9 Day Private Cuba Tour
“Locally Sourced Cuba Tours is dedicated to providing you with an authentic and unforgettable Cuba tour experience. We can help you achieve in one adventure what has taken us years – to go inside the country in a deeper, more personal way. With Locally Sourced Cuba Tours you will have unrivalled access to local people from all walks of life while you experience an island that simply has so much to offer. Our tours are focused on introducing you to the Cuba that we know and love. You will spend time getting to know the locals, immersing yourself in Cuban culture, and supporting the Cuban people through your responsible tourism efforts.”
Why we love this trip:
- A comprehensive full day tour of Havana will give you the lowdown on this beguiling capital city.
- You’ll get to visit the final resting place of revolutionary Che Guevara, interred near Santa Clara in a specially constructed mausoleum and museum.
- You can choose to explore the historic Valley of the Sugar Mills in Trinidad, the centre of the world’s sugar production during the eighteenth century and to visit Cuba’s best south coast beach – Playa Ancon.
- Get an insight into the world of cigars, seeing how tobacco is cultivated in Viñales and visiting a cigar factory in Havana.
- Always looking to give you as authentic an experience as possible, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in Cuba’s music and dance scene while on your 9 Day Private Cuba tour.
- See the colourful streets and work of prominent and emerging Cuban artists in the Callejon de Hamel area.
- Receive a guided orientation walk to get your bearings at each destination you visit.
- Experience true Cuban hospitality at wonderful specially chosen upgraded family-run casa particulares (Cuban bed and breakfasts) or historic hotels.
Is this trip right for you?
We believe our 9 day private Cuba tour gives the right balance of informative cultural experiences and periods of relaxation, giving you the freedom to explore on your own without missing out on vital sights of interest. Being a private tour means you’ll never feel lost in the crowd as your private local Cuban guide shows you around and the tour can travel at a pace suitable to your fitness levels.
Estimated travel times:
Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest nation, and our 9 day private Cuba tour aims to show you as much of the island as possible. However, we will never rush you, and longer journeys between destinations will include stops for a bit to eat or to stretch your legs and take in your beautiful surroundings. The sorts of travel times you can expect are detailed below:
- From Havana to Viñales: 3 hours
- From Havana to Trinidad (via Santa Clara): 5 hours
- From Trinidad to Cienfuegos: 1 hour
- Cienfuegos to Havana (via Bay of Pigs): 4 hours
To download our Cuba drive times map (click here).
Spending money on tour:
Everyone spends money at different rates, and in addition to that, many of your major expenses such as accommodation, transport between destinations, airport transfers, your guide and two lunches are already included. You’ll therefore need enough money to cover the rest of your meals, drinks, tips and souvenirs. If there’s the possibility you’ll book onto an optional extra excursion you might want to bring some additional money for that too. All in all, we recommend bringing between 50 to 60 CUC per person per day. The CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) is valued 1:1 with the US$ (not taking into consideration exchange fees and penalties).
Travel to Cuba from the U.S.:
For those traveling to Cuba from the U.S. (regardless of nationality), please note that the documentation we will include with your booking ensures your compliance with current U.S. travel restrictions (515.574 Support for the Cuban People). In addition to retaining your itinerary, please keep records of your booking receipt, airline receipt, and any supplemental insurance purchased. You should retain these copies for 5 years after your travel. Some of our travelers have been asked to furnish these upon application for Global Entry, Pre-Check, and other programs with TSA oversight.
Bienvenido! Welcome to Cuba!
You’re sure to join a very long list of the great and the good who have fallen for the many charms of the Cuban capital, and who have wanted to experience all that the city has to offer. As a tourist your intentions will certainly be far more positive than many who have taken an interest in the city in the past! Havana is a city that has been coveted, again and again, filled to the brim with the wealth and prosperity of the New World. Granted, much of this wealth was in the natural resources of the region which were pillaged and exported back to Spain. The city has been an alluring target for invading forces, including the Dutch, British, French, and bands of fierce pirates as a result. But this prosperity during the Spanish colonial period has also made Havana what it is today – rich in architecture, musical heritage, and much more besides!
