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Colorful cars in Havana

Captivating Cuba

Book this package
9 days  •  from $4599 $3599
per person, double occupancy, including airfare,* during sale**
based on Sep. 2, 2017 departure
Save up to $1100 on this package!
$100 Discount with code MEMORIALDAY17 during our Memorial Day Sale. Expires May 31, 2017.**
$900 – $1000 Price Reductions. We've negotiated exclusive savings on this package and are passing them on to you!   All prices reflect savings.

Overview

Featuring An encompassing Cuba tour: Havana, Cojimar, Varadero, Trinidad, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus
Style Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of 15-24 likeminded travelers escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures Scheduled Dates; select from 3 open departures, September – October 2017
Price Includes
  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Non-stop flights from Miami to Cienfuegos or Santa Clara & Havana to Miami
  • U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification and Authorization Letter
  • Cuba Entrance Visa & Departure Tax
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
  • 7 nights superior first class hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 19 meals: 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees
  • Friendly Planet escort
  • Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans
  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)
Highlights
  • Explore the charming, Spanish Colonial towns of Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad
  • Learn about the Afro-Cuban religion, Santeria, at Templo de Yemaya
  • Step back into history at the Che Guevarra Mausoleum
  • Meet a talented fashion designer and a woodcraft expert at their home workshop near Varadero
  • Walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway at Finca Vigia
  • Take a ride in Classic cars to a workshop where the antique treasures are maintained
Departs Miami (MIA)
Themes History & Culture
What to Expect This fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.

Prepare for your trip Already booked? Find everything you need to know before you go, including information about passport & visa requirements, flights, luggage, and more.


Captivating Cuba tour itineraryYou’ll truly be captivated and delighted by all the aspects of Cuba you’ll discover on this engaging and comprehensive tour covering a large swath of the island. From the picturesque Spanish Colonial towns of Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara and Trinidad to one of the best beaches in Cuba, Varadero, to the bustling city of Havana, Cuba's political and cultural center, you’ll meet and interact with Cubans, where they work, live and play. You'll discover why the world loves Cuban music, meet some of the best up-and-coming artists on the island, and enjoy meals at local paladars where young entrepreneurs are taking advantage of relaxing laws to build private business in Cuba.

With included, scheduled flights, fully guided touring, the services of one of our gifted tour managers, great hotel accommodations in boutique properties and 5-star hotels and beach resorts, fully inclusive programming and 19 included meals, this is one of the best bargains in Cuba travel available anywhere.

Dates, Prices & Options

Departure Dates & Prices

Departures & Prices
per person, double occupancy*
Depart Return Original Price Reduced Price Sale
Discount**
Sale
Price
Sat May 13 2017 Sun May 21 2017 $4399       Departed
Sat May 27 2017 Sun Jun 4 2017 $3799       Closed
Sat Jun 10 2017 Sun Jun 18 2017 $3599       Closed
Sat Jul 8 2017 Sun Jul 16 2017 $4599 $3599     Closed
Sat Aug 5 2017 Sun Aug 13 2017 $4599 $3799     Closed
Sat Sep 2 2017 Sun Sep 10 2017 $4599 $3699 –$100 $3599 Available
Sat Sep 30 2017 Sun Oct 8 2017 $4799 $3799 –$100 $3699 Available
Sat Oct 14 2017 Sun Oct 22 2017 $4899 $3899 –$100 $3799 Available

Want to stay longer? Unfortunately, we don't offer late returns on this package.

Options & Fees

Captivating Cuba
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
May 27, Jun 10, Jul 8, Aug 5, Sep 2, Sep 30, Oct 14 +$999
May 13 +$1299
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
May 13, May 27, Jun 10, Jul 8, Aug 5, Sep 2 +$70
All other departures +$85
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
May 13, May 27, Jun 10, Jul 8, Aug 5, Sep 2 +$70
All other departures +$85
Taxes & Fees
Cuba Visa Fee included
Airline Baggage Fee1 (paid separately) +$25

1. For some flights, baggage fees must be paid at airport for each flight segment: $25 for 1st checked bag / $40 for 2nd checked bag.

