Tour introduction and overview of activities

Explore the heart and soul of the Cuban revolution and the dynamic society and culture it has brought into existence.

All are warmly welcomed to participate. A special feature of the tour is the presence of American veterans and supporters who have fought in foreign wars and returned home to advocate for peace.

On this tour you’ll witness Cuban culture at its best. We’ll visit historic Old Havana and learn about its 500 year history. You see amazing art, hear incredible music, and experience the Cuban countryside and nature at its best. Most meals are included featuring Cuban and international cuisine. And you have time to explore on your own.

RyersonJim Ryerson is a Los Angeles-based author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. His articles and editorials on Cuba have appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and other prestigious journals. Jim’s anthology “Swimming to Guantanamo” features stories from his thirty plus trips to Cuba spanning 20 years. He’s been cultivating cultural connections with Cuba’s art, music and culture community for years, and has lived with islanders in their homes during his sojourns. Jim is eager to share his two decades of intimate experiences with everyday Cubans with you.

Going to Cuba has never been more convenient and less expensive.

With daily non-stop flight from cities around the country, no matter where you live, you can join us in Havana and start your Cuban adventure. And because these are scheduled flights on American carriers, not charters, the round trip is less than half of what it cost just a couple of months ago.

Here is what Jim has to say about the new tours.

I’m very excited to be working with my partners at Cuba Explorer to offer these new tours. I’ve taken the best elements of my 7-8 day trips, and created an action and educational filled week with music, dancing, art, great food, history, and most of all, the incredible Cuban people.

Although the itinerary is full of great things to see, hear, and eat, we allow for free time for you to explore on your own. This has proven very popular with those who have travelled with me earlier. Cuba is the safest country I’ve visited, with violent crime virtually non-existent. If you want a longer stay, we can arrange for accommodations in a private home after the 5 Day tour is finished. In March of 2016, 2 of my tour members were able to extend their trip and see the Obama’s and the Rolling Stones. I encourage you to see what those who have traveled with me have to say.

We will also meet with ordinary Cubans, military veterans and health care workers who will explain their role in their society, and their desire to live in peace with the United States. I warmly invite you, your friends and family to join us on an upcoming tour to this magical island.


Los Angeles, California

Email me for specific questions about this tour. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tour map

Cuba’s big! Its land mass is 42,426 square miles – about 80 percent the size of Alabama. Cuba is nearly as large as Louisiana, and larger than Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio or Indiana. Altogether it’s bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Itinerary summary

Day 1 – Tuesday :: Arrival and hello Cuba

  • Arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Collect your bags and go through customs. You’re welcomed at the airport lobby by your Cuba Explorer Tours guide and professional bus chauffeur
  • Meet your tour organizer Jim Ryerson
  • Private transfer to your hotel located in Havana
  • Private check-in with assistance from your guide
  • Free time to settle in and rest up at your hotel
  • This evening you’ll enjoy a group welcome dinner with your Cuban guide and Jim Ryerson at Mediterraneo Havana, (included)
  • Your tour organizer will suggest places for music and dancing for those who wish to go out

Day 2 – Wednesday :: Exploring Old Havana

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • Followed by a walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll visit four of the five historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. This is a private tour led by your Cuba Explorer Tours guide
  • Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana built by the Jesuit order
    • Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
    • Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City
    • Palacio del Segundo Cabo [Palace of the Second Lieutenant] dates from 1770. Today it houses the Instituto Cubano del Libro [Cuban Book Institute] and the Galería Raúl Martínez (famed poster artist)
    • Museo de Artesanía at Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest remaining fortress built by the Spaniards in the West Indies. Today houses the National Museum of Ceramics displaying objects of the most prestigious Cuban artists from the middle of the last century to present. The institution is host to the Cuban Ceramics Bienal
  • We continue onto San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture
  • And then on to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings, and is in contrast surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences. We’ll visit an important center for the visual arts
  • Visit The Museum of the Revolution. The Museum of the Revolution is a museum located in the Old Havana section of Havana. The museum is housed in what was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Cuban revolution
  • Lunch at El Zaguan restaurant(included)
  • Tour of Obispo Street. Shopping and music led by Jim Ryerson
  • Return to hotel
  • Dinner at El Templete restaurant (included)
  • EVENING HIGHLIGHT: We witness a most dramatic ceremony – El Cañonazo – the Firing of the 9PM Cannon at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. This enchanting colonial reenactment dates back to 1519 when the city of Havana was enclosed by a tall thick rock wall to ward off attacks from pirates and the English. The cannon firing signaled the closing of the city gates for the night. If you were outside at the time, you were in "vedado" or the forbidden zone. Today Vedado is an important cultural hub and beautiful section of modern Havana

