Historic old buildings and blue vintage car in Cuba
What is Stride?

Cuba - Best Tours & Trips 2019

Long closed to most U.S. travelers, Cuba is now subject to fewer travel restrictions, and Americans are discovering what the rest of the world has known for years: the island nation 90 miles south of Florida has friendly people, a vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, and 1950's-era cars that still run. No matter the politics, Cuba and its people are sure to leave a lasting impression on you.
View All Cuba Trips

DEPARTURE DATES

 
Search trip start dates

Travel Style

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 524 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

Stride Select Save! Stride Select Get Member Savings Sign up to become a member to get access to Stride Select trips. These trips are discounted beyond the tour operator’s best price. Membership is free and only requires your email.

Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

Company

Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

1- 15 of 191 Trips Shown First 1 2 3 4 5 Last
X
Unlock Member Savings

In order to see Stride Select deals you must sign in. We’ve negotiated with many of the world’s best travel companies to save you money! Get the best experiences, save up to $700 per person, and be a hero to your travel companions!

or
or
Provide email and Password

We respect your privacy and take great care to protect your information. By joining you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Already a member?

With FREE membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
See member program details

Top Cuba Experiences and Attractions

Top Cuba Experiences

Getting the inexorable urge to dance -- or at least tap your toes -- to the irresistible sounds of Cuban music, emanating from everywhere.

Taking a nostalgic trip back to the 1950s, in effect, by ogling all the amazing classic American cars still running on Cuban streets.

Becoming acquainted with typical Cubans through people-to-people tour groups that are both educational and fun.

Touring Old Havana, an UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in 1519 and replete with Spanish-style architectural gems.

Reliving the days of Ernest Hemingway’s decades in Havana by visiting his finca and his many watering holes that are still dispensing daiquiris and mojitos.

Exploring the lively Cuban art scene, which you can find displayed in museums, galleries, and on street corners.

Enjoying creative Cuban cuisine, thick with Spanish influences that go way beyond beans and rice (though that’s good, too).

Spending some down time at one of Cuba’s hundreds of beaches, many of them completely unspoiled.

Touring some of Cuba’s eight other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Santiago’s San Pedro de la Roca Castle, a massive fortress dating from the 17th century considered the finest example of Spanish-American military architecture.

Visiting 19th century-era coffee plantations in southeast Cuba, also declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Watching the sunset sitting outside on a warm Havana night while sipping a mojito and eating freshly caught prawns tossed in garlic and pepper.

view more

Cuba Trip Reviews

72 Cuba Tour Reviews - Summary 97% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 62
Great 8
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 2
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.8
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.7

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Just getting her on the plane required

5.0
OnCuba Travel Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Last November 2017, I went to Cuba with my parents which isn't easy being that my mother is Cuban born. Just getting her on the plane required
a H11 visa, a tiny piece of paper that requires a Cuban background check to allow Cuban born people to enter the country. Yaima Paez held my hand through the entire process of gathering paperwork, assembling and doing her part on her end to make sure it was received and my mother was able to visit the country of her birth. Thanks to Yaima everything went smoothly at the airport. We arrived and were met by our oncuba chofer , an incredibly charming man named Santiago who worked with us for the duration of our stay making us feel comfortable and safe. Yaima arrainged for us to see Vinales, las Terrazas, Varadero as well as getting us great seats at Tropicana. Oncuba not only made our trip possible but also unforgettable.

Nov 2018

This time around we are going all in and Yaima had the patience of a saint dealing with my OCD while I applied for my mother’s Cuban passport. This process took some time and back and forth between havana , miami , and New York but Yaima got me my mothers passport in time and on my mothers birthday! I am so happy with the service I received.

Read more
Operator OnCuba Travel

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

5.0
Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

Read more
Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

It was excellent quality

5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

I thought the hotel was the best in Havana - it was excellent quality. The food stops were very good. I learned so much about Cuba and her people due to the great places we visited - for instance, spending the morning at a health clinic and shopping for the evening meal at the local market.

Read more
Operator Alexander + Roberts

Really superb trip--highly recommended!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

This trip was really superb, starting with the folks like Alex in the San Diego office to our tour guide in Havana, Orelvis (a perfect gentleman if there ever was one--and he seemed to know absolutely EVERYTHING about Havana), and our driver, Boris (who was an extremely safe driver, and the SUV that was our transportation was a practically new Honda), and our friendly hostess at the casa particular (B&B).

But at breakfast at the casa particular, keep in mind the CDC guidelines for healthy travel: cook it, boil it, peel it (yourself) or FORGET IT. So the bowl of fruit and the fruit juices? Pass them up in favor of coffee and toast. I know that sounds boring, but after I got home, I ended up in the hospital emergency room for dehydration due to e-coli--my fault for not following the CDC guidelines.

Also, to get up to my room at the casa particular, I had to climb a narrow, curved marble staircase--I took extra care not to fall either on the way up or on the way down.

The activities and attractions were first rate (but you must keep in mind that you're on "Cuban time," and not everything runs like a Swiss train). From the Hemingway house to the canon ceremony (which I loved even though it was a substitution for another event that was unexpectedly closed) to the jazz club (again, we went to one jazz club that for some reason didn't work out, but no problem--Orelvis took us to another jazz club recommended by his supervisor in Havana) to the art museum to the Malecon to the outdoor terrace at the Hotel Nacional and more, it was amazing how much we saw of Havana in about 72 hours.

