Essential Cuba

Essential Cuba

9 Days From



Essential Cuba

9 Days Starting and ending in Havana, Cuba

Visiting: Havana, Vinales, Bay of Pigs, Cienfuegos, Trinidad

Tour operator:

Cuban Adventures

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 12

Physical rating:


Age range:


Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat, Gluten Free

Tour operated in:

English , Spanish
From: $1390 $1346 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

NB: Prices correct on 15-Jul-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

On this tour package we use some of the better guesthouse accommodation presently available in Cuba, without departing from our grass-roots style of travel. The focus is on meeting the Cubans and learning about their culture and history, while visiting some of the more interesting and beautiful parts of the island. However, being our comfort class tour, apart from the upgraded accommodation, we also provide you with one of our most experienced and best performing guides. We include a few extra meals as well as some of the most popular activities that are usually optional. If you want to get a taste of authentic Cuban culture and are prepared to pay a bit more for more comfortable accommodation, this could be tour package for you!


  • Experience the diversity of destinations from Havana to Vinales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad & beyond

  • Have the freedom to explore each destination just as you like; flexibility with the advice and support of a local guide

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of colonial Trinidad, where you'll find an abundance of art and music

  • Stay in comfort class casa particulars (privately owned guesthouses) each unique, comfortable, and an excellent opportunity for local interaction

  • Visit the Che Guevara Museum in Santa Clara and swim in the Bay of Pigs

Places You'll See

Classic Cars Havana

The Malecon Havana

Farmhouse Vinales Valley

Bay Of Pigs

Teatro Tomas Terry Cienfuegos

Colonial Trinidad

White Sand Beaches

Essential Cuba


Expand All

Day 1 : Arrival Day Havana

Location: Havana

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Today is the arrival day of the tour, and tour participants will arrive throughout the day. The arrival point is La Gargola Guesthouse in Old Havana. Many of the tour participants will be staying here, while some will be staying a few blocks away in the newly renovated La Quimera Hostal. If you arrive to Havana today, or if you arrange extra nights of accommodation in the Guesthouses with us before the tour, your included airport arrival transfer will take you from the Havana airport directly to your guesthouse in Old Havana. If you are already in Havana for some other reason, we can arrange your included transfer to take you from your place of accommodation to your starting guesthouse for the tour.

Since it is quite common for some group participants to arrive later this evening, there are no included activities today. However your tour guide will be at La Gargola at 7pm to meet those group members who have already arrived. An optional group dinner with the guide in Old Havana will follow.

If you arrive early, the friendly staff members of La Gargola speak English and can help you with information and give you suggestions on things to see in Havana.

Day 2 : Havana

Location: Havana

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast

Havana is one of the world's most interesting cities to visit and recently it has become more accessible. Restoration of the oldest buildings has been going on for over a decade while many others are still neglected and decaying. Apart from the individual buildings being impressive sights in themselves, this juxtaposition of decay and restoration fuels the imagination and also a sense of hope. Add to that the living and vibrant society that lives within, the city has a unique character that will forever be etched in your memory.
This morning your tour leader will take you on a walking tour of Old Havana. You will visit the main attractions and also to some local favourite hidden corners! There is a lot to see in Havana, so we can't cover everything in this half day tour. However your tour leader will give you tips and suggestions on places you can come and visit on any extra days you decide to spend in Havana after the tour.

This afternoon we venture out in some classic old American cars on a tour to visit some of the interesting places outside of Old Havana. The neighbourhoods of Central Habana, Vedado, and Miramar have their own characteristics and charms, and these are best seen in a slow riding open air car. This tour takes us to the Revolucion Square where we stop to appreciate the huge images of the revolutionary heroes Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, and the scene of many lengthy speeches by Fidel Castro.

■ Included Activities - Old Havana Walking Tour, Classic car tour of Havana
■ Included Meals - Breakfast

Day 3 : Vinales Via Jaimanitis

Location: Vinales

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Heading out of Havana we stop at the town of Jaimanitas and visit the unique Gaudi inspired community project fondly named ‘Fusterlandia’ - named after the project’s founder & artist Jose Fuster. We will have time to wander around his amazing home and admire the intricate mosaic work here and around the streets of the community. After a visit to Jaimanitas we head off towards the mountains and the province of Pinar del Rio.

The town of Viñales is one of Cuba's most picturesque towns of this province. The Valley of Viñales is surrounded by steep limestone hills, and the floor of the valley is a UNESCO heritage site for rural landscape. It's here that the farmers employ traditional methods such as using oxen, or simply by hand, to till the earth. The main crops are rice, corn, root vegetables - such as yuca, boniato, and malanga, and most famously some of Cuba's best tobacco.

