Tour introduction and overview of activities

Many Americans know Ernest Hemingway called Havana the “Paris of the Americas,” but few know royalty, celebrities and poets describe Cuba’s Varadero as “la playa más linda del mundo” [the world’s most beautiful beach].

Now Americans can relish the warm blue Caribbean Sea and white sand beaches of enchanting Varadero on this legal people-to-people tour.

You’ll get to know authentic life in magical Havana – night and day – and spend the rest of your holiday at the hotel. It ranks tops on TripAdvisor and Google. It’s all-inclusive. That means all meals free in lavish buffets and gourmet restaurants, including snacks and drinks 24 hours a day. Access to pools, recreational facilities, evening entertainment, shops and much more are there for you to enjoy.

In Havana, reminiscent of the great European capitals, you’ll stay in the historic Hotel Habana Libre. This monument to 1950s modernism was built by the grandfather of socialite Paris Hilton and was called the Havana Hilton up until the Revolution. Centrally located and safe, this landmark has hosted thousands of global personalities since 1958. It’s just blocks from the romantic Malecón seawall and much of the city’s pulsating nightlife.

Cuba receives four million international guests a year. Most stay on the island’s incredible beaches. This tour – for the first time – allows Americans to experience Varadero beach, what so many in other countries consider to be a little piece of Eden.

This sojourn offers the best of both: Havana with its historic charm and sophisticated culture, art and music, plus Varadero with its stunning natural surroundings. If you’re a foodie this tour includes all meals at tasty top ranked private restaurants.

Check out the many activities featured on this upscale yet economical Cuban adventure!

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 – Saturday :: Arrival and hello Cuba

  • Arrivals at Havana’s José Martí International Airport
  • Collect your luggage and proceed through Cuban customs to the arrivals lobby
  • Our airport concierge or your tour guide will arrange tour bus or private taxi transfers from the airport to your hotel (included)
  • Consider purchasing Cuban Convertible Pesos at the airport exchange bureau (CADECA), or later at your hotel
  • Your hotel check-in is pre-arranged, you simply present your passport
  • Time at hotel to settle in and freshen up
  • Welcome dinner at Restaurant Bar Mediterraneo Havana. This eatery enjoys a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, International Quality Crown Award London 2015, and the Latin American Quality Award 2016. It’s award winning chef describes his cuisine as, "authentic farm-and-sea-to-table delights, always fresh and natural." We know you’ll like our organic first choice
  • We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment happenings

Day 2 – Sunday :: Havana, shopping and a cannon blast

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • Get ready for city tour in 1950s American vintage cars. We’ll see many of Havana’s most important sites as the Capitol building, the Grand Theatre, Central Park, Prado promenade, Revolution Square, Coppelia Ice Cream Park, Plaza José Martí (in front of US Embassy), Malecón seawall, Monument to the Battleship Maine, Hotel Nacional, University of Havana, Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, and the Central Havana and Vedado neighborhoods
  • Followed by a private walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll visit four historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. Together they contain the largest collection of remaining Spanish colonial-era architecture in the world
  • Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture, Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana was 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
  • 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
  • On to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings. The plaza is surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences
  • Lunch today: With the double invocation of one of the most emblematic drinks of Cuba, this space wants to stay in the gastronomic memory of its clients. Specializing in paellas and seafood dishes, Mojito-Mojito invites you to spend a pleasant time marked by the wide and varied cocktails, but above all, by the distinctive taste of its essence
  • Visit Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Depósito San José. This marvelous restoration of an old dock warehouse has resulted in a gigantic market fair exhibiting the wares of hundreds of Cuban artists and crafts workers. It’s an amazing shopping opportunity for memorable Cuban gifts and souvenirs
  • Return to hotel and freshen up
  • Enjoy a special dinner at the private restaurant Los Naranjos. Located in the heart of Vedado in an expansive 1930s mansion, its Chef Ernesto specializes in fusion style dishes combining Cuban, Italian and Spanish influences. Los Naranjos’ ambiance is fun and light, its food wonderful, authentic and fresh, and staff upbeat and attentive. It’s a favorite among TripAdvisor reviewers
  • 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

