Colors of Cuba
Stay in 5-star hotels as you tour Havana, Cojimar, the colonial treasure of Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus
|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. More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departures||Group Size||24 travelers max|
|Themes||History & Culture, Grand Tours|
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, escorted educational 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.|
|Already booked?||Find everything you need to know before you go, including information about passport & visa requirements, flights, luggage, and more.|
In recent months, we’ve seen the restoration of ties continue between the US and Cuba, and more and more travelers are clamoring to visit the elusive island now, while it remains a genuine time capsule.
On Colors of Cuba, you have the opportunity to explore more of the island than with some of our other Cuba tours while staying in elegant 5 star hotels with authentic Cuban details and architecture. Your program takes you to Havana, Cuba’s colorful capital, the picturesque Spanish Colonial towns of Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara and Trinidad, and beyond. Cuba's culture is rich with contributions from its indigenous, African and European roots. But above all, the people of Cuba are the island's greatest asset. They are friendly, welcoming, resourceful and full of life. This program will introduce you to the people and provide ample opportunities to interact with them in meaningful and rewarding ways.
Friendly Planet is proud to be one of the first U.S. tour companies to have been awarded a People to People license. We received our first license in September, 2011, and since then, we’ve sent thousands of American travelers to Cuba to participate in unique, inspiring, and affordable encounters with the Cuban people.
- Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana, including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
- U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification and Authorization Letter
- Cuba Entrance Visa & Departure Tax
- All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
- 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
- 7 nights 5-star hotel accommodations in Cuba
- 18 meals: 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 3 dinners
- Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees
- Friendly Planet escort
- Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans
- Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)
Why you'll love it
- Explore Old Havana’s architectural treasure trove with a specialist from the Office of the City Historian
- Tour the Rum Museum to trace the history (and taste) Cuba’s national drink
- Learn how Cuban masters hand-roll cigars at a famous cigar factory
- Visit the fascinating Afro-Cuban neighborhood of Regla
- Experience the charming, Spanish Colonial town of Trinidad
- Walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway at Finca Vigia
First day of listed departure date is an overnight stay and introductory briefing in Miami.
Day 1: Miami Overnight/Pre-tour introductory briefing
1 night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel.
- Arrive in Miami
- Attend an introductory briefing at your hotel at 7:30 p.m.
Full Day Itinerary: Your journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal; simply hail the driver as they pass.
This evening at 7:30 p.m., participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers, review your documents, and complete the final paperwork for travel to Cuba. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning.
Day 2: Miami/Havana
3 nights Parque Central, Havana. Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Depart the USA on your flight for Havana
- Lunch at a privately owned restaurant
- Stop at Plaza de la Revolución
- Tour Modern Havana
- Welcome dinner at your hotel
¡Bienvenidos a La Habana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban National Guide holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in as you head directly to your first destination in Cuba.
Enjoy your first meal in Cuba at a privately owned restaurant, called a paladar.
Stop at the Plaza de la Revolución, the most famous and politically important square in Cuba. The square has witnessed many rallies and revolutions that have altered the course of Cuban history, where you'll view the 109m tall tower and an 18m statue of José Martí.
Continue 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.
Now that you've had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it's time to check into your hotel. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 3: Old Havana
Breakfast & lunch.
- Attend a lecture by a specialist from the Office of the Historian on the rehabilitation of Old Havana
- Leisurely orientation walk through Old Havana, including the Used Booksellers Market
- Visit private studio of one of Cuba's talented independent artists
- Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
- Take a guided tour at the Rum Museum to reveal the secrets of rum making
- Stop by the Artisan's Market, situated along the Malecon
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning, attend a lecture given by a specialist from the Office of the Historian. 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. After the lecture, take a walking tour to see the different examples of ongoing and finished restoration projects.
Continue on a leisurely orientation walk in Old Havana with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you. At the Plaza de Armas, the oldest plaza in the city, enjoy some time on your own to 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.
Then visit the private studio of one of Cuba's talented independent artists. During your visit, you'll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, tour the Rum Museum. You’ll learn why Cuban rum has such high quality by going through the different steps of the rum-making process. You will have the opportunity to taste a shot of “añejo” (aged rum) at the end of the tour in their beautiful bar.
Then, 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.
Return to the hotel to enjoy the remainder of the evening on your own.
Afterwards, 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 recommendations.
Day 4: Havana & Regla
Breakfast & lunch.
- Tour one of Havana's famous cigar factories
- Take the small ferry to Regla across the bay
- Visit the Fine Arts Museum (Cuban collection)
- Lunch at a local restaurant
- Tour the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery
- Visit Muraleando or another interesting community project
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning visit one of Havana's famous cigar factories where you see hundreds of workers rolling the Cuban cigars by hand. If the cigar factories are closed, a private cigar rolling demonstration will be provided instead.
