Captivating Cuba

An encompassing Cuba tour: Havana, Cojimar, Varadero, Trinidad, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus

Overview

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from$2999Tour + Flights 8days
price per person, double occupancy,* based on Aug 18, 2020 departure from MIA
$400 Instant Savings. Expires Nov 21, 2019.*   All prices reflect savings.
Style Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of no more than 24 likeminded travelers (and often much fewer), escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures January – October 2020 Group Size 16 travelers max
Themes History & Culture
Activity Level Recreational
What to Expect This fast-paced, escorted 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 information about passport & visa requirements, flights, luggage, and more.

Package includes

  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Non-stop flights from Miami to Santa Clara & Havana to Miami, including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
  • Health insurance in Cuba, included in the cost of your airfare
  • U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification
  • Cuba Entrance Visa
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 7 nights superior first class hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 17 meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners
  • Comprehensive exchange program, including entrance fees
  • Friendly Planet representative
  • Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the exchanges with Cubans

Optional add-ons

  • Pre-Night stay in Miami
  • Post-Night stay in Miami

Why you'll love it

  • Create your own ceramic art at a family-owned pottery house in Trinidad.
  • Engage in discussions with owners of a casa particular to learn how bed and breakfasts offer Cubans new entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Attend a student performance at the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School
  • Meet talented fashion designer Mariela Alemán Orosco and watch her create original fabrics followed by a fashion show.
  • Explore an Organopónico, a co-op community garden where residents grow and sell fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs.
  • Experience Fusterlandia as the bright Caribbean sun reflects off the mosaic embellished buildings.
  • Take a ride in a vintage car to a privately-owned workshop that maintains these antique treasures.
Captivating Cuba itinerary

You’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 17 included meals, this is one of the best bargains in Cuba travel available anywhere.

information
We're still going to Cuba!
Our tours are still legal and compliant with recent changes in U.S. policy. Questions? See our Cuba FAQs.

Dates & Prices

Departure Dates & Prices

Instant Savings: Get $400 off if you book by Nov. 21, 2019!
Departures & Prices, with flights
per person, double occupancy*
2020 DEPARTURES
Depart / Return Price Instant
Savings
Instant
Savings
Expire
Your
Price
Departs: Tue, Jan 21, 2020
Returns: Tue, Jan 28, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Jan 21 – Jan 28 $3599 –$400 Nov 21 $3199 Select
Departs: Tue, Feb 11, 2020
Returns: Tue, Feb 18, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Feb 11 – Feb 18 $3599 –$400 Nov 21 $3199 Select
Departs: Tue, Mar 24, 2020
Returns: Tue, Mar 31, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Mar 24 – Mar 31 $3599 –$400 Nov 21 $3199 Select
Departs: Tue, Apr 14, 2020
Returns: Tue, Apr 21, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Apr 14 – Apr 21 $3599 –$400 Nov 21 $3199 Select
Departs: Tue, May 5, 2020
Returns: Tue, May 12, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
May 5 – May 12 $3499 –$400 Nov 21 $3099 Select
Departs: Tue, Jun 16, 2020
Returns: Tue, Jun 23, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Jun 16 – Jun 23 $3499 –$400 Nov 21 $3099 Select
Departs: Tue, Aug 18, 2020
Returns: Tue, Aug 25, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Aug 18 – Aug 25 $3399 –$400 Nov 21 $2999 Select
Departs: Tue, Oct 20, 2020
Returns: Tue, Oct 27, 2020
Book by Thu, Nov 21, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Oct 20 – Oct 27 $3499 –$400 Nov 21 $3099 Select

Unfortunately, we don't offer late returns on this package. Want to extend your trip?

Options & Fees

Captivating Cuba
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Jan 21, 2020;  Feb 11, 2020;  Mar 24, 2020;  Apr 14, 2020 +$449
All other departures +$399
Optional Pre-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Pre-Night Crowne Plaza Miami, with breakfast
Oct 20, 2020 +$100
Jan 21, 2020;  Feb 11, 2020;  Mar 24, 2020;  Apr 14, 2020 +$115
All other departures +$80
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Oct 20, 2020 +$100
Jan 21, 2020;  Feb 11, 2020;  Mar 24, 2020;  Apr 14, 2020 +$115
All other departures +$80
Optional Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami
Post-Night Crowne Plaza Miami, with breakfast
Oct 20, 2020 +$100
Jan 21, 2020;  Feb 11, 2020;  Mar 24, 2020;  Apr 14, 2020 +$115
All other departures +$80
Rooming Selection
Double Occupancy included
Single Room Supplement
Oct 20, 2020 +$100
Jan 21, 2020;  Feb 11, 2020;  Mar 24, 2020;  Apr 14, 2020 +$115
All other departures +$80
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.

