Man taking picture of Varadero beach

Highlights of Havana & Varadero

Explore Havana, Cuba’s cultural capital, & Varadero, its premier beach; plus Cojimar, Las Terrazas, Cardenas, Coliseo & Matanzas

Book this package
7 days from $3799 $3499
per person, double occupancy, including airfare
based on Apr. 2, 2017 departure*
Price includes
  • $300 Early Bird Discount if you book by Nov. 22, 2016.*


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 5 open departures, January – April 2017
Price Includes
  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana
  • 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
  • 5 nights superior first class hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 15 meals: 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 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 Havana, Cojimar, Callejon de Hamel, Las Terrazas, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, Varadero, Cardenas, Coliseo & Matanzas
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.
Already Booked? Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, passport & visa requirements, flight information, weather, and more.

Highlights of Havana & Varadero tour itienraryIn recent months, we’ve seen the restoration of ties continue between the US and Cuba, and more and more travelers are clamoring to visit the elusive island now, while it remains a genuine time capsule.

You'll begin your Highlights of Havana and Varadero tour in Havana, where you'll be introduced to a rich culture with indigenous, African and European roots. You'll meet artists in their studios in Old Havana, visit schools, tour an organic farm and explore an ingenious, creative society with much to share and an eagerness to learn. In Varadero, you’ll meet a talented fashion designer and an intricate wood carver, a husband and wife duo, whose unique creations have won them numerous awards. You'll tour a "coincidental" farm in nearby Cardenas and discover what growing fruit and making pottery have in common. Your 5 star beachfront resort hotel is perfectly situated to offer opportunities to enjoy the Caribbean in your spare time.

Friendly Planet is proud to be one of the first U.S. tour companies to have been awarded a People to People license. We received our first license in September, 2011, and since then, we’ve sent thousands of American travelers to Cuba to participate in unique, inspiring, and affordable encounters with the Cuban people.

Dates, Prices & Options

Departure Dates & Prices

Departures & Prices
per person, double occupancy*
Depart Return Price Book by
Nov 22
Sun Oct 9 2016 Sat Oct 15 2016 $3199   Departed
Sun Oct 23 2016 Sat Oct 29 2016 $3199   Closed
Sun Nov 20 2016 Sat Nov 26 2016 $3499   Closed
Sun Dec 11 2016 Sat Dec 17 2016 $3799 $3499 Closed
Sun Dec 18 2016 Sat Dec 24 2016 $4099 $3799 Closed
Sun Jan 1 2017 Sat Jan 7 2017 $4099 $3799 Available
Sun Jan 29 2017 Sat Feb 4 2017 $3899 $3599 Available
Sun Feb 19 2017 Sat Feb 25 2017 $4099 $3799 Closed
Sun Mar 12 2017 Sat Mar 18 2017 $3899 $3599 Available
Sun Apr 2 2017 Sat Apr 8 2017 $3799 $3499 Available
Sun Apr 23 2017 Sat Apr 29 2017 $3799 $3499 Available

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

Options & Fees

Highlights of Havana & Varadero
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Oct 9, Oct 23 +$659
Nov 20, Dec 11, Dec 18, Jan 1, Jan 29, Feb 19, Mar 12, Apr 2, Apr 23 +$849
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Oct 9, Oct 23, Nov 20, Dec 11, Dec 18, Jan 1, Jan 29, Feb 19, Mar 12, Apr 2 +$85
All other departures +$70
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Oct 9, Oct 23, Nov 20, Dec 11, Dec 18, Jan 1, Jan 29, Feb 19, Mar 12, Apr 2 +$85
All other departures +$70
Taxes & Fees
Cuba Visa Fee included

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 $600


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

Day 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/Havana

Accommodations: 3 nights Hotel Nacional, Havana. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Depart the USA on your charter flight for Havana
  • Leisurely orientation walk through Old Havana
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
  • Explore the Used Bookseller's Market
  • Welcome dinner at your hotel

Plaza de la Catedral, Havana Vieja Photo by KrasivajaFull Day Itinerary: Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba's capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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

Capital Building, HavanaIn the center of Old Havana, set out on a leisurely orientation walk through the cobblestone streets of this vibrant area. You will find many Cubans out strolling with their families, offering you a perfect opportunity to interact with locals. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Used Booksellers Market, Old HavanaExplore 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.

