and Manaca-Iznaga whose haunting slave tower offers panoramic views of the valley.

    As well as being very interesting, the drive through the Valley of the Sugar Mills is also incredibly scenic, ending in the small, colonial town of Sancti Spiritus which, if you have time, is worth having a look around.

    From Sancti Spiritus, you then return to the autopista and head back west to the city of Santa Clara.

    Primarily famous for being the final resting place of Ernesto Che Guevara, Santa Clara is inextricably linked with the Cuban Revolution.

    It was in Santa Clara that the last battle of the Cuban Revolution was fought in 1958, led in part by Guevara, and culminating in the derailing of a government troop train. Within hours, General Batista had fled the island for good and a new phase in Cuba’s history had begun. Today, the very same train is preserved in a park setting within the city and serves as both a national monument and museum.

    However, Santa Clara’s main draw is undoubtedly Che Guevara’s Mausoleum and Monument which is located just outside the city centre. The Monument was opened in 1988 while the Mausoleum was added in 1997 after his remains were discovered in Bolivia and returned to Cuba.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Central Santa Clara Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Trinidad, Valley of the Sugar Mills
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    • — Sancti Spiritus
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    • — Santa Clara, Che Guevara
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  • Day 12 — Santa Clara to Havana Airport

    It is an approximate 3-hour drive from Santa Clara back to Havana so, depending on your flight schedule, the morning is free for you to relax or explore the city at your leisure before heading back to the autopista and the final haul back to Havana airport.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Santa Clara, Iglesia Del Carmen
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Please Note

This itinerary is no more than a sample idea which can be tailor made to your exact requirements.

The 'From price' is for travel in September and is based on two adults sharing the same room throughout. Supplements apply for sole occupancy / transport.

The price quoted is based on rental of a Mercedes Benz B180 and does not include car rental insurance of 20 cuc per day which must be paid locally.

The quoted price does not include 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 one of Cuba’s numerous beach resorts there are plenty of options although, for logistical reasons, with this itinerary or similar we would suggest sticking to the western half of the island. Please call or email for advice.

Suggested Accommodation

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