Day 3 – Thursday :: Urban farm and Hemingway

  • Breakfast at hotel (included)
  • We'll visit the UBPC Vivero Organopónico Alamar, 15 km (9.3 miles) east of Havana. It's one of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba raising ornamental plants, medicinal herbs, and millions of seedlings for neighboring residential and collective farms. Established in the early 1990s, the Alamar cooperative has over 20 members and provides a range of healthy, organic vegetables to the community. Produce is raised employing the practice of permaculture: no chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, natural biological methods are used to nourish the soil, frustrate pests and conserve water. The result is an increased rate of yield and reduced costs
  • TOUR HIGHLIGHT: Lunch prepared by private restaurant El Ajiaco, included
  • Visit Cojímar, small fishing Village one of Hemingway’s favorite’s places
  • Visit Finca La Vigía (House and farm of Ernest Hemingway Museum)
  • Return to hotel
  • Dinner not included
  • Evening is free. Jim Ryerson will provide reccomendations for places to eat, and where to enjoy the fabulous Havana night life

Day 4 – Friday :: Cuba today, community projects and arts

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • In Hotel Florida, morning presentation on “Cuba Today” by University of Havana professor Camilo García López-Trigo
  • Visit cultural project La Lavanderia, a group of renown Cuban artists and painters have joined efforts in restoring an old laundromat building and turned it into a workshop/gallery where they can create and exhibit their work
  • We'll feast on a delicious lunch hosted by José Fuster, one of Cuba's most important ceramists and painters at his whimsical studio in Jaimanitas, just outside of Havana
  • Visit the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, which exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to contemporary generations. Its first director and well-known architect, Emilio Heredia, founded it in 1913. After frequent moves it was finally placed on the block once occupied by the old Colon Market. In 1954, a new Palacio of Bellas Artes was opened. The original Palace was recently reconstructed and a second building was taken over for the Museum
  • Free afternoon to explore the city
  • Return to hotel
  • Enjoy a panoramic ride in old convertible cars to your farewell dinner at Rio Mar Restaurant. (Included in tour cost)

Day 5 – Saturday :: Havana and home

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • Check-out of hotel
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport for flights home
Cuba travel is a challenge. Our staff and Cuban partners work super hard to make your tour unfold seamlessly despite Third World conditions on the island. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Flexible travelers understand this is part of their Cuban adventure.

Included in tour cost

Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
  • All taxes. Prices listed are the total amounts you pay. All amounts are quoted in US dollars
  • Airport transfers: We meet you at José Martí Int’l Airport in Havana and take you to your hotel upon arrival. We return you to José Martí Airport for departure
  • Hotels as listed in tour itinerary or similar
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary
  • All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included in cost.”
  • Modern air-conditioned bus and professional chauffeur
  • Bottled water on bus
  • An expert Cuban English-speaking guide and translator whose background matches tour content throughout the program
  • Ongoing support from Cuba Education and Explorer Tours staff in Norteamerica, Canada and Cuba before, during and after your stay
  • Emergency collect call access to our North American staff while in Cuba
  • Emergency cash advances for our tour participants who face complications accessing funds from aboard while in Cuba

Not included in cost