Havana is the jewel in the crown of Cuba, if not the entire Caribbean. It may be looking a little tired and run down in places, that this is undoubtedly part of the city’s overall careworn charm. The onset of the tourist trade is allowing more and more of the city not to be modernised as such but restored to its former glory. The heart of the city is Habana Vieja (Havana’s Old Town), a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its incredible historical importance not just to Cuba, but the whole of mankind.
Our 9 day private Cuba tour has been specifically tailored to give you plenty of time to explore all that Havana has to offer, although experience tells us you’ll want to get her know the city as soon as possible. Your first evening on the island is as good a time as any to start getting to know the capital, starting with the atmospheric streets immediately around your accommodation. Even the shortest of strolls will demonstrate that the Cuban capital is more than just a series of news headlines and spates with the current US administration. Its streets and alleyways are alive with ambience, with salsa rhythms slipping out of unnamed doorways, grandmothers sitting out on their front stoop chatting animatedly with neighbours, and grandfathers puffing away merrily at the country’s world-famous cigars. Havana has a lurid beauty that is simply unparalleled, and one you will quickly learn to love like those famous faces who have stepped across the cobbled streets of Havana before you.
Your 9 day private Cuba tour begins with your airport transfer on arrival from Havana’s José Martí International Airport to your chosen accommodation option in the city. During this first part of your 9 day private Cuba tour, you will have the chance to meet your guide for the first time, and discuss with them the finer details of your tour itinerary, before they escort you on an orientation walk of the local area (time permitting).
If you arrive earlier in the day, your guide will also be able to organise a classic convertible car ride to take you to El Morro Fort and El Cristo de La Habana. This is the perfect opportunity to learn a little more about Havana’s turbulent history and to take some impressive photos of the city, and along the iconic Malecon seafront promenade as the sun sets and Havana really comes alive. If you arrive too late to do this activity on Day One of your tour, it can easily be incorporated into the itinerary for Day Two.
A NOTE ABOUT YOUR EVENINGS IN CUBA
Evenings during your 9 day private Cuba tour are generally kept free from scheduled activities. We do this to give you the time you need to explore, photograph, or simply relax at leisure. However our expert local tour guides, alongside our office staff will be more than happy to help arrange additional evening activities or excursions to help you make the most of your time in this most unique of destinations. Being experts on the city, your guide will have a huge range of ideas should you be interested, which can be ideally matched to your personal tastes and preferences now that your guide has got to know you a little better.
For instance, on your first night, you might like to take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and visit the Casa de la Musica in the suburb of Miramar (paid for locally). There are many places in Cuba called the “House of Music,” all with their own idiosyncratic charms. The Miramar House of Music is one of the liveliest and best loved, with an atmosphere that manages to be both vibrant and refined at the same time. It’s here you’ll find that quintessentially Cuban salsa sound, and be able to witness Cubans uninhibitedly hitting the dance floor. As a bonus, the club is situated inside a historic renovated Havana mansion that speaks of the glory of the country’s past.
- Airport transfer on arrival
- Meet up your guide for introductions and orientation walk (dependent on your arrival time)
- Convertible classic car tour to El Morro Fort and El Cristo de La Habana (If you arrive later in the day this will be incorporated in Day Two’s schedule)
With a full day ahead of you in the capital, today is the part of your 9 day private Cuba tour that you can say you really got to know the real, authentic Havana. Starting with an escorted Old Havana Walking Tour, your guide will be on hand to regale you with stories from the capital’s long 500 year history, and point out those better hidden sights you might well otherwise miss. Like much of the New World, Havana was once a walled fortress, although the growth of the city meant that it would soon need to sprawl beyond these original boundaries to newer districts, as you will soon see.
There’s an abundance of cultural riches on offer, and you’ll walk past the El Capitolio, the Museo de la Revolución, and the Gran Teatro Habana, three of the capital’s most majestic architectural creations. With plenty of time for photography, your Old Havana Walking Tour also takes in some of the most stunning public squares you are ever likely to see – the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza San Francisco de Asis and Plaza Vieja among them.
