The Authentic Side Of Cuba

The Authentic Side of Cuba

14 days/13 nights, Cuba tour from/to Havana

Destinations

  • Havana
  • Viñales
  • Matanzas
  • Cienfuegos
  • Trinidad
  • Camagüey
  • Bayamo
  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Baracoa

Main attractions:                                 

  • Explore the island from West to East. 
  • Stay with Cubans in their homes.
  • Gain insights into Cubans daily lives.
  • Learn cultural differences between different regions.
  • Cuban classics: old cars, cigars, landscapes.                      

Day 1: Arrival in Havana 

Reception at the Havana airport. Transfer to accommodation. Dinner at your own expense.

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Havana.


Day 2: Havana, a Wonder City 

Touring Havana is a fascinating roller coaster of feelings. You will explore this Wonder City following a singular route. Kick off your day hoping into a coco-taxi, a coconut-shaped vehicle that will take you through back streets in the neighborhoods of Centro Habana and Vedado, up to the iconic Revolution Square. Ascend to the lookout for a spectacular panorama of the entire city. Continue in the comfort of an American classic car. These beauties, symbols of prosperity in the 50s, have been kept in perfect condition thanks to the ingenuity of Cubans. Get your camera ready on your way through the Havana Metropolitan Park and the Miramar neighborhood, with its gorgeous 5th Avenue flanked by old bourgeois mansions, many of which are now foreign embassies. Feel the pure air from the sea while cruising along the habaneros’ long sofa, the Malecón. Stop for a walking tour of Old Havana, the best way to discover the older part of the city. Explore the four main squares to admire classics such as the Catedral de La Habana, the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales and the Convento de San Francisco de Asís. Lunch at a Paladar (privately owned restaurant) and time at leisure for souvenir shopping at the San José craft market. Return to your casa particular on a bicitaxi. (B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Havana.


Day 3: The Cuban Flavor (25 km)

Today you will be introduced to the Cuban cuisine. Visit a produce market where your guide will brief you on the Cubans’ typical groceries and the difficulties to come by basic items. Arrive later at the fishing village of Cojímar, where the American writer Ernest Hemingway liked to spend time chatting with fishermen. Prepare a traditional Cuban dish alongside a chef after picking some essential ingredients from the family orchard. Enjoy the elaboration process while sipping a delicious cocktail. In the afternoon, immerse yourself in the Afro-Cuban religious customs and traditions. An expert will brief you on the beliefs, the deities and the connection with European Catholicism. This will help you understand why so many Cubans dress in all white clothing.(B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Havana.


Day 4: Havana - Vueltabajo - Viñales (244 km)

The smell of wet soil and fresh leaves indicates the arrival to Pinar del Río, the greenest of Cuba’s provinces and home to the best tobacco in the world. Here you will have a unique opportunity to learn about this crop at the Quemado de Rubí, one of the top 5 tobacco farms in Cuba. The owner, Héctor Luis, is an Hombre Habano (Habano Man), a title equivalent to the Oscars of tobacco. On the property, you will be introduced to the entire process, from the growing of the leaves up to the rolling by hand. After lunch, you will have the option to light up an authentic habano and enjoy the spicy-sweet flavor. En route to Viñales, stop at the lookout point Los Jazmines to appreciate the stunning Viñales Valley with its distinctive limestone outcrops called Mogotes. Continue to the small town where you will be staying at a casa particular.(B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Viñales.


Day 5: Viñales and its famouse Mogotes

The charm of the area does not lie exclusively in its beauty. It is also renowned for the harmony between its people and the environment. Trek to appreciate the farmers laboring with rudimentary tools. Learn how they use traditional seeds for their crops and almost no pesticide. Taste typical products like honey and delicious tropical fruits, depending on the season. Appreciate the gorgeous Mogotes, full of vegetation. Given the fragility of the eco-systems they are home to, there are laws in place to enforce their protection. After the walk, enjoy a succulent lunch at an ecological restaurant that utilizes fresh ingredients and eco-friendly products. Learn about the bigger project of sustainable agriculture that the restaurant is a part of while admiring the view of the Silence Valley. As is customary in the Cuban countryside, take a short rest to help your digestion. Continue to the small botanical garden of Caridad for a visit and tour. Built and maintained by two sisters, this backyard is a private property that plays host to a wide variety of plants from different regions. Later, time at leisure.(B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Viñales.


