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'Just a Week in Eastern Cuba'

What makes this trip special?

The Cuban way of life

The Cuban way of life

Bayamo

A typical laid-back Cuban town with pretty pastel coloured buildings and a fascinating history. On Sundays the locals gather to play chess and dominoes in the main square.

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Cabo Cruz

Visit Cuba's most southerly point and the beach where Che Guevara and Fidel Castro landed on their boat Granma to begin the revolution.

Hike to Fidel and Che's secret HQ

Hike to Fidel and Che's secret HQ

La Comandancia - Sierra Maestra

A fairly strenous hike through the rugged mountains of the Sierra Maestra to the rebel commanders secret Headquarters.

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.

Third largest rock on the planet

Third largest rock on the planet

Gran Piedra Region

Literally 'The Big Rock', La Gran Piedra offers spectacular views across the city of Santiago, the Sierra Maestra mountain range and the southeastern coastline.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Just a Week in Eastern Cuba'

DAY 1
D

Bayamo

You are met on your arrival at Holguín airport by your guide and driven to Bayamo (p15), a laid-back town that has done well out of sugar but which prides itself more on its key roles in the emancipation of slaves, independence and the revolution. A statue of Céspedes, ‘father of the Nation’, stands amid palms in the plaza, where you might pause on your first evening in Cuba.

DAY 2
BLD

Cabo Cruz

Today you travel to the island’s most southerly point at Cabo Cruz. It’s a fascinating drive along tree-lined avenues, well off any tourist routes, to the beach where the Castros and Ché Guevara landed in 1956 from their boat the Granma to begin the revolution. There’s a small museum, a replica of their boat, a path to the landing point, and nature trails. At Cabo Cruz a lighthouse stands above unusual rock terraces. There’s a lovely white sand beach by azure Caribbean waters if you’d like to stop a while before looping back to the small sugar town of Niquero, where a scent of molasses drifts on the air, to stay at a simple hotel that’s the best in the area.

DAY 3
BLD

Sierra Maestra

This morning you are driven into the Sierra Maestra mountains. Pause in Bartolome Maso, a bustling factory town, then climb into the spectacular scenery of the Santo Domingo area, arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon your guide is at your disposal to explore the area, accompany you on a country walk, etc.

DAY 4
BLD

La Comandancia

Fidel, Ché and their small band of revolutionaries hid out in the rugged mountains of the Sierra Maestra while they recruited, trained, and established themselves as a revolutionary group. This morning you make the exciting, fairly strenuous hike to the rebel commanders’ HQ in the mountains. From your drop off point it’s a 3km walk–downhill at first, then level, then uphill for 1.5km–to La Comandancia, their secret HQ. Return to Santo Domingo for a late lunch then drive around the mountains to El Saltón (p46), arriving in the late afternoon. Options include horse riding, walking, birding, massage, a cooling dip below a lovely waterfall, or relaxing in the gardens with a book.

DAY 5
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El Saltón

This morning you take a country walk through woods and fields and by sparkling rivers, in the beautiful scenery around El Saltón. It is a chance to ‘meet the neighbours’ in their little farmsteads sprinkled with hibiscus, mimosa, mountain apple blossom and crops of soursop, mandarin, pineapple, sapodilla, star apples, sweet limes, cocoa, avocado and coffee. Lunch at El Saltón before the drive to Santiago, your base for the next 3 nights.

DAY 6
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Santiago

Santiago is a fascinating city and you spend the day exploring the town with your guide, from the colonial Parque Céspedes, cathedral, and the Diego Velasquez museum, to the other sites around the city such as the Moncada barracks and the . Your guide could even arrange a salsa lesson for you, in preparation for your evening at the Casa de la Trova.

DAY 7
BL

Today you head out from the city to visit the Gran Piedra region. It’s a short hike to the top of the rocky outcrop with great views, in cool conditions where tree ferns abound. There should also be the chance to visit a delightful garden filled with agapanthus and roses, a coffee plantation, and a classic car museum. Return for a final evening in Santiago.

DAY 8
B

Your morning is free in Santiago before you are driven via Birán (Castro’s birthplace) to Holguín airport for your flight home. Beach options The beaches of Guardalavaca (p42) link well with this trip.

Guide prices for 'Just a Week in Eastern 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 'Just a Week in Eastern 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

rating

The music at Casa de la Trova in Santiago de Cuba.

Seasonal information for 'Just a Week in Eastern 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 'Just a Week in Eastern Cuba'

Days 1 - 3

Hotel Inglaterra

This hotel has seen better days and has mainly internal rooms but it was once an elegant hotel and still has excellent public areas. It is ideally placed right on the Parque Cespedes, close to the  Gran Teatro, where you can see the Cuban National Ballet if you arrive at the right time, and the Capitolio.

