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Explore and Relax in Colonial Cuba and the Mexican Riviera

14 days from £2138pp

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Explore and Relax in Colonial Cuba and the Mexican Riviera:
Trip Dossier

Cuba’s unique Latin American beat sets it apart from all the other islands of the Caribbean.  But it lies just a short flight from the coast of the Mayan Riviera on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. We’ve devised a holiday which combines exploration of Cuba’s colonial heritage with the barefoot chic of one of Mexico’s finest beaches.

You will explore old Havana’s evocative historic quarters from a seat of one of the city’s many vintage cars. American vehicles from the 1950s have been beautifully preserved and maintained and now you can enjoy the experience of gliding through the streets of the old quarter in one of them. Head on to discover Trinidad, the most exquisite of Cuba’s colonial cities, beautifully conserved and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Fly on to Cancún on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. A two hour drive along Mexico's Riviera away from busy Cancun lies laid-back Tulum with its stunning, unspoiled beaches and low key beach bars and restaurants where the fish is fresh and the dress code relaxed.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to hotel in the historic centre of Havana.

Day 2

Guided excursion of Old Havana by vintage car.

Day 3

At leisure in Havana.

Day 4

Transfer to UNESCO World Heritage Site Trinidad, in southern Cuba.

Day 5

Guided city tour and visit to Sugar Mill Valley.

Day 6

At leisure in Trinidad.

Day 7

Return to Havana.

Day 8

Fly to Cancún, Mexico; transfer to luxury hotel on Riviera Maya.

Days 9-13

At leisure on the beach.

Day 14

Transfer to Cancún airport, fly home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to hotel in the historic centre of Havana.
You’ll be met airside and helped to pass quickly through customs as part of our VIP service. Transfer to your hotel just off the sea front in Old Havana.

Day 2

Guided excursion of Old Havana by vintage car.

Soak up the atmosphere from the seat of a vintage car as you are driven around one of the world’s most vibrant capitals and along the famous malecón (seafront promenade), including highlights such as the Revolutionary Square famed for  being the platform for Fidel’s lengthy speeches.  Before you climb into the back seat of your polished classic car you’ll stroll along the pedestrian cobbles of La Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Music seems to seep out of every doorway in the pastel-hued mansions and the more modest homes of narrow, shaded alleys of the busy centre. The subsequent restoration of this part of town has transformed it into what is arguably Latin America's finest colonial quarter, standing in marked contrast to the potholed streets and crumbling façades around it. 


Day 3

At leisure in Havana.

Day 4

Transfer to UNESCO World Heritage Site Trinidad, in southern Cuba.

Transfer by road to Trinidad, a beautifully preserved colonial town with numerous eateries and live music venues set in some of Cuba’s loveliest scenery. Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Its popularity has not affected its colonial charm and unhurried atmosphere.

Low-rise, brightly painted houses with vast shutters open out onto cobbled streets, palm trees dot the main plaza and evening entertainment continues into the early hours with dancing and music each night. Your hotel is a restored colonial residence in the centre of town.

Colonial Trinidad de Cuba

Day 5

Guided city tour and visit to Sugar Mill Valley.

Drive out from Trinidad to the striking UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills). The sleepy valley was once one of the most prosperous areas on the island, having built its fortune on the back of the African slaves working in its many sugar plantations. Climb to the top of the Manaca-Iznaga tower and enjoy panoramic views.

Next, return to Trinidad for lunch at a local restaurant and then wander the picturesque streets of this surprisingly vibrant colonial treasure. You'll pass the Plaza Mayor, visit the Museo Romántico and sample a traditional cocktail in an authentic bar before heading off to peruse the crafts in a ceramics workshop.

Day 6

At leisure in Trinidad.
At leisure. You could use your leisure time to take part in an excursion to walk in the cool, lush forests of the lake-dotted Escambray mountains in the hinterland of the city or head in the other direction to the beach at Ancón, which is only short a taxi ride away.

Day 7

Return to Havana.
Return to Havana by road.

Day 8

Fly to Cancún, Mexico; transfer to luxury hotel on Riviera Maya.

Transfer to the airport and fly to Cancún, Mexico, (2.5 hrs). Travel by road down the coast of the Mayan Riviera to your hotel In Tulum. A World away from lively Cancun and Playa del Carmen the vibe at Tulum is considerably laid-back on the chalky white sand beach flanked by swaying palms that hide friendly restaurants and low level beach hotels. 