Day 6: Viñales - Matanzas (289 km)

Leave the lovely farmland for the Venetian-style city of Matanzas, also known as the Athens of Cuba for its profusion of arts. En route, enjoy the best piña colada in Cuba at one of the gems of Cuban engineering, the Bacunayagua Bridge. Built over the Yumuri Valley, it is the tallest in Cuba standing at 103 meters and features a lookout point that offers an incredible view of the structure, the sea and the valley. Once in Matanzas, check in at a hotel in the Parque de la Libertad. Right across, there is the Pharmaceutical Museum, formerly a French Drugstore, one of the oldest and best preserved in the world. Appreciate the original tools and containers dating back to the 19th century as well as nearly 800 thousand formulations. Admire the city as you stroll down the Paseo Narvaes, a gorgeous pedestrian path, recently renovated, along the San Juan River. You will have the chance to visit various art galleries, including the Lolo Studio-Gallery, where you can find artists at work giving form to creations in bronze, steel and canvas.(B)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Matanzas.


Day 7: Matanzas - Cienfuegos - Trinidad (259 km)

Cienfuegos is the only Cuban city founded by the French. The perfect layout of the streets, the spacious avenues and a special relation with the sea, makes it an ideal city to stroll through. Visit the Martí Park to appreciate the architecture of the iconic buildings such as the Tomás Terry Theater, the Ferrer Palace, the former Spanish Casino and the Cathedral. Lunch at a Paladar to taste seafood delicacies. In the afternoon, head to an old colonial city of cobblestone streets, mansions with high windows and courtyards, tall bell towers and unique craft industry tracing back to the 19th century. Trinidad is the name of this charming city. Once there, after a one-hour drive along a seaside road, walk through its plazas and visit a pottery workshop to learn the secrets of this Trinitarian tradition. At night, go with the flow and take a seat on the stairway of the main square to enjoy the captivating music from the Casa de la Música. (B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Trinidad.


Day 8: Trinidad - A day in the Caribbean (28 km) 

The warm Caribbean Sea is your destination today. Have a sun and sand day at the Trinitarian beach of Ancón, or go for an excursion (not included) to a small island where you will feel like Robinson Crusoe. Your vehicle picks you up at 8:15 am to take you to the beach or, if you paid extra for the excursion, to the spot where you will embark for Cayo Iguana (see details below). In the afternoon, your transportation back to your accommodation will be ready at 4:30 pm. (B)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Trinidad.


Optional excursion Cayo Iguana:

Enjoy a catamaran tour along the south coast of Trinidad, including snorkeling time at the coral reef to admire the underwater world and a day at the beach in Cayo Iguana. On this beautiful island, inhabited by iguanas and jutias, you will enjoy a Caribbean sunbath and a delicious seafood lunch. Return to Trinidad well into the afternoon.

(Price: $55 per person)*

* The excursion is guaranteed with a minimum of 10 pax. To reserve it contact our representative in Trinidad or include it in your initial tour reservation.


Day 9: Trinidad - Sancti Spiritus - Camagüey (280 km)

Your day begins with a stop at the Sugar Mills Valley. Sugar industry flourished here in the 19th century, bringing about great prosperity to Trinidad. The landlords of the mills, wealthy families that owned the lands from the very foundation of the villa, made a fortune exploiting the African slaves. Admire the Manaca Iznaga Tower, tallest of the valley, which served to supervise the slave workforce. Continue to Sancti Spíritus, an old town with the only bridge from the colonial times still functioning in Cuba: the bridge over the Yayabo River. Lunch next to the engineering antique. Down the central road, head for Camagüey, the city of tinajones (large earthenware typical of this province). Hop on a bicitaxi for a tour of the city through its labyrinth-like streets, deliberately designed to lose pirates and privateers seeking to ransack the villa.(B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Camagüey.


Day 10: Camagüey - Bayamo - El Cobre - Santiago de Cuba (350 km) 

The pride of a nation comes from its people’s glorious deeds. The tour continues to the city of Bayamo, cradle of the Cuban nation, first to be free of the Spanish colony and where the national anthem was sang for the first time. The tradition of horse-drawn carriages remains alive here, and you will not want to miss the opportunity to see the city on one of them. Leave for the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. The Patron Saint of Cuba has been the spiritual guide to millions of Cubans ever since the colonial era. Arrive in Santiago de Cuba, foundation of the Cuban Revolution, birthplace of Son, perfect mixture of cultures and religions: a mixed-race city. Enjoy the good music coming from every corner. End your day with a delicious dinner at your B&B.(B/D)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Santiago de Cuba.


