“This trip is ideal for anyone who wants to dip their toes into Cuba and into cycling, with four days in the saddle and plenty of time to explore the countryside and colonial towns.”

Highlights

Havana | Playa Larga | Bay of Pigs | Cienfuegos | Cycling the Caribbean coast | Trinidad | Topes de Collantes National Park | Che Guevara Monument | Santa Clara | Optional catamaran tour

Description of Cuba cycling holiday

This nine day Cuba cycling holiday takes in the north of the country, from the Caribbean coast and back round to the Gulf of Mexico. With four full days of guided and fully supported cycling this is a chilled cycling tour, with visits to both urban and rural Cuba crafted carefully into an itinerary that gives a wonderful Cuban cycling cocktail of places to see and people to meet.

Starting in Havana, its cultural highlights are kept for the end of your trip, as you hit the road almost immediately cycling out to two ‘playas’, with plenty of time for swimming and exploring. The former at Playa Larga and the latter at Playa Giron where the Museo Giron commemorates the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion which took place here. Conflict, culture, cycling and Caribbean coast all in a day. That’s Cuba for you.

The Caribbean coastal cycle also takes you to Cienfuegos, the only city in Cuba to have been built by the French. With lots of 1950’s architecture and Caribbean café charm on the ‘Malecón’, you will spend a night here, one of five nights spent in hotels with swimming pools for post cycling cool downs. Leaving the coast from here, the backroads take you on a slightly more hilly section of the trip, but nothing too severe, as you pass by mango groves and cane fields with views out across the Escambray mountains. Explore these mountains later in the trip, when your cycle brings you through a valley in Topes de Collantes National Park, surrounded by luscious, tropical hills and passing through rural towns and welcoming communities. Such as in Hanabanilla with a stunning location on the eponymous lake.

Trinidad is the next big urban stop on this Cuba cycling holiday, not only with a colourful history but architecture to match. Staying in ‘casas particulares’ or homestays, Trinidad is a marvellous melange of old sugar mills, Spanish colonial homes and Afro-Caribbean culture, and the music is always pumping here. As it is back in Havana, the grand finale to this cycling holiday, where you will have two days to explore, guided and independently, the cultural, colonial and contemporary greatness of this iconic city.

Travel Team

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29 Dec 2019
£2699
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Our top tip:
Bring energy snacks. They're hard to come by anywhere in Cuba, and rural areas lack shops and cafes altogether.
Trip type:
Small group, 4-18 people (average of 12). Min age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate. 4 days cycling at leisurely pace, 30-60km/day.
Accomm:
5 nights hotels, 2 homestays.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accommodation, guide, support vehicle, listed activities, transfers. Flights if booked. Cycle hire extra.
Meals:
7 breakfasts, 4 packed lunches, 3 dinners.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Cuba cycling holiday

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Activity:
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage visitors to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We operate on a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy and local guides enforce this through responsible tourism briefings. These should help visitors to better understand the living situation for many and the environmental issues in the area. We also aim to benefit Cuban communities as much as possible by frequently stopping to use local restaurants, cafes and services.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 3 nights in hotels and 4 nights in ‘Casas Particulares.’ These are privately owned Bed and Breakfast properties which enable you to have a rewarding insight into the local lifestyle by staying in a family home. Where meals are provided, fresh and local ingredients are always used. Although this is largely out of necessity, we can ensure that local farmers and vendors benefit. We visit a number of local, family-run restaurants called ‘Paladares’ throughout the trip. These sell a variety of authentic Cuban dishes like fresh lobster, black beans and rice, roast pork and chickpea stew.

Local Craft and Culture:
We visit several important cultural and historical sites on this tour, where our entrance fees contribute towards the preservation of artefacts and monuments that commemorate events integral to Cuban heritage. These include the Bay of Pigs museum and Guevara’s Mausoleum in Santa Clara. We encounter small handicraft stalls in most towns, so guests are able to purchase local crafts. Trinidad is famous for ceramic and lacework, and Havana’s Almacenes de San Juan is a great place to buy art, crafts, shoes, clothes, hats, instruments and food. A huge part of Cuban culture is music and dance so there will also be ample opportunity to experience this in some local bars and clubs. In Havana we visit a second hand book shop and talk to the staff about different projects that they are involved in, such as promoting creative writing and poetry, rescuing unwanted dogs and helping vulnerable women in the capital. We also spend a day with veteran Cuban cyclists, who will provide the group with an insight into competitive cycling in Cuba.