After an engrossing morning of walking there will be a rather welcome break for lunch at an authentic Cuban Paladar. Here you can enjoy some fantastic Cuban hospitality and enjoy top-quality Cuban fayre cooked with love by Havana residents themselves. As well as offering authentic cuisine, paladares are also great places to unobtrusively people-watch. There’s a great deal of people watching to be done too, as you get to know the diverse cast list of people who make up this vibrant city.
After a morning of hitting the pavements of Old Havana, you’ll likely want to give you feet a rest for a while despite the compact nature of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its therefore the perfect time to climb aboard one of the rumbling, shapely classic cars that are so much part of the Havana landscape. The Convertible Classic Car Tour also gives you the chance to head out of Old Havana for perhaps the first time, and see the contrast with the newer parts of central Havana, Havana Vedado and the now faded grandeur of Miramar. We will also take you past the monumental mausoleums of Colon Cemetery, Revolution Square, and along the iconic Malecon promenade too.
Next you have the choice of one of three options:
- Enjoy a drink at the hotel Nacional in Havana Vedado, which has fantastic views of the Malecon at sunset.
- Take to the dance floor for a Salsa Lesson hosted by an experienced dance teacher and suitable for all levels.
- Hit a rooftop bar in Havana’s Old Town for a mojito making lesson. You’ll be taught how to make a classic Cuban rum cocktail while enjoying an unbeatable view over the rooftops of the city.
In the evening you will have some free time to make the most of Havana’s lively nightlife should you choose too. You can opt to do this independently, or your guide can act as your host. They will be able to recommend a range of options and organise tickets and transfers (paid for locally).
- Old Havana walking tour
- Lunch at an authentic Cuban Paladar
- A Tour of Havana in a convertible classic car
- 1 x drink at Hotel Nacional, Salsa Lesson, or Mojito Making Lesson
It’s time to make our way to the dramatic beauty of the Pinar del Rio province and the rural town of Viñales. A huge contrast to the streets of Havana, the unspoilt landscape is dotted with mogotes – the term used for steep rounded hills that erupt from the grasslands around them. This compact and authentic village is one of the most breath-taking spots in all of Cuba. In the heart of Cuba’s prime tobacco growing region, Viñales is deceptively industrious, and many of Cuba’s trademark cigars are made from tobacco that is grown here. Upon arrival you will have the chance to have a look around the township and experience the lively music and dance scene that Viñales unexpectedly excels in!
Ageless and authentic, Viñales remains the traditional farming community it always has been. This town is the perfect opportunity to experience an authentic slice of Cuban rural life. You’re certainly sure to notice the slower pace of life here than in Havana, for here its just as important to enjoy life to its fullest and have a long chat with the neighbours as it is to bring in the tobacco harvest.
The fertile soils around Viñales isn’t just good for tobacco (the fresh fruit here is simply delicious) and you can take full advantage of the many outdoor activities available to you in the fresh Viñales air.
To start the third day of your 9 day private Cuba tour, you’ll take the short detour to the fishing village of Jaimanitas, on the outskirts of Havana. Once an unassuming part of the capital, it has been utterly transformed by the artist-in-residence Jose Fuster. Fuster has turned not only his entire home, but also much of the surrounding neighbourhood, into an artwork using tiles in mosaic forms. This public art installation has lovingly become known as Fusterlandia and has now encompasses some 80 homes, all decorated with ornate murals and domes to reflect the personality of each of Fuster’s neighbours. Should you fancy putting your games skills to the test, Fusterlandia also includes a chess park with giant boards and tables, as well as a theatre and public swimming pools. Fuster’s art has become a cherished part of Cuban culture and arguably joins the rank of other public artworks such as that of Gaudi in Barcelona, in other words, art that has become a defining feature of the city.
Continuing on towards Viñales, you’ll first stop at the Los Jazmines look-out point, where you can admire Viñales and the wider lanscapes of Pinar del Rio province in all their splendour.
