“Take two weeks to travel across Cuba as part of a small group (max 14) and discover the cultural and natural highlights ranging from old town Havana to the Bay of Pigs and Guantanamo Bay.”

Highlights

Old town Havana | Santa Clara | Che Guevara Museum | Camaguey | Santiago | Cienfuegos | Trinidad | Baracoa | Bay of Pigs | Moncada Barracks | Yunke National Park | Optional activities, include: snorkelling, scuba diving, beach bbq's, steam train rides and horse riding |

Description of Cuba cultural tours

Our two week Cuba cultural tours blend the very best natural highlights with historic and cultural heritage in order to place travellers on a fascinating journey of discovery where local Cuban people are at the heart of everything we see and do.

As our maximum Cuba cultural tour group size is just 14 travellers we can ensure every member of the group gets a first-hand understanding of this beautiful country and its people with classic locations, such as old town Havana, Trinidad and the Bay of Pigs, combining with lesser-visited areas, including the beautiful Yunke National Park.

Included within our cultural tours to Cuba:

- Accommodation within small guesthouse properties
- Fourteen breakfasts
- Arrival airport transfers, overland transport and internal flight
- A guided walking tour of the old Havana district
- Entrance to Santa Clara's Che Guevara Museum
- A visit to Camaguey's famous ballet school
- An evening of live music and dancing in Santiago
- Accompanying local guided throughout the Cuba cultural tour

Not included within our cultural tours to Cuba:

International flights, visas, travel insurance, passport fees, beverages, tips, airport return transfers, lunchtime and evening meals and all activities that are considered to be in addition to the itinerary.
Travel Times:

Havana to Baracoa – 4 hours (flight 1.5 hours)
Baracoa to Santiago – 6 hours
Santiago to Camaguey – 7 hours
Camaguey to Trinidad – 6 hours
Trinidad to Santa Clara – 3 hours
Santa Clara to Cienfuegos – 1 hours
Cienfuegos to Havana – 5 hours

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:

Arrive Havana.  You are free to arrive in Havana at whatever time you can today. We have set aside this first day for this purpose, so you won't miss out on anything, even if you arrive late in the evening. Your included airport arrival transfer will be provided. This will be either a government taxi or a private car, and will take you directly from the Havana airport to your guesthouse for the first night.

Your tour guide will leave a note for you in the guesthouse with some information for you to get settled and details of any group meeting times. The first of these will be a get together for dinner on the first night for those group members that have arrived in time.

If you do happen to arrive earlier in the day, you may have time to go and explore some of Havana. At some stage during the tour, your tour guide will include a walking tour of Old Havana. After confirming your tour booking with us, we will also send you a set of maps for each city you will visit in Cuba. This is like mini guide book that we update every year - so it is usually more up-to-date than a typical guide book. We do recommend the guide books for Cuba however, especially for the background historical and cultural information sections
Days 2-4
Baracoa.  When Christopher Columbus first encountered Cuba it was here, and he duly noted in his log-book that this was the most beautiful land that human eyes could set upon. You will understand what he meant when you see the beaches and verdant mountain landscape that surround Baracoa. Situated on a beautiful bay with the mountains of the Sierra del Purial in the background, Baracoa was the first settlement founded by the Spanish in Cuba, and was only accessible by sea until the end of the 1960s.

We arrive here by way of a mid-morning domestic flight from Havana. We have 2 full days here and there are numerous options for outdoor activities in the nearby mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and beaches. Baracoa is also known for it's variety of fresh seafood, and chocolate made from local cacao plantations.
Days 5-6: Santiago de Cuba.  A spectacular drive through lush mountains of eastern Cuban, then along a rugged and beautiful section of coast, and later past the region’s most controversial leasehold of Guantanamo Bay, brings us to what is known as the “cradle of Cuba's Revolution”. Santiago de Cuba is home to much of Cuba’s famed music, like the Son. There are also museums, colonial churches and buildings of more recent historical importance, such as the Moncada Barracks, which are well worth exploring.
Santiago de Cuba has a very vibrant traditional music scene, and it's here that we include what we call a Noche Santiaguera. It's an interactive night of music and dance where we invite some local Santiago friends of ours to come with us to a local traditional music venue, and they will invite you to join them on the dance floor to learn some dance moves. For those that are willing, you'll have the chance to get up on stage and play an instrument with the local Cuban band. Culturally, Santiago has a different feel to the rest of Cuba, undoubtedly coming from the mix of French speaking slaves from Haiti and its proximity to Jamaica.
Days 7-8:
Camagüey.  Cuba's third largest city lies about half way between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Our longest travel day (a 6 or 7 hour drive) brings us here from Santiago. Camaguey was designed in the 17th century to disorientate potential invaders such as pirates and plunderers, so the street layout is a jumble of narrow alleys where no two streets are parallel. There are large parks, various private art galleries, and a thriving market garden, and one will enjoy strolling through this city. This is also a university town and has a rich cultural tradition, and like just about everywhere in Cuba, there is plenty of night time entertainment to be had.