Today we will have some fun wandering the town, then discovering the art of cuban cocktail making as we learn how to make the best mojito! In the afternoon we have a salsa dance lesson to prepare us for a night out in this marvellous town.

■ Included Activities - Visit to Fusterlandia, Cocktail making lesson, Salsa lesson.
■ Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 4 : Vinales

Location: Vinales

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

We've included a walk of the Viñales Valley this morning as this activity has been one of the most highly rated by our travelers for many years now. The walk takes you through the UNESCO area of the valley where you will see the different farming activities that take place here and we will visit some farm houses, include that of a tobacco farmer who will explain the process of producing tobacco for Cuba's world renowned cigars.

This evening we include a visit to an outstanding organic farm with a spectacular view of the valley. It's here that we will enjoy watching the sun set over the valley and dinner in the farmhouse.

■ Included Activities - Guided walk of Viñales Valley - Visit to an organic farm, Entry into ‘Polo Montañes’ open air nightclub.
■ Included Meals - Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 : Cienfuegos Via Bay Of Pigs

Location: Bay of Pigs, Cienfuegos

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Today we head from Vinales along the Caribbean coast and to the very different city of Cienfuegos. We stop in the Bay of Pigs at an excellent site for snorkelling, which can be done straight off the coast. Snorkelling gear is available for hire at low cost. If water activities are not your thing, you can sit in the share of a sea grape tree and enjoy the natural scenery.

The port city of Cienfuegos was developed by the French who came here to settle. The French had a strong influence on the city layout, which features an expansive main square, and a very pretty boulevard that runs from the city center, along the edge of the bay and to the end of the peninsula.

It's here at the end of Peninsula that you'll find the Palacio del Valle. This was a privately built mansion that was constructed by a wealthy businessman and merchant. The architecture of the building is a mixture of styles, but what is clear is that a great deal of expense and effort went into its construction and decoration, and the result is nothing short of spectacular.

■ Included Activity - Swim at Bay of Pigs, Visit to the Palacio del Valle.
■ Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6 : Trinidad

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast

Trinidad is one of Cuba's most exciting cities with a colonial hub that has been impressively conserved. The town's small and compact size means that all of its attractions within the city can be visited on foot. Its wealth grew through sugar production using African slave labour in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the architecture of the buildings reflect that period.

While we are in Trinidad we will experience a fun interactive music & percussion lesson with one of the maestros of music. This is one of the highlights and a fantastic way to learn more about Cuban music, dance and rhythms, an integral part of Cuban culture.

Finish the day while relaxing with a cocktail at sunset. Trinidad is well known for its lively nightlife and there are many open air restaurants, bars, and live music and dance shows. Join your tour leader and the rest of the group to explore the city at night, or explore on your own!

■ Included Activities - Interactive music & percussion lesson. Sunset cocktail
■ Included Meals - Breakfast

Day 7 : Trinidad

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we have some free time before heading to the beautiful Ancon beach together. Natalia's favourite excursion is a 3 hour return hike to a beautiful waterfall in the nearby mountains. She can arrange to take you there. However if you prefer to spend your time wandering around the streets of Trinidad visiting museums or listening to local musicians, Natalia can give you tips on the best places to go. Guided day tours can also be arranged through Trinidad Adventures.

Tonight we have an included dinner at one of the fantastic local paladares. From here we will head out together to one of the many venues around Trinidad where live bands play all types of Cuban music, from traditional to more modern salsa music.

■ Included Activities - Ancon Beach, entry to music venue.
■ Included Meals - Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 : Havana Via Santa Clara

Location: Havana

Accommodation: You will be staying at a Comfort Class casa particular a licensed and professionally run guesthouse that has been vetted for cleanliness and comfort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

On the way back to Havana we will make a stop in Santa Clara and visit the Che Guevara Museum and Mausoleum. Che is an extremely controversial figure in Latin America and an immensely important figure in Cuba's history. His remains were found in Bolivia and brought here to rest in 1990. There is a huge bronze statue of El Che, an eternal flame and many of his personal items as exhibits in the Museum. We will stop for lunch on the journey back to Havana and settle back into our accommodation for the last night of the tour.

Tonight is our final evening as a group, and your tour guide will propose a few different dining options, as well as places to go out afterwards such as live music venues, bars, or dance venues. As always, you have the option to explore on your own with tips and ideas that the guide can help you with.

■ Included Activities - Visit to Che Guevara Museum
■ Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9 : Departure Day

Location: Havana

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today is the departure day of the tour and you are free to depart at anytime. Your guide will be around and available until at least midday. You can pre-book a departure transfer to the airport with us for an extra fee. Otherwise you can arrange your own, or ask your guesthouse to help you with this the day before.