Charity:
Our local operator sponsors a school in the Matanzas Province. Here, they have made a number of donations- from school materials and clothes to fans and sheets. We discourage giving to beggars on the trip as we don’t want to encourage this behaviour. Instead, our guides will help visitors to donate presents and supplies where the goods can really be utilised. Currently it is not possible to organise school visits for clients.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

10 Reviews of Cuba cycling holiday

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In depth story review

“Music and dancing broke out wherever we were. It was great fun. The sun goes down, the music starts, and the rum comes out. Automatically.”

Reviewed on 22 Aug 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The cycling was exhilarating even if there were a few challenging hills. It was also wonderful to learn about the history of Cuba and how Cubans currently feel about the country. Alex, our tour leader, was a wonderful guide.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Comfortable cycling clothes and clothing for very hot and humid weather. The trip notes are really helpful and an excellent guide to the holiday ahead and it is well worth reading all the documentation vey carefully. Always carry toilet paper and drink lots and lots of water.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I hope that the buying of meals etc. Helped boost the economy. Although the cycling was environmentally friendly we were followed by a van (though a small one). We did eat in local places. A small, but important thing was that local people would let us use their toilet for a small sum which will have helped them a little bit. The Casas particulares will have benefitted from our custom.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was one of the best holidays I have ever taken. There was a wonderful mix of culture, history and the chance to get familiar with a variety of places though I should have liked to have stayed more centrally in Havana. All this alongside cycling through stunning scenery, beaches straight out of a celebrity photo shoot and the opportunity to observe contemporary Cuban life. There was an excellent mix of rigorous exercise, looking at things and time to relax.

Reviewed on 03 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The camaraderie of the group.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for the last 10 km!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we mostly stayed at non-government establishments and had our meals at small, privately owned restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The trip was well run and the head guide was able to make small adjustments as needed. There was a bit too much lecture about the government and the
politics; more information about local culture and the environment would have been appreciated. Also, the recommended tip amount seemed way out of
line. If everyone had followed the recommendations, the guide would have made more than the yearly average wage for Cuba.

Reviewed on 12 Feb 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Most memorable for me was the window into the lives of Cubans. I learned a lot from our guide and the staff, but I had the chance to talk to many Cubans
throughout the course of the tour. I will remember Cuba as a place with great untapped potential for economic development and growth. I also loved the music. It is everywhere!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The ride was ranked as a 1,2. It was harder than that. There were considerable challenges on each day except the second ride. I would suggest travelers who
are interested in this ride do significant training before hand. I would also suggest you bring extra cash for the additional events that are offered throughout the trip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I do not feel that the trip reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation. We had a large bus for only 18 people. Maybe a smaller vehicle would have been better. I think the trip benefited Cubans only because we brought money into their economy, which is very poor.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a great group of folks from around the world and we all got along and enjoyed each other. Our guide was incredible. He was flexible, patient and helpful.

He has a wealth of knowledge about his country and his pride of Cuba is evident. He was able to tap into what we wanted and provide it. One member of the
tour turned 81 during the week and he arranged for a cake with candles for her at dinner!

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Cynthia. Firstly, thank you for your comments, we are delighted that overall you had a great trip.
Regarding the grading of the trip we do an annual audit of all trip grading’s based on feedback and our staff visits to ensure that we are grading correctly. We do feel that this trip is currently suitably graded however we will take your comments on board in our audit so thank you for letting us know regarding this.

I’d like to give you a little more information regarding your comments on question 3. While it is true that the local community generally benefit from our commerce we do take every step to ensure that the positive impact of our business is felt by as many as possible.

