Airport pick-up and transfer to your casa particular on day 1, where you will meet your host family and get a taste for this lively city with your guide. On Day 2 take a full-day Local Havana walking tour with a young Cuban guide who will show you the real Cuba and teach you about the local economy, culture, and history before learning to salsa dance with a Cuban instructor. On Day 3 enjoy another amazing guided walking tour of the rich culture of Havana and a cruise in a classic ‘50s American convertible. Go out to the best salsa bars and Cuban music clubs by night, meet the musicians to learn about the importance of music in Cuban culture, and lose yourself to the latin rhythms. Spend one last night at your casa particular before ending your trip on Day 4.
Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Airport Pick-Up in Havana & Homestay
(Estimated Time on Tour: 3 Hours)
Welcome to Cuba! You will be picked up from the Havana airport upon arrival and taken to your casa particular Casa Leonel for the night. Casa Leonel is located centrally, so it will be easy to walk to central Havana with your guide to take in all of the sights and sounds of this amazing city. Marvel at the decaying and grandiose architecture, hear the purr of American classic cars, and drink in the vibrant Cuban culture.
Delve into Havana’s rich and rapidly-expanding food scene and enjoy a delicious and authentic Cuban dinner with your guide at Los Nardos, an institution in Havana. Touted in some quarters as one of the best eateries in the city, the dilapidated exterior promises little, but the rich leather and mahogany decor and astoundingly delicious dishes inside suggest otherwise. This is the perfect place to be introduced to the vibrant culture and cuisine of the Cuban People. Overnight in Havana at Casa Leonel Homestay.
Day 2: Local Havana Walking Tour & Salsa Lessons (B)
(Estimated Time on Tour: 10 Hours)
Enjoy an authentic and home-cooked Cuban breakfast and get ready for a full day ahead. Your guide will meet you after breakfast and take you on a full day walking tour (7 - 8 hours) around Old Havana. Your guide, an expert in Cuban culture, will teach you about local lifestyles, history, society, and their current realities and political situation. Stop and talk with locals along the way who will tell you about their experiences living in this unique country and show you the real Cuba.
In the morning take an expertly guided walking tour of Havana’s lush gardens, parks, and plazas. Visit the Plaza de la Revolucion, the epicenter of Cuban politics and home to Havana’s rallies, protest, and public gatherings. Stand on the ground where millions of Cubans have gathered to listen to the speeches of Fidel Castro under towering portraits of national revolutionary heroes Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. Take a rest in the lush Diana Garden, one of Havana’s few non-communist memorial site, dedicated to Princess Diana of Wales. Stop at the famous and historic Colon Cemetery, considered to be one of the most ornate cemeteries in the world and the final resting place of many famous and influential Cubans. Learn about the history of the city and the Cuban Revolution as well as the current political situation from your guide, an expert in Cuban culture, politics, and history, and by stopping to talk with locals in each location.
In the afternoon take a guided walk through Havana’s vibrant arts scene. With your expert guide, visit some of the many galleries and exhibition halls that make this one of the most important cultural areas in the world. Visit the Workshops and Galleries above La Mina Restaurant and see photographs of Authentic Cuba by local artists at Cuba’s Phototheque. Next stop is the hip and contemporary Havana Factory, a vibrant visual and performance art space with an energetic vibe and popular nightlife. At each stop have the chance to talk with hosts and curators about Cuban art culture and its place in Cuban society. With your guide, enjoy an authentic Cuban lunch at La Bodeguita del Medio, a typical Cuban restaurant-bar, famous for the personalities who have patronized it in the past: Salvador Allende, poet Pablo Neruda, artist Josignacio, and many others. La Bodeguita also claims to be the birthplace of the classic Mojito cocktail, prepared in the bar since its opening in 1942, although this is heartily disputed by other Havana contenders.
Get on your dancing shoes and feel the sultry latin beat! Meet with a qualified local dance instructor at Casa Del Son and learn how to dance Salsa, Son, Rueda de Casino, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, Rumba and perhaps a few more you haven’t heard of… The lessons are delivered a short walk from your Casa by a licensed dance instructor, and in the evenings there are many free live music venues where you can do your homework! In Cuba salsa is like a language. It’s the lifeblood of the local nightlife and a huge part of the culture, and learning this language of love will teach you a lot about the culture and help you interact with the locals! Overnight in Havana at Casa Leonel Homestay.