There were only four people on the trip, and that was both a good thing and a bad thing--good because each of us received a great deal of attention from Orelvis and bad because two of the four didn't want to follow the itinerary and often went off on their own and then kept the rest of us waiting for them to return (highly frustrating--finally Boris said, "the schedule is the schedule," and we stopped catering to them). One of them spoke fluent Spanish--good for her--but I did wish that Orelvis had curtailed the lengthy conversations that she initiated with him, which the rest of us could not understand.

Two of my favorite activities were ones that I arranged myself: attending the world-class ballet at the gorgeously restored el Gran Teatro and then taking a yellow 1950 Chevrolet convertible with an Italian driver, who was an absolute hoot, back to the casa particular.

And the food at the private restaurants known as paladars was first rate. We even had lunch at one that Anthony Bourdain recently featured on his CNN travel show "Parts Unknown."

Just a small word of caution: sometimes there wasn't enough bottled water in the SUV in which we were riding, especially when we were dropped off at the casa particular at night. Make sure that you have plenty of bottled water with you at all times. (The CDC even recommends that you brush your teeth with bottled water.)

I also wish I had brought another pair of shoes with me because with all of the walking in the heat of the Cuban sun, my feet swelled. Fortunately, I had brought some Band-Aids with me, which helped cushion the sore spots.

I highly recommend this trip--to my way of thinking, it's much better than taking a cruise ship that only docks in Havana for one or two nights--and the "Havana Weekend Getaway" is the most popular trip to Cuba that is offered by Discover Corps, as I learned from Orelvis.

Read more
Operator Discover Corps

Old Cuba is fantastic and should be seen before it's spoiled by capitalism.

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 3.0

This was my wife's and my first trip with Road Scholar. At the time (April, 2012), it was not possible for Americans to directly visit Cuba. You had to do it with a cultural/educational group, often associated with a university. Or, you could fly to Canada, Mexico, or Europe first and then get a flight to Cuba from there (while risking a ~$10,000 fine from the US Government). We opted for the legal route with Road Scholar.

It was a fantastic trip! We had a small-ish group of about 20 people and a wonderful guide, José Luis (who, like most Cubans, had never been off the island).
The trip began in Miami where we had an orientation and spent the night. Then we flew to Havana and stayed in the Hotel Nacional for four nights. It doesn't get more historic -- or fun -- than the Nacional:
https://vimeo.com/41612444

While in Havana, we enjoyed great history/culture lectures from experts, toured various parts of Havana (including Hemmingway's home in the hills nearby), and, on our own, had the opportunity to have dinner at a paladar -- a restaurant inside someone's home.

The Cuban people are friendly but the infrastructure of their country is in shambles. It's been a long time since Russia's deep pockets left the island (1991), and you see poverty everywhere. But not the begging-in-the-street kind. Cuba provides universal health care, education (including room and board all the way through grad/med school!), food staples, and a very modest income (~$30/month) to everyone. Most people add to that income by working on the side.

After Havana, we traveled to Cienfuegos. From there we saw the infamous Bay Of Pigs, but also the wonderful Benny Moré Art School where we learned of the fantastic support for the arts by the Cuban government. Children are identified in grade school as having artistic talent and then funneled into magnet schools like Benny Moré to study art for their entire scholastic career!

Don't go to Cuba for the food. It's edible (and won't make you sick) but rather boring. You mainly get the "three amigos": fish, pork, or chicken, along with rice and/or black beans. But the aged rum is superb and so are the cigars!

Probably my favorite thing on the island, though, was the music -- whether on the street or in a more formal setting:
https://vimeo.com/43273083

Cuba is fantastic. Go enjoy it!

Read more
Operator Road Scholar

Get to Cuba before it changes because it has to.

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 4.0

Cuba has been open to limited group travel for four years and is being opened to individual travel (still with restrictions) now. With thousands of Americans descending on our nearest island neighbor, Cuba has to increase its tourist infrastructure - and lose some of its charm.

Smithsonian Journeys is a great way to see Cuba before it changes. Yes, Smithsonian tours are more expensive than some other tour companies but the phrase, "you get what you pay for", certainly holds true. Everything about the tour was top notch - the American tour coordinator, the local Cuban guide, the itinerary - the best. And everything is included - everything - tipping, all activities, tours. Cuba is a fascinating destination and deserves a quality tour company.

Read more
Operator Smithsonian Journeys

Cuba Tours and Travel Guide

Cuba Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Cuba video

Long closed to most U.S. travelers, Cuba is now subject to fewer travel restrictions, and Americans are discovering what the rest of the world has known for years: the island nation 90 miles south of Florida has friendly people, a vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, and 1950's-era cars that still run. No matter the politics, Cuba and its people are sure to leave a lasting impression on you. 

Visiting Cuba is like entering a time warp. Because of longtime Cuban government restrictions placed on the purchase of imported cars, many Cubans have had to ingeniously make do with American cars dating from the 1950s and early 1960s.

Replacement parts are scarce but clever mechanics have found ways to keep them running. Hence a trip to Cuba is much like watching a classic car rally, except that these classic cars are in full use as taxis and private vehicles.

The time warp continues in the aging houses and mansions you encounter on a guided Cuba tour in Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the best preserved city center in the Caribbean. Many have Spanish-style balconies, arcades, wrought-iron gates and internal courtyards. Some appear to be on life support but remain standing, much as the classic cars keep running.

Visiting Cuba Today

Cuba is experiencing a surge in interest due to the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuban governments. This beautiful and elusive country is now more accessible to one of its closest neighbors and American travelers are itching to visit.

There are still some travel restrictions in place for US citizens