Easily tackled on foot thanks to its small size, your guide will lead you on a walking tour of the Vinales township and surrounding farmlands. Should you prefer, there is also the option of exploring the surrounding farmland by bicycle. You’ll get to visit the many different plantations of this farming region: manioc, arrowroot, sweet potato, tobacco, tomato, banana, mango and pineapple, to name just a few! Crossing between small private farms, you’ll be able to witness the farmers at work with their oxen, and explore their traditional cultivation methods. There is also the opportunity to taste delicious sugar cane juice mixed with grapefruit juice, known as guaratón.
You’ll have your lunch at an organic farm with stunning views of your surroundings. The farm in question, El Paraiso, is a slice of paradise in Viñales’s Valley of Silence. It’s part organic farm or finca and part family-run restaurant owned by Wilfredo and his daughters.
Four kilometres west of Viñales you will find the Mural de la Prehistoria, a 120 metre long brightly-coloured painting designed in 1961 by Leovigildo González Morillo, a follower of Mexican artist Diego Rivera. On a cliff at the foot of the 617 metre high Sierra de Viñales, the highest portion of the Sierra de los Órganos, this massive mural took 18 people four years to complete. The huge snail, dinosaurs, sea monsters and humans on the cliff symbolize the theory of evolution and certainly divide opinion evenly between the merits of the work.
As one of Cuba’s primary tobacco growing areas, you can’t visit Viñales without learning more about the process of making cigars – one of Cuba’s biggest export commodities (and a staple of life on the island to boot). As part of your 9 day private Cuba tour, you’ll therefore visit a tobacco plantation and see a fully operational secadero (or drying house) in which the harvested tobacco leaves are cured every February to May.
At the end of the day you will transfer back to Havana to overnight in the capital once more.
- Los Jazmines Look-out point
- Visit to Viñales Township
- Organic Farm Lunch
- Farmland guided walk or cycle
- Mural de la Prehistoria
- Tobacco Farm and drying house
Welcome to the beautiful surroundings of Las Terrazas and Soroa. This region has seen its fortunes ebb and flow. Once a lush wonderland of forest and waterfalls, logging took a huge toll on the area, before a project spearheaded by none other that Fidel Castro himself in the 1960s led to a restoration in its natural habitats to the extent that it is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
You will first have time to enjoy an orientation walk around the Las Terrazas Township, where you will almost certainly meet some of the friendly locals, and to able to admire the pretty San Juan mountain stream. Las Terrazas also boasts a number of art, woodwork, and pottery studios belonging to local artists that are open to the public.
Cafetal Buenavista is Cuba’s oldest (now partially restored) coffee plantation, built in 1801 by refugees from Haiti. Much of the property (such as the dormitories that housed the slaves who worked the plantation) is now in ruins, but this adds to its haunting quality, as you’ll discover when you visit for yourself as part of the Sendero las Delicias hike. The hike also takes in lush, green landscapes and brightly coloured houses that dot the area before the small village of Soroa. Often referred to as The Gate to The Garden of Eden, this picturesque village is the starting point for many hikes to the soaring Sierra del Rosario mountain range.
In an effort to accentuate the natural beauty of Soroa village, the Spanish landowner Thomás Felipe Camacho established some 700 different types of orchids to start an Orchid botanical garden, to add to the estimated 20,000 different plant and fern species endemic to the area. Your Day Four itinerary will then see you visit Salto Arco Iris, a magnificent waterfall that forms part of the River Manantiades. The great river churns through the rainforest before plunging 22 metres into an enclosed pool which is just perfect for a refreshing dip.
For those feeling adventurous, the Zip-line Canopy Tour in Las Terrazas is a rather more unique way of seeing the glories of the region. It consists of nearly 2km of aerial tour using steel cables to whiz above Las Terrazas’ fascinating scenery, aided by highly trained personnel and professional equipment. This activitiy is weather dependent and can be paid for locally as an add-on to your itinerary.
At the end of the day you will transfer back to Havana to overnight.
- Explore the Las Terrazas Township
- Visit Cafetal Buenavista
- Visit the Soroa Waterfall and Orchid garden
OPTIONAL AND AT ADDITIONAL EXPENSE (PAID LOCALLY)
- Zip Line Canopy Tour
This morning you can choose between a rum and cigar experience or a cooking class in the Cuban capital.