Camaguey is a proud and cultural city, and has some of the best schools and institutions in Cuba. We include a guided visit to a ballet school
Days 9-11:
Trinidad. Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. We are near the lovely Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) and Playa Ancón, where you can enjoy long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches. Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls and horse-riding are other optional activities.

The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets.
Day 12:
Cienfuegos via Santa Clara.  Before reaching the French founded city of Cienfuegos we first drop in on the historic inland city of Santa Clara. It's here that we encounter a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara. We take time to visit the musuem that is directly under the statue, and which tells the story of Ché's fascinating life. There is also a mauseleum with an eternal flame that commemorates his death and that of the revolutionaries who were with him in Bolivia.

Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades, and there is an ambience to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”. You'll have time to take in the ambience with a pleasant stroll along the boulevard and to the main square.

Day 13: Havana via Bay of Pig.  On our way back to the capital, we drive along the beautiful coastline of the Bay of Pigs. This is where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occured in 1961. The ensuing battle with the Cuban Revolutionary forces resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. Your guide will explain in more detail the dramatic events. If the conditions are favourable, we can stop for a swim at a beautiful spot on the bay that is ideal for snorkelling. Snorkelling masks are available at a small cost. We then pass through an area of densely vegetated swamp-lands called the Cienage de Zapata, before arriving bank in Havana.
Day 15: Havana.  The Caribbean's largest and most exciting urban concentration, Havana is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Options are to take the included walking tour of the Old town with the guide or to find your own adventure.
NOTE: Notes - Itineraries for the tour of Cuba can and do change during the course of the year due to a variety of reasons. We are not always able to advise you in advance of these changes. We ask for your understanding and flexibility in these cases.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Small group tour:
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. Those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
LGBTQIA+
Our partners behind this holiday promote inclusivity on all their trips and across their business and we are all committed to ensuring travellers face no discrimination on any part of the trip they control.
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
All our staff are trained in Responsible Tourism and make this an important part of their tour. We ensure all the activities offered to the travellers take into consideration the impact on the local environment and wildlife.

We economize our use of resources as much as possible, and we also try to reduce the amount of waste we produce and encourage our guests to do so as well. One example of a measure we have taken is to include drinking water for our travelers and include this in the tour package. The tour leader (guide) is given a budget to buy large 5 litre bottles of drinking water and store these on the tour bus. The guests are encouraged to use this water to refill their own drinking bottles. This avoids the guests buying smaller plastic water bottles everyday. If they haven't brought their own bottle to refill, they can buy 1 small bottle at the start of the tour for their personal use, which they can refill with the drinking water we provide. Filtered or purified water is very uncommon in Cuba, and the vast majority of tourists buy plastic bottles of drinking water. Our method reduces the amount of plastic waste from this practice as much as possible.

Additionally, our tour leaders participate in the No Straws campaign by encouraging our travellers to use reusable straws or to decline straws altogether. All of our tour leaders have been given metal straws which not only reduces their own plastic consumption but sets an example for others in their community. They have enthusiastically supported this campaign, so much so that one tour leader found a rural vendor selling sustainably produced bamboo straws which we now purchase to use on our tours, supporting both the environment and the local economy.

Some of our tour leaders started an initiative to pick up trash en route between the provinces, not only does this maintain the health and beauty of the environment, but also sets an example for the community which has noticed the efforts of the group.

We look for ways to be efficient with our energy use and implement these methods on all of our tours. For example, we try to reduce as much as possible the use of air-conditioning. With the high levels of heat in Cuba for most of the year, and the fact that the travelers are usually unaccustomed to this, the use of air-conditioning is in many cases unavoidable. Our tour leaders are trained to include in their briefing to the guests, to stress the importance of turning off air-conditioning when they are not needing it and to close all doors and windows so that the cool air does not escape from the room. They are encouraged to see if they can sleep comfortably with just a fan, instead of having their air-conditioning turned on all night.

The treatment and care of animals is a particular concern of ours, to that end we donate a portion of tour proceeds to Cubans in Defense of Animals (CeDA) a non-governmental non-profit organization in Havana that provides care and sterilization to street animals, advocates for animal rights, and facilitates adoptions of stray dogs and cats. We encourage our travellers to bring donations of money or much needed supplies to CeDA, our guides will help arrange a drop off. We run in the Havana Marathon in November to raise funds for CeDA, and you are welcome to participate!

