Dreaming of Cuba
9 days & 8 Night Program
This Hasta Cuba program focuses on showcasing the magic that Cuba has to offer with visits to the most iconic cities on the island. The journey begins and ends in the cultural epicenter of Havana Vieja.
The juxtaposition between old and new Cuba, is no more obvious than in Havana. The historical center is receiving a facelift with the renovation of ancient buildings and an explosion of innovation at private restaurants and bars. This program allows for a rare glimpse into the rich Cuban culture with visits to both historical sites, such as the Fortress of San Carlos, and the exciting new private sector, such as the Fabrica de Arte Cubano.
Discover the change in different cultural regions of the country beginning with a trip into Cuba’s tobacco growing region and UNESCO world heritage site in the Viñales Valley. This is a lush green countryside that is still deeply connected to its agricultural roots.
Dive deeper into Cuba’s history with visits of Cienfuegos & Trinidad in the southern part of the island. Cienfuegos is unique to the island with a notable French influence particularly in its architecture. Trinidad’s old town has been perfectly maintained and allows for the imagination to work as you walk amongst vibrant antique buildings with the sound of horse hooves on old cobblestone streets.
In This 9-Day Journey You Will Experience:
Easy transportation starting with an airport shuttle, and local transportation to all of the week’s riveting activities. Enjoy the variety of transportation methods such as classic cars or bici-taxis, as you cruise around the bustling city of Havana and the vibrant surrounding areas.
Comfort of home as every guest gets set up with a private room at a casa particular, which is a Cuban homestay. You will share the house with a caring host who is readily available to help.
Authentic meals start each morning with delicious breakfasts made at your casa particular and other meals featuring Cuban specialties such as “Ropa Vieja,” a slow cooked beef stew and a fresh seafood dish in a coastal town.
Experienced English speaking travel guides who will share their favorite sights and activities while providing insight into Cuban history and lifestyle.
Nights full of excitement at some of Cuba’s best venues including an exceptional performance of The Buena Vista Social Club and a night of dancing at the Casa de la Musica in Trinidad.
Exploration of the country including a journey to the stunning city of Vinales in the heart of a lush landscape famous for the cultivation of Tobacco and a day at the beautiful beaches of Playa Ancon.
As with any great journey the beginning takes place in an airport. Jose Marti International Airport is relatively small and located just outside of Havana. It is here that one of the Hasta Cuba guides will be eagerly awaiting you with a smile.
Hop into the cab and let the journey begin. Your guide will take you to the heart of Havana Vieja, the historic downtown, to your casa particular (Private Home). The casa particular is the ideal base for any trip to Havana located just walking distance from the Plaza Vieja & Paseo del Prado, where you can aimlessly walk around and take in the sights. Spend the afternoon familiarizing yourself with the host and the colorful neighborhood.
This evening is the welcome dinner, which will take place at a privately owned restaurant known as a paladar. The paladar is a recent development in Cuba and has allowed for a culinary explosion of innovation and tastes. Dinner provides an opportunity to get to know the rest of the group, the trip leader, and ask any pending questions. An itinerary and map will be provided, which will contain a more detailed schedule of the week ahead.
Every morning starts with breakfast prepared by your host and fresh Cuban coffee. After breakfast head out for a walking tour of Havana Vieja led by a Hasta Cuba guide. Every guide has had years of experience and is knowledgeable about the area. Havana Vieja has been the heart of Havana since the 16th Century and is known for its ancient buildings many of which have been renovated and boast brilliant colors. A large portion of this neighborhood is inhabited by local Cubans. Everyday life will be buzzing all around as you navigate the busy streets. You may pop into local favorites like a farmer’s market or a government owned pharmacy.
In order to get a better perspective of the city, you will climb to the top of the early 20th-century Edificio Gómez Vila—the Plaza Vieja’s tallest building (35 meters/115 feet) and take a look at a Camera Obscura. This is a 360-degree real time view of Havana that is projected in a dark room. The Camera Obscura is based off of Da Vinci’s original design and is the only one in Latin America.