OPTION ONE – RUM AND CIGAR EXPERIENCE
Like cigar manufacture, rum is a quintessential part of life in Cuba, which is perhaps why the Havana Rum Museum is housed in a converted old palace. As well as learning all about the distillation of the spirit – born in Cuba – but you’ll also, naturally, get the chance to sample some of the finished product. You’ll then shift to Cuba’s other major export, cigars.
At the Partagas Cigar Factory the mystique behind cigar making will be revealed, allowing you to gain a sense of the significance of these beauties to the island nation. You will also witness first hand the amount of effort, care and tradition that goes into making these Cuban treasures. Enjoyable even as a non-smoker, there is none the less the chance to purchase the factories goods at the end of the tour.
OPTION TWO – COOKING CLASS
Alternatively, you can opt to spend the morning in a Casa Particular bed and breakfast for an authentic Cooking Class. Here is your opportunity to interact with the locals while preparing traditional Cuban dishes that can be enjoyed with a roof-top view of the city.
- A visit to a local market to source ingredients
- Demonstration and involvement in preparing local dishes
- Instruction on preparation of the Cuban mojito at the bar, followed by making your own version of this, one of Cuba’s 3 signature cocktails
This afternoon your have the option to choose one of three impressive museums to explore:
1.) For anyone interested in just how the Cuban revolution came about, Havana’s Museum of the Revolution is a must-see attraction. Even the building in which it’s housed has a story to tell since it was the pre-revolutionary Presidential Palace. After the government was overthrown in 1959 by rebels led by Castro and Che Guevara, the building became the site of the Government and the Council of Ministers until 1965, when it then acted as host to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba. In 1974, it was converted into the museum dedicated to the Cuban Revolution, and holds some of this period’s most important relics and exhibits.
2.) Alternatively, art lovers will undoubtedly be enthralled by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Arte Cubano). Within its hallowed gallery space you’ll find the crème de la crème of Cuban art proudly displayed. Works are positioned in chronological order, starting on the third floor, allowing you to understand the development of homegrown art across several centuries. Amongst others, you will see the works of Guillermo Collazo, considered to be the first truly great Cuban artist. There is also Rafael Blanco, with his cartoon-like paintings and sketches; along with Raúl Martínez, a master of 1960s Cuban pop art; and the Picasso-like Wifredo Lam.
3.) Your final option for this afternoon is to take the short drive to La Finca Vigía on the outskirts of Havana. ‘Lookout Farm’ was the island home of American author and Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway for some ten years, and it was here that he completed some of his most famous works. The Hemingway connection continues to Cojimar (14 kilometres from Havana), where the author was inspired to write The Old Man and the Sea about a Cuban fisherman battling with his catch. While in the area, you’ll be shown the statue of Hemingway, paid for by locals melting down anchors and other objects, and you’ll get to see the restaurant Las Terrazas, the preferred Cojimar hangout of the author and the late Captain of his boat (Pilar); Gregorio Fuentes.
Finally, whatever your other choices for the day, your itinerary includes a visit to the small psychedelic ‘alleyway’ of Callejon de Hamel. The centre of the city’s art movement, its a wonderful place to experience day-to-day Cuban life, albeit with an artistic twist. The art has quite literally spilled out of the studios and onto the street, and you’ll be able to see many of the resident artists at work.
In the evening you will have some free time to make the most of Havana’s lively nightlife. You can choose to do this independently, or your local guide will be available to host you. Your local guide will be able to recommend a range of options and organise tickets and transfers (paid for locally).
- Cigar and Rum Experience OR Booking Class
- Finca Vigia, the Museum of the Revolution, or the Museum of Fine Arts
- Callejon de Hamel
The city of Santa Clara played a pivotal role in the success of the Cuban Revolution – just twelve hours after he lost the battle here President Batista fled the country and Castro declared victory. Its no surprise then that Santa Clara has many sights celebrating the time, and has come to be called The City of the Heroic Guerrilla.