NOTE: For dance classes you should get dressed-up as if you were going out for a night on the town. You might find your attire will help improve your dance moves! Look good, feel good!
Day 3: Havana Half-Day Walking Tour, Classic Car Cruise, Havana By Night Tour (B)
(Estimated Time on Tour: 10 Hours)
After breakfast you will enjoy a half-day guided museum tour of Havana. Visit the Museum of the Revolution, located in the presidential palace that was home to every Cuban President prior to the Cuban Revolution. The museum now is home to a wealth for information about the Cuban revolutionary war and its aftermath. See the San Salvador de la Punta Castle and Museum, the fortress that has protected the Havana Bay. The castle has been a major player in military and political events throughout Cuba’s history. These museum visits, paired with commentary from your guide, an expert in Cuban culture and history, will teach you a lot about Cuba’s past, present, and bright future.
Enjoy an authentic Cuban lunch with your guide at one of Havana’s many amazing and authentic restaurants: El Floridita, a historic seafood restaurant and cocktail bar particularly famous for its daiquiris and for having been one of the favourite Havana hangouts of Ernest Hemingway. After lunch, embark on a truly Cuban experience: a ride in a classic ‘50s car. Some of the most iconic things in Havana are the classic cars. Here’s your chance to experience that local legend and get to see Havana in style. On this Havana tour, you’ll ride in a classic ‘50s American convertible through the streets of Havana, cruising your way through the Havana suburbs of Centro Habana, Miramar, and Vedado, passing by points of interest such as the Malecon, the glamorous 5th Avenue in Miramar, the American "Special Interests" building, the Anti-Imperialist Square, Colon Cemetery, and the Revolution Square. And if you weren’t feeling classy enough, the tour ends on a high note – with a walk through the garden terrace of the Hotel Nacional and a cocktail overlooking the Malecon at sunset. It’s a truly iconic experience.
After your day of walking and riding your way through sunny Havana with your expert guide, get ready for a fun night out, salsa dancing and partying on the Havana 'By Night' Tour! After a guided walk along the Malecon to get in the mood, some street music and dancing, head indoors to one of the great Salsa Bars and Music clubs with Cuban guides as your chaperones. Get the opportunity to interact with Cuban musicians, learn about the importance of music in Cuba, and immerse yourself in Havana’s rich dance culture. Havana has hundreds of different musical venues, and you will have the chance to visit such cultural institutions as the Casa de la Musica, Jazz Café and the famous after hours clubs in Vedado, depending on your guide and where the night takes you! Overnight in Havana at Casa Leonel Homestay.
NOTE: Please bring an extra 15 CUC per person for cover fees, taxis, and drinks on the Havana By Night Tour.
Day 4: Havana Airport Drop-Off (B)
Enjoy a typical breakfast at your casa particular before saying goodbye. Your trip will come to an end with a Havana airport drop-off. We wish you safe travels!
NOTE: This itinerary can change during the course of the year due to a variety of reasons. We are not always able to advise you in advance of these changes. We ask for your understanding and flexibility in these cases.
VISA INFO: To enter Cuba, all foreign travellers will need to obtain a 'tourist card' (Cuban visa) and a valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months past the date of travel). A tourist card can be obtained from a number of different places - at the airport, at their local Cuban consulate, from their airline company. Many travellers conveniently buy it at the airport - please check beforehand that your local airport actually sells it.
ACCOMMODATION: A Casa Particular is a private homestay accommodation in an authentic Cuban family home which is licensed by the Cuban government. Cuban families often rent some bedrooms to tourists and offer meals which are served in the family dining room. It is a wonderful way to experience the warm Cuban hospitality and learn about their unique way of life. In a society with limited TV and internet access, Cuban people are famed for their friendly attitudes and for making eager conversation with foreigners so they can learn about the outside world. They are also happy to share their insights about life in Cuba and there’s no doubt that the interaction at a Casa Particular will be enlightening and intriguing. In Havana you will be staying at warm and wonderful Casa Lionel.