After strolling the historic streets, lunch will be served at a traditional Cuban restaurant. Since El Bloqueo, importation has been extremely limited, making nearly all restaurants “farm-to-table” and will generally feature seasonal specialties. No matter what dish you select, rice and beans will most likely accompany it. Rice and beans are most commonly served by being mixed together in an iconic dish called “Moros y Cristianos” (Christians & Moors).
With a better perspective of the city and a full belly, take the afternoon to explore on your own! Get lost while meandering the interwoven streets and checking out the countless unique shops and plazas. However, don’t get lost for too long because in the evening you are in for a treat.
On the other side of Havana’s Harbor, you will witness the Cannon Ceremony at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana. The ceremony is in remembrance of a tradition from Cuba’s days as a Spanish colony. The fortress is rich in Cuban history and has many rooms filled with photos depicting its history.
After a ride back to Havana Vieja you will have time to check out one of the trip leader’s favorite restaurants or bars.
Get an early start and prepare for an exciting journey to the Viñales Valley, which has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a stunning drive along winding mountain roads with a stop at the Mirador de los Jazmines that offers an iconic view of the valley and its unique Mogotes (steep, isolated hills).
At the base of the valley you will climb down into a cave system and explore its pathways while maneuvering around stalactites and stalagmites and the end of the path you will jump on a small motor boat to exit the cave through an underground waterway.
After a morning of exploration, a quality meal is in order and we have just the place in mind. Savor a delicious meal at the base of a Mogote in a family business that has been serving visitors for years. The cuisine is heavily influenced by the tropical climate and will feature an assortment of fruits & roots that will not disappoint.
The city of Viñales has been wonderfully preserved and is known for its single story houses with porches that are painted with every color imaginable. Settle down in one of these lovely houses and enjoy a nice break from the fast pace of Havana.
Viñales is deeply rooted in its agricultural traditions that derive from the landscape of the verdant, green valley, and prominent Tobacco industry. Tap into local culture and get to know the valley by horseback. Head to a stable and meet the tour guide and equestrian companion for the day.
Follow the guide and navigate farmlands under the prominent Mogotes and admire the steep walls as you head deeper into the heart of the valley. The guide will share his views on the history of the region, focusing not only on the local population, but also the diverse flora and fauna.
No trip to Viñales would be complete without a stop at one of its world-renowned Tobacco plantations. This family farm has been growing tobacco and producing some of the highest quality cigars known as (Puros) for generations. Witness the artfully crafted process of hand rolled cigars from seed-to-smoke.
Load back into the van after an eventful morning of exploration to traverse the island to the city of Cienfuegos. The drive will take the remainder of the afternoon and will cross Cuba’s main Highway that bisects the island. This is a beautiful drive with views of the countryside with old farms and Tobacco fields lining the route. Cienfuegos was settled by the French in the 1800’s and the colonial influence is still apparent today.
Dinner will be served at the casa particular upon arrival in Cienfuegos and will leave you enough time to shower, change, and head out on the town.
The influence of the French will become quite apparent as you explore the city and see the architecture and wide boulevards that will leave you with the false sense of being in Paris in the 1950’s. However, it is not just the architecture that makes Cienfuegos such a unique city, but the natural geography. Cienfuegos is located on one of the most spectacular bays on the island and has deep ties to the nautical lifestyle.
A guide will provide a better understanding of the history of the city while walking the streets in a personalized tour, with stops at Cienfuegos’ most notable sights such as the Palacio del Valle; this is one of the many French style mansions that line the Punta Gorda (thin peninsula that juts into the bay). Like most colonial cities, Cienfuegos has a large square that has hosted some of the island's most historical speeches and gatherings.
There are countless museums and restaurants in the area to get a closer look during some free time in the afternoon.
The journey continues to the neighboring city of Trinidad. Trinidad has been so incredibly preserved in its original Colonial style, it was officially declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1988 and has maintained its enchanting presence. Find yourself at home in one of its many 200 year old houses with a local host and a homemade meal.
Trinidad is one of the most culturally rich cities on the island and true to Cuban nature, salsa is at its soul. A visit to the Casa de la Musica just outside of the Plaza Mayor will refresh the daydreams of Cuba from years before. The beat of the drums and the sound of dancing along with fast flowing mojitos will turn this daydream into a lasting memory.