Although Santa Clara is an important commercial hub and home to one of Cuba’s largest universities (giving the whole town a youthful and energetic vibe), one of the city’s most visited sights is but is the mausoleum of Che Guevara, the man who led the revolutionary forces to final victorious in the city.
Santa Clara is a beautifully maintained city, and while its existence is hardly a secret, it’s not a place that all that many visitors to Cuba get to experience. Its history might be dark, but its present is bright.
The Che Guevara Mausoleum and Memorial was originally intended as a memorial rather than a mausoleum, since Guevara’s final resting place was a mystery when it was constructed. He was executed in Bolivia in 1967 while attempting to ignite revolution in the South American nation, and his body was placed in an unmarked grave beside a military landing strip. It remained there for some 30 years. Upon their discovery, Guevara’s remains were transferred with incredible pomp to Santa Clara and interred in the memorial that bore his name. The memorial also incorporates an interesting museum where you can learn about the role Guevara played in the success of the revolution.
Trinidad, meanwhile, was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez and is widely considered the best place outside the capital to get up close to Cuba’s colonial architecture. The town is sublimely beautiful and (much like Havana’s Old Town) the area has been maintained as a result of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the reasons that Trinidad has so many fine old buildings is the fact the city became rich on the sugar trade. During the early nineteenth century, Cuba was responsible for a staggering amount of the world’s total production of refined sugar, however these riches came off the back of slave labour. Thousands upon thousands of slaves worked in the network of sugar plantations in the Valle de los Ingenios outside of the city, an area now rich with the ruins and memories of this moment in history.
While its former key industry is but a distant memory (and this is obviously a good thing), Trinidad has slowly found a new identity, much of which is based upon the number of visitors who are drawn to its narrow streets and preserved colonial architecture. There is also a key drawcard for visitors some 12 kilometers away from the heart of the city. The white sands and placid azure waves of Playa Ancón is the cherry on the cake for Trinidad, and if this wasn’t enough, some 18 kilometres to the north the dramatic and dense Sierra del Escambray (Escambray Mountains) begin, offering a beguiling change of pace from the town and the beach.
On your guided walk of the Trinidad township you will come to understand why the term “living museum” is often utilised when it comes to describing this part of Cuba. It really is like time has stood still here. You will get to discover just what makes Trinidad so special, including Palacio Cantero, Canchanchara, Palacio Brunet, Plaza Mayor, Museo Romantico, and a pottery workshop among other sights.
Your time in Trinidad would not be complete without at least one evening sitting on the steps outside the open air Casa de la Musica. Every night the area beside the Cathedral in Plaza Mayor comes to life with a live salsa band. There is no cost (although tipping is generally encouraged), the drinks flow freely and inexpensively, and this all takes place under a beautiful, balmy, starry sky, for a truly authentic Cuban experience.
- Che Guevara Memorial
- Trinidad Guided Township walk
- Visit Casa la Musica for a fantastic evening of Cuban dance and music
Today you will have the opportunity to explore Trinidad and its surroundings further. You will have time to include two of the following three options (these options can be chosen while on tour, in consultation with your guide):
Option One – Explore the Valle de los Ingenios and Manaca Iznaga
The name of the area translates as the ‘Valley of the Sugar Mills’, and it was here that the bulk of Cuba’s sugar production took place, only coming to an end with the abolition of slavery in the country. As a result, the valley is the location for dozens of now abandoned sugar mills dating from the 1800s, alongside cramped slave quarters and much more spacious manor houses. One of the valley’s most impressive is Manaca Iznaga, an estate purchased in 1795 by Pedro Iznaga. It’s both deeply interesting and somewhat unsettling a visit.
Option Two – Explore the Sierra del Escambray Mountain Range
It wouldn’t be a valley without a border of mountains, and you might choose to venture into the rugged peaks of Topes de Collantes in the Sierra del Escambray mountain range, which runs for some 90 kilometres and are located just 20 kilometres from the centre of Trinidad. There are many ways to explore the Topes de Collantes, depending on your mobility and level of fitness. You will be able to consult with your guide to determine the best option for you.
