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CubaCuba

Friendly Planet has successfully operated fully compliant legal tours to Cuba for Americans since 2011, and we look forward to continuing to do so under the latest rules. 

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.

From salsa dancing 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!

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

Friendly Planet Travel operates legal tours to Cuba under the "Support for the Cuban People" travel category, in accordance with 31 CFR § 515.574 published by  the  Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Scheduled programs departing prior to October 2019 (and private groups that confirmed services prior to  June 5, 2019) traveled under a "People to People" license in accordance with § 515.565(b).

 

Tours & Packages

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Small Group Tour Authentic Havana
Take in the heart & soul of this colorful & cultural island: Havana, Cojimar, Guanabacoa & Lawton
from $1699 w/ Flights from $1349 Tour Only 5 days
per person, double occupancy*
Small Group Tour Authentic Havana & the Scenic Viñales Valley
Explore the magic and magnificent heritage of Cuba from the culture and communities of Havana to the spectacular vistas of the Viñales Valley
from $2249 w/ Flights from $1899 Tour Only 7 days
per person, double occupancy*
Small Group Tour Captivating Cuba
An encompassing Cuba tour: Havana, Cojimar, Varadero, Trinidad, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus
from $2999 w/ Flights 8 days
per person, double occupancy*
Small Group Tour Havana International Jazz Festival 2020
Take in the heart & soul of this colorful & cultural island: 35th Havana International Jazz Festival
$3999 w/ Flights 7 days
per person, double occupancy*

Trip Reviews

Check out independent, verified reviews from real travelers on Feefo.

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 still exude a 1950s atmosphere. Don’t miss the chance to explore Habana Vieja (Old Havana), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of narrow and winding cobbled streets and almost 1,000 buildings of historical significance.

  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, and the 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. 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 restaurateurs have opened up in surprising locations, offering experiences that often rival dining in London or Paris. The flavorful food and atmosphere are comforting and authentic, and rich and complex dishes shatter the “rice and beans” stereotype. Don’t forget to grab a freshly made mojito to follow your savory ropa vieja (braised, shredded beef)!

  5. 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.

  6. Casa Particular, Havana

    Bedroom, El Encanto de PerserveranciaEl Encanto de Perserverancia, the Cuban Bed and Breakfast 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 accommodations. 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

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 "People to People" (if booked by June 5, 2019) and "Support for the Cuban People."  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.

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 be sure to complete the traveler registration form so that we have the information required to obtain the visa.

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.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, you are responsible for determining all entry requirements and obtaining any necessary visas. Consider using an expedited visa service.

More information about passport, visa & entry requirements.

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, 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

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.

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 staples 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)!

Money & Credit Cards

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

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:  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.)

Electricity & 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.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

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

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

[Updated June 24, 2019] Our programs to Cuba remain completely legal and compliant under U.S. law, and they remain the best and safest way for Americans to visit the island.

President Trump's policies regarding Cuba have created a lot of confusion. In the past, most visitors from the U.S. (including ours) traveled under the "People to People" license. Under new U.S. regulations issued on June 5, 2019, those People to People programs that completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as reserving a hotel) prior to June 5, 2019 are "grandfathered" in and still have authorization to travel. All of Friendly Planet’s scheduled tour programs departing through September 2019—Authentic Havana, Authentic Havana & the scenic Viñales Valley, and Captivating Cuba—are covered under this grandfather clause. Any private groups to Cuba who confirmed services prior to June 5, 2019 are also covered.

All tour programs departing in October 2019 and onward will operate under the “Support for the Cuban People” license. These programs will feature small groups of 8 to 12 participants, accommodations in casas particulares (private bed and breakfasts operated in private homes) or carefully selected hotels, and meals at paladars. Services in Cuba are operated by and benefit private Cuban citizens. Meanwhile, our tours will continue to feature the wonderful art, music, creative design, agricultural initiatives and community programs that have always been a mainstay of our programs to Cuba since 2011.

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