Then, transfer to the ferry terminal for a short ferry ride to the other side of the bay. Visit Regla, a settlement south of the bay, and the famous Virgin of Regla Church, where an interesting blend of Afrocuban creeds and the Catholic faith can be experienced.
Return by coach from Regla to the edge of Old Havana to experience the Cuban collection at the Fine Arts Museum. Here you can appreciate the evolution of the country's history through the work of its most famous artists.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Visit Muraleando or another interesting community project.
Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 5: Havana, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad
2 nights Iberostar Trinidad. Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Drive to Santa Clara
- Stop at the Che Guevara Mausoleum
- Visit the Santa Clara Performing Arts School or a community project
- Enjoy lunch at the Los Caneyes Hotel
- Continue on to Sancti Spiritus
- Drive to Trinidad
- Discover the breathtaking view of the Valley of the Sugar mills from the lookout
- Enjoy dinner at your hotel
Full Day Itinerary: Shortly after breakfast this morning, depart from Havana and drive along Cuba's "autopista" highway, a route to enjoy many different landscapes. Visit the town of Santa Clara and the Che Guevara Mausoleum.
Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. 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 the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.
Continue on 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.
Then, drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America. Stop briefly on the way at the lookout of the valley on a hill to enjoy the magnificent view of the fields, which in the past were part of different ‘haciendas’, and the imposing mountain range in the background. You will get an introduction to the history of Trinidad and the valley with the explanation of the boom and decay of the local economy in colonial times.
After check in, enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Day 6: Trinidad
Breakfast & lunch.
- Visit Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house
- Continue to a casa particular or bed and breakfast
- Learn about the religion of Santeria at Templo de Yemaya
- Enjoy lunch at a local paladar
- Explore the historic center on your own
- Join Cubans at Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a neighborhood block party
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning, visit the 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.
Continue to the historic center to visit one of Trinidad's many "casas particulares" or bed and breakfasts, where you'll enjoy a tour and a discussion with the owners. 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.
Visit Templo de Yemayá 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.
Lunch today is at a paladar in Trinidad.
Enjoy dinner on your own this evening. We recommend dining at a privately owned paladar. Feel free to ask your guides for recommendations.
Later this evening, join Cubans at either Casa de la Música or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the U.S.
Day 7: Cienfuegos & Havana
2 nights Parque Central, Havana. Breakfast & lunch.
- Drive to Cienfuegos
- Visit an interesting community project in Cienfuegos
- Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
- Explore the main square and the Punto Gordo peninsula
- Return to Havana and check into your hotel
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast, we drive along the Caribbean coast and through small towns and villages en route to Cienfuegos, known as the "Pearl of the South" and the capital of Cienfuegos Province on the southern side of the island. Visit this picturesque town exploring the main square and the Punta Gorda peninsula.
Visit a community project linked with the Office of the Historian of Cienfuegos, the organization in charge of the preservation of heritage in the city. Then, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Return to Havana and check in to your hotel. Then, enjoy dinner on your own at one of Havana's fantastic paladars, including many within walking distance of your hotel.
Day 8: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar
Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Tour co-op community gardens in Alamar
- Explore Ernest Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia
- Enjoy lunch in the fishing village of Cojimar
- Explore Jose Fuster's whimsical "Fusterlandia"
- Join your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner
Full Day Itinerary: This morning, 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 " Organopónicos," 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, these Organopónicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organopónicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.
Then, drive to Hemingway's Cuba retreat. There are many historical and cultural ties between Cuba and the United States, and one of the best known is the legacy of Ernest Hemingway, who lived more than 20 years in Cuba, from 1939 to 1960. You'll visit Hemingway's beautiful mansion, now a museum, Finca Vigia, (literally meaning "lookout farm"), where his 9,000 book library is preserved, as well as his animal trophies and famous fishing boat, Pilar.
You'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.
On the way back to Havana, stop in Jaimanitas, where you'll visit "Fusterlandia," the home and surrounding neighborhood of "The Picasso 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 but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.
Return to the hotel for some well-deserved down time. Tonight, 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 Buena Vista Social Club.
Day 9: Havana/Miami
- Watch a rehearsal by one of Havana's well-known dance companies
- Transfer to the airport and board your charter flight back to Miami
Full Day Itinerary: This morning, you'll travel to one of Cuba's well known dance companies to enjoy watching a rehearsal, followed by a discussion with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.
Then, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport and check-in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Havana!
Note: This itinerary provides a full time schedule of educational 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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- Should I purchase travel insurance? Yes! We recommend you purchase travel insurance to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. For your convenience, we offer a plan provided by Travelex Insurance Services.
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