The most popular options include:
- La Batata Trail (3km) to Casa de Café, Caves, underground rivers and a small waterfall and swimming pool. Not very physically demanding.
- Alfombra Mágico Trail to Finca Codina, a former coffee estate and orchid garden. Not very physically demanding.
- Centinelas del Río Melodioso Trail (3km) including coffee plantation, Río Melodioso (Melodic River) and El Rocío waterfall. Not very physically demanding.
- Salto Caburní trail (5 km) leads a 200-foot (62-m) waterfall with swimming hole. Medium level of difficulty. Physially demanding.
Option Three – Visit Playa Ancon
From the mountains to the sea, you might like to visit Playa Ancón, and feel that some white sand beneath your feet. Playa Ancon is one of the best loved beaches anywhere in Cuba, and is considered to be the best bar none on the island’s southern coastline. This white sand beach in the Sancti Spíritus region can be reached in less than 15 minutes by road from Trinidad, although many visitors prefer to opt to get there by bicycle – a journey of about 40 minutes dependent upon how many times you have to stop for photographs! There are some resorts right on the beach, but the area has certainly not been overdeveloped like elsewhere on the island. But if you’re craving an authentic beachside village, then we’ve got you covered. There is also the option to visit the sleepy old fishing port of Casilda, 6 kilometres due south of Trinidad, which offers a pace of life that is relaxed even by Cuban standards.
In the evening you will have some free time to make the most of Trinidad’s lively nightlife or relax with the sound of the waves. Like your other nights on your 9 day private Cuba tour, you can choose to do this independently, or your local guide will be available to host you.
You might wish to sample the delights of Palenque de los Congos Reales. A must for rumba fans, this open patio on Trinidad’s music alley has an eclectic menu incorporating salsa, son (Cuban popular music) and trova (traditional poetic singing). The highlight, however, is the 10pm rumba drums with soulful African rhythms and energetic fire-eating dancers. You might also be perfectly content to simply sit in Trinidad’s main plaza and watch the city life unfold around you.
Alternatively, you might like to head underground – 100 feet to be exact, to a natural cave-cum-nightclub. Disco Ayala, also known La Cueva, is as unique as they come – an unlikely union of Top 40 dance hits and stalactites sweeping down from the cave roof.
- Two options from
- Visit the Valley of the Sugar Mills
- Trek in the Sierra del Escambray
- Visit Playa Ancón
Today you will travel back to Havana via Cienfuegos.
While it was primarily the Spanish who settled Cuba, other European powers have also made their mark. In Cienfuegos, it was the French, and you’ll rapidly discover when wandering the grand boulevards of Parisian style architecture. Their founding of the city came about through dissatisfaction with French colonies elsewhere in the Americas (in particular Louisiana), and constructed was initiated in 1819 by Don Luis de Clouet, a high-ranking official in the French army. Cienfuegos managed to remain largely free of pirate attacks (although this was primarily a matter of chance) allowing the settlement to prosper unhindered into the city you see today.
Cienfuegos is regularly referred to as La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South). Your guide will lead you on a Cienfuegos guided city walk. You’ll explore the city’s street life, visit Parque Jose Marti, and enjoy a walk along the Malecón, the longest promenade on the island (and not to be confused with the Malecón which snakes along the waterfront in Havana). You’ll also take in the Palacio de Valle, which was built in 1917. Used for varying purposes throughout its more than 100 years in existence, the Palacio de Valle is now an (aspiring) upscale restaurant with an inviting terrace bar.
Your walk will include observing the Terry Theatre, Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción (a church with supremely beautiful stained glass work), Ferrer ́s Palace, the former City Hall, and the city’s triumphal arch – the only such arch in Cuba (another nod to the French influences in the city). You will also have some time to walk along the boulevard and visit Punta Gorda (the aristocratic quarter of the city in the early 1900s), and Hotel Jagua. “Cienfuegos is the city I like the best”, wrote Benny Moré, one of Cuba’s most important musicians in the first half of the 20th century. You’ll soon see why!
Next your 9 day private Cuba tour will continue to the beautiful Zapata Peninsula, in order to visit Playa Girón and the infamous Bay of Pigs, long associated with the USA’s first military failure in Latin America.