Flights & Departure Cities

Departure Airports
Miami (MIA) included

This package includes round-trip flights from the cities listed above.

Coming from somewhere else? Unfortunately, we don't offer departures from cities that are not listed, but you can book your own connecting flights separately.

How to Make a Reservation

To make a reservation, simply select an available departure date and reserve online using our secure booking system. Or call one of our travel specialists at 800-555-5765, Mon–Fri 9:30–6:00 Eastern time. But first, check out our Things to Know section.

We only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card or PayPal account. This deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package, and is generally non-refundable (details). The balance is due 120 days prior to departure (or within 72 hours, if you're booking less than 120 days prior to departure), and can be paid by credit card, PayPal, check or money order.

Deposit
Deposit $600

Itinerary

First day of listed departure date is an overnight stay and introductory briefing in Miami.

Captivating Cuba tour itinerary for 2017 departuresDay 1: Miami Overnight/Pre-tour introductory briefing

Accommodations: 1 night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel.

  • Arrive in Miami
  • Attend an introductory briefing at your hotel at 7:30 p.m.

Full Day Itinerary: Your journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal; simply hail the driver as they pass.

This evening at 7:30 p.m., participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers, review your documents, and complete the final paperwork for travel to Cuba. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning.

Day 2: Miami/Cienfuegos or Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus

Accommodations: 2 nights Hotel Plaza, Hotel del Rijo or Hotel Don Florencio, Sancti Spiritus. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.

  • Depart the USA on your flight for Cuba
  • Drive to Sancti Spiritus
  • Dinner at a local restaurant or paladar
  • Join Cubans at Casa de la Trova for a neighborhood block party

Full Day Itinerary: This morning, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Cienfuegos or Santa Clara, Cuba. (The arrival city is dependent on the best flight schedule available for each departure date).

¡Bienvenidos a Cuba! You are welcomed by your private Cuban National Guide holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in as you head directly to your first destination in Cuba.

Drive to the picturesque town of Sancti Spíritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor.

Check in to the hotel, and have some time to rest or take stroll along the boulevard around the hotel. This evening, the group will meet for dinner at a local restaurant or paladar.

After dinner, join Cubans at Casa de la Trova or other places of this charming city where people from all walks of life and generations and come to eat, drink, build friends, and discuss neighborhood issues. Enjoy this experience, and participate in discussions with locals about community life in Cuba and the U.S.

Day 3: Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Stop at the Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga
  • Visit Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house
  • Continue to a casa particular or bed and breakfast
  • Enjoy lunch at a local paladar
  • Learn about the religion of Santeria at Templo de Yemaya
  • Explore the historic town on your own

Manaca Iznaga Observation TowerFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast, drive to Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga, located 20-25 minutes from Trinidad, in the heart of the Valley de los Ingenios, a series of valleys once known as a Cuba's center for sugar production.

Then, continue on to Trinidad, one of the best preserved colonial cities in all of Latin America and a World Heritage Site since 1988 for its architectural and historical importance. For centuries a sugar production center, landowners gained enormous wealth, building stately mansions and centers of art and culture.

Visit Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that was founded and has been managed by the Santander Family for generations. Today you'll learn the process of ceramic production and have the opportunity to create a piece of your own.

Trinidad panoramaEnjoy a tour and discussion with the owners at one of Trinidad's many "casas particulares" or bed and breakfasts. Learn how bed and breakfasts are one of Cuba's new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Ask questions and share insights about U.S. businesses, including the ever popular bed and breakfasts that are ubiquitous in the U.S.

Lunch today is at a paladar in Trinidad.

Visit Templo de Yemaya where a Santeria practitioner, along with some of the religion's devotees, explain the basic principles of Santeria, an interesting blend of African and catholic elements.

This afternoon, you will have the opportunity to explore the historic town, where you will find lots of open-air craft markets, shops, museums, and bars. This lively area is also a great spot to take unforgettable pictures.

Return to your hotel in Sancti Spiritus.

Tonight, enjoy dinner at a privately owned restaurant or paladar.

