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'Completely Cuba'

What makes this trip special?

Cuba's unforgettable capital

Cuba's unforgettable capital

Havana

There is no other capital city in the world quite like Havana. Impossible to sum up in only a few words its combination of magificently restored buildings, crumbling apartment blocks, classic cars, lively atmosphere and sense of defiance will stay with you for a long time.

Rich colonial heritage

Rich colonial heritage

Cienfuegos

The magnificent colonial town of Cienfugos with its lively squares, elegant buildings and fascinating history is a pleasant place to stroll around and get to know the local life.

Colourful and lively colonial town

Colourful and lively colonial town

Trinidad

The magnificent colonial town of Trinidad has recently been restored under UNESCO World Heritage, with brighly painted facades, cobbled streets, bands playing and horse drawn carts the town feels very much alive.

Taste the real Cuba

Taste the real Cuba

Camaguey

An elegant colonial town, Camaguey is out of reach for most visitors. The town buzzes with life, whilst the cobbled squares and colonial buildings make it an attractive place to stop over.

A mountain retreat

A mountain retreat

El Salton

In the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, El Salton is a lovely area for walking amongst forested hills and crystal clear streams.

Caribbean vibes and fascinating history mixed with rum and salsa

Caribbean vibes and fascinating history mixed with rum and salsa

Santiago de Cuba

A city of contrasts and one that regularly divides opinions, Santiago is a colourful mix of culture, history, arts and scenery.

Isolated tropical wilderness

Isolated tropical wilderness

Baracoa

Once only accessible by sea, the town of Baracoa is an enchanting town with beautiful beaches, tropical fruit farms and peaceful countryside.

Cigars, gardens & village life

Cigars, gardens & village life

Vinales

The small town of Vinales offers visitors a peek into everyday rural cuban life, as well as stunning botanical gardens and a number of family run tobacco farms.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Completely Cuba'

DAY 1

Havana

You arrive at Havana’s airport, where you are met and transferred to your chosen hotel in Old Havana for the next two nights.

DAY 2
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A day in Havana with a private city guide–see ‘Your Man in Havana’ on page 9. You’ll explore Old Havana on a walking tour in the morning, and in the afternoon take a drive around modern Havana in a classic American car.

DAY 3
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Bay of Pigs and Cienfuegos

Today you set off out of the capital along the island’s main highway, which soon begins to skirt the Zapata Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected area in the whole Caribbean. You turn into the reserve, passing crocodile farms, to arrive at the Bay of Pigs–a long inlet of clear Caribbean water, popular with divers. In 1961 this was the site of the notorious US-backed invasion of Cuba, soundly defeated. You stop en route for lunch and wherever you feel like exploring with your guide–perhaps at the small museum at Playa Girón, the invasion’s exact landing site–then continue to the town of Cienfuegos to stay the night.

DAY 4
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Trinidad

The colonial port of Cienfuegos (p13) was founded by French settlers at the beginning of the 19th century, and became rich from the sugar trade. Your guide takes you around the town. It is then an hour or so’s drive to the lovely colonial town of Trinidad (p12), with its cobbled streets and pretty squares. You spend two nights in Trinidad, either staying in the town itself or opting for a beach hotel a few minutes outside along Playa Ancón. Trinidad’s lively Casa de la Trova is on tonight’s agenda.

DAY 5
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Your guide picks you up after breakfast for a walking tour of Trinidad’s colonial centre, including a visit to the Museo Romantico–an old mansion overlooking a plaza planted with palms. There are plenty of tempting craft stalls: you might pick up a hand-woven straw hat in best Cuban style direct from the lady that made it, some delicate hand-made lace, a cigar or two, or an amusing souvenir. You might then drive a short way into the mountains above Trinidad for some cool air and exquisite scenery, or decide to spend the afternoon on the beach if you prefer.

DAY 6
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Camagüey

A little way from Trinidad is the Valle de los Ingenios, where slave plantations thrived in the sugar boom. Now an attractive little country village stands beneath the gaunt tower of a sugar mill. Next is Sancti Spiritus, where you may stop if there is time on your journey to the characterful town of Camagüey (p13), at the centre of the island. Camagüey’s curiously winding streets were designed to deter pirates, it is said; among other sources of civic pride are its Byzantine-style terracotta water jars.

DAY 7
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Bayamo and El Saltón

You could explore the hidden colonial squares of Camagüey either when you arrived or this morning before you set off to Bayamo (p15), a pretty town of pastel hues and an important revolutionary history. Your guide will show you around. The magnificent Sierra Maestra rises to the south of Bayamo, and the road skirts the foothills before you turn in to arrive at the delightful El Saltón.

