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, as clients won’t require a car while in Havana, a private transfer is included to the city centre.

    Flights from the UK and Europe almost all arrive from the late afternoon onwards so what remains of the day is free for clients to relax.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casa Particulars Meals Included: None
    • — Havana, Malecon sunset
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    • — Mojito
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  • Day 2 — Havana

    Cuba’s capital city is one of the world’s truly unique travel destinations and, for once, all the clichés are true – a beautiful coastal setting, wonderful old buildings everywhere you look, classic American cars on every street corner, kids playing baseball in the street, bars blaring out salsa music morning, day and night…..

    The vast majority of the city’s attractions, not to mention its best accommodation, are to be found in its historic quarter, known as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    So, on your first full day in Cuba, we suggest beginning your holiday with a private, guided walking tour of Old Havana. This approximate, 3-hour tour will include visits to the city’s four main plazas with your guide on hand to explain about the city’s history and answer any queries you may have.

    On conclusion of your walking tour, and after a quick break to sample a refreshing Cuban cocktail, two legs give way to four wheels as you are picked up by a vintage American car for a tour of ‘New’ Havana.

    Taking in the neighbourhoods of Centro, Vedado & Miramar, you’ll pass by Revolution Square, the University of Havana, Hotel Nacional de Cuba and, of course, cruise down the iconic Malecon.

    Ending in time for a late lunch, the rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own or simply relax back at your chosen accommodation.

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

    No activities are included for today although there are countless options.

    We offer a number of pre-bookable Trips (excursions), such as a visit to a Cuba cigar factory, a tour of the Gran Teatro de Habana, an excursion across the harbour to La Cabana or even private dance classes.

    Alternatively, clients are free to make their own arrangements.

    In the afternoon, you will meet up with up with one of our agents in Havana and proceed to the car rental office where you will sign all the necessary paperwork for your car hire booking.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casa Particulars 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 Vinales Valley is known for its beautiful countryside as well as being home to farms growing much of Cuba’s finest tobacco, the natural ingredient for the country’s world famous cigars.

    The roads around Vinales are largely traffic free and incredibly picturesque. Having your own car allows you to explore the area at your leisure including tobacco farms and caves such as the Cueva del Indio.

    We also offer a number of optional Trips in Vinales that can easily be combined with doing your own thing, ie a guided sunrise trek or morning tour of Vinales followed by doing your own thing in the afternoon.

    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.

    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

    Part of the UNESCO Sierra del Rosario Biosphere, the small community of Las Terrazas is an ideal stopover for anyone who wishes to experience the Cuban countryside.

    Set within an area of forested hills, and built around a picturesque lake, Las Terrazas is home to various nature trails as well as some of the best birdwatching in Cuba.

    A short drive into the hills you will also find the ruins of old coffee plantations while, around thirty minutes’ drive from Las Terrazas, are the famous Soroa Botanical Gardens.

    If, after exploring your surroundings, you simply wish to kick back and relax, there is a nearby river with natural pools that are ideal for a refreshing dip.

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel La Moka Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Las Terrazas
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    • — 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 rejoin 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

    Located on Cuba’s south coast, the attractive city of Cienfuegos is known for its broad streets and elegant architecture.

    The city is small enough not to require your car so, today, you have the option of setting out on foot by yourself or booking a guided, morning city tour.

    Cienfuegos’ numerous attractions are divided between the city centre and Punta Gorda. The city centre is dominated by Parque Jose Marti, surrounded on all four sides by numerous civic buildings, most notably the Teatro Tomas Terry, whereas Punta Gorda was the city’s smartest neighbourhood and is still home to impressive mansions, the city’s Marina and Club and the whimsical Palacio de Valle.

    Although one could easily spend the whole day in Cienfuegos, or indeed longer, its key attractions can generally be enjoyed in a busy morning’s exploration.

    After lunch, and checking out of your accommodation, there follows an enjoyable, hour long drive east along the coast to Trinidad.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casa Particulars 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

    Although a relatively small town, Trinidad is Cuba’s number two cultural destination after Havana and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988.

    The town dates back to 1514 and so little has changed in its historic centre that Trinidad is often referred to as a museum town.

    Assuming you opt to stay in town, everything is walking distance so the only decision you need to make is whether you wish to use the services of a guide on our private walking tour or to explore on your own. No matter what you decide, it is hard not to be beguiled by this true colonial gem.

    After lunch, you can either continue exploring town, relax at your accommodation or head out and explore your surroundings by car.

    If you fancy a dip in the sea, Trinidad is just 15 minutes’ drive or so from the warm waters of the Caribbean so why not spend the afternoon relaxing at the beach?

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casa Particulars 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

    Departing Trinidad after breakfast, you have the option of heading due north and taking the direct, mountainous route to Santa Clara (driving time approximate 3 hours) with a stop en-route at a small café / coffee museum.

    However, our suggestion would be to head east and take in the longer, circuitous route via the Valley of the Sugar Mills and Sancti Spiritus.

    Once the centre of Cuba’s sugar industry, the Valley of the Sugar Mills is another incredibly scenic region of Cuba as well as being home to a number of atmospheric old haciendas. Many of these lie derelict and decaying although efforts are being made to preserve select buildings and turn them into visitor attractions. The best known of these old haciendas is Manaca-Iznaga whose chilling slave tower offers panoramic views of the valley.

    Just beyond the Valley of the Sugar Mills is the picturesque old town of Sancti Spiritus. With its attractive colonial centre, famous Puente Yayabo and comparative lack of visitors, it’s a great place to simply go for a stroll and have a bite to eat.

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

    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

    Although it lacks the visual appeal of other towns and cities on this itinerary, Santa Clara played a pivotal role in the Cuban Revolution and it is here that Che Guevara was finally laid to rest.

    The Che Guevara Mausoleum & Museum are a located on the city’s southern outskirts while, in the city centre, a visit to the Tren Blindado museum is highly recommended.

    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 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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