Travel Notices

Captivating Cuba

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


This package is currently unavailable.
This tour is closed. We will not be resuming travel to Cuba this year. We are working closely with our Cuban partners and are hopeful to return to the island as early as possible in 2022. Click here to be notified when 2022 departures become available!
Style Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of no more than 16 likeminded travelers (and often much fewer), escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. (Some exceptions, including special promotional packages, may accommodate up to 30.) More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures 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. Travel safely and confidently with our new health & safety protocols.
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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 Santa Clara, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos, 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, 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.

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.

Package includes

  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana, including taxes & fees
  • Health insurance in Cuba, included in the cost of your airfare
  • U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification
  • Cuban Tourist 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 educational 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

  • Take a ride in a vintage car to a privately-owned workshop that maintains these antique treasures.
  • Enjoy lunch and engage with the family and local staff at Coincidencia Farm.
  • Attend a student performance at the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School.
  • 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.
  • Meet talented fashion designer Mariela Alemán Orosco, and watch her create original fabrics followed by a fashion show.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Miami/Havana

  • Depart the USA on your flight for Havana
  • Welcome dinner at a local paladar (privately owned restaurant)

Melía Cohiba Dinner

Full Day Itinerary

¡Bienvenidos a La Habana! Upon arrival to Cuba's capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, you are welcomed by our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned vehicle and transfer to your hotel.

Enjoy a welcome drink as you check in, then relax and rest a bit from your flight or take a stroll to the nearby Malecon before dinner.

This evening, join your fellow travelers at a local paladar for your welcome dinner.


Day 2 Old Havana

  • Stroll through Old Havana, stopping at the used bookseller's market, Hotel Ambos Mundos (Ernest Hemingway's first home in Havana), and at various private enterprises to engage with and support Cuba's growing private business sector
  • Visit an artist's private studio
  • Meet with staff at Clandestina, Cuba's first online clothing retailer and renowned design shop
  • Enjoy lunch at a local paladar
  • Walk Havana's grand San Rafael Boulevard and visit with private business owners to learn more about how private enterprises work in Cuba
  • Take a ride back in time in a classic American auto

Melía Cohiba Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Vintage car ride, Havana

After breakfast, take a guided leisurely walk through the labyrinthian streets of Old Havana. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of Cuba while walking along the cobblestone streets. 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. Stop at Hotel Ambos Mundos, Ernest Hemingway's first home in Cuba, and learn about his strong connection to Cuba and its culture.

Among the private businesses discovered during your walk, Clandestina, is one shop that is making plenty of waves both in Cuba and abroad. Founded by Idania del Río and Leire Fernández, two creative, entrepreneurial women who believe in a sustainable, fair and ethical fashion industry. Clandestina is the country's first online clothing retailer and has even appeared as a pop-up store in New York.

Visit the private studio of one of Cuba's talented independent artists. During your visit, learn the different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.

Enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

Walk along Havana's renovated San Rafael Boulevard, visiting with multiple private entrepreneurs along the way. The boulevard is home to some of Havana's most innovative projects and one-of-a-kind shops. Behind every private business is a progressive individual or co-op excited to share with you a bit about their journey in the Cuba private sector and their passion and enthusiasm for what they do. 

Hop into one of Havana's classic American cars and take a nostalgic drive back in time. Enjoy views of Havana from your beautifully-maintained automobile on the way to privately-owned classic car company, NostalgiCar. Meet Julio Alvarez Torres and his wife, Nidialys Acosta, and hear their engaging story about how they started their business and became two of Cuba's most successful entrepreneurs.

Dinner tonight is on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar for a delicious Cuban dinner. Choose from the list we provide or ask your guide for any additional recommendations.

Day 3 Havana, Santa Clara & Trinidad

  • Travel to Santa Clara
  • Stop for lunch at a local paladar
  • Visit an inclusive community project to experience music and the arts in Cuba
  • Travel to Trinidad
  • Check in to hotel

Hotel La Popa Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Aerial view of Santa Clara

Depart Havana in your air-conditioned vehicle to Santa Clara, in the center of the island and a cultural hub of the country.

Enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

Experience the world of art in Cuba by visiting one of Santa Clara's dynamic community projects. Take the opportunity to visit with the artists and musicians, experience their work, and engage with the process by asking questions or participating yourself.

Continue to the picturesque town of Trinidad. It is one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and 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. 

Check in to your hotel. 

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 guide for alternative recommendations.

