Unique, indefinable and indefatigable, Cuba is a heady mix of rugged land and Revolutionary legend, faded grandeur and fifties’ Cadillacs, colonial towns, castaway islands, cabaret clubs and sugar-sand shores. This country is a beautiful, baffling one-off.
The largest of the Caribbean islands, Cuba is famed for cigars, salsa dancing, and sugarcane rum. To explore this inimitable island nation is to open a time capsule, covering several centuries of history and heritage, its landscapes splashed with a blend of conquistador and Afro-Cuban culture, sprinkled with Spanish colonial towns, and littered with legends of the Revolution. It seems that the capsule was sealed in the 1950’s, as little has visibly changed between then and now.
In the capital, Havana, Hemingway’s old haunts are a heady mix of music bars, vintage cars, faded grandeur, and effervescent energy; all juxtaposed with a baroque cathedral, 1920’s Capitol Building, colonial façades, rainbow-painted colonnades, and Che Guevara’s image ever present.
The port city of Matanzas, a historic cultural hub of music, art and architecture; was neglected and all-but abandoned for decades, but is now restored, resurgent, and renowned for its Afro-Cuban traditions.
In old-world Trinidad, all is as if Independence (and the 20th century) had never happened, as it basks in a soft-tempo ambience, with the air of a living museum; while Cienfuegos, the ‘Pearl of the South’, has fine architecture and French élan, backing a spectacular bay with the style and spirit of its forefathers.
Santa Clara is set at the island’s heart and seen as the soul of Cuba, steeped in Revolutionary legend and focused on its Che Guevara Square; and, with understated authenticity, colonial Sancti Spiritus teams its five-arched river bridge with quaint painted houses, and Cuba’s oldest church.
Rural routes include the Pinar del Rio province, where the Soara Botanical Gardens are a tropical haven of hummingbirds, orchids and tree-planted terraces; and the peaceful Viñales Valley, the home of the Cuban cigar, with sleepy villages, subterranean caves, and a UNESCO listing as a ‘living landscape’.
Contrasting coastal interludes could see you enjoying the water sports, white sand beaches, and Cuba’s only 18-hole golf course, in the largest resort in the Caribbean, Varadero; or crossing a 48km causeway to the castaway island of Cayo Santa Maria, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with flawless beaches and fantastic snorkelling grounds.
With a tropical climate, Cuba’s rainy period stretches from May to October, when temperatures up to 34° feel even hotter in the high humidity; while its wonderfully warm dry season extends from November to April, with daytime temperatures hovering between 25 and 28°, with slight variations from the south coast to the cooler northwest.
Jules Verne’s journeys avoid the oppressive heat with departures from January to early May, and in October and November.
Classic car enthusiasts will be in their element here, the curious and the culturally minded are equally rewarded in Cuba’s mix of monuments and historic landmarks, and blissful shores make for easy-tempo interludes of idyllic relaxation.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Our journeys in Cuba include visits to a tobacco plantation and a rum factory; a boat trip on Cienfuegos bay, sailing on a subterranean river, and a steam train ride to view vintage locomotives; or seeing Havana from the back seat of a 1950s car, and sipping a cocktail at El Floridita, where a life-size bronze of Hemingway takes his regular place at the bar.
All our guided tours to Cuba are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.