DAY 8
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Santiago de Cuba

This morning after a leisurely breakfast you relax at the hotel or opt to set off with your local guide to explore the area around El Saltón (there’s a modest fee for this to pay locally). After lunch set off for Santiago de Cuba, where the rest of your day is free.

DAY 9
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Today you are taken on a walking tour of the centre of Santiago, where you visit the Museo de Ambiente Cubano, originally home to Santiago’s founder Diego Velasquez, who sailed with Columbus, which is among the oldest buildings in all the Americas. You also visit the Bacardi Museum and Moncada Barracks - a darker side of Cuban history. Lunch is at the impressive Castillo del Morro overlooking the Caribbean, before you return to the city via Santiago’s own Plaza de la Revolución and Vista Alegre suburbs, pausing if you wish at the cemetery whose occupants include Cuba’s independence leader José Martí, and Compay Segundo of Buena Vista Social Club. Evening visit to Santiago’s famous Casa de la Trova a home of son.

DAY 10
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Baracoa

You set off after breakfast for Baracoa, Cuba’s first town (established in 1511), which until the 1950s was accessible only from the sea. You route takes you via the city of Guantánamo (p15) which stands a few miles back from a double bay and the notorious US naval base. Beyond lies a beautiful country road that curves and bends between the mountains and the sea, before turning north and crossing an impressive viaduct at La Farola which was built under Ché’s orders to keep a promise made during the revolution. Lunch on your arrival in Baracoa, followed by a walking tour of the little town with your guide. In the evening you might try the local Casa de la Trova which has an excellent reputation.

DAY 11
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Baracoa has a lovely easy-going atmosphere and is a great place to stop and do very little. But if you’re feeling fit and active, you could make the strenuous rewarding climb up El Yunque (1900ft) a flat-topped mountain behind Baracoa with magnificent views, in an area rich in orchids and epiphytes, ferns and palm. Other small attractions include a family finca outside the town which offers a nice lunch and visits to its a chocolate plantation. The fishing village of Boca de Yumurí further along the coast is also worth a trip. Your guide will help you decide.

DAY 12
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You begin today with a trip to the Alexander Humboldt National Park and take a boat trip around the coastline this morning, followed by lunch at Villa Maguana where there is a lovely beach for you to while away the afternoon.

DAY 13
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Havana

Your guide will collect you from your hotel and take you to Baracoa’s small airport for the flight to Havana, where you are met and taken to the magnificent Hotel Nacional in the Vedado district where you stay for 2 nights. Free time to settle in and explore the hotel and its extensive grounds, or you might take a taxi to some of the sights you missed on your first visit to the city. Viñales

DAY 14
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Viñales

A new guide collects you from your hotel for a full day’s tour to Viñales (p11), returning in the early evening.

DAY 15
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Free time today to sightsee and shop before your transfer to the airport for return flight home. Beach options The best beach to fit this trip is the lovely Cayo Levisa, which connects well with Vinales on the last day. For the facilities of a mainstream beach hotel of the kind that attracts thousands to Cuba you'll need to travel further, to Jibacoa or Varadero - either is in easy reach. Alternatively, you could extend your time at the beach during the trip at Trinidad (days 4-5) or at Baracoa (days 10-12), but your guide and vehicle would be on stand-by.

Guide prices for 'Completely Cuba'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels 2 people sharing
Upper range hotels* 2 people sharing
Prices are per person and include:
  • Cuba Visa
  • airport transfers
  • all accommodation
  • all transport
  • meals where specified, B = breakfast, L=lunch, D= dinner
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc

Customer reviews for 'Completely Cuba'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average customer rating 93%

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Alexander Humbolt Park. El Salton & Cayo Levisa.

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Seasonal information for 'Completely Cuba'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Completely Cuba'

Days 1 - 2

Hotel Park View, Havana

This 3* Habaguanex hotel is a good choice of hotel for people on a budget who wish to stay in central Havana and be comfortable.  Hotel  Park View is  mid-range Habaguanex hotel - 7 floors with lift and staircase. There is a popular small bar on the ground floor. It is very conveniently situated close to the Prado and Old Havana and a short walk from Parque Central and the Malecon. The hotel rooms are small, well furnished and comfortable with air-conditioning. There are excellent views of the city from the seventh-floor restaurant, where you have breakfast.

