Private Journeys

Value Cuba: Cuba at a glance

11 days from £1,317pp

Cuba


Tom Parrott ©

Overview & Highlights

This modestly priced holiday includes some overnights in homestays and plenty of free time to explore at leisure or organise your own excursions.

  • Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Guided bike tour in Viñales valley
  • Guided tour of Trinidad and the Sugar Mill valley

It doesn’t cost a fortune to experience the hospitality of the Cuban people, their extraordinary history, living culture, music and dance. We’ve devised a good-value holiday where you will explore old Havana’s evocative historic quarters, the fairyland valley landscapes of the fertile Viñales region and Trinidad’s elegant colonial streets.

Cuba’s unique Latin American beat sets it apart from all the other islands of the Caribbean. After these adventures, you’ll soak up the sun on the chalky white sand beach at the fully inclusive beach resort Memories Jibacoa. There’s plenty of time at leisure to choose optional excursions and activities when you are there, or just wander around according to your own whims. The tour uses coaches designed for tourists and the accommodation is in friendly guest houses and homestays.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Havana and transfer to your accommodation in the historic centre.

Transfer to your accommodation, a superior guesthouse in the historic centre.

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Day 2

Half day walking tour of Old Havana.

Soak up the atmosphere on a guided walking tour through the cobbled streets of one of the world’s most vibrant capitals. The streets of La Habana Vieja were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, and the subsequent restoration of this part of town has transformed it into arguably Latin America's finest colonial quarter, in marked contrast to the rambling, potholed streets and crumbling façades around it.

Stroll along the cobbles, between grand, pastel-hued mansions and bustling street life; music seeps out of every doorway and the narrow streets are clogged with gargantuan, crumbling 1950s American cars, which you will have the option of hopping into and cruising down the Malecón. You'll have trouble keeping your camera by your side as iconic images flash before you round each and every corner.

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Day 3

Road transfer to Viñales western Cuba. 2 nights.

Drive to the bus station for the tourist service to Viñales, a small town set in a stunning, Jurassic landscape of serene valleys and weirdly shaped rock monoliths. This sumptuous landscape makes a good base for horse-riding, mountain-biking or day walks. Overnight in a genuine Cuban home allowing you to experience a more authentic setting where the welcome is always warm and invariably there’s lobster on the menu! (Your popular host operates several properties along with members of his family, you'll stay in one of them.).

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Day 4

Half day bike tour of Viñales.

There’s a guided tour by bike through this lovely countryside. Cycling really is the best pace at which to enjoy the tranquillity and beautiful scenery. Tobacco and other cash crops are cultivated in the rich soils of the valley floor and you’ll stop at a plantation to learn about the techniques involved in the production of the crop, most of which are traditional.

There’s a brief stop at El Palenque, a tourist spot and restaurant reached through a narrow cave which bisects one of the area's limestone mogotes. At the end of the path there’s a re-construction of one of the nomadic homes set up by runaway slaves who lived and hid in the many subterranean caves and tunnels which are characteristic of limestone scenery and riddle the valley.  You’ll take a boat trip down one of these rivers, which issues from a cave called the Cueva del Indio.

 

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Day 5

Bus transfer to Trinidad, UNESCO World Heritage Site. 3 nights.

Transfer by coach 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. Stay at one of the many popular homestays in the city and one of our favourites, Casa de Maydi.

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Day 6

At leisure.

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 at Topes de Collantes in the hinterland of the city or head in the other direction to the beach at Ancón, which is only a short taxi ride away.

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Day 7

Guided tour of Trinidad and the Sugar Mills valley.

You'll be driven out from Trinidad to the striking UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valle de los Ingenios. The sleepy valley was once one of the most prosperous areas on the island, having built its affluence from its many sugar plantations, worked by African slaves. Climb to the top of the Manaca-Iznaga tower and enjoy spectacular 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 Museo Romántico and sample a traditional cocktail in an authentic bar before heading to a beautiful ceramics workshop, La Casa del Alfarero.

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Day 8

Land transfer to Caribbean beach resort, 3 nights.

Travel by car through the heart of the Cuba to the fully-inclusive  beach resort Memories Jibacoa, set on tightly forested coastal hills. It's a lovely  - and lively - low rise .resort but since it only accepts adults, tranquility is also guaranteed. There are plenty of outdoor activities on offer, with tennis courts, a gym with sauna, spa, water sports, a huge open-air swimming pool with poolside grill. Entertainment is not lacking either, with concerts and other shows a regular feature. There are four restaurants and five bars to choose from.

Days 9-10

At leisure on the beach.

These days are left free for you to get the best out of your time at Memories Jibacoa - whether that's time relaxing on the beach or enjoying the range of activities on offer.

Jibacoa

Day 11

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

Essentials

Tour info

Transport

4 road journeys (longest 6.5hrs).

Accommodation

Accommodation on this trip is in simple but characterful guest houses and homestays. In Cuba standards of amenities and service can be erratic, but are constantly improving. You’ll find reasonably well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning and some local detail in the décor and furnishings.

Meals

Breakfast daily. Dinner day 3. Full board days 8-10.

Guides

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.

Summary Of Nights

11 days, 10 nights: Havana 2; Viñales 2; Trinidad 3; Beach resort 3..

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.

Currency

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.

Tipping

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. 

Insurance

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.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, 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 can organise this for you Clients with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the Cuban consulate.

Journey Grade

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

Bear in mind that there are some walking tours on this trip, though nothing especially demanding.
This journey uses a combination of tourist bus services and private transport. Be aware that although there are timetables for buses in Cuba, there are often delays and occasionally cancellations – patience and a flexible attitude will be a virtue in these situations.

Climate

As Cuba lies in the Caribbean Sea, it has a tropical climate that is split into two seasons, one wet and one dry. 

However, Cuba is generally hot throughout the year (18-32°C) with regular rainfall and high humidity. The rainy season runs from May to October and 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.

Helmets for the biking tour in Viñales can be hired from our partners in Havana, where they have to be returned at the end of the holiday.

Vaccinations

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. 

What's included in the price

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

Included Excursions

  • Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Guided bike tour in Viñales valley
  • Guided tour of Trinidad and the Sugar Mill valley

What's not included in the price

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

Real Latin America Experts

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

Meet the team