Day 3 – Monday :: Hemingway haunts and Varadero

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • We’re off to visit Finca la Vigía [Lookout Farm] where North America’s literary titan Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years adding to the building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as a native son, it was Hemingway himself who declared Cuba to be his true home. His house has been preserved just as it was when he lived in it. You’ll see his eclectic personal objects, thousands of books, manuscripts and photographs, as well as some animal trophies he bagged on his safaris to deepest Africa
  • Tour highlight: We have a special lunch arranged for you by our friends at Ajiaco paladar [private restaurant]. It’s considered the best in Cuba. It’s a mandatory dining stop located off the beaten path in the romantic coastal fishing village of Cojímar. Ajiaco is noted for fantastic service, atmosphere and scrumptilicious country Cuban cuisine. All their ingredients are fresh and organic, supplied by nearby private gardens to give every dish a delightfully aromatic flavor you’ll never forget
  • We’ll visit the village of Cojímar, the setting for Ernest Hemingway’s "The Old Man and the Sea.” Here adoring local fishers cast a bronze bust from old anchors, props and tools. They had no money for new materials. Its inscription reads, "In loving memory of the people of Cojímar to the immortal author of Old Man and the Sea." A plaque below the bust reads: Sculpted with the contributions of the Fishermen Cooperative of Cojímar
  • Now we depart to Varadero located ninety minutes east of Havana on the Hicacos peninsula. It’s renowned for the unparalleled beauty of its beach, pristine warm sea, and its outgoing kind people. Varadero began as an 18th century village of fishers and farmers. They lived in "bohíos" (dirt floor huts made of royal palm planks and fronds). In 1926 American millionaire Irénée du Pont came to Varadero and purchased most of the area. He constructed his residential architectural masterpiece called Xanadu in 1930, then rigorously promoted Varadero’s paradisiacal attributes as a global tourist destination. Varadero wins the hearts of all who visit. It’s stunning blue waters inspired Christian Dior’s "Azul Varadero," his defining color line in the 1950s. For more than 100 years, it’s been visited by kings, princesses, presidents, celebrities, poets, artists and writers. Today Varadero, with 51 luxury resort hotels, hosts more than a million foreign visitors annually
  • Check-in to your all-inclusive beach resort with assistance from your guide
  • Dinner at your all-inclusive beach resort. It offers an expensive buffet open to and and many specialty restaurants requiring a reservation
  • Evening offers: Fabulous fun evening entertainment at your all-inclusive beach resort (included)

Day 4 – Tuesday :: Exploring Varadero, dance lessons

  • Breakfast at your hotel resort
  • Morning bus tour of city of Varadero its stunning grandiose resorts
  • Cuban dance lessons! All great dance is globally inspired. Movements from other countries going back millenniums, refined and stylized, turned into something absolutely ethereal for our time. If any nation has contributed most to US dance, we think it is Cuba with its rich sensuous African, European, Asian and indigenous mixes. We’ll spend the afternoon with ABC Academia Baile en Varadero [ABC Dance Academy of Varadero]. Dance masters and choreographers of the funtastic Cuban floor shows will help you move with the grace of angels – very wild angels! You’ll learn all the best steps this afternoon with one-on-one tutors who’ll expertly and patiently turn you into a salsa, mambo, rumba, danzon, and cha cha chá whiz
  • Return to your all-inclusive resort for giant tropical buffet lunch spread. You’ll be dieting for a month when you return home, or you can go down to the beach and swim it off
  • Explore the city with your tourmates and new Cuban friends
  • Dinner at your all-inclusive beach resort
  • Fabulous fun evening entertainment at your all-inclusive beach resort

Day 5 – Wednesday :: Varadero, organic farm and Cárdenas

  • Breakfast at your hotel
  • This morning we’ll visit Finca la Coincidencia, a model organic farm in a hamlet called Guasimal del Toro. Initiated in the 1990s by the Correa family of artisans and agriculturalists, Coincidencia has become an important social and cultural project for members of the community. In addition to cultivating many species of tropical fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants, it is home to a ceramic school and gallery, and small cheese workshop. Since 2002 Finca la Coincidencia hosts a global Arte del Fuego ceramics event
  • We’ll feast on a delicious lunch prepared entirely from produce raised on Finca la Coincidencia and neighboring. This idyllic plantation’s meals beautifully blurs the lines between art and agriculture. Their service exudes joy and compassion. Many describe this meal as their favorite meal in Cuba
  • We’ll drive through Cárdenas, a small, quiet town close to Varadero with beautiful colonial-era architecture and a timeless quality. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles far outnumber cars on its straight and narrow streets. Cárdenas is known as Ciudad Bandera [Flag City], as it was here, on 19 May 1850, that Cuba’s flag was first raised. It was also the first city in Cuba to have electric street lighting in the year 1889. The diminutive Parque Colón features the first statue of Christopher Columbus in the Americas dating from 1826. It was in Cárdenas the rum label Havana Club was born and where present-day Varadero and Bucanero rums are made. Cárdenas is the birthplace and home of Elián González
  • While in Cárdenas we’ll visit the Museo a la Batalla de Ideas [Museum of the Battle of Ideas]. Housed in the beautifully restored 1872 Firefighters Garrison it exhibits through numerous displays the story of the capture, struggle for freedom and eventual liberation of Elián González. Also exhibited are relief busts of Cuba's great historical heroes, the founding fathers of independence and the revolution. And there is a book of photos from the museum's opening, with a personal note from Fidel Castro: "The battle of ideas cannot be lost and will not be lost."
  • Return to hotel, kick back and smell the fresh sea
  • Dinner at your beach resort
  • Fabulous fun evening entertainment at your all-inclusive beach resort, or perhaps explore happenings in the city of Varadero