Trinidad has the ability to provide the sense of time travel with the morning sounds of church bells in the distance and of the horse hooves beating against cobblestone streets. It will be hard to believe that you are in the 21st century. Trinidad’s historic old town was designed for walking and that is what you will do.
The guide will lead you through the sun beat streets to get a glimpse into the life of the colonial times. A visit to the Museo de Arquitectura will provide a better understanding of the different time periods that have influenced the city and the island as a whole.
By following your nose, you can choose from one of the many restaurants that are tucked away on side streets and indulge in an authentic meal that is unique to the southern part of the island.
The rest of the afternoon can be spent basking in the Caribbean sun and admiring the stunning blues of the sea. Playa Ancon is located just a short drive from Trinidad and is known as the most beautiful white sand beach on the South coast.
Let your inner adventurer take hold and explore Trinidad independently. Of course the guide will be happy to provide some ideas, but it is always exciting to see what you will find on your own!
A final breakfast on the road will be served at the casa particular before making the journey back to Havana. Remember, this is your trip, if anything looks interesting feel free to ask to stop, whether it is a picture of an old church or for some ice cream.
Once back in Havana there will be free time to settle in to the casa particular again. Havana and classic cars have become nearly synonymous. Throughout the trip you will see a myriad of old Fords, Buick convertibles, and countless other classic cars dating between 50 and 70 years old. The evening will begin in the iconic fashion with a tour of Havana in the most desirable mode of transportation.
A cruise around the city will highlight the neighborhoods of Vedado, Miramar, and even a provide a peek into Havana’s urban forest. Finish off the cruise with one of the most breathtaking views of the city at El Mirador del Cristo de la Bahia. The tour will provide a new understanding of Havana’s more vibrant neighborhoods and lead into a night full of excitement.
The special performance of the Buena Vista Social Club is a world famous act based on some of Cuba’s most influential musicians. Dinner and cocktails will be included!!
After a long night of dancing, a nice hearty breakfast accompanied by fresh squeezed juice is in order. Take the morning to rejuvenate before making your way over to view the greatest collection of Cuban art at the Museum of Fine Arts. Stroll through time as the guide shows you magnificent pieces ranging from the Colonial Era to the finest contemporary works around.
The art and culture tour continues as you hop on a bici-taxi and are whisked across town to check out Central Havana with a visit to Callejon de Hamel. With its funky street murals and psychedelic art shops, Callejon is known as the heart of the rumba.
No trip to Cuba would be complete without a tour of the Rum Museum. The guide will explain what makes Cuban rum so special and if you are lucky, you might be able to try some of the delicious Havana Club 7-Year.
Head back into the heart of Havana to peruse San Jose market, the city's largest art market. Located in Old Havana, you can enjoy an independent lunch and wander the market. There is so much to see, be prepared to stop at every booth. This is the best chance to pick up gifts of local art, crafts, and clothing at the lowest price. You will have the rest of the afternoon to check off any of the remaining activities for your last full day in Havana.
Dinner will take place this evening as a final outing for your group. Enjoy this meal and share stories of the trip. Drink some of your last Mojitos and smoke one of the freshly hand rolled Cubanos from the valley.
The timing on this day will vary by guest, but breakfast will be provided at your casa particular. Your trip leader will make sure the transportation is set to get you to the airport 3 hours before your flight.
If this program leaves you wanting more, feel free to ask about different options for extending the trip including housing and activities!
Services that are included in this trip
Daily homemade breakfasts
Variety of lunches (3)
Family style dinners (4)
Private tour guide, dance instructor, and program leader
2 nightlife activities (Buena Vista Social Club & Casa de la Música)
Entrance free to museums & historical sites
Classic car tour & bike tour
All transportation to and from Airport, along with trips to surrounding cities of Viñales, Cienfuegos and Trinidad
What is not included
After you make your reservation with us, we will give you detailed instructions in the preparations required for the trip, (e.g. how to obtain a visa, etc.)