The best of Cuban live music, dancing, bird-watching, UNESCO World Heritage sites, waterfalls, ocean views, Cuban food, architecture, and Cuban friends await you on this phenomenal tour!
Cost: $2695 (market value $5195)
*Early Bird registrations 4 months prior to departure receive $200 discount
Our Relaxed Pace tour takes you to all of the magnificent sights, sounds, and experiences of the EPIC tour, with less hiking, more rides in pedicabs, more rooms on the ground floor level, and dinners scheduled closer to 7 pm (rather than 8 or 9 pm).
What is included:
Travel licenses, mandatory Cuban health insurance, and visas
A bilingual Cuban guide
9 nights in Cuban Bed and Breakfasts (casa particulares)
17 meals and private, air-conditioned ground transportation
Bottled water always available
Curious About Cuba educational program (two 4 hour sessions of instruction provided before the trip) optional
Deposit: $500 to reserve your spot
Payment 1: $1098 payment
Payment 2: $1097 payment (+$500 for a single room)
Flight costs are on your own. Flights FL/Cuba will be reserved for you so the group arrives together (these will be purchased 8-12 weeks before departure)
The purpose of this itinerary is to give you an idea of the types of activities you will engage in during the tour, however, it may change based on factors such as availability, weather, and to take advantage of spontaneous activities and events.
Day 1: Flight to Havana (most often booked on American Airlines when departing Denver). Upon arrival and clearing customs we will be greeted at the airport by our guide. He’ll take us to our B&B accommodations (casa particulares) in Central Havana.
We will go out for dinner and a first glance at the city. Maybe even take a walk on the Malecón to enjoy the ocean breezes and see El Morro fortress at night across the bay. Meals: Dinner
Day 2: Havana
Wear your walking shoes for this day! We start with a visit to Fusterlandia in the fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into an outdoor art gallery using tiles in mosaic forms. A Havana driving tour in classic cars will take you to the forest of Havana, the famous Revolutionary Square, and through the gorgeous historic embassy neighborhoods.
The activities will be followed by lunch and a mini-walking tour of Old Havana City, gorgeous architecture and plazas. In the late afternoon, we will return to our casa particulares for free time. Dinner is on your own, but nearby suggestions will be available. We will have the option of heading to the Morro Fortress for the 9 pm cannon blast and colonial soldiers. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3: Viñales via Soroa (2 hours driving with stops)
Say goodbye to the big city as we head to Viñales. Viñales is one of the most scenic areas of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (called mogotes) in the tobacco-growing area of Cuba. On the way to Viñales we will visit Soroa, a botanical garden with amazing orchids that have been brought from China. (Wear your bug spray or long sleeves.)
Arriving in Viñales, we will settle into our casas and take a walking tour of the town, which has one main road and is a very small but beautiful place. It’s not hard to see why this was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site!
In the early evening, we will take a salsa class, which is always fun regardless of your level. After dinner, you can head to the local plaza where the outdoor disco gets going every night at 9 pm. They feature live bands, dance performances, and drinks to give you a flavor of Cuban nightlife. This venue often packs out with people, both Cubans, and visitors. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Viñales
Today we spend the morning learning the tradition of tobacco cultivation from a farmer and expert cigar maker. Get an insight as to how the communist business systems work, how much tobacco they will keep, how much produce they give back to the government, and how they make ends meet! The plantation tour includes walking through banana and plantain groves and meeting local Cubans.
On our return, we will have free time to wander the town and eat at lunch, go the casas for rest time, or perhaps take the bus to see the mountainside murals or a boat ride through the limestone caves.
In the late afternoon we will tour an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here we will meet with a local farmer and his family who will show us around the organic farm and explain to us the methods used to cultivate crops without the use of pesticides. With the beautiful sunset as our backdrop, we will enjoy a deliciously fresh and diverse meal prepared by the family, a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience! Meals: Breakfast
This is a road trip day with great stops and changing scenery. On the route to Playa Girón we will stop in the very small (but special) town of Palpite. We will visit an ornithologist who is famous for the Bee Hummingbirds that frequent his backyard. Take pictures of the birds and learn the habits of the world’s smallest bird, which resides only in Cuba! We will also meet young Cuban dancers, artists, and musicians at the school for the arts, Korimacao. Enjoy a generous lunch of local foods, before heading back to the bus.
Our next stop is a roadside spot popular for swimming/snorkeling and its birds. Dip your toes in a sinkhole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank, or in the ocean.
From there we will drive on the Playa Girón, home of the Bay of Pigs Museum. Learn about the conflict that happened right here between the U.S.-supported Cubans and locals in 1961, with perspectives from the Cuban government. The museum is small, so after the short tour, we will check in to our casa particulares. There will be time for shower and rest before dinner together in a paladar at the ocean-side town. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Trinidad (2 hours driving)
After breakfast at our casa particulares, we will drive on to Cienfuegos, a city of 400,000 people. There we will explore the seaside city and its french architecture. You are likely to see a quinceañera photo session in the main plaza. Palacio del Valle is an architectural treat, and admission includes a mojito or coke for your refreshment. When cruise ships were able to travel legally from the U.S. (2016-2019), Cienfuegos was a popular port city.
After lunch, we will take the one hour drive to the heart of sugar mills, Trinidad.
Trinidad is a cozy, bustling town of Cubans and tourists, with French and Spanish inspired architecture, stories of slave trade and wealth in the south of Cuba. Roger will give us a short walking tour to get our bearings and learn the stories of the 500-year-old town. Trinidad’s cobblestone can be brutal on your feet, be sure to have thick-soled walking shoes. You are welcome to hire a pedicab to drive you through the streets of Trinidad when your feet grow weary.
Are you a night owl? After dinner, stay up late tonight! Nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and free dance performances in the town square. You will have the chance to see Afro-Cuban folkloric dances performed in one of the many plazas. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Trinidad is home to many talented artists, including Lazaro Niebla, who uses antique window panels to carve portraits (see picture). Visit some of the galleries or go on your own and take a pedicab/taxi to explore the historic town.
Enjoy lunch in a local paladar and head out to the beach, where there are umbrellas, lounge chairs, and lovely soft sand. In the evening, dinner is on your own followed by live music at the outdoor amphitheater, the hub of the action in Trinidad. Meals: Breakfast
Day 8: Travel from Trinidad to Havana (5-hour drive with stops)
Settle in for a drive through the mountains and see the varied landscape en route to Havana. We will visit a farmer’s house and learn about rural life far away from the cities, as well as have an opportunity to take a dip in a nearby waterfall. We will stop in Santa Clara and explore the Che Guevarra memorial. Arriving in Havana in the late afternoon, there is time to take a few pictures at sunset or grab a nap before heading to dinner.
This is a great night to check out some of Havana’s historic bars (many of which were Hemingway’s favorites). Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
For our last day full day in Cuba, there are some great places to visit in Havana. We will start the day at the nation’s capital for a tour (when available, admission is based on congressional meetings), then see the train station and the areas of Old Havana (perhaps rum and cigar museums) that you didn’t see when you first arrived. After lunch, our guide will take you on a tour of the National Museum of the Revolution or the National Art Museum (right next door). If you need some free time to explore old Havana on your own, this is a great time to do it (just take a cab back to the casa, our guide will tell you how).
Be sure to take time to rest up and shower for tonight! We will go out for a special goodbye dinner and last nighttime view of Havana. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Havana and Departure
Depending on flight times, you’ll be able to take photos, walk the malecon, or take a pedicab ride. Your driver will take you to the airport 2-3 hours prior to departure. Meals: Breakfast
We hope you return to the island again soon!