We promote best practices in responsible tourism and actively encourage our local suppliers to join us in our green campaigns.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

On this tour you will have the option to visit the remote Yumuri village, an agricultural and fishing village where you can enjoy a beautiful meal and boat ride down the picturesque Yumuri river. Tourism gives this village a much needed economic boost, as it is the only available employment for many in this town between harvest seasons. This is also a good place for you to bring donations, such as clothes, shoes, linens, particularly items for children. We also support the ballet school in Camaguey. The ballet school has a costume department that runs on more creativity than resources, and would welcome donations of sewing and costuming supplies (thread, needles, sequins, etc).

This trip is filled with opportunities to get to know the culture and vibrant society of the intriguing island nation of Cuba. Nearly all of the accommodation is in the homes of Cuban families, where you will get to see how Cubans live, observe their way of life, and participate in their culture.

We directly run all the on-ground services and do not go through a second agent as the majority of tour providers to Cuba do. We have our own dedicated staff of locals in Havana and regional centres. A network of tour leaders, local guides and local transport providers, plus local office staff. We use local coordinators in regional centres to get the best possible access to services possible and to bring in local expertise.

Our tour leaders are paid fair and healthy wages, and thusly are prohibited from taking commissions or other unethical business practices. We offer bonuses and other incentives to encourage honesty and transparency from our tour leaders which results in better service to our customers and has a positive influence on the local culture where they are seen as role models. The tour leaders receive annual training in several different subject areas, including responsible travel, safety, diversity, and ethics, and we encourage them to develop and grow through additional training, special projects, and leadership opportunities.

We encourage and support their charitable endeavors. We have a team of kind-hearted generous tour leaders who have initiated company-supported donation drives and fundraising for disaster relief, medical expenses, and animal welfare.

We also encourage our groups to eat in small Paladars run by the locals or to eat in homestays with local families.

We ensure that we 'spread the wealth' throughout each town so the benefit is to the community as a whole and not a few individuals. In this we attempt to get as many local providers involved in our tours as possible, providing a BBQ by the river, or similar activities where the group is mixing with the real locals and not just those in the tourism industry.

We encourage respectful travel in Cuba. Our Cuban tour leaders will give you an insight into the complex Cuban history and society. The tour leader will demonstrate how this unique country has managed to resist many of the negative impacts of North American culture, influence, and capitalism, and how it has achieved significant social goals, and at the same time, show you the short-comings of the present system.

The maximum group size of this tour is limited to 14 travellers which enables us to more easily interact with the Cubans and to visit their homes and places of work and play. It also minimises our impact on the local culture and society. You will get the chance to visit government run local community projects such as the ‘organoponicos’ (urban based community organic produce gardens), and ration stores.

All travellers are encouraged to explore with the group and on their own, learn a few words of the ‘Cubanised’ Spanish, and to interact with the locals as much as possible. The local guides are employed to help explain as much as possible about the cultural differences and the historically significant places that we visit and to make your experience in Cuba as enjoyable and as much fun as possible.

Our commitment to responsible tourism is not limited to our overseas operation and we have measures to ensure our Australian and US offices operate according to our responsible tourism policy.

Climate

13 Reviews of Cuba cultural tours

4 out of 5 stars
SHOW
6
5
1
0
1

Reviewed on 09 Dec 2017 by

It was all memorable. Being in Cuba itself was an amazing experience. Every town we visited was different but everywhere the people were warm and welcoming. Outside Havana the nights were full of music - with live bands in the restaurants and squares as well as the House of Music venue in each town. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Nov 2017 by

Old Havana, Mountains around Baracoa, Ballet School in Camaguey were all highlights. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 Mar 2017 by

Very varied, exciting, fascinating, stimulating, warm and fun! Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Mar 2017 by

Horse riding in Vinales; salsa lessons in Havana was the most memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 07 Nov 2016 by

The whole thing was pretty amazing. Constant interest and surprise. Read full review

Reviewed on 28 Feb 2016 by

I still can't believe I have been to Cuba and back. I would urge everybody who is thinking of going to Cuba, go and book your holiday now, you will not regret it. We had a fantastic guide and had a lovely time out there. The weather, food, people, music and art, buildings, parks, everything is beautiful. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Feb 2016 by

The trip was excellent! We really enjoyed staying in peoples homes instead of hotels. Read full review

Reviewed on 29 Dec 2016 by

Excellent guide, nice group, learnt a lot of history (and propaganda) and saw a good part of the country. Well worthwhile! Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Feb 2016 by

Every place has its own charm and character but as I love tropical landscapes Baracoa is probably the most memorable place. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Jan 2016 by

The homestay accommodations, which allowed us to meet and interact with local Cubans in personal and meaningful ways, was one of the best things about this trip for me. Cubans are so warm and friendly getting to know the people a little bit made this a very special holiday. Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Feb 2016 by

The group were great. Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2014 by

Amazing, fun, varied, good overall tour, we didn't want to come home. Five Star Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Jan 2012 by

The most memorable part was Xmas eve fireworks in Remedios. Read full review

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