The Essential Cuba Tour Itinerary

Monday Departures

Valid 21st October 2013 – 28th April 2014

Monday

On your arrival into Havana airport there will be a warm welcome from the team and a transfer will take you to the specially chosen tour hotel, situated in an excellent location in the very heart of Old Havana.

Depending on the time of your arrival there might be the chance to take a wander through the local area and sample Havana’s amazing street life before retiring to bed ready for the tour ahead.

Tuesday

During breakfast at the hotel, you will meet your experienced guide and fellow group members and hear the latest plans for the week ahead!

There is no better “scene setter” than the Museum of the Revolution so this is the first stop on our unique Havana city tour. Housed in the former Presidential Palace the museum offers a fascinating insight into Cuba’s revolutionary history. Back into the sunshine for a fascinating, guided stroll through Old Havana, visiting the four famous historical squares, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza De San Francisco, Plaza Vieja and Plaza De Armas. Absorb the atmosphere and amazing vibrancy of Old Havana and we will explore the narrow bustling streets which many have described as walking through a film set!

At the end of an unforgettable tour in which the guide will ensure you have seen the sights and a number of hidden, but fascinating locations away from the normal tourist route, you will have the chance to learn a little about the production of Cuba’s world famous rum at the Havana Club Rum factory.

Lunch will be taken overlooking the oldest square, Plaza Vieja at the highly regarded Santo Angel restaurant, a firm favourite in Havana there will be the chance to relax and enjoy the view across the square.

After lunch we will spend the afternoon exploring Havana in Old American cars!!! You will be chauffeur driven through the city in the most fantastic vehicles dating back to the 50s, a great way to enjoy this unique city!

The cars will take you to the impressive Revolution Square overlooked by the mural of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, through the downtown Vedado district of the city and past the elegant mansions and embassies in Miramar district before a spectacular drive along the “Malecon”, Havana’s seafront promenade. The tour this afternoon will also include a visit to one of Havana’s famous working cigar factories to see firsthand how the world famous cigars are still hand rolled! The late afternoon will be free to enjoy Havana independently or relax at the hotel.

This evening we will enjoy dinner and music at La Fontana , a restaurant in Havana that is the perfect spot after a day exploring the city. With great food, service and music, it’s a fitting end to a fabulous day.

After dinner there is an optional chance to experience the famous Tropicana Cabaret, local Jazz or live music venue to experience some of Cuba's unique sounds first hand.

Wednesday

After an early breakfast the coach heads towards Las Terrazas National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty which is protected as one of Cuba’s most important National Parks, we will visit the former coffee plantation houses where the guide will recount the history of Cuba’s coffee industry linked so closely to the slave trade.

Wander through the lakeside village, meet the local community and have a coffee in Maria’s coffee shop whilst the more adventurous can take an exhilarating zip wire ride through the tree tops and across the lake, quite an experience!

A short walk will take you along the San Juan River to an area of natural pools where it’s possible to swim, relax by the river, sunbathe or take a walk along the river banks and a rustic Cuban lunch will be served in this idyllic spot.

Continuing to the immensely picturesque Vinales Valley an area of outstanding natural beauty, dominated by strange limestone mountain formations called “Mogotes” and the home of Cuba’s tobacco plantations.

During your time in Vinales, there will be a visit to a typical tobacco drying house to see how the tobacco crops are turned into the world’s best cigars. Take a leisurely guided walk through the valley stopping off at a farmer’s house for coffee, enjoy a boat ride through the impressive El Indio cave system and explore the picturesque Vinales village.

This evening, we have arranged a special al fresco BBQ for you at the hotel pool area where the views across the valley as the sun sets are amazing, yet another unique experience! Later in the evening taxis can take you to Vinales village for some late drinks or even some dancing!

Thursday

After an early breakfast we head east through the heart of Cuba and down the very quiet “ motorway” to Santa Clara , a city of major historical significance in Cuba. Lunch will be served on arrival at a hotel with a pool perfect for a quick swim!

