Captivating Cuba

  • Dec 27, 2019 - 2020
  • 2019

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

Overview

from$2999Tour + Flights 8days
price per person, double occupancy,* based on May 5, 2020 departure from MIA
$400 Instant Savings. Expires Jan 16, 2020.*   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 March – 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.
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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 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.

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

  • Take a ride in a vintage car to a privately-owned workshop that maintains these antique treasures.
  • Experience Fusterlandia as the bright Caribbean sun reflects off the mosaic-embellished buildings.
  • 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.

Dates & Prices

Dates & Prices

  • Dec 27, 2019 - 2020
  • 2019
Instant Savings: Get $400 off if you book by Jan. 16, 2020!
Dates & Prices, with flights
per person, double occupancy*
2019 DEPARTURES
Dates Regular
Price
Instant
Savings
Your
Price
Departs U.S.: Fri, Dec 27, 2019
Finishes: Fri, Jan 3, 2020
Dec 27 – Jan 3
$5699 Closed
2020 DEPARTURES
Dates Regular
Price
Instant
Savings
Your
Price
Departs U.S.: Tue, Jan 21, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Jan 28, 2020
Jan 21 – Jan 28
$3599 Closed
Departs U.S.: Tue, Feb 11, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Feb 18, 2020
Feb 11 – Feb 18
$3599 Closed
Departs U.S.: Tue, Mar 24, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Mar 31, 2020
Book by Thu, Jan 16, 2020 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Mar 24 – Mar 31
$3599 –$400 $3199 Select
Departs U.S.: Tue, Apr 14, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Apr 21, 2020
Book by Thu, Jan 16, 2020 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Apr 14 – Apr 21
$3599 –$400 $3199 Select
Departs U.S.: Tue, May 5, 2020
Finishes: Tue, May 12, 2020
Book by Thu, Jan 16, 2020 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
May 5 – May 12
$3399 –$400 $2999 Select
Departs U.S.: Tue, Jun 16, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Jun 23, 2020
Book by Thu, Jan 16, 2020 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Jun 16 – Jun 23
$3399 –$400 $2999 Select
Departs U.S.: Tue, Aug 18, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Aug 25, 2020
Book by Thu, Jan 16, 2020 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Aug 18 – Aug 25
$3399 –$400 $2999 Select
Departs U.S.: Tue, Oct 20, 2020
Finishes: Tue, Oct 27, 2020
Book by Thu, Jan 16, 2020 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings!
Oct 20 – Oct 27
$3499 –$400 $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 dates +$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 dates +$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 dates +$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 dates +$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 dates +$80
Taxes & Fees
Cuba Visa Fee included
Airline Baggage Fee1 (paid separately) +$30

1. Baggage fees must be paid at airport for each flight, in Cuba this must be paid in cash. This cost is subject to the airline and can change at any time.

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. 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

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Miami/Havana

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

Melia 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
  • Take a ride back in time in a classic American auto, and visit the mechanic workshop that restores these vintage cars
  • Discover the famous community mosaic project known as "Fusterlandia"

Melia Cohiba Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Mechanic, classic car workshop

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.

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.

Take a walk in Jaimanitas, a neighborhood unlike any you have ever seen and discover a wonderland of mosaic art created by independent artist Jose Fuster. Known world-wide for his intricate works made of colorful tiles, Fuster has covered his house as well as his entire neighborhood in mosaic murals of cultural, historic, and whimsical designs. With a bit of luck, you might even encounter the often-barefoot artist on the glistening, multicolored patio of his house, hard at work on his latest project.

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 & Sancti Spíritus

  • Experience a local farmer's market
  • 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 Sancti Spíritus
  • Check in to hotel

Hotel Plaza, Hotel del Rijo or Hotel Don Florencio Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Aerial view of Santa Clara

Begin today by experiencing one of Cuba's typical farmer's markets ("agromercardos"). Catch a glimpse into the daily life of Cuban people, whose choices of fruits, vegetables, beans, and spices depend on seasonality and whatever is available to them that particular day.

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 Sancti Spíritus. It is 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 your hotel. Spend the evening independently.

A great option for an authentic after-dinner activity is to head to Casa de la Trova 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 Sancti Spíritus & Trinidad

  • Drive to 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
  • Return to Sancti Spíritus

Hotel Plaza, Hotel del Rijo or Hotel Don Florencio Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Trinidad panorama

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, Trinidad was a sugar production hub, allowing landowners to gain enormous wealth and fill the city with 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, 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.

Return to your hotel in Sancti Spíritus.

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 Sancti Spíritus, Cienfuegos & Varadero

  • Drive to Varadero via Cienfuegos
  • Visit the Graphic Art Project and interact with independent graphic artists
  • Walk through the beautiful center of Cienfuegos on a privately-guided tour
  • Lunch at a local paladar
  • Continue to the beautiful Caribbean beach town of Varadero
  • Check into your hotel in Vardero
  • Enjoy dinner at your hotel

Melia 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.

Visit the Graphic Art Project of Cienfuegos, a space for independent graphic artists to come together in a communal setting to create and display their works of art. Interact with the artists and have the opportunity to view and support their work.

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.

Enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

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

  • Visit Coincidencia Farm, an agricultural and artistic original
  • Stop at the one-of-a-kind craft workshop of artist Mariela Alemán Orosco
  • Learn about Cuba's national dance and musical genre at the private Danzón Club
  • Return to the hotel for lunch
  • Explore the Varadero artisan market
  • Enjoy dinner in one of the hotel's specialty restaurants

Melia Varadero Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Photo by Jacqueline Romano

This morning, visit the unique "organopónico" (organic garden) at 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 cart full of seedlings, he began to plant his farm and even created a see 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.

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.

Next, visit 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.

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 together this evening at one of the hotel's specialty restaurants.

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
  • Walk Havana's grand San Rafael Boulevard and visit with private business owners to learn more about how private enterprises work in Cuba
  • 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.

Melia Cohiba Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Vintage car ride, Havana

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!

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.  Return to the hotel to relax and freshen up before dinner.

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

Breakfast

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!

Hotels

Melia Cohiba

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Hotel Plaza

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Hotel del Rijo

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Hotel Don Florencio

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Melia Varadero

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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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