Cuba / Itineraries

Private Cuba Tour

  • Private Cuba

Enjoy a private Cuba tour with your own driver / guide. This 10 night itinerary takes in the highlights of western Cuba but is only a small taste of what we can offer.

  • Day 1 — Havana

    Clients will be met at Havana’s Jose Marti airport and transferred the short distance to their accommodation in the city.

    The vast majority of flights arrive from late afternoon onwards, so what remains of the day is at leisure for clients to stretch their legs and perhaps enjoy the first of many rum-based cocktails.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hostal Balcones Muralla
    • Private Havana
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    • Mojito cost in Cuba
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  • Day 2 — Havana

    Known throughout the world, and top of many people’s travel ‘bucket lists’, Havana is one of the world’s most enchanting capital cities and an absolute must-visit.

    Where does one start with Havana? Its picturesque location and sweeping seafront Malecon, the rich colonial legacy of Old Havana, the not-entirely-leftover relics of the Soviet era, classic old cars trundling around every corner, kids playing baseball in the streets, music drifting out of residents’ crumbling homes.

    Yes, Havana has plenty of museums you can visit, not least the evocative Museum of the Revolution, but, much like Venice, this is a city that very much rewards the wanderer.

    Accordingly, after breakfast at your accommodation in Old Havana, you will meet up with your guide for an approximate 3-hour walking tour of Old Havana.

    Strolling from one beautiful plaza to the next, your guide will introduce you to the city’s vibrant history, pointing out buildings of interest and answering any queries you may have.

    At the end of this walking tour of Old Havana, and a break for lunch in a local restaurant, you will be able to put your feet up and enjoy a tour of New Havana, all from the comfort of one of the iconic, classic American cars for which, somewhat ironically, Cuba is famous.

    Enroute you will drive around Revolution Square, gazing up at Che Guevara as you do, past the University of Havana, visit the beautiful but haunting Necropolis Cristobal Colon, admire the architecture and mansions of Miramar and then back along the Malecon to your accommodation.

    The rest of the day is free for you to explore further on your own or simply relax.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hostal Balcones Muralla Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
    • Old Havana Street
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    • Cathedral Square Havana
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    • Havana Classic Car Tour
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  • Day 3 — Havana

    After breakfast, you will again be met at your accommodation in Old Havana by your guide. From there, you will jump in a taxi for the short drive via the Havana tunnel to La Cabana Habana.

    Regularly touted as being one of the largest forts in the Americas, La Cabana is a huge 18th century fort that looms over Havana from the eastern side of the bay.

    Having briefly lost Havana to the British, the Spanish were determined to avoid any such repeat and began construction of the fort in 1763 with completion only 10 years later.

    More recently, La Cabana was used a prison as well as, for a short time, serving as Che Guevara’s HQ. Today, it is thankfully just a museum and forms part of a broader historical park that includes the nearby Morro Castle.

    From La Cabana it is a short walk to another of the city’s iconic monuments, and another great view point over the city, the Cristo de la Habana.

    Designed by Cuban sculptor Jilma Madero, the statue was inaugurated on Christmas Eve 1958, just a couple of weeks before the ending of the Cuban Revolution and the beginning, for many years, of religion being banned in Cuba.

    From this highpoint over the city, you will walk down the road to the tranquil and picturesque neighbourhood of Casablanca, the starting point of the famous Hershey electric train (when it is working that is).

    From Casablanca you will board one of the city ferries back across the harbour mouth to Old Havana in time for lunch. The rest of the day is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hostal Balcones Muralla Meals Included: Breakfast
    • Cannons at La Cabana in Havana
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    • Cristo De La Habana statue
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    • Casablanca Havana
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  • Day 4 — Havana to Vinales (via Soroa & La Guira)

    After breakfast, and having checked out of your accommodation, your private Cuba tour begins with you being collected from your accommodation by your Driver / Guide and setting off from Havana.

    Heading west out of the city for approximately 90 minutes, your first stop of the day will be the Soroa Botanical Gardens.

    Nestled with the Sierra de Rosario Mountains, the gardens were originally laid out in 1943 by a wealthy lawyer, Don Tomas Felipe Camacho, in honour of his daughter.

    Although the Soroa gardens are home to a wide variety of flora, as well as a picturesque waterfall, they are best known for their huge collection of orchids, over 100 of which are endemic to Cuba.

    Continuing west from Soroa, and just a short drive from the spa town of San Diego de los Banos, is the day’s second stop, Parque La Guira.

    Originally owned by Jose Manuel Cortina, a wealthy landowner and politician, his estate was seized by the State and turned into a national park.

    The one time mansion at the heart of the estate now lies in ruins while the peaceful gardens, which you may well have all to yourself, are home to countless Greco-Roman statues and ornaments.

    Depending on time and whether they are open, it may also be possible to visit the nearby Cuevas de los Portales where Che Guevara (not the last time we will refer to him) set up his base during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    From Parque La Guira, it is another hour plus drive to your base for the next two nights, the stunningly beautiful Vinales Valley. Having checked in at the accommodation of your choice, the rest of the day is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Casa Lucilo y Nirma Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
    • Orchids at Soroa Botanical Gardens in Cuba
      — Soroa, orchids
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    • Parque La Guira
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  • Day 5 — Vinales

    After breakfast at your casa particular, you will be collected by your Driver / Guide for a tour of the Vinales Valley.

