Western Cuba’s colourful cities, colonial heritage and natural beauty, reveal the many facets of the island, from cigars to sugarcane, cafés to cabaret and revolution memorials to countryside
Havana - 3 nights
Viñales Valley - 2 nights
Havana - 2 nights
Trinidad - 2 nights
Santa Clara - 2 nights
Varadero - 3 nights
Flight - 1 night
With legends of Hemingway and heroes of the revolution, vintage vehicles, cocktails, cathedrals, and multi-coloured colonial façades, from a distance Cuba seems like the most clichéd place on the planet. Up close it is so much more; an experience of bygone times, from the mansions of its oldest town to the remnants of sugar estates, from botanical gardens to blissful valleys.
On this varied journey, we take time to explore Havana, where Hemingway’s old haunts are now a heady mix of Floridita daiquiris and faded grandeur, music bars, 1950s cars, and effervescent energy. Viñales Valley, the home of the Cuban cigar, teaming time-honoured traditions with a blend of Spanish-conquistador and Afro-Cuban culture; and stay in the ‘Pearl of the South’, seductive Cienfuegos, where French élan meets fine architecture.
Cultural & Countryside Tour
Jules Verne Sightseeing
5 UNESCO Heritage Sites
No Single Supplement
Solo Group Departure
Day 1 Fly from London via Madrid to Havana. Three nights at the 4-star Havana Riviera by Iberostar. (D)
Day 2 With its iconic 1920’s Capitol Building, a baroque cathedral and Spanish colonial architecture in its UNESCO listed, 16th-century Old Havana area, rainbow-coloured colonnades hemming broad avenues, and Che Guevara’s image all over the place, Cuba’s capital is a one-off. A tour of Havana gives you your bearings in the city, and shows you its landmarks, historic and contemporary and includes a visit to a rum museum. (B, D)
Day 3 A day of discovery begins with a visit to Hemingway’s House (now a museum), Finca Vigia, where he hosted Hollywood greats and wrote ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. (B, D)
Day 4 Visit the rural community of tranquil Las Terrazas, part of the Sierra del Rosario UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; and continue to the peaceful, picturesque miles of Viñales Valley for two nights at the 3-star La Ermita or Los Jazmines. Enjoy a Cuban cocktail class at the hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 5 The Viñales Valley countryside is sprinkled with farms and sleepy villages with UNESCO status as a ‘living landscape’. A tour of the valley visits Indian Cave, home to indigenous inhabitants in pre-colonial times, where a walking trail leads to a boat ride on a subterranean river; and Veguero House, the tobacco plantation’s drying room. Enjoy a Cuban dance lesson at the hotel. (B, D)
Day 6 Tour to Pinar del Rio, the capital of the eponymous province, and ‘the capital of tobacco’ and continue to the Soroa botanical gardens, a tropical haven of hummingbirds, orchids and tree-planted terraces, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Return to Havana. Two nights at the 5-star Iberostar Parque Central Hotel. (B, D)
Day 7 Visit a tobacco factory and then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Havana, perhaps for seafront strolls on the Malecon and people-watching from pavement cafés, before a special event this evening, visiting Hemingway’s favourite watering-hole, El Floridita, where he was a devoted daiquiri drinker for decades, and where a life-size bronze of the man takes his regular place at the bar. (B, D)
Day 8 Travel to Cienfuegos (4 hrs). Founded by the French in the early 1800s, the town backs a spectacular natural bay with the style and spirit of its forefathers; its neo-classical architecture now UNESCO protected. Tour includes the 1913 Palacio de Valle, now a hotel, its ornate turrets and tiles more typical of Morocco than Cuba; the Botanical Gardens, Tomas Terry theatre and a boat trip on the bay. Continue along the coast for two nights at the 5-star Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad. (B, D)
Day 9 Like a living museum, Trinidad is a beguiling step back in time to the mid-1800s, with a soft-tempo ambiance and southern charm. Visit the Municipal Museum, covering the history of the city from its 16th-century origins; enjoy an authentic Cuban vibe in the legendary La Canchanchara Bar; and tour to the Manaca Iznaga former sugar plantation, its scenic setting belying its haunting history, epitomised in the infamous Slave Tower, from which the guards could watch the estate’s many slaves. (B, D)
Day 10 Enjoy free time in Trinidad this morning, before travelling to Sancti Spiritus for a tour of the beautiful colonial town. Continue to Santa Clara, steeped in Revolutionary legend, for two nights at the 3-star El Central Hotel. (B, D)
Day 11 Visit the most imposing of the city’s landmarks, Ernesto Che Guevara Square, encircling a museum of Guevara’s life and death, his rather magnificent mausoleum, and a huge statue of the man. Travel to San Juan de los Remedios, one of the first settlements founded by colonisers in Cuba; its historic heart declared a National Monument, its San Juan Bautista church boasting gold-plated altars. An optional excursion takes you to the Sugar Museum, to sample the cane juice and includes a steam train ride with time to view the vintage locomotives (bookable locally). (B, D)