Now that you've had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it's time to check into your hotel. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: Old Havana

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Tour one of Havana's famous cigar factories
  • Visit a primary school or a community project
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
  • Learn about Cuba's two currency system at a local ration store
  • Tour the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery
  • Stop by the Artisan's Market on the Malecon
  • Engage in a discussion with a Cuban expert about the history of U.S.–Cuba relations
  • Enjoy dinner at a paladar

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

Students of Angela Landa Elementary SchoolThen, visit a primary school (ages 5–12) in Old Havana. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school's administrators and teachers about Cuba's education system and how it compares to that of the United States. Should a school not be available or not in session, you'll instead enjoy an equally interesting visit to another community project in Havana.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Scale in a ration store © Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchrome.comAfter lunch 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.

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

Continue to the Artisan Market, where you'll find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.

Return to the hotel and gather in a pre-reserved, private meeting room where you will engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S.–Cuba relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.

This evening take a short stroll from your hotel to Café Laurent, a privately owned restaurant, for dinner. The restaurant this evening is a classic example of Cuba's recently revised policies allowing private enterprise to flourish.

Day 4: Havana & Las Terrazas

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Stop by the Clinica Las Terrazas
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee at Café Maria
  • Tour the old coffee plantation
  • Visit the studio of Lester Campa, when in residence
  • Enjoy an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors
  • Visit Jose Fuster's whimsical "Fusterlandia"

Las TerrazasFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast, depart for Las Terrazas in Artemisa Province, a must-see in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty. Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of their rural life: sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, without electricity, and with no local schools or medical services. First, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas† to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area's sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared.

Enjoying coffee at Cafe Maria, Las TerrazasAt your next stop, you'll visit the town's coffee shop, Café Maria. Maria's family has been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the "best coffee in the country." Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction.

Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons. Tour the old coffee plantation.

Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (when in residence).

Now you're in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.

Friendly Planet traveler posing for picture, FusterlandiaOn the way back to Havana after lunch, 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.

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

Day 5: Havana, Alamar, Cojimar, Matanzas & Varadero

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

  • Explore Ernest Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia
  • Tour co-op community gardens in Alamar
  • Enjoy lunch in the fishing village of Cojimar
  • Visit Traditions Alleyway in Matanzas
  • Continue on to Varadero

Hemingway's home, Finca VigiaFull Day Itinerary: This morning, 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 Vigia, (literally meaning "lookout farm"), where his 9,000 book library is preserved, as well as his animal trophies and famous fishing boat, Pilar.

Then, 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 "Organoponicos," 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 Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.

Friendly Planet group in 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.

Drive to Matanzas and stop at Traditions Alleyway to learn about the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria.

Then, continue on to the beautiful town of Varadero and check into your all-inclusive hotel.

Day 6: Varadero, Coliseo & Cardenas

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Visit a unique craft workshop
  • Drive through Cardenas and Coliseo
  • Visit the Coincidencia Farm

Full Day Itinerary: This morning drive to visit a Craft Workshop. 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.

Continue to the provincial town of Coliseo, passing by the city of Cardenas. Here you'll observe village life firsthand, including the varied (and often quite creative) means of transportation that residents rely on, like handmade bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.

Then, drive to the Coincidencia Farm, founded in 1987 by Héctor Correa, an agriculturist with an interest in preserving certain native species of fruit that he knew and loved as a child. With a cartful of seedlings, he began to plant his farm. In order to multiply the effort, he created a seed bank so that any interested farmer could also cultivate the plants. In addition to farming, Correa created the first ceramics workshop in Matanzas, blending art with nature, essential sources of inspiration for any artist. Correa's children have kept the family tradition, studying and working hard both on the farm and in the workshop.

After touring the farm and ceramics workshop, engage in a discussion about opportunities for creative expression in Cuba and the U.S., and how in both countries, artists often find perfect incubators for their creative drives through farming.

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

Day 7: Varadero & Havana/Miami

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Transfer to the airport in Havana and board your charter 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 charter flight back to Miami. Adios 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.





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We all had a wonderful time and marveled at how clean, pretty and safe Havana was. We particularly liked our visit to the Center for Adult Day Care where we were asked to go onto a stage so the 200 or so people at the Center, a former convent, could welcome us. The Director asked if any of us wanted to say something to them in Spanish. I volunteered and in the best Spanish I could muster at the time told them "we were happy to be in Cuba, that we were from the United States of America, and that we hoped they were happy we were there." The crowd burst into a loud, sustained applause. When we came off the stage and filed past the audience, everyone reached over to shake our hands. It was very touching and almost brought us to tears as we didn't expect such a hardy welcome from Cubans.

Dede Emerson

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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, weather, electrical standards, currency exchange, immunizations you should get, and more.

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