El Capitolio, Havana

Cuba

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We're still going to Cuba!
Our People-to-People tours are still legal and not impacted by recent changes in U.S. policy. Questions? See our Cuba FAQs.

From dancing salsa beneath the night sky in Havana and the sweet and earthy smell of hand-rolled cigars to colorfully painted casas and the bright smiles (and wardrobe!) of warm and welcoming locals—experiencing the authentic side of Cuba is a bucket list item every traveler should check off! 

Since President Obama opened the door to legal travel for US citizens in 2011, we’ve facilitated dynamic people-to-people experiences for travelers to this relatively untapped destination. Just 90 miles from US soil, travel to Cuba is easier than ever! Our value-packed Cuba tours have been in high demand, and we've helped thousands of delighted travelers discover this once forbidden island! Experience the rich culture of indigenous, African and European roots. Meet artists in their Old Havana studios, Afro-Cubans in Spanish Colonial Trinidad, and agriculturists at a “coincidental” farm in Cardenas.

We're proud to be one of the first U.S. tour companies to have been awarded a People-to-People license for Cuba travel, way back in September, 2011. Since then, we’ve sent thousands of American travelers to Cuba to participate in unique, inspiring, and affordable encounters with the Cuban people.

Friendly Planet Travel is an authorized sponsor of People to People travel to Cuba in accordance with the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) section, 1 C.F.R. § 515.565(b) People to People Travel.

Tours & Packages to Cuba

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Authentic Havana
Take in the heart & soul of this colorful & cultural island: Havana, Cojimar & Regla
5 days  •  from $2199 $1899
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Captivating Cuba Reduced
An encompassing Cuba tour: Havana, Cojimar, Varadero, Trinidad, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus
8 days  •  from $4599 $3599
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Cruise Cuba
See more of Cuba by sea: embark from Montego Bay & sail to Santiago de Cuba, Havana & Cienfuegos
8 days  •  from $2399 $2099
per person, double occupancy*
dates cruise
Havana Jazz & Culture: International Jazz Festival 2018 New
Take in the heart & soul of this colorful & cultural island: 33rd Havana International Jazz Festival
7 days  •  $4299 $3999
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Highlights of Havana & Varadero
Explore Havana, Cuba's cultural capital, & Varadero, its premier beach; plus Cojimar & Matanzas
7 days  •  from $2899 $2599
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Colors of Cuba
Stay in 5-star hotels as you tour Havana, Cojimar, the colonial treasure of Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus
closed
9 days
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Cuba Cruise Summer Special
High season sailings at limited-time, exclusive low season prices: Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba & Montego Bay, Jamaica
closed
8 days
per person, double occupancy*
dates cruise + flights

Highlights

  1. Havana

    Plaza de la Catedral, Old HavanaA throwback to another generation, Havana’s old world charm is a glimpse into the heart of this fascinating country. Old cobbled plazas and historic-buildings-turned-museums are juxtaposed with popular nightclubs and hotels that refrain their 1950s atmosphere. Don’t miss the chance to explore Habana Vieja (Old Havana) – a narrow and winding series of cobbled streets containing almost 1,000 buildings of historical significance and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  2. Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia

    Finca VigiaAcclaimed author Ernest Hemingway loved Cuba. His home for 21 years (1939 – 1960), Finca Vigia, has been painstakingly preserved including the furnishings and his extensive book and art collection (including works by Picasso). Literature fanatics will also recognize Pilar on the grounds, Hemingway’s fishing boat named after his wife Pauline as well as a lead character in his 1940 novel For Whom The Bell Tolls. His house is also near the quaint fishing village of Cojimar, the setting for his book The Old Man and the Sea.

  3. Cigar Factory

    Hand rolling cigarsCuba is known to make the world’s greatest cigars and no trip would be complete without touring the factories where artisans still expertly hand roll them. The faint smell of smoke and earth fill the room as guests are escorted through the factory – learning each step of the process along the way: from drying tobacco leaves and compacting the cigars through to finished, ready to smoke products. Smokers and non-smokers alike will be enthralled by the process and dedication of creating a product that is an essential part of Cuban history—and a huge export.

  4. Santiago de Cuba

    Antonio Maceo memorial, Santiago de CubaOne of Cuba’s oldest cities, and on the eastern side of the island, Santiago de Cuba was founded in 1514 and predates Havana as the island’s first capitol city. At the foot of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, Santiago de Cuba overlooks a beautiful turquoise bay. This history-rich city delights travelers with iconic sites that reflect Cuba’s military and political past. Visit the memorial to Antonio Maceo, the “Bronze Titan”, who led two wars for independence against the Spanish. Stop at San Juan Hill, where Teddy Roosevelt and his rough riders defeated the Spanish during the Cuban-Spanish-American War. Explore the Moncada Barracks where Fidel and Raul Castro began their 1953 assault on the Batista regime.