Hotel Park View, Havana
Day 3

Hostal Palacio Azul, Cienfuegos

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Average rating 4.6 (22 ratings)

This is a sensitively restored small hotel with just 7 rooms and no pool, situated along the waterfront towards Punta Gorda. Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez have reportedly stayed here! The rooms are furnished in the colonial style and it is very comfortable and elegant, although next door to Club Cienfuegos that hosts a nightly disco - so be warned! This is a bed & breakfast hotel and very popular with clients.

Hotel facilities include lobby bar, restaurant, and satellite TV.

Hostal Palacio Azul, Cienfuegos
Days 4 - 5

Costa Sur Hotel

Small all-inclusive hotel with swimming pool and plenty of daily activities to choose from, Costa Sur was refurbished in 2008 and is situated a ten minute drive from Trinidad at Playa Aguilar. Rooms are a mixture of two storey hotel, garden and bungalow rooms, some of which open straight onto a small private beach (good for snorkelling) set apart from the rest of the hotel and the main beach.

Costa Sur Hotel
Day 6

Gran Hotel, Camaguey

Camaguey

This 19th century building became a hotel in the 1930s and retains much of its original charm with its old fashioned reception and lift. The reception area is furnished in colonial style and there are four bars. The rooms vary in size but all are comfortable.There is a pleasant top floor restaurant with windows opening wide across the town's rooftops, where breakfast is served. The Piano bar serves excellent cocktails and hosts  frequent salsa sessions. The pool area hosts a synchronised swimming display on occasions, which is fun to watch. There is a good atmosphere at this hotel, the staff are very courteous and it is one of our favourite hotels in the area but it can get very noisy in this part of the city so bring ear plugs.

Gran Hotel, Camaguey
Day 7

Hotel Villa El Salton, Sierra Maestra

Sierra Maestra

Within a couple of hours drive from Bayamo or Santiago de Cuba, Villa El Salton is located in the middle of the Sierra Maestra, Cuba’s highest mountain range, surrounded by beautiful scenery. There is a natural cascade and pool. This small hotel is set within a delightful verdant setting, the staff come from the local rural community and are warm and welcoming. The rooms are spacious and adequate with air-conditioning and balconies and there is a lovely traditional restaurant terrace and patio area. English is spoken and the hotel has excellent naturalist guides who will be delighted to take you on longer or shorter trails to explore this beautiful area.

Hotel facilities include cafeteria, sauna, bar, entertainment, gym, games room, and medical services.

Hotel Villa El Salton, Sierra Maestra
Days 8 - 9

Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba

The Casa Granda is Santiago de Cuba's most elegant colonial hotel, housing 58 high quality rooms in a great location and stylish terrace bar overlooking the city's main square, Parque Cespedes.

Rooms are medium sized with a/c, private bathroom (with shower and bath), hot water, minibar, safe (included), hairdryer, and double glazing. 24 of the rooms have a view to the main square.

 

However, the hotel does not entirely live up to its grand exterior image. It does not have a swimming pool or garden, but it has a super roof terrace for drinksand breakfast. Street parking only. There are 2 computers on the ground floor with internet access, and a restaurant serving 3 meals a day, although service is slow and fairly sullen. There is just one small lift serving the whole hotel and, in general, the finer touches of an otherwise elegant hotel will not to be found here.

Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba
Days 10 - 12

Hotel El Castillo

El Castillo (originally Seboruco Castle built in 1739) is a characterful mid-sized 3* hotel right in the centre of Baracoa. The hotel was developed from one of the original forts protecting the town and has panoramic views of this beautiful area.  The hotel is attractive, very comfortable with an excellent  swimming pool  and patio area. The staff are efficient and friendly. There are steps leading up to the hotel or you can walk up the steep driveway to the hotel entrance. There are plenty of taxis available. It is possible to drive straight to the entrance and limited parking is available. This in our view is probably the nicest hotel in the area and one of our favourites. Most rooms are twin bedded and have air-conditioning, TV.

Hotel El Castillo
Days 13 - 14

Hotel Nacional, Havana

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Average rating 4.1 (48 ratings)

The historic Hotel Nacional, a short taxi ride away from Old Havana and overlooking Havana's seafront Malecón, has enjoyed the patronage of many distinguished guests in its time, Winston Churchill and Franklyn Roosevelt to name but two. There is oodles of atmosphere and the hotel is always lively. It has a lovely terrace and gardens overlooking the Malecón - a great place for that evening mojito. This is a hotel to watch people and it is a meeting place for Cubans doing business with non-Cubans. The rooms are standard business hotel type rooms but the majestic lobby and regal gardens add a certain frisson.

Hotel Nacional, Havana