A great option for an authentic after-dinner activity is to head to Casa de la Música to experience a typical evening in Cuba. Here, people from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, dance, build friendships, and discuss community issues or current events.

Day 4 Trinidad

  • Visit Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house
  • Stop by a casa particular (a private bed and breakfast) and learn from local business-owners
  • Have lunch at a local paladar
  • Learn about the religion of Santeria at the Templo de Yemaya
  • Explore Trinidad’s historic city center along its cobblestone streets, with landmarks waiting for you at every turn
  • Visit the local artisan’s market

Hotel La Popa Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Trinidad panorama

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

Meet with the owners of one of Trinidad's many casas particulares (privately-owned bed and breakfasts). Take a tour of the their home business, and discover how these casas form one of Cuba's new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Don't hesitate to ask questions and share insights about how similar businesses function in Cuba versus in the U.S.

Lunch today is at a paladar in Trinidad.

Visit the Templo de Yemaya, where a Santeria practitioner explains the basic principles of Santeria, a fascinating and complex blend of African religions and elements of the Catholic faith.

This afternoon, explore Trinidad's historic city center, where privately-owned, open-air craft markets, shops, museums, and bars line its Spanish colonial cobblestone streets. This lively area is also a great place to take unforgettable pictures.

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 guide for alternative recommendations.

Day 5 Trinidad, Cienfuegos & Varadero

  • Drive to Varadero via Cienfuegos
  • Walk through the beautiful center of Cienfuegos on a privately-guided tour
  • Visit Coincidencia Farm, an agricultural and artistic gem of the area, for lunch and a unique tour and insider look at creative expression through art and farming
  • Continue to the beautiful Caribbean beach town of Varadero
  • Check into your hotel in Vardero
  • Enjoy dinner at your hotel

Melía Varadero Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Streets of Varadero

After breakfast, hop back into your comfortable vehicle for the drive to one of Cuba's most beautiful cities, Cienfuegos.

Walk through the French Colonial Cienfuegos, "the pearl of the south," surrounded by its beautiful architecture and feeling of community. Your guide will share the significance of Cuba's only triumphal arch, found here in town, and the history of different ornate buildings, statues, and palaces.

Hop back in your bus and drive out to the beautifully unique Coincidencia Farm, where you’ll enjoy lunch. This farm was 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 cart full of seedlings, he began to plant his farm and even created a seed bank so that any interested farmer could do the same. 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. Engage with the family and staff in a discussion about opportunities both in Cuba and the U.S. for creative expression, farming, and the art-nature connection. 

Continue on to picturesque Varadero, the most famous beach town on the Cuban mainland, and check into your hotel.

Enjoy dinner together at your hotel tonight.

Day 6 Varadero

  • Learn about Cuba's national dance and musical genre at the private Danzón Club
  • Visit a local farmer's market
  • Stop at the one-of-a-kind craft workshop of artist Mariela Alemán Orosco
  • Return to the hotel for lunch
  • Explore the Varadero artisan market
  • Enjoy dinner at your hotel

Melía Varadero Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Photo by Jacqueline Romano
This morning, put on your dancing shoes for a visit to the Danzón Club in Varadero. Danzón is the official national dance and musical genre of Cuba. While the genre originated in Matanzas, danzón is practiced by many Cubans throughout the country. Learn the basics of danzón from club members, then join in the dance with its traditional and moving rhythm.
Make a stop at one of Cuba’s typical farmer’s markets (“agromercados”). Catch a glimpse into daily life for Cuban people, shopping for fruits, vegetables, beans, and spices based on what is available to them that particular day.

Another unique visit awaits at a workshop on the outskirts of Varadero, where two talented and entrepreneurial women, Mariel Alemán Orosco and Marilín Martínez Barrio, are busy creating original fabrics which they use in the design of fashionable clothing and accessories. Members of the Cuban Cultural Fund and the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists, Mariela and Marilín have received numerous prizes and recognition for their work. Discover why as you tour the workshop and experience the creative process in real time.

Enjoy lunch at your hotel.

Explore the artisan market of Varadero, where independent shop owners and artists are ready to engage in friendly conversation as they offer their handmade products for sale.

Enjoy dinner at your hotel tonight.