After lunch we will visit the final resting place of Che Guevara at the very symbolic Mausoleum with time to visit the museum dedicated to his life before, continuing to “Tren Blindado” the train that was attacked by Che Guevara in the last battle of the Cuban Revolution. Driving north in the late afternoon, along an interesting and meandering road, we will reach the historic and very quaint small city of Remedios one of the oldest in Cuba. Settling in at the boutique hotel Barcelona, there might be a chance to have a pre-dinner drink at El Louvre the oldest bar in Cuba before dinner is served at the hotel.

Friday

After breakfast, we will explore historic Remedios the home of the “Parrandas” the oldest festival in the Caribbean, where on Christmas Eve the city erupts into a cauldron of fireworks and noise! On our tour we will visit a fascinating museum dedicated to this festival as well as one of Cuba’s most ornate and finest churches overlooking the main square.

We then leave Remedios, heading around the Escambray mountains we make a stop at the small town of Sancti Spiritus. A perfect place to stop for a while and absorb the delightful river setting of this city founded in 15 14, with the historic bridge over the Yayabo river and the small cobblestoned streets leading to the centre.

We then continue to Sugar Mill valley where the 145 ft Manaca Iznaga Tower stands as a silent witness to Cuba’s history of slavery where over 30.000 slaves worked in the sugar plantations overlooked by the tower! A ghostly visit.

On arrival into Trinidad lunch will be served before we explore the cobblestone streets of historic Trinidad preserved by UNESCO as a world heritage site!

Included in the tour will be visits to the Romantic Museum, depicting the lifestyle and architectural design of Trinidad’s colonial past and the Museum of the Fight Against the Bandits which covers the revolutionary battles in the nearby Escambray mountains and here you can climb the bell tower for the very best views across Trinidad. Sample the unique Trinidad rum and sugar cane cocktail at La Canchanchara, an old house dating back to the 18th Century, beware, it is lovely, but very strong!

Overnight will be at Brisas Trinidad hotel situated by the Caribbean sea where on arrival dinner will be served. If you still feel lively, head back into town for authentic live Cuban music and mojitos at the Casa De La Trova!

Saturday

Today you have a choice of taking an optional local excursion for a small supplement, exploring the area independently or soaking up the sun on the beach!

Enjoy a cruise on the Caribbean Sea with complimentary local drinks onboard and swim or snorkel in the crystal clear waters. Visit Cayo Blanco, a desert island surrounded by coral reefs, teeming with tropical fish. Lunch will be served on the island after which the afternoon is for relaxing and swimming!

Alternatively head up to the Escambray Mountains, where the air is cool and the scenery outstanding! Take a guided short trek through the ferns and palms and listen out for the Tocororo, Cuba’s national bird. Visit the impressive Caburni waterfall and swim in the cooling waters at the foot of the falls. A typical Cuba lunch will be served with local coffee and there will be time to relax again before heading down to sea level!

The evening will be at leisure to enjoy dinner independently in one of Trinidad’s ever growing choice of restaurants and as it’s the final evening in Trinidad and it’s the weekend dancing to local live music is a must!

Sunday

After a leisurely lunch head along the south coast road to the colonial city of Cienfuegos, situated overlooking a beautiful bay where on arrival, there will be a panoramic tour of this colonial city including the central square and a bustling French influenced main street .Lunch will be served overlooking the bay at the Nautical Club and after lunch we head to Havana.

In the early evening we will have another truly unique experience as we head to La Terraza at the Asturias Centre for an excellent dinner overlooking the famous Prado Boulevard. Strolling through old Havana to the restaurant there can be a chance to enjoy a pre-dinner drink at the Floridita Bar, famed throughout the world for its close links with Ernest Hemingway and reputed to be the birthplace of the Daiquiri!.

After dinner seats are reserved for the final night spectacular! A performance by the world famous Buena Vista Social Club in their home city Havana, dancing is guaranteed and the evening is a fitting end to an unforgettable week exploring Cuba.

Monday

Today is free for you to explore Havana independently, relax at the hotel or leave Havana for Varadero, the Cayos or eastern Cuba.

For those leaving Cuba today a transfer will collect you from the hotel and take you to the airport for your departure flight home.

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