    First up, you will drive to the famous viewpoint from where you can look down on the spectacular karst limestone scenery and a valley dotted with tobacco drying houses and traditional farms.

    Dropping back down into the valley you will drive through Dos Hermanos Valley, a route lined with limestone mogotes, before making a short stop at the famous / infamous Pre-History Mural. This somewhat incongruous, 120-metre-tall painting, adorned with images of pre-historical Vinales, is one of the largest al fresco paintings in the world and was commissioned by Fidel Castro in 1961.

    You will then leave your car and take a gentle stroll along the valley floor, visiting the world-famous tobacco plantations while your guide describes the process involved in turning the tobacco leaves into Cuba’s world-famous cigars.

    Included will be a visit to a small tobacco farm where you meet with the farmer and get to see a selection house where the tobacco leaves are graded for use into different cigar brands.

    You will then continue to El Palenque De Los Cimarrones, a cave in the cliffs that recreates one of the hidden homes set up by runaway slaves in the 19th century.

    More caves follow with a visit to El Indio, discovered in 1920 and thought to have been a refuge of the Guanahatabey Indians as well as a traditional burial site. After a walk through the caves, you will then enjoy a quirky 400 metre boat ride that takes you further through the cave network before emerging into the sunlight.

    Lunch on the tour is included at Finca Paraiso, an organic restaurant and farm that enjoys beautiful views over the Silencio Valley.

    At the end of the tour, you will be dropped back at your casa particular.

    (If you wish to extend your stay in Vinales, there are some great walks to be enjoyed as well as the option of a day trip to the beach at Cayo Jutias).

    Suggested Accommodation: Casa Lucilo y Nirma Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
    • Private Vinales
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    • A farmer growing tobacco
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    • A boat exiting the Cueva del Indio
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  • Day 6 — Vinales to Cienfuegos

    This will be the earliest start of the holiday, departing Vinales at approx 07.00 for the approximate 6 hour drive to Cienfuegos on Cuba’s south coast.

    Apart from a loo / coffee break, there really isn’t anything to see enroute unless you want to detour to the Zapata Peninsula / Bay of Pigs for an overnight visit.

    Having arrived in Cienfuegos and checked in at your accommodation, your guide can recommend somewhere to have lunch locally.

    After lunch, you will proceed on a tour of this maritime city, another UNESCO World Heritage site.

    First settled by the indigenous Taino, Cienfuegos is distinct in Cuba in that, during the colonial period, it was immigrants from France rather than Spain that made it their home. This influence is evident in much of its architecture and many of its remaining Francophile street names.

    At the heart of the remarkably peaceful city centre is the city’s main square, Plaza Jose Marti, lined on all sides by grand civic buildings dating back to the colonial era, the most impressive of which is the beautiful Teatro Tomas Terry.

    Suggested Accommodation: Camila’s Hostal Meals Included: Breakfast
    • Transfer Havana Cienfuegos Trinidad
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    • Cienfuegos City Tour
      — Cienfuegos, Palacio de Valle
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    • Teatro Tomas Terry
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  • Day 7 — Cienfuegos to Trinidad via Guanaroca & El Nicho

    Another relatively early start, at approximately 08.00, will see you head the short distance to the nearby Guanaroca Lagoon.

    Initiated as a national park in 1994, Guanaroca Lagoon covers 3000 hectares and is a bird watchers’ paradise. The biggest draw is undoubtedly its large population of flamingos, pelicans and trogons although there is plenty of other birdlife to enjoy, in addition to its beautiful natural setting, all of which you will enjoy on a boat trip.

    From the Guanaroca Lagoon, you will head inland, up into the foothills of the Escambray Mountains to El Nicho.

    The waterfalls at El Nicho are fed by two rivers, the Rio El Nicho and Rio El Mamey, and are accessed by an easy and picturesque walking trail.

    At the foot of the waterfalls is a natural pool in which it is possible to enjoy a cooling swim so do remember to take your swimming costume with you. There is also a simple restaurant nearby serving typical Cuban cuisine as well as cold drinks.

    Returning to the car, you will then head back down to the coast and onto your next destination, the town of Trinidad. After checking in at your accommodation, the remainder of the day is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Buri y Nesti Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
    • Guanaroca Lagoon Cuba
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    • El Nicho Cuba Tour
      — El Nicho
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    • View towards Lake Hanabanilla from El Nicho
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  • Day 8 — Trinidad

    One of Cuba’s original settlements, Trinidad was founded in 1514 and, on the back of the sugar trade, became one of the richest towns in the Americas.

    This wealth is evident in the centre of Trinidad, yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, which has barely changed over the centuries.

    Surrounding its beautiful central plaza, and along cobbled roads that head off in every direction, pretty much every building in the traffic free historic centre is a handsome remnant of a bygone era.