Day 11: Santiago de Cuba - The Heroic City (30 km)

“Rebellious yesterday, hospitable today, heroic forever”. That is the motto of the second largest city of the island. The city tour begins right after breakfast. Behold the Moncada Barracks, former police station attacked by Fidel Castro in 1953 in an action that ignited the sparks of the Cuban Revolution. Visit the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, final resting place of the most illustrious Cuban patriots, including national hero José Martí, former president Fidel Castro and Mariana Grajales, mother of the Maceo generals. Buried here are also eminent members of the Bacardí dynasty, the ousted Cuban rum powerhouse. Continue to the center of the city to appreciate the iconic Céspedes Park and the Enramada Street. In the afternoon, head southbound for San Pedro de la Roca Fort, an outstanding military engineering work in the Caribbean. Relish the spectacular view of the mountains and the sea. Rest of your day at leisure.(B)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Santiago de Cuba.


Day 12: Santiago de Cuba - Guantánamo - Baracoa (240 km)

Today’s journey takes you through unique features of the Cuban geography. Past small towns, cultivated fields and all kinds of vendors along the roadside arrive in Guantánamo, home to the Tumba Francesa, a dance and music tradition brought to eastern Cuba by French settlers and their Haitian slaves, who fled the Haitian Revolution. It is here that the infamous US detention camp is. The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base occupies an usurped Cuban territory, which you will be able to see from afar, at the lookout point of La Gobernadora. As you proceed, observe the contrasts and changes in the scenery. Alongside a sea in deep shades of turquoise, you go from a dry, semi-desertic landscape with cactus as the main visible vegetation, to the moist, verdant rainforest in the mountains. Your destination is a tropical paradise that records the highest rainfall in Cuba. The last stretch of the road is La Farola viaduct, considered one of the seven wonders of Cuban engineering. The meandering path will introduce you to a breathtaking natural scenery…and some typical culinary delicacies, the Cucuruchos. Do not miss the opportunity to taste these coconuts and fruit sweets, which are served in conic containers of palm tree tissue. Once in Baracoa, in the afternoon, visit the Matachín Fort and the plaza of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of the Cross, which treasures the Cross of the Vine brought by Christopher Columbus. Check in at a casa particular and dinner. The local traditional cuisine, unique in Cuba, is based on products such as coconut, cocoa, plantain and seafood, which gives it a distinct Caribbean touch.(B/D)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Baracoa.


Day 13: Baracoa: pure nature (10 km)

In the midst of an exuberant nature, with plenty of rivers and coconut trees, the landscape of Baracoa is particularly marked by the flat-topped mountain of El Yunque. Explore this magnificent creation of Mother Nature in an excursion that includes navigating on cayucas, a type of rustic canoe typical of this region, across the mouth of Miel River. Along the way, you will be briefed on the local flora and fauna, and will have the chance to refresh in a little known cave. The sight of the Caribbean Sea and the wild vegetation dotted with coconut trees is to die for. Your lunch, elaborated with fresh products, bears the stamp of the region. You will have the chance to swim in the virgin beaches and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.(B/L)

Accommodation with breakfast in a selected Casa Particular in Baracoa.


Day 14: Baracoa - Guardalavaca (265 km)

On your last day, travel along an uncrowded, bumpy seaside road around the Humboldt Park. Past exotic bays teeming with palm trees, you will get to Moa, a mine region with an important nickel industry. Continue to Holguin and proceed another 40 kilometers to arrive in the resort area of Guardalavaca. End of tour for clients opting for a beach extension.(B)



Important: we would like to point out that the road to Moa is in very poor condition (bumpy, sometimes unpaved). Therefore, it is often necessary to drive slowly. Animals and horse carriages are frequent on the road. For these reasons, the travel time is longer.



(We cannot guarantee the connection with a national or international flight and therefore it is not recommended to book a departure flight on this same day. For that reason, we recommend booking an additional night).

Services Included:

  • Transport in air-conditioned vehicle (taxi/minivan/microbus) of local standard with local driver:
    • With 2 people in a taxi (maximum one suitcase per person).
    • For 3 - 6 participants in a minivan/microbus (6 - 10 seats).
  • Transfer from Havana airport to Havana accommodation. (If necessary this transfer may be carried out with a Caribbean Tours representative).
  • Excursions, visits and entrances according to the program.
  • From days 1-14 local guide.
  • 13 nights in Casas Particulares mentioned in program.
  • 13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 2 dinners.


Services Not Included:

  • Food and drinks not mentioned in the program.
  • Optional excursions (see rates).
  • Additional nights (e.g. in Guardalavaca).
  • Transfer to Holguín airport after an extension in Guardalavaca.
  • Personal costs and tips.
Havana ⇢ Viñales ⇢ Cienfuegos ⇢ Trinidad ⇢ Sancti Spiritus ⇢ Camagüey ⇢ Bayamo ⇢ Santiago de Cuba ⇢ Guantanamo ⇢ Baracoa ⇢ Guardalavaca