So that we can offer you the best deals, our packages are, like most hotels and cruises, priced based on double occupancy rooms or cabins. We charge solo travelers an extra fee to cover the extra costs of single occupancy rooms or cabins. (Consider: if you booked a $200/night hotel room solo, you would pay the $200 yourself; but if a couple booked the same room, each one would pay only $100.) But you only pay extra for the rooms or cabins, nothing else, including meals, sightseeing, tips, etc.

Want to find a roommate and avoid single occupancy fees? We can help! Learn more
Why are single rooms more?

Flights & Departure Cities

Departure Airports
Miami (MIA) included

This package includes round-trip flights from the city listed above. Please review the flight schedule, especially if you're booking connecting flights.

Want to fly from another city? We can arrange flights from most major cities. Ask us for a quote for flights from your preferred city when you reserve, and we'll get back to you with the price and availability within 3 business days. Of course, you can also book your own connecting flights. More information

Itinerary

Day 1: Miami/Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus

Accommodations: 2 nights Hotel PlazaHotel del Rijo or Hotel Don Florencio, Sancti Spiritus. Included meals: Dinner.

  • Depart the USA on your flight for Cuba
  • Drive to Sancti Spiritus
  • Welcome dinner at a local paladar

Full Day Itinerary:Today, board your non-stop flight bound for Cuba at Miami International Airport.

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

Sancti SpíritusDrive 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. This evening, the group will meet for dinner at a local paladar (privately owned restaurant).

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 2: Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • 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

Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast, drive 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, explore the historic town, where you will find lots of privately owned 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 on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provide or ask your guides for alternative recommendations.

Day 3: 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
  • 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.  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.

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

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

Day 4: 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

Streets of VaraderoFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast, 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 many Cubans throughout the country. The clubs of "danzoneros" are dedicated to preserving the tradition and history of this dance.  Learn the basics of danzón with club members as your teachers, then have the please of joining in the dance to its traditional and lilting rhythm

At your next stop you'll a visit 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 work in creating original fabrics which they use in designing fashionable clothing and accessories. During the visit, you'll tour the workshop and experience the creative process as it is taking place.

Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner in one of the hotel's specialty restaurants.

Day 5: Varadero, Alamar, Cojimar & Havana

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

  • Visit co-op community gardens in Alamar called Organopónico
  • Enjoy lunch in the fishing village of Cojimar at a local paladar
  • Take a ride in a classic car and visit the workshop where restorations are taking place

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 "Organopónico," 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, the Organopónico facilitates community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit an Organopónico, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.

Mechanic, classic car workshopYou'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.

Take a ride in vintage cars to visit a private mechanic's workshop where you'll see for yourself the miraculous transfers of cars that are ubiquitos on the streets of Cuba. Hear how the cars are acquired, lovingly restored and put to work enchanting visitors as they make their way around Havana and beyond.

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 guide for alternative recommendations.

Day 6: Old Havana

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Walk through 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
  • Discover Jose Fuster's whimsical "Fusterlandia"

Man hand rolling cigarsFull Day Itinerary:This morning you'll watch a private demonstration to learn how Cuba's famous tobacco leaves are carefully and artfully rolled into cigars.

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.

At the Plaza de Armas, the oldest plaza in the city, enjoy some time on your own to explore the Antique Bookseller market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet the local independent booksellers and check out the posters and other collectables that are for sale.

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.

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

Drive to Jaimanitas, where you'll visit "Fusterlandia", the home and surrounding neighborhood of "THe Picassao 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 bu the entire neighborhood into a unique and coloful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaic galore.

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

Day 7: Havana

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Tour Modern Havana
  • Enjoy lunch at a local paladar
  • Stop at the Artisans Market
  • Join your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner at a local paladar

Full Day Itinerary:Set out 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.

Visit the studio of gifted artist Eduardo Roca Salazar, known affectionately as "Choco" for his skin color. Roca's work, often focuses on Afro-Cuban themes.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

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 8: 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!

Note: Itinerary is subject to change based on local availability.

This itinerary provides a full time schedule of 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.

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