Day 12 Visit the Tren Blindado (Armoured Train), a national monument, museum, and Cuban Revolution memorial on the site of the capture of an armoured train during the 1958 Battle of Santa Clara. Travel to the port city of Matanzas, a historic cultural hub of music, art and architecture; neglected and all-but abandoned for decades; but now restored, resurgent, and renowned for its Afro-Cuban traditions. Continue to Varadero for three nights at the 4-star Iberostar Tainos Hotel, on all-inclusive basis. (B, L, D)
Day 13 Split from the coast of Cuba by the Kawama Channel, the Hicacos Peninsula is an implausible spit of land reaching out into the ocean, 20km long by just 1.2km wide, and home to the caves and cays, water sports and white sand beaches of Varadero resort. Explore and enjoy it at your leisure. (B, L, D)
Day 14 A second day at leisure in Varadero, with the splash of waves and whispering palms providing the soundtrack for beach life, tropical birds in the luxuriant Natural Park. (B, L, D)
Day 15 Transfer to Havana for the return overnight via Madrid. (B)
Day 16 Early morning arrival at London.
On occasion, the cigar and rum factory (Day 6) and steam train ride (Day 11) may be replaced with an alternative visit due to closure at short notice.
Travelling in Cuba is a unique experience, however, tourism is still under state control and on occasion hotels of a similar standard to those listed in the itinerary may be used. Advance notification of this is not always possible.
Half board is included in most hotels on the tour and food can be quite basic, consisting of rice, beans, pork, chicken and fish, although international cuisine is available in Varadero (all inclusive basis) and Havana.
All vehicles are air-conditioned and the highways are reasonable, whereas minor roads can be in poor repair.
WiFi is available at hotels in Viñales and Santa Clara at a charge with the purchase of an internet login scratch off card, connectivity can be intermittent and expensive for one hour intervals.
A 3-star hotel in the Vedado district of Havana, across from the Malecon waterside walk. Restaurant, bar, pool and WiFi (free). Air-conditioned sea view rooms with safe and satellite TV.
Located in peaceful surroundings with stunning views of Viñales Valley. A 3-star hotel with restaurant, bar, pool, WiFi (chargeable) and 62 air-conditioned rooms with satellite TV.
A 3-star hotel located in peaceful surroundings with fantastic views of the Viñales Valley. Restaurants, bar, pool and 78 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe and satellite TV.
A 5-star hotel situated in the Old Town of Havana, just a short distance from the Capitol building. Restaurants, bars, rooftop pools, jacuzzi, WiFi (free) and stunning city views. 427 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV. Accommodation is in the main building or the new Torre section.
Located in the heart of the city, this boutique 5-star adults only hotel offers Trinidad’s most sought-after accommodation. The colonial 16th-century building houses a restaurant, lobby bar and WiFi (free). 40 spacious air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
A 3-star hotel in the centre of Santa Clara with restaurant, bar and 26 rooms.
A 4-star hotel located on a beautiful beach and surrounded by tropical gardens. Restaurants, bars, fitness room, gift shop and pool. 272 air-conditioned spacious rooms with mini-bar and satellite TV.
Tourism is still under state control and on occasion hotels of a similar standard to those listed in the itinerary may be used. Advance notification of this is not always possible. Half board is included in some hotels on the tour and local restaurants where food can be quite basic, consisting of rice, beans, pork, chicken and fish, although international cuisine is available in Varadero, (all-inclusive basis) and Havana. In the rest of Cuba, especially in the west and centre of the island (excluding Trinidad), accommodation options are more limited and often simple so we have selected the most suitable hotels, a basic 2 and 3-star standard.
per person in a twin/double room
Air Europa from Gatwick
Supplements per person
NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
2023: Sep 9 & Oct 14
Solo Group Departures
(No Single Supplement)
2023: May 6
Single supplement £525 (Apr-Nov 2023 £345)
Extra nights - Varadero
Iberostar Tainos - All Inclusive
(per night) £90 (Apr-Nov £65)
Single supplement £30 (Apr-Nov £22)
Arrival or departure transfer add £70
Arrival transfer add £20
Departure transfer add £80
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 14 nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, 4 lunches & 14 dinners, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, visa procurement, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
Please be advised that any British citizen with a Cuban stamp in their passport, is currently disqualified from using the Esta visa waiver scheme to enter the USA within 11 years of the date of entry into Cuba.
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