Day 7 Varadero, Cojimar & Havana

  • Drive to Havana
  • Visit Cojimar, the local fishing village that was the setting for Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea
  • Participate in a traditional Cuban cooking class experience, from gathering ingredients from a local "organopónico" organic garden, to putting them to use in the kitchen (and bar) itself
  • Visit the private mechanic workshop that restores the vintage American cars we all so adore
  • Check into your hotel
  • Take a ride in a classic American car en route to one of our favorite paladars
  • Join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner

Melía Cohiba Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Mechanic, classic car workshop

After breakfast, depart for Havana! Visit the quaint fishing village of Cojimar, which served as the setting for Ernest Hemingway's masterpiece, The Old Man and the Sea.

Learn the secrets of the Cuban kitchen by taking part in a traditional Cuban cooking class experience. Meet the staff of the paladar Café Ajiaco, who will guide you on your culinary journey, starting with organically-grown ingredients and transforming them into Cuba’s most delicious traditional food. Top off the experience with a lesson in preparing an authentic Cuban mojito. Then, enjoy your creations for lunch!

After lunch, visit the mechanic workshop and privately-owned classic car company, NostalgiCar. Meet with the owners and hear their engaging origin story, see where they restore and maintain their vintage autos, and learn from them, two of Cuba’s most successful private entrepreneurs, on their experience managing these cars and their company.

Enjoy one last ride in one of Havana's classic old American autos, and arrive to your farewell dinner in style. Tonight's entertainment features live, traditional Cuban music and salsa dancing, reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club, so make sure you wear your dancing shoes!

Day 8 Havana/Miami

  • 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!


Melía Cohiba
Melía Cohiba
First Class

The Melía Cohiba is located in Vedado, a modern district in Havana. Situated on the sea, the hotel is only 50 meters from the famous Malecón, boasting stunning views of both the ocean or Havana city. Melía Cohiba is a short distance from the historic Old Havana, Plaza de la Revolución, and some of Havana’s finest Jazz Clubs and restaurants. With stunning views of the city and the sea, Melia Cohiba’s 462 modern rooms offer stunning panoramic views of Havana and the sea and are fitted with air conditioning. Wi-Fi internet access, satellite LCD TV , telephone , electronic safe, minibar, coffee/tea making facilities, iron/ironing board, bathroom with a hairdryer. Melía Cohiba offers 5 exquisite and diverse dining options in a pleasant atmosphere. There are 6 bars serving international and premium brand drinks, cocktails, liquors and coffees. A cigar bar with a live entertainment and a cigar shop and a coffee bar to enjoy some terrific coffee and Cuban cigars.  Lastly, enjoy an evening at Havana Café, a nightclub  with a bar and cabaret show with invited guests as the Buena Vista Social Club musicians. 

More information

Hotel La Popa
First Class

Hotel La Popa, is nestled on the top of a lovely hill just a few minutes walking distance from the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s city center. With a stunning view of the city of Trinidad below you, and the sprawling Escambray mountain range behind you, the hotel’s location gives you a perfect combination of natural tranquility with easy accessibility to the heart of the colonial city itself.  Trinidad may be renowned for its history and colonial-style preservation, but La Popa offers modern luxury with many amenities to all its guests.  The hotel boasts 52 rooms  equipped with air conditioning, phone, satellite TV, mini bar, safety deposit box, and hairdryer. La Popa offers a high-quality dining experience at its Cuban-International fusion restaurant for breakfast,  lunch and dinner. The lobby bar or open-air snack bar by the pool are perfect for premium brand drinks, cocktails, liquors and coffees, and to enjoy a tasty snack as well.

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Melía Varadero
Melía Varadero

Melía Varadero is located on the beach, next to the Plaza America Convention Center and near the Varadero Golf Club. Its architecture resembles a flower of seven petals, and the original lobby is decorated with plants and flowers. This All-Inclusive Five-Star Resort has a total of 490 cozy, spacious, and beautifully decorated rooms surrounded by spectacular tropical landscapes. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, terrace or balcony, telephone, in-room safe, satellite TV, mini bar, and hairdryer. Melía Varadero has 7 restaurants serving a variety of dishes designed to appease any appetite. Savor both Cuban and International cuisine at Havana, enjoy succulent cuts of beef, rabbit, and chicken at Las Reses. Melía Varadero also offers several bars in a variety of different atmospheres. Sip exotic beverages by the pool at Baracoa, grab famous Cuban cocktails and fast food at Guantanamera Snack Bar, and listen to live piano music over a glass of wine at Las Palmas. The friendly and professional staff in the beauty parlor will restore your body’s vitality with a natural facial or other body treatments. To stay physically fit and radiant, be sure to visit the hotel’s gym or beauty salon.

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In the unlikely event that a particular hotel is not available, a similar or better hotel may be substituted.

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