The Hip Hotel property has a beautifully positioned thatched restaurant where the atmosphere is flip-flop relaxed but the service is slick and fresh seafood is always on the menu. The rooms are simple in style yet spacious with neutral colours and a natural feel.




Days 9-13

At leisure on the beach.

You have five whole days to luxuriate on the beach but if you can drag yourself away there are plenty of excursions which the hotel can fix up for you or advise you how to visit to local attractions independently including the local Mayan site of Tulum perfectly perched on a cliff overlooking a white sand bay.

You might consider hiring a car, as it is relatively easy to get around by road in the Yucatán or visiting the temples and pyramids of the many crumbling cities of the Mayan civilisation such as Chichén Itzá or Cobá. If water sports are your thing, you might arrange to go snorkelling or diving over the nearby reefs. Alternatively head off to nearby Playa del Carmen, a lively resort bursting with bars, restaurants and night life.

Hip Hotel accepts children of all ages. There are no specific facilities for children, but they are welcomed and rooms are spacious.

Tulum's laid back beach

Day 14

Transfer to Cancún airport, fly home.

Essential information


1 domestic flight, 3 road journeys .


Accommodation in Havana and Trinidad is of a superior quality for Cuba where standards of amenities and service can be erratic, but are constantly improving. You’ll find well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning in most and some local colour and special features. The Hip Hotel in Tulum is on one of the best beaches on the Yucatán peninsula.


Breakfast daily.


We carefully select our local partners; their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.  On short transfers in Cuba most drivers do not speak English.  

Included excursions

• Havana:  Guided tour of by vintage car.
• Trinidad: Guided city tour and visit to the Valley of the Sugar Mills.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Havana 3; Trinidad 3; Havana 1; Mayan Riviera 6.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America. 
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Optional excursions.


The unit of currency in Cuba is the Cuban peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around £25 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more. Although in Cuba the best food is often in the smaller family run eateries. 

How to take it

Cuba imposes a 10-15% charge on dollar exchange. To avoid this, you should travel a reasonable quantity of with sterling or euro cash (no more than is covered by your insurance). Notes should be in good condition, soiled or torn ones may be refused. Both euros and sterling are accepted in most banks and some of the larger hotels. You can change these into convertible Cuban pesos (CUC) on arrival. Keep the official receipt from your transaction, because you will need this should you want to change any currency back to sterling or euros at the end of your trip. 

Credit cards (not issued by US banks) are also accepted in some places, but be aware that there is a 11% surcharge on payments made by card, including on cash advances. Havana has a few ATMs and there are a couple more popping up in other cities, although these cannot be relied on. Maestro cards are not accepted in Cuba. 

Travellers’ cheques are another option, though these are gradually falling out of use (in Cuba those drawn on a US bank, eg American Express, will be refused). 

In October 2013 President Castro announced the abolition of the artificial Cuban Convertible Peso, allowing Cubans and visitors to exchange hard currency for ordinary pesos. This change is predicted to be in place by the end of 2014.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. Cuban authorities require visitors to have travel insurance, and specifically for the medical and repatriation element of cover to be from an approved provider. For example, Journey Latin America’s recommended insurance company is Campbell Irvine, and their medical and repatriation cover is handled by International Medical Assistance, who are approved by Cuba. Please check with your insurance company that their provider is similarly approved.   

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Departure tax from Cuba is now (as of May 2015) included in  the price of your ticket.

Journey Grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors, including families with teenage children.


Cuba and the Mayan Riviera share a tropical climate with two seasons, one wet and one dry. 

However, it is generally hot throughout the year (18-32°C) with regular rainfall and high humidity. The rainy season runs from May to October; from July to September, humidity can be very high. The east of the island is hotter and more humid that the west. Hurricanes and tropical storms are possible from July to October.

Clothing and special equipment

No special clothing or equipment is required although comfortable walking shoes or trainers, and sandals would be useful. Light, summer clothing will be adequate for these hot temperatures, and the dress code is very casual everywhere. Thin, long-sleeved garments may be useful for evenings, and a lightweight raincoat is the best protection against tropical downpours. We also recommend that you pack a torch as lighting can be poor at night.

Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa for Cuba or Mexico, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  A completed Cuban tourist card is essential for all UK citizens travelling to Cuba; we will organise this for you. Clients with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the Cuban or Mexican consulate.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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