  5. Paladares, private restaurants

    Ropa viejaIn the midst of a culinary revolution, dining in Cuba becomes an adventure as thousands of little-known (and sometimes even secret!) independent restaurants have exploded across the island. Relaxed government regulations on private business have facilitated this growing industry – with more than 2,000 newly opened eateries. Innovative restauranteurs have opened up in surprising locations, offering experiences that often rival London and Paris staples. Rich and complex dishes shatter the “rice and beans” stereotype so prevalent and the flavorful food and atmosphere are comforting and authentic. Don’t forget to grab a freshly made mojito to follow your savory ropa vieja (braised, shredded beef)!

  6. Trinidad

    Trinidad rooftopsTrinidad’s iconic red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets are a must for visitors who travel to Cuba! This UNESCO World Heritage City was founded in 1514 and many of its architectural marvels still stand today. Colorfully painted houses and a yesteryear atmosphere create a unique experience that harkens back to centuries ago. Dotted with museums, open-air markets, shops, and bars, Trinidad is a lively city – complete with unforgettable photo opps! Interestingly, the city is also a center for the Santeria religion. Visit Templo de Yemaya where practitioners explain the basic principles, an interesting blend of African and catholic traditions.

  7. Casa Particular, Havana

    Bedroom, El Encanto de PerserveranciaEl Encanto de Perserverancia, the Cuban Bed and Breakfast you will stay in on our Authentic Havana tour, is a highlight in itself. This B&B, or casa particular, was hand-picked by our President Peggy Goldman during her many trips to Havana. It is a traditional colonial-style house that has been lovingly restored and converted into charming accommodation. The casa is privately owned, meaning your money goes directly into the pockets of the locals, and it offers a much more authentic, intimate and satisfying stay versus the huge government run hotels in the city. Our casa is also very centrally located, only a seven minute walk from the Malecon, the city’s iconic sea wall, and it is within easy walking distance of several trendy restaurants including La Guarida, frequented by many American celebrities when they visit Havana. Plus, we give you the genuine experience of staying in a real Havana community with schools, cafes and local shops nearby while only being a short drive from touristic Old Havana.

Fast Facts

Already booked on one of our packages to Cuba? See everything you need to know before you go.

Overview

Capital: Havana
Population:  11.3 million
Currency: CUC (Convertible Peso)
Languages: Spanish
Drives on the: Right
Time zone: GMT -5

Weather

The weather in Cuba is humid and tropical. The warmest month of the year is July, when the temperature averages about 85° F. The coldest month of the year is January, when the temperature during the day averages about 70° F.

The rainy season lasts from May through October, and the driest months are from November to April.

Entry requirements

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid at the time of entry, though we strongly recommend it be valid for at least six months after your return date.

U.S. passport holders must have a visa to enter Cuba. Under current U.S. law, travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and residents for tourism is prohibited. However, there are several forms of authorized travel, including licensed "People-to-People" cultural exchange programs such as those operated by Friendly Planet. Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Please see the Treasury website or the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

Booked on one of our packages with Scheduled Dates? For U.S. passport holders, we will pre-arrange your travel visa, and the visa fee is included in your package price. After you book, please send a color scan or color photocopy of the photo page of your passport to documents@friendlyplanet.com so that we may process your visa.

If you hold a passport from another country, it is quite possible that you may enter Cuba on one of our programs; please contact us before you book to learn more.

If you were born in Cuba, regardless of your citizenship, you must apply for a visa directly from the Cuban Embassy. Please notify us when you book if this applies to any travelers in your party.

More information about passports & visas.

Dining

Cuba’s communist government continues to impact agricultural production. But despite the lack of varied fresh ingredients, great meals can be found across the nation! Many traditional Cuban dishes are fried or roasted, and the main stables of the locals’ diet consists of chicken and pork accompanied by moros y cristianos (white rice cooked in black beans).  With the explosion of paladares, or private restaurants, opening across the island, Cuba is experiencing a bit of a culinary renaissance. 

Must-savor Cuban dishes include ropa vieja (marinated braised lamb or beef), pudin (similar to flan), Cuban coffee (strong and sweet, espresso style), tres leches cake and to finish it off - an authentic mojito (a traditional Cuban cocktail made of rum with mint, sugar and lime)!

Shopping

Bring home more than a postcard from your travels in Cuba!  Wander the open-air markets, artisan workshops, and stores to pick up mementos that will help you remember how unique Cuba is: cigars, fine art and sculpture, rum, expertly crafted musical instruments, and Soviet Union era antiques.

Note:  As of October 2016 the restrictions on importing Cuban goods have been lifted. Authorized U.S. travelers are permitted to import Cuban goods for personal use, including Cuban cigars and rum. (Normal limits on duty/taxes will apply.)

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Before visiting Cuba, it is recommended that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines ( measles, mumps, tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine etc) You may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination: Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid and Rabies.

(Note: Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.)