In April 1961 it was the scene of another botched raid, the ill-fated, CIA-sponsored invasion that tried to land on these remote sandy beaches in one of modern history’s classic David-and-Goliath struggles. Lest we forget, there are still plenty of propaganda-spouting billboards dotted around retelling past glories. The Giron museum tells of the history of the region and its importance in recent Cuban history.
The natural beauty of this area, both above and below the waves, makes it a must for snorkelers, divers and those who simply love to gaze out across magnificent seascapes. Notorious as the place where the Cold War almost got hot, the beach is actually named for a French pirate, Gilbert Girón, who met his end here by decapitation in the early 1600s at the hands of these embittered locals.
After some time spend exploring the Zapata Peninsula, it’s time to make your way back to Havana.
- Cienfuegos Guided City Walk
Swim/ Snorkel at the Bay of Pigs and a visit to the local museum there
Today is your final day of your 9 day private Cuba tour, with no activities planned. Your guide will be available to recommend and organise any optional activities you might still have time for (and host you if required).
When it is time, you will say a fond farewell to your guide and we will organise your transfer to the airport.
- Airport Transfer
Your 9 Day Private Cuba Tour includes being picked up at Havana’s José Martí International Airport and delivered to your accommodation in the city. Your transfer back to Havana airport on your departure is also included.
Your evenings in Havana:
For your evenings, we leave the itinerary flexible. You guide will be able to organise you transfers and tickets to the best of Havana’s nightlife including the Tropicana Cabaret, world-famous Buena Vista Social Club at La Taberna, Parisien Cabaret at Hotel Nacional, Cannon Shooting Ceremony, Gran Teatro Habana, and Vixen and Crow Jazz Café to name just a few. You can learn more about the evening options available to you by downloading our ‘Things To Do in Havana Brochure here.
Not quite what you looking for?
Please note that it is possible to modify the activities and excursions included as part of this tour. For more ideas about what you might like to do in Havana during the day and in your evenings, please download our ‘Things To do in Havana’ brochure here.
As an alternative we can instead create a tailor-made Cuba tour experience for you?
A note about our restaurant choices for your tour:
We like to include a range of different restaurants (paladares) that showcase the best of Havana’s burgeoning private restaurant scene. Your guide will also help select the best restaurants for the tour based on consultation about your tastes and dietary requirements. Some of our favourite restaurants in Havana include Mercaderes, Café Laurent, O’Reilly 304, Alta Habana, Vista Mar, El Cocinero and El Atelier.
Accommodation on tour:
The upgraded Casa’s we have hand selected are more expensive than the standard Casa’s you will find in Cuba. They are run more like your traditional B&B’s but still offer a unique cultural experience. While they shouldn’t be compared to modern Western hotels, the rooms will have air-conditioning, private en suite facilities, hot and cold water and have generally been recently renovated to a beautiful standard.
Cuba’s accommodation is very special. Until recent regulatory changes, it wasn’t possible to stay anywhere but a government owned and run hotel. But all that has now changed and a growing number of casas particulares, bed and breakfasts owned and run by ordinary families rather than the government, are opening up.
This change allows visitors to stay in a more welcoming environment than most hotels are able to offer. You’ll have privacy while still being able to interact with the locals as much as you want. You will truly be made to feel welcome, and might just forget that you’re a paying guest and not a long lost member of the family.
Some of our preferred Boutique Casa’s/B&B’s in Havana, Vinales and Trinidad include:
- Casa Alta Habana
- Hostal San Juan
- Casa Maletas
- My Proud Havana
- Havana Dreams
- Casa Naveda
- Casa Mis Cumbres
- Casa Vivien y Pablo
- Casa Osmary Alberto
Not sold on staying at a Casa?
That’s OK, we can certainly look to upgrade your accommodation to 4* or 5* properties, depending on your budget. It is worth noting some accommodation providers are to be found in older buildings without elevators. If you believe that your physical capabilities will make it difficult to climb stairs, simply let us know. We will be able to find you a suitable alternative.