Cuba / Itineraries

Eastern Cuba Highlights


Starting and finishing in Holguin in eastern Cuba, this suggested, week-long private tour takes in the key highlights of eastern Cuba, combining both city and countryside with the option, at the end, of extending your holiday at one of Cuba’s beautiful beaches.

  • Day 1 — Holguin to Bayamo

    Clients will be met at Holguin airport and transferred by road to Bayamo.

    Older than either Havana or Santiago, the charming, colonial town of Bayamo is an easy-going kind of place and one that most Cubans hold dear.

    During the wars of independence from Spain, Bayamo was an insurgent stronghold and, in an act of defiance, large parts of the town were burned to the ground by its own residents during the fighting. Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, viewed by many as the father of the independence movement, was also a native of Bayamo and famous for setting free the slaves on his nearby plantation.

    Despite this tumultuous period in its history, Bayamo is still an attractive town with plenty of graceful colonial-era architecture to admire including San Salvador cathedral, the Bayamo theatre, and Parque Cespedes.

    Another, less well-known feature of the town, and a welcome one at that, is the relative lack of motor traffic – the majority of Bayamo residents still get about by bike or horse.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Royalton Meals Included: Breakfast
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    • — Bayamo, Parque
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    • — Bayamo, Horse & carriage
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  • Day 2 — La Plata

    After an early breakfast, a private jeep will take you to Alto del Naranjo where you will join a small group for the 3kms hike up to La Plata, headquarters for Fidel Castro in the early stages of the Cuban Revolution.

    Aside from its historic importance, the beautiful surrounding countryside and views also make this a hugely worthwhile trip. Returning to Alto del Naranjo, you will then be driven to Villa Santo Domingo for lunch before returning to Bayamo.

    The rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to relax at your accommodation or explore Bayamo on your own.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Royalton Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — La Plata hike
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    • — La Plata sign
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    • — Bayamo, Church exterior
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  • Day 3 — Bayamo to Santiago via El Cobre

    Departing Bayamo after breakfast, en-route to Santiago you will stop to visit El Cobre.

    Located some 20kms from Santiago in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Maestra, El Cobre is Cuba’s most important pilgrimage site. The church was built in 1927 and houses a black Madonna which many Cubans come to venerate and ask for protection from. In 1998, the then Pope visited El Cobre, blessed the shrine and referred to the Madonna as the Queen of Cubans.

    Today, the Madonna is located on the second story of the church behind a glass case. The church is open daily from 6 till 6 and entrance is free. If you are visiting during September, an annual pilgrimage takes place on the 12th of the month

    You will arrive in Santiago in time for a late lunch after which the rest of the afternoon is at leisure

    Suggested Accommodation: Iberostar Casa Granda Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — El Cobre
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    • — Santiago, El Cobre
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    • — Parque Cespedes, Santiago
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  • Day 4 — Santiago

    Santiago might be the island’s second largest city, but it’s probably best that you don’t mention that while you’re there. While only a fraction of the size of Havana, the citizens of Santiago are fiercely proud of their city and, in many ways – be it ethnicity, traditions or temperament – very different.

    More ethnically mixed than other parts of the island, Santiago could be considered as the New Orleans of Cuba, notable as much for its rich cultural heritage of music and dance as it is for its equally varied architectural styles.

    For those with an interest in modern Cuban history, Santiago is regarded as the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution and visits to both the Moncada Barracks (where the Revolution began) and City Hall (where Fidel Castro declared final victory) are a must for enthusiasts.

    Starting after breakfast, there will be a full day tour of the city and its surroundings starting with many of the city’s highlights including Revolution Square, the Moncada Barracks, Museum Diego Velazquez and the Santa Ifigenia cemetery to witness the changing of the guard.

    The tour then continues to the outskirts of the city and the UNESCO World Heritage listed San Pedro de la Roca fortress before a short boat journey takes you to Cayo Granma for lunch. The day ends with a stroll around the city’s central Parque Cespedes before you return to your accommodation. The rest of the day is at leisure although a visit to the city’s Casa de la Trova this evening is highly recommended.

    (Alternative: If you wish to extend your stay in Santiago by a day, you might wish to consider our full day excursion to La Gran Piedra).

    Suggested Accommodation: Iberostar Casa Granda Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Santiago, Moncada
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    • — Santiago, Fort
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    • — Santiago, Cayo Granma
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  • Day 5 — Santiago to Baracoa via Guantanamo

    Leaving Santiago in the morning, you will make a brief stop in the town of Guantanamo before the initial flat roads head upwards.

    Right up until 1965, and the building of La Farola, the town of Baracoa was a virtual island, cut off by land from the rest of Cuba and only accessible by sea.

    La Farola is the name given to the 120km stretch of road that links Baracoa with Guantanamo on the south coast. Viewed as one of the first, great infrastructure achievements of the Cuban Revolution, building of the road was actually begun, but then abandoned, by the previous government.

    Although La Farola refers to the entire route between Guantanamo and Baracoa, it is the near 60km stretch between Cajobabo and Baracoa that is widely considered to be the most scenic drive in Cuba, winding its way up and over the Cuchillas de Baracoa Mountains, some of the steepest in Cuba and covered in dense vegetation.

    On arrival in Baracoa, and after unpacking and having a bite to eat, you will proceed on a walking tour of town.

    Founded in 1511, Baracoa is not only the first Spanish settlement in Cuba, but also the oldest colonial town anywhere in the Americas. Although it lacks the architectural splendour of, for example, Trinidad, it’s still a lively, charming town with a picturesque oceanfront setting and plenty to enjoy.

    Suggested Accommodation: La Habanera Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Baracoa, La Farola
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    • — Baracoa Bay
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    • — Main square
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  • Day 6 — Baracoa

    No activities are pre-included this itinerary so you can either relax, explore on your own or, take one of our optional Trips into the beautiful, surrounding countryside.

    Suggested Accommodation: La Habanera Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Hiking
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    • — Rio Miel
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    • — Alejandro De Humboldt National Park
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  • Day 7 — Baracoa

    As with the day before, no activities are pre-included this itinerary so you can either take another of our optional Trips of the surrounding countryside, relax in town or perhaps head to the beautiful nearby Playa Maguana for a spot of R&R.

    Suggested Accommodation: La Habanera Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Rio Toa
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    • — El Yunque
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    • — Playa Maguana
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  • Day 8 — Baracoa to Holguin or Guardalavavaca

    Departing Baracoa this morning, it’s a long, bumpy drive north along the coast and back to Holguin or the nearby beaches of Guardalavaca.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Quiet road
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    • — Guardalavaca, Holguin
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