We recommend a few extra nights in Havana after the tour to further explore this amazing city. We recommend you request this in our Guesthouses in Old Havana, however you are free to book your own, or otherwise we can help you book a hotel of your choice.

Included Meals - Breakfast

What's Included

  • Accommodation

    Comfort Class Casa Particular

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

    Arrival transfer included

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

    Private air conditioned transportation in taxi, minibus, or bus

  • Fully Guided

    English and Spanish speaking tour leader

  • Meals – Half Board

    All breakfasts after arrival day, 2 dinners, 3 lunches

What's Not Included

  • Country Entry Visas

  • Departure transfer not included

  • Drinks with Meals

  • Meals – Full Board

    Only breakfasts 2 dinners & 3 lunches

  • Tipping and Gratuities

    Gratuities for tour leader, driver, local guides, musicians, etc not included


Check out our Q&As

  • What happens if a group doesn’t make its minimum required number of passengers?

    The tour will be cancelled and booked travellers will be given a full refund

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    The guesthouses we stay in are all professionally run, and have been vetted for cleanliness and standard level comfort. They are all air-conditioned or sufficiently cooled, and nearly all have an en-suite bathroom. They are more like a bed & breakfast and less like a homestay and are all unique. We encourage you to interact with the families and staff, but it is not necessary.

  • What is the tipping policy?

    Cuba is a tipping country. You can budget $2-5/day for the tour leader, $1-3/day for the driver, $1-5 for a local guide, $1 for musicians in restaurants or on the streets, $.25 for bathroom attendants

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    Yes, children 18 and under are welcome accompanied by an adult

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    There is a lot of walking on this tour, so travellers should feel comfortable with that.

  • What documentation will I receive?

    When you book you will receive your Trip Notes (Essential Trip Information) and maps. Then 10 days before your tour you will receive a pre-departure email with the accommodations information, guide name and contact, and airport arrival information.

  • Is there a limit to luggage that can be brought on the tour?

    You must be able to carry your own luggage up stairs, so we suggest packing lightly.

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    You will receive the name and address of your Havana casa 10 days in advance. Your accommodations in the rest of the provinces are assigned upon arrival.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    No flights are included

  • Are all the relevant entry visa’s included in the price of the tour?

    The visa (or tourist card) is not included, it can be obtained from your airline, local embassy, or third party seller.

  • Is the tour coach air conditioned?

    Yes, all of our transportation is air conditioned

  • Are vaccinations required for this tour?

    Yes, we require proof of vaccination or a signed medical waiver.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    At a minimum all guides speak English and Spanish

  • What currencies are required for this tour?

    We suggest you bring spending money in euros. USD is not accepted by banks or currency exchange places, so we do not recommend it. What

  • Is there a supplement for solo travellers?

    Solo travellers are invited to share a room with a same sex traveller on the tour. If you prefer a single room, you can pay the single supplement of US343

  • Do you require a visa for this holiday?

    Cuba requires citizens from most countries to have a visa (tourist card)

  • What is the maximum group size?

    12 travellers

  • Will passengers from another country be participating in the tour?

    Travellers from all countries are welcome on this tour.

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    This tour is designed for the traveller that wants the freedom to do what they want while in Cuba. The only thing you need to do is make sure you are ready for the bus to the next destination, aside from that you have complete freedom in each destination. The guide gives a walking orientation tour, suggestions for restaurants and activities, and then you're off on your adventure.

  • Is free Wi-Fi available in the accommodation used?

    Most accommodation do not offer free wi-fi, although increasingly they do have a connection. You must buy a wi-fi card to connect, it is around US$1

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Airport arrival transfer is included, as long as we have arranged your first night stay. Otherwise the transfer is included from your pre-tour accommodations to your first night casa.

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    We will gladly arrange for pre- or post- tour accommodation.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, we can normally arrange for you to meet up with the group. Transportation at traveller's own expense.

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We can often change the dates with no penalty if it's far enough in advance. Otherwise, our cancellation policy will apply.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes, there are strict health and safety guidelines that all casas particulares must adhere to.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    We adhere to all local protocol and best practices, including social distancing, sanitizing, and mask wearing. Travellers must be fully vaccinated.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    When you are confirmed on the tour you will receive the Essential Trip Notes with information to help you prepare for your tour and maps of each of the destinations. Then 10-days before the tour you'll receive a pre-departure message with the tour leader's name, arrival instructions, and the name and phone number of the casa where you'll be staying in Havana.