Day 4: Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara & Varadero

Accommodations: 2 nights Melia Varadero. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Drive to Santa Clara
  • Visit the Santa Clara Performing Arts School or a community project
  • Stop at the Che Guevara Mausoleum
  • Enjoy lunch at the Los Caneyes Hotel
  • Continue on to Varadero Beach

Musician, Santa ClaraFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning, depart from Sancti Spiritus and visit the town of Santa Clara.

Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should the school not be available or not in session, you'll instead enjoy an equally interesting visit to another community project in Santa Clara.

Che Guevarra MausoleumStop at the Che Guevarra Mausoleum.The impressive monument faces Revolution square and is the place where his mortal remains rest.

Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.

Then, continue on to the beautiful Varadero beach, the most famous beach on the Cuban mainland, and check into your hotel.

After check-in, enjoy the resort town of Varadero and your beautiful, all-inclusive hotel at your leisure.

Day 5: Varadero

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Learn about the official national dance and musical genre of Cuba at the Danzón's Club
  • Visit a unique craft workshop

Varadero beachFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast at the hotel this morning, we'll depart for a visit to the Danzón's Club in Varadero. Danzón is the official national dance and musical genre of Cuba. It originated in Matanzas and is practiced by hundreds of Cubans throughout the country. The clubs of "danzoneros" are dedicated to preserving the tradition and history of this dance. While visiting the Danzón's Club you'll have the opportunity to talk with its members (mostly elderly) about the history and characteristics of this dance. Of course, you'll also have the distinct pleasure of joining the members while they dance to this traditional and lilting rhythm.

Our next stop will be a visit to a unique Craft Workshop on the outskirts of Varadero. Artisans, Mariela Alemán Orosco and Marilín Martínez Barrio, members of the Cuban Cultural Fund and the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists, have received prizes and recognition for their creative work. During the visit, you'll tour the workshop and experience the creative process as it is taking place.

Return to the hotel for lunch and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Tonight, the group will have the dinner in one of the hotel's specialty restaurants.

Day 6: Varadero, Alamar, Cojimar & Havana

Accommodations: 3 nights Melia Cohiba, Havana. Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Visit co-op community gardens in Alamar called Organopónicos
  • Enjoy lunch in the fishing village of Cojimar
  • Explore Ernest Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia
  • Discover Jose Fuster's whimsical "Fusterlandia"

Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast, check out of our hotel in Varadero and drive to the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970's, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans. Among the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called "Organopónicos," where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organopónicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organopónicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.

Hemingway monument, CojimarYou'll continue on to the quaint fishing village of Cojimar, the setting for Hemingway's book, The Old Man and the Sea, and enjoy lunch at a local paladar. La Terraza Restaurant, where the book's character Santiago brings in the remains of his epic fish, still stands today, and the pier where Hemingway's fishing boat docked can be seen from the shore.

Then, drive to Hemingway's Cuba retreat. There are many historical and cultural ties between Cuba and the United States, and one of the best known is the legacy of Ernest Hemingway, who lived more than 20 years in Cuba, from 1939 to 1960. You'll visit Hemingway's beautiful mansion, now a museum, Finca Vigía, (literally meaning "lookout farm"), where his 9,000 book library is preserved, as well as his animal trophies and famous fishing boat, Pilar.

Friendly Planet Traveler at FusterlandiaOn the way back to Havana, stop in Jaimanitas, where you'll visit "Fusterlandia," the home and surrounding neighborhood of "The Picasso of the Caribbean," Jose Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.

Proceed to Havana and check into your hotel.

Enjoy dinner on your own this evening. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provided or ask your guides for alternative recommendations.

Day 7: Old Havana

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Visit one of Havana's famous cigar factories
  • Enjoy a walking tour of Old Havana, including the Used Booksellers Market
  • Learn about Cuba's two currency system at a local ration store
  • Enjoy lunch at a local paladar
  • Take a ride in vintage cars to visit a mechanic's workshop
  • Tour the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery

Man hand rolling cigarsFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning visit one of Havana's famous cigar factories where you will see hundreds of workers rolling Cuban cigars by hand. If the cigar factories are closed, a private cigar rolling demonstration will be provided instead.