Day 6 – Thursday :: Varadero and Havana

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Examine coastal marine life with your tourmates and new Cuban friends
  • Check-out of your beach resort
  • Buffet lunch at your beach resort
  • Departure to Havana
  • En route we’ll visit the provincial capital city of Matanzas. It is known as the City of Bridges for the 17 spanning three rivers that meander through the city. Matanzas was founded in 1693. Matanzas means massacre and many legends surround its macabre name. Matanzas had vast sugar plantations during the colonial era huge numbers of African slaves were imported to support the industry. Due to the high number of both slaves and free Afrocubans many African traditions are especially strong in the city. In 1898, Matanzas was location of the first action in the Spanish American War: it was bombarded by American Navy vessels on 25 April 1898. It is the birth place of the Cuban national dance "Danzon" and the "Danzonete."
  • Visit Ediciones Vigía, a very singular publishing house that produces high-quality handmade books on a variety of topics. True artisans turn disposable materials into wonderful pieces of art!
  • We’ll stop at the Bacunayagua bridge lookout spanning the deep canyon over the beautiful Yumurí Valley. It’s the highest bridge in Cuba and divides the provinces of Mayabeque and Matanzas. This popular stopover hosts a bar that serves delicious Piña Coladas in fresh coconut shells
  • Return to Havana
  • Hotel check-in and time to freshen up
  • Farewell dinner at Havana’s most famous private restaurant La Guarida, where the 1997 Cuban blockbuster “Strawberry and Chocolate” was filmed
  • Time to explore Havana's vibrant nightlife, and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options

Day 7 – Friday :: Departure day

  • Breakfast in hotel
  • Check-out of your Havana hotel
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport in Havana for flights home
  • Missing you and hope you return soon. In Cuba we say: A true friend remembers the song in your heart when you have forgotten the lyrics
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.

Costs, dates, book now

Tour date Cost Comments Availability
Mar 17 to Mar 23, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
Mar 24 to Mar 30, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
Mar 31 to Apr 6, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
Apr 7 to Apr 13, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
Apr 14 to Apr 20, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
Apr 21 to Apr 27, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
Apr 28 to May 4, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
May 5 to May 11, 2018 $ 2449 $ 2149
Hotel Meliá Varadero
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May 12 to May 18, 2018 $ 2449Sold Out
May 19 to May 25, 2018 $ 2449 $ 2149
Hotel Meliá Varadero
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May 26 to Jun 1, 2018 $ 2449 $ 2149
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Jun 2 to Jun 8, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Jun 9 to Jun 15, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
Hotel Meliá Varadero
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Jun 16 to Jun 22, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Jun 23 to Jun 29, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
Hotel Meliá Varadero
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Jun 30 to Jul 6, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Jul 7 to Jul 13, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Jul 14 to Jul 20, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Jul 21 to Jul 27, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Jul 28 to Aug 3, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Aug 4 to Aug 10, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
Hotel Meliá Varadero
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Aug 11 to Aug 17, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Aug 18 to Aug 24, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Aug 25 to Aug 31, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Sep 1 to Sep 7, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Sep 8 to Sep 14, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Sep 15 to Sep 21, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Sep 22 to Sep 28, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Sep 29 to Oct 5, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Oct 6 to Oct 12, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out
Oct 13 to Oct 19, 2018 $ 2299 $ 2099
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Oct 20 to Oct 26, 2018 $ 2299Sold Out

Included in tour cost

Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
  • All meals during your stay in Cuba
  • All inclusive services at the hotel including 24 hour snacks, food, beverages and cocktails
  • All activities listed in the itinerary above unless noted as excluded
  • Small group size, rarely more than twelve guests
  • Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel in compliance with US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations (OFAC)
  • Havana airport and hotel transfers on tour start and end days
  • Quality Cuban hotels
  • An expert English speaking guide and tour leader throughout the program
  • Modern air-conditioned bus and professional chauffeur
  • Bottled water on bus
  • All activities, entrance fees, services, speakers and meetings in tour itinerary
  • Flexible monthly tour payment options
  • Emergency telephone and internet access to America from Cuba
  • Cash advances for participants facing money problems while in Cuba
  • Participants become Club Cubano alumni and receive future tour discounts
  • Ongoing support from our US and Cuban staff before, during and after travel

Not included in cost