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    We have proudly been in operation since 2005

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Solo travellers are not required to pay single supplement if they are willing to share with someone of the same gender.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    Like-minded individuals of all ages who are interested in a cultural adventure and getting to know the real Cuba

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Sally Potapenko  

Cuban Adventures


Cuba is the most beautiful country and Cuban Adventures has wonderful, knowledgeable guides that will make your trip one-of-a-kind. This is my second trip and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one. The only trouble is I have to come home.


Cuban Adventures


Our trip with Cuban Adventures was a very enriching travel experience! From the moment we began our trip, we felt safe and excited to experience Cuba with a trusted company. Cuban Adventures took care of every detail, from organizing our itinerary to providing us with knowledgeable local guides who enriched our understanding of Cuba's culture and history. What stood out the most was how Cuban Adventures supports local communities. By staying in casas particulares, dining in private restaurants, and hiring local guides, Cuban Adventures helps contribute directly to the local economy. We were constantly amazed by the kindness and resilience of the Cubans we met. We highly recommend Cuban Adventures to anyone seeking an authentic and meaningful experience in Cuba. They make sure your journey is not only unforgettable, fun, and safe - but also that it supports the local communities you visit.


Great way to see Cuba!


Highly recommended! First of all Cuba is an extremely beautiful and SUPER SAFE country to travel thru. But it can be a bit challenging - which is why Cuban Adventures is the way to go. I did the 9-Day Comfort trip. All of the accommodations were great. I was traveling by myself. So enjoyed meeting new people but also exploring on my own. I was able to do some side trips and experiences off the recommended tour. Our guide was Yamina who was smart, funny, sassy and always had our interests in mind. Everyone knew her! Our diver was Pepito who was good fun.

Susan   United States

Essential Cuba Tour


We did the Essential Cuba tour in February, with 9 others on our bus. Yanet and William took great care of us and we all became a family. Casas familiares were lovely, food was great and all the people we met were warm and friendly. A perfect introduction to Cuba — We’ll be back for sure!


Cuban Adventures


This was my third trip to Cuba with Cuban Adventures. I am always impressed with the thoroughness and attention to detail in our program. The total experience went very smoothly, even considering any unexpected surprises. Their professionalism exceeds my expectations by a large margin. I plan to travel with them again soon!

Mark - United States  

Cuban Adventures


Having travelled to Cuba many times in the past, I am happy to say that Cuban Adventures made my latest visit the most seamless and accommodating ever. Definitely my best out of (14) total trips! I give my highest recommendation to this agency because of the excellent staff, professionalism, and overall business model. Compare them to others and you will see what I mean. Completely satisfied!

Mark Thomas  

5 Stars


Excellent experience in Cuba with Cuban Adventures, great itinerary, wonderful guide, comfortable transportation, immaculate accommodations, delicious meals, a great value as well. Highly recommended.


Cuban Adventures


Absolutely fantastic tour! Adita, our guide, was exceptional. The experience surpassed all expectations. From captivating cities to breathtaking nature stops, delicious food, and wonderful encounters, every moment was a joy. Highly recommend


Cuban Adventures


Cuban Adventures The Cuban people are what an American would consider as "Midwest nice". You'll visit as a tourist and leave with family. Our tour guide, Lazaro, made our trip special and changed the itinerary based on our interest. I would highly recommend Cuban Adventures to assist with local touring!

Stephen - United States  

9 Day This Cuban Life


This is an excellent introductory tour of Cuba. Our tour guide, Camilo, was outstanding! Highly recommended for an American traveler. A good value and a very good choice for a first time visitor.

Read all 24 reviews

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Thursday - Friday

Oct 10, 2024 - Oct 18, 2024
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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

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Nov 28, 2024 - Dec 06, 2024
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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

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Dec 12, 2024 - Dec 20, 2024
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Dec 26, 2024 - Jan 03, 2025
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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

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May 15, 2025 - May 23, 2025
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Jun 05, 2025 - Jun 13, 2025
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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

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Oct 30, 2025 - Nov 07, 2025
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Thursday - Friday

Nov 27, 2025 - Dec 05, 2025
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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

Thursday - Friday

Dec 18, 2025 - Dec 26, 2025
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Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$44

Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Cuban Adventures allows you to make 2 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Cuban Adventures allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform cuban adventures, 15 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Cuban Adventures requires a minimum deposit of 100 USD per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of cuban adventures charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 25% of booking price.

    At 15 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

  • Cancellation for Covid Reasons

    If you must cancel 15 days or less prior to your tour for COVID reasons and you have a doctors note, we offer either 50% refund plus 50% credit, or 100% credit for travel with us on a future date.

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