Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! There are no activities planned until your important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Why not take a stroll to get acquainted with Cuba’s capital, where vintage cars, plumes of cigar smoke, Neo-Gothic churches and Art Deco theatres come together in a unique mesh of histories. If you have time, you might like to visit Museo de la Revolucion – a museum focusing on the events leading up to, during and immediately after the Cuban revolution – or why not check out one of Havana’s many cool cafes or bohemian bars and grab a cheeky mojito! After your welcome meeting, perhaps dig into some delectable street snacks and join the group for some traditional Cuban cuisine at one of the many street vendors – churros anyone?
This morning, join your leader on an approximately 2-hour walking tour around the charming neighbourhood of Old Havana – a district that reflects an eclectic mix of different eras with its colonial architecture, baroque buildings and neoclassical monuments. Founded in 1519 by the Spanish, this area within Cuba’s capital remains virtually unchanged, which makes it one of the Caribbean’s most impressive historical cities. Wander through Havana’s oldest square – Plaza de Armas, stroll around the architecturally eclectic buildings that line the 16th century Plaza Veija, admire the basilica of San Francisco de Asis and visit the Havana Cathedral with its elaborate baroque facade. After your walking tour, take a taxi to the bus station and at 14:30 head west on the public bus to Vinales (approximately 4 hours). This is a small and charming rural village and probably the easiest place in Cuba to mingle with locals, who are very sociable and love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away.
Enjoy free time in picturesque Vinales, which you’ll soon see is home to some of Cuba’s best scenery. Together, your group will decide the best time to take an included informal Spanish lesson where you’ll learn simple greetings from Hola to Hasta Luego to all-important phrases like how to order a cerveza! The rest of the day is yours to soak up the slow, old-world pace of rural Cuba, where oxen plod gracefully along the streets. There are many optional outdoor activities available. You might like to cruise around the area on a bicycle, hike through the tobacco fields or explore one of the Americas’ largest cave complexes up in the mountains. If you select the valley walk, you’ll learn more about the lifestyle here and see first hand the farmers who grow tabacco for some of the most expensive cigars.
Bay of Pigs / Trinidad
Today you’ll travel by private vehicle to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Trinidad. En route, you’ll stop at the Bay of Pigs for a dip in the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea, and if there’s time you can hire snorkel gear and swim among the abundance of tropical fish that fill these waters. Learn about the Bay of Pigs Invasion – the battle between the US and the Cuban revolutionaries which resulted in the first defeat of a US-backed takeover in Latin America. Continue to Trinidad where you’ll spend the night.
Trinidad is a standout destination for many visitors to Cuba, due in no small part to a friendly populace, old-fashioned feel and particularly well-preserved colonial buildings. The Santeria religion (a voodoo-like Afro-Cuban tradition) which is practiced here makes the town even more intriguing. Today you can enjoy a free day of exploration. For some beachside fun and perhaps a little snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon – just be careful you don’t stand on a sea urchin! Hiking and cycling are equally good options, and there are some excellent walking trails in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains. For an insight into the colourful post-revolutionary period, why not visit the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos and the Casa de los Martires de Trinidad. Nearby is the sprawling Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. In the evening, your leader will take you to a local bar for a rum tasting – as far as the rum world is concerned, Cuba is home to some of the best out there!
This morning travel by private vehicle to the historic city of Santa Clara – less crowded and slower paced than the bustling Havana, and home to all things Che Guevara. On arrival, you’ll head to the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Che’s remains were brought to rest here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. The memorial is home to an impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle, and inside the museum you can learn about his amazing life and see photos and exhibits such as his famous black beret. After this incredible insight, your leader will take you on an orientation tour of the town and point you in the direction of the top sites and hotspots to explore during your free afternoon in what’s arguably Cuba’s most revolutionary city. Santa Clara is renowned for being the resting place of physician-turned-guerrillero leader Che Guevara. Why not take the short walk up to one of the best lookout spots in town, Loma del Capiro, where you can share sweeping views of the city with a statue of – you guessed it – Che Guevara!
This morning, you’ll travel back to Havana (approximately 4 hours) on the public bus where you’ll return to your guesthouse by taxi and enjoy some free time. If you’re a cigar aficionado, you might like to take a tour of one of Cuba’s tobacco factories – Modern Partagas Cigar Factory – where they produce a range of top-quality Montecristo, Partagas and Romeo y Juliet cigars! Later, why not head out with the group and hit the town for a final night of salsa.
There are no activities planned for today, so why not head out in a classic 1950s convertible on a Classic American Car Tour of Havana with Urban Adventures. Take to the streets in style as you cruise through the capital and wind up with a Cuban cocktail at the swinging Hotel Nacional. For more information visit urbanadventures.com
Havana - Leader-led Walking Tour of Old Havana
Vinales - Leader-led Orientation Walk
Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Bay of Pigs - Coastal Swim Stop
Trinidad - Leader-led Orientation Walk
Trinidad - Rum Tasting in a Local Bar
Santa Clara - Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
Santa Clara - Leader-led Orientation Walk