Then, enjoy a walk through Old Havana to learn about its historic, architectural and cultural significance. The area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982 by UNESCO. Learn about the City Historian's massive efforts to restore Old Havana buildings, attract tourism and new investment, and improve social services for local residents.

Used Booksellers Market, Old HavanaAt the Plaza de Armas, the oldest plaza in the city, enjoy some time on your own to explore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.

Visit a local ration store. Your Cuban host will explain the system of rationing and the two-currency system as well as the difference between Ration Stores, Cuban Peso Stores, and CUC Stores.

Christopher Columbus CemeteryEnjoy lunch at local paladar. Then, take a ride in vintage cars to visit a workshop that converts these old cars into antique treasures.

Visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery, a miniature city of mausoleums, crypts, family chapels, vaults, beautiful sculptures and ornate gravestones.

Dinner is on your own this evening. Your guide will be happy to recommend one of the many exceptionally good paladars in the area.

Day 8: Havana

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Stop at Plaza de la Revolución
  • Tour Modern Havana
  • Enjoy lunch at a local paladar
  • Visit the Fine Arts Museum (Cuban collection)
  • Walk along Paula promenade and stop at the Artisans Market
  • Join your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner

Plaza de la RevoluciónFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning, stop at the Plaza de la Revolución, the most famous and politically important square in Cuba and fine example of the modern movement of architecture in the 1950’s. The square has witnessed many rallies and revolutions that have altered the course of Cuban history, where you'll view the 109-m tall tower and an 18-m statue of José Martí.

Continue on a panoramic tour of the urban area that lies west of Old Havana and shows the progression of the city over time: from a neighborhood along the city walls after its demolition, passing through the transitional Midtown (Centro Habana), to the extensive and more modern Vedado and Miramar neighborhoods.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

On the edge of Old Havana, experience the Cuban collection at the Fine Arts Museum. Here you can appreciate the evolution of the country's history through the work of its most famous artists.

Salsa dancing, HavanaThen, walk along the beautiful Paula Promenade by the waterfront to see the changes related to the program of transformation for the Bay of Havana. Stop at the Artisans Market, where you will find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.

After some well-deserved downtime at the hotel, join your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner, served in a privately owned restaurant. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban music and salsa dancing, reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Day 9: Havana/Miami

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Transfer to the airport and board your flight back to Miami

Full Day Itinerary: Today, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport and check-in for your flight back to Miami. ¡Adiós, Cuba!

† These visits are subject to availability. When not possible to visit, appropriate alternate visits will be included.

This itinerary provides a full time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interactions between you and individuals in Cuba. U.S. law requires that all persons who participate in this program adhere to this full time schedule, and imposes on Friendly Planet the obligation to ensure such adherence.

Infrastructure in Cuba, including even the best hotels, may not always be up to U.S. standards. The hotels really do try to maintain quality accommodations, and in the properties we select for our tours, they generally do a good job. However, Cuba's resources and climate do sometimes impact a hotel's ability to keep up with maintenance and indoor air quality. For example, in Cuba's tropical climate, you might notice musty odors in some buildings, including hotels. We do our best to select the highest quality hotels, restaurants and paladars that Cuba has to offer, but we appreciate your flexibility and understanding when you encounter a minor imperfection. Cuba has a long way to go before its hotels, highways, public restrooms and other features reach U.S. levels, but all in all, you will not suffer any major difficulties in tolerating the small issues that may occur. If you have any medical or dietary concerns, however, please inform us when you make your reservation, so we can take whatever special precautions are required to assure your comfort and wellbeing.

Our Refer A Friend program is not applicable on our Cuba programs.

Videos

Video: Friendly Planet in Cuba

Reviews

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Just returned from the Highlights of Havana and Varadero trip. It was fantastic. Absolutely perfect. The itinerary was complete with fascinating and well chosen things to see and experience. Our guide Sarah Parker was wonderful, very talented and such fun to be around. Everyone loved her. Thank you so much!

Nancy Koritz, Ladera Ranch CA

Before You Book

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Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, and information about passport & visa requirements, flights, packing & luggage, and more.

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