Hotel Inglaterra
Day 4

Royalton

Bayamo

Built in the 1940s and refurbished in the last few years the 2* Hotel Royalton has 33 rooms and  is a comfortable choice for your stay in Bayamo. The hotel is centrally situated facing the attractive Parque Cespedes.  There is a small restaurant, mini bar, nightclub, car rental facilities and parking.

Royalton
Day 5

Hotel Islazul Niquero

Niquero

Hotel Niquero is the largest building in this small working town and is a good base from which to explore the extreme west of the Granma province. It has 26 rooms split across 3 floors all with a/c, satellite tv, radio, telephone, mini-refrigerators and bathrooms refurnished in 2002 with modern fixtures. Rooms are medium in size and some have views. It is  a functional 2/3* (best in area) with restaurant and roof top bar area. Strong smell of molasses from the local sugar factory which dominates this small town.

The hotel does not have a swimming pool or garden but does have a restaurant open to the public and car parking available.

Hotel Islazul Niquero
Day 6

Villa Santo Domingo

Sierra Maestra
rating

Average rating 4.5 (2 ratings)

Villa Santo Domingo is a series of well maintained and equipped cabanas with a central reception and restaurant in a beautiful setting deep in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountain range. The river Yara runs close to the complex and you can walk and meander at leisure in the vicinity but you must have a guide if you wish to go walking in the Sierra maestra. The cabanas are simply furnished, clean, with private bathroom and have air-conditioning. The staff are warm and friendly and English is spoken. Due to the rural location there may be occasional power cuts and we suggest you bring a travel torch just in case.

This is an essential first night stay for anyone wishing to go to La Plata or starting the Turquino trail. NB you are not allowed to go trekking in Sierra Maestra without a guide.

Villa Santo Domingo
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 - 11

Hostal San Basilio

Santiago de Cuba
rating

Average rating 4.3 (3 ratings)

Hostal San Basilio was restored from a 1920’s colonial style city home and retains many original features, as well as offering comfortable amenities. The Hostal has just 8 fairly large twin rooms, each with good décor, private bathroom and hot water. However rooms do not have wifi access and there is no swimming pool or restaurant as such, but a simple breakfast is served daily. The great thing about San Basilio is its location, just a 2 minute walk to the main Cespedes Square. The downside is that the square can be noisy at night with revellers and traffic.

Hostal San Basilio
Days 12 - 13

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
Day 14

Hotel Villa Maguana

northeast of Santiago
rating

Average rating 4.2 (6 ratings)

Overlooking a small cove alongside  Maguana beach, this tiny complex of 4 wood built cabins each comprising of 4 separate units is in a truly delightful setting and perfect for people who enjoy peace and quiet and the sound of the sea. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable, the staff are delightful and there is a restaurant. A truly idyllic retreat with snorkelling close by but there is no actual official snorkelling here. Villa Maguana is also ideally situated for those wishing to explore the Alexander Humboldt National Park and is only 22 kms from Baracoa.

Hotel facilities include a restaurant, bar, parking area, laundry service and private beach.

Hotel Villa Maguana
Days 15 - 17

Hotel Playa Pesquero

near Guardalavaca
rating

Average rating 4.5 (2 ratings)

Very nice for a huge all-inclusive resort and certainly our hotel of choice in Guardalavaca. Set back from a lovely white, soft sand beach with turquoise waters, this hotel is popular with honeymooners and families who can all find space in spacious grounds and by the very large swimming pool. There is plenty to keep you entertained, with your choice of 7 restaurants, lobby bar, aqua bar, beer garden, and entertainment theatre, sports club with ping pong, aerobics, mini soccer, water polo, beach volley, basketball, archery, mini bowling, mini-golf, dancing classes, Spanish language classes, tennis courts, squash courts, and (motorless) water sports! On-site baby and mini-club make it a good choice for families too.

Hotel Playa Pesquero
Days 18 - 19

Hotel E La Avellaneda, Camaguey

Opened in 2014, the boutique hotel Encanto La Avellaneda is a small hotel in the centre of Camaguey. Its 9 rooms are located around a colonial courtyard,  all rooms have air conditioning, hairdryer, minibar, safe and satellite TV.

Hotel E  La Avellaneda, Camaguey
Day 20

Hotel America, Santa Clara

Santa Clara

A recently opened hotel situated in central Santa Clara, close by to the Central Park.  All 27 rooms have private bathrooms with hote water, air-conditioning and tv's.  The interior rooms do not have windows, but are larger and quieter than the exterior rooms.

Facilities at the hotel include an outdoor swimming pool, bar and breakfast area.

 

Hotel America does not have a lift, so is not ideal for people with mobility issues.

Hotel America, Santa Clara
Exterior
Day 21

Playa Giron

Playa Giron
Days 22 - 23

Hotel E Velasco

Calle Contreras e/Santa Teresa y Ayuntamiento, Mat
rating

Average rating 5.0 (1 ratings)

Hotel E Velasco