    After a more leisurely breakfast than previous mornings, your guide you will collect you from your accommodation for a walking tour of town.

    The afternoon is then free for you to explore the town at your leisure, perhaps taking in a museum or two such as the Romantic Museum or the intriguingly titled Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos which focuses on the Cuban Revolution. After all that culture, perhaps end the afternoon with a visit to La Canchanchara to try out the local firewater.

    Having returned to your accommodation to relax and change, Trinidad boasts a number of bars and restaurants as well as some great venues for live music and dancing.

    Suggested Accommodation: Buri y Nesti Meals Included: Breakfast
    • Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba
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    • Exterior of the Museo Romantico in Trinidad
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    • Live band playing at La Canchanchara
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  • Day 9 — Trinidad (Day trip to Valley of the Sugar Mills)

    Just a short drive east of Trinidad, the Valley of the Sugar Mills is another of Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.

    As already noted, Trinidad grew rich on sugar and the Valley of the Sugar Mills was at the heart of this industry with over 50 estates at its peak. As so often happens however, boom eventually turned to bust as first the sugar price collapsed and then most of the industry moved further north.

    With no trade to support themselves, the estates closed one by one and were left to rot and decay. One of these estates was Manaca Iznaga which, today, has been turned into a visitor attraction.

    Enjoying a beautiful location in the heart of the valley, the first thing you will notice is the vast tower, from the top of which one can enjoy spectacular views. During its time as a working sugar plantation, this same tower was used as a look-out to watch over the huge slave workforce on whose misery a tiny minority grew rich.

    Set in a beautiful location, the tower at the centre of the estate now offers visitors panoramic views of the area; during the years in which it was a working plantation, the same tower was used as a look-out for watching over the slave workforce.

    Continuing a short distance east, still no more than an hour’s drive from Trinidad, is Sancti Spiritus, another of the original colonial settlements that was founded in 1514.

    Largely overshadowed by Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus is nonetheless an attractive town in its own right, centred around beautiful Parque Serafin Sanchez and, like Trinidad, with a number of cobbled lanes lined by buildings often hundreds of years old.

    One of these cobbled lanes lead down to the Yayabo River and the town’s most famous structure, the brick-built Puente Yayabo, one of the oldest bridges in Cuba.

    After exploring town, and a break for lunch, you will then return to Trinidad in the afternoon. The rest day is then at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Buri y Nesti Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
    • Valley of the Sugar Mills in Cuba
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    • Manaca Iznaga, Cuba
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    • Sancti Spiritus Tour
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  • Day 10 — Trinidad to Havana (via Santa Clara)

    Departing Trinidad after breakfast, you will first head back through the Valley of the Sugar Mills before taking a sharp left and beginning the journey back to Havana.

    Before returning to Havana, there is one more destination to visit on your tour of Cuba – and another encounter with Che Guevara – Santa Clara.

    The city of Santa Clara dates back to the late 17th century and, while not as attractive as the other colonial towns and cities on this itinerary, it is not without its charms and is certainly less touristy.

    That is not to say that Santa Clara doesn’t attract its fair share of visitors, it does, although the draw this time is far more contemporary, namely the Cuban Revolution.

    It was here that the Cuban Revolution was finally won and, as such, a visit to the Tren Blindado is a must for anyone with an interest in this particular aspect of Cuban history.

    Even more importantly, and located just on the outskirts of town, is the final resting place of Ernesto Che Guevara, with both a vast statue and small museum.

    After exploring the city’s main sights followed by lunch, you will join Cuba’s widest stretch of highway, almost entirely devoid of traffic, for the final 3-hour drive back to Havana.

    Having checked in at your hotel for the final night, clients are free to make their own arrangements for dinner.

    If you so wish, we can also pre-book tickets for one of the city’s iconic shows, either the razzmatazz of the famous Tropicana or the slightly more authentic Legendarios del Guajirito.

    (1 – For those with the time and inclination, it is possible to spend the night in Santa Clara or even the nearby colonial town of Remedios).

    (2 – For those clients looking to extend they stay in Cuba at the beach, rather than returning to Havana we can easily arrange for a drop off at the resort of your choice).

    Suggested Accommodation: Hostal Balcones Muralla Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
    • Private Santa Clara
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    • Che Guevara Museum Santa Clara Cuba
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    • Santa Clara Cuba Transfer
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  • Day 11 — Home or To The Beach

    The morning at leisure for you to relax, explore further or perhaps engage in a little retail therapy.

    With your private Cuba tour now at an end, you will either be transferred to the beach of your choice or, if returning home, to the nearby airport for your overnight flight back home.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • Shopping in Havana

Please Note

This private Cuba tour is no more than a sample idea which can be tailor made to your exact requirements including the accommodation used.

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

The quoted price does not include international flights which we can arrange as part of an ATOL protected holiday.

Beach Extensions

For clients wishing to extend their holiday with time at one of Cuba’s numerous beach resorts there are numerous options although, for logistical reasons, we would suggest sticking to the western half of the island. Please call or email for advice.

Mystique Casa Perla Varadero

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