Our decision to stay in ‘Casas Particulares’ ensures that local families benefit from our stay and our visits to local family run restaurants also ensure that the economic benefits of our stay are widely distributed. Many of the sites visited also ensure a contribution to the preservation of Cuban heritage. Regarding reducing environmental impacts this is something that we are constantly working on. The availability of buses that are right for the group size is a bit of a challenge in Cuba as minibuses are not currently widely available. Clearly, things are changing fast in Cuba however so we are continuing to push for vehicles that match the group size. Another initiative we are soon to introduce will be the inclusion of drinking water on all of our Cuba trips so we can reduce the use of plastic here and manage our environmental impacts better.

We do hope that this explanation provides an adequate response to your review and offers you reassurance that we are continuously working on ensuring our trips are as responsible as possible. We hope to welcome you back to Cuba one day.

Reviewed on 05 Feb 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hearing about the way of life/history from the guide.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You need to drink alot cycling.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Staff bought local food, money went to casa's therefore to the people, we ate with families who prepared the food.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent, loved the way the guide introduced the whole country and way of life to us.

Reviewed on 23 Apr 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Cycling along the coast, swimming in the ocean and cycling through small villages

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


bring tabasco sauce to make the food more tasty. The tour is rated leisurely - not my experience! It is very hot there so be ready for that when cycling.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not really, any tourist travelling in Cuba is impacting the environment as they are in the 5th year of a drought and don't have a lot of food and resources. Use of local guides and drivers and casa particulares supports locals but staying and eating in government run facilities does not directly benefit locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I really enjoyed the tour guide, staff and fellow cyclists. The food was not all that great and I know that there is better food in Cuba from having it on another tour. The bikes and support were fabulous.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Vicki,
Firstly, thank you for your comments, we are delighted that overall you had a great trip.
Regarding the grading of the trip we do an annual audit of all trip grading’s based on feedback and our staff visits to ensure that we are grading correctly. We do feel that this trip is currently suitably graded however we will take your comments on board in our audit so thank you for letting us know regarding this.

We’d like to give you a little more information regarding your comments on question 3. While it is true that the local community generally benefit from our commerce we do take every step to ensure that the positive impact of our business is felt by as many as possible. Our decision to stay in ‘Casas Particulares’ ensures that local families benefit from our stay and our visits to local family run restaurants also ensure that the economic benefits of our stay are widely distributed. The government run hotels or eateries are only used when we have no other option and as such the itinerary dictates the necessity of this. Regarding the environmental impact of our commerce it is the case that we do all we can to reduce our impacts however the wider issues e.g. drought are clearly beyond our control. We do all we can to travel sensitively and to try to not negatively impact the environment and to exacerbate the lack of resources.

We do hope that this explanation provides an adequate response to your review and offers you reassurance that we are continuously working on ensuring our trips are as responsible as possible. We hope to welcome you back to Cuba one day.

Reviewed on 15 Feb 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our guide Mauro was an excellent ambassador and made the trip interesting and showed us the human side of Cuba. Whether it was biking, eating, music, dancing, tours, or on the bus, he made the trip extra special.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Cuba is a beautiful country full of nice people and interesting history. Come with an open mind and a smile. You'll have a great time.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We stayed in private homes some nights, and ate at local restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was excellent. We want to go back and see more of Havana and other parts of the island.

Reviewed on 05 Jan 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most special part of the holiday was the family meeting from around the world to enjoy Cuba together for Xmas.
The country is fascinating - its history, politics & economics as well as great vibe with friendly people & wonderful music on every street corner all day & night.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go now before it gets overrun.
Cycling was great fun & there are excellent places outside Habana to spend time -for example, Cienfuegos, Santiago etc.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Local people definitely benefited from our spending.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastically interesting & fun - very memorable & highly recommended.

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?




2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?




3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?




4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?



Reviewed on 21 Apr 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The cycling, the music, the people and the island.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Check you can cope with the daily cycling distances in the likely temperatures before you book.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent.

Reviewed on 18 Apr 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Cycling through the national park up to the lake on the last ride it's beautiful. And an amazing thunderstorm during our dinner on the second night.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It was much hotter than the weather chart predicted - reaching at least 40C in April is normal according to conversations with people we met.
Otherwise just enjoy every minute - it's wonderful

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Two night stay in case particulares is good for the economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Exciting, challenging, warm and friendly. Unforgettable

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