Although there are pharmacies open 24 hours, they only give you the essential medicines, as most are scarce and the ones you can get will be expensive. Therefore it is desirable to take, in addition to the remedies prescribed by your doctor, a basic kit with analgesics, tablets for diarrhea, antacids, antihistamines, calamine lotion, sterile gauze, Band-Aids, insect repellent and sunscreen.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Power & Adapters

110 and 220 volts. Plugs A & B; C & L. We recommend that you bring an adapter/converter along with you as not all hotels will have 110 volt (A&B plugs) outlets. View more information about electrical standards around the world.

Tipping

In general 1CUC is fine for waitresses, barmen, maids, etc. with maybe 5CUC for a tour guide. You are not expected to tip after each drink, after every meal, or even every day for the maid. Tip the barmen once every other day or so and the room maid a little during your stay plus a larger tip on the last day.

Did you know?
  • 1 in every 4 cars in Cuba predates the Cuban Revolution! Passenger vehicles considered rare in other parts of the world are relatively common in Cuba. Don’t be surprised if a family passes right by you in a Model T Ford!
  • Cuba has a literacy rate of 99.8%, one of the highest in the world.
  • A majority of Cubans practice some form of Santeria, a geographically unique religion that blends African beliefs with catholic saints.
  • Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean.
  • In 2000 Fidel Castro erected a statue in a Havana park of The Beatles’ John Lennon! He admired Lennon for his contributions in revolutionizing music.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How does President Trump's new policy about travel to Cuba impact your tours? 

    [Updated June 2017]  President Trump's recent announcement about new policies regarding Cuba has created a lot of uncertainty about travel to the island. The new policy does severely restrict the ability of individuals to travel to and from Cuba on their own. However, group tours organized by tour operators like Friendly Planet authorized by the Treasury have not been affected. Our tours to Cuba remain completely legal—and the best and safest way for Americans to visit the island.  

  2. How are you able to offer trips to Cuba legally?

    [Updated June 2017]  Friendly Planet is an authorized sponsor of People-to-People travel to Cuba in accordance with the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) section, 1 C.F.R. § 515.565(b) People-to-People Travel. Learn more about OFAC and the rules governing U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba on the U.S. Treasury website. We are constantly monitoring changes in policy and will continue to ensure our trips comply with the letter of the law. 

  3. Why should I travel to Cuba with a tour company?

    [Updated June 2017]  It has never been more important to travel to Cuba with a tour company. The new travel guidelines significantly restrict the ability of individuals to visit Cuba and where they can spend their money.

    That's why you travel with Friendly Planet! We were among the first U.S. tour companies to be awarded a license for educational tours back in 2011—back when the rules were even stricter! Since then, we've sent thousands of Americans to Cuba. We have the knowledge, experience and relationships to ensure your trip conforms to the law, while offering unique and inspiring encounters with the people of Cuba that you wouldn't get traveling on your own.

  4. What is People-to-People travel, and what can I expect on my tour?

    [Updated June 2017]  People-to-People educational exchanges are designed to give Americans a look at what life is really like in Cuba by coming face-to-face with the island's vibrant communities, blossoming businesses, fascinating history, and welcoming people. Each of our itineraries is chock-full of intimate and interesting educational activities that transform sightseeing into unforgettable cultural experiences. 

    Examples of People-to-People experiences include:

    • Meet young, up and coming Cuban artists in a private studio
    • Visit the fascinating Afro-Cuban neighborhood of Regla
    • Meet talented local fashion designers and a woodcraft experts at their home workshop
    • Join Cubans for a neighborhood block party
    • Watch a rehearsal by one of Havana's well-known dance companies

    Learn more about some of our favorite Cuba experiences on our blog!

  5. The news mentions that Americans are subject to a Treasury Department Audit. What does that mean? Will I be audited?

    [Updated June 2017]  U.S. travelers have always been subject to OFAC audit. However, these audits are rarely (if ever) conducted, and in practice, the OFAC relies on tour companies to ensure your trip complies with the law. Keep your trip documents, your travel journal and any receipts for purchases in Cuba, and you should be in compliance in the unlikely event you are ever asked to produce records of your trip. These audits confirm that you have participated in a People-to-People program, which you have done if you travel with us!

  6. Is it legal to buy things in Cuba? Aren't there restrictions on spending that benefits the Cuban government?

    [Updated June 2017]  There are. But when you travel with us, we'll always let you know where you can legally shop and what you can purchase. Happily, you can continue to purchase rum and cigars to bring home with you, as well as original art and educational materials (books, etc). We specifically design our trips to include many opportunities to support the privately-owned businesses and entrepreneurs that are just beginning to flourish in Cuba.

  7. Can I take my cell phone?

    See our blog post on using your cell phone abroad.

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Rave Reviews

The colors of Cuba tour is fantastic!

Teresita Abad Doebley, Somers Point, NJ
Colors of Cuba

We just returned from your wonderful Discover Havana tour. It was our first experience with your tour company, and you know how to do it right. The details with which our tour was handled were superb...the guides knowledgeable and flexible. There was the right amount of free time to explore on our own, too. Thanks for a wonderful trip...we'll travel with you again soon.

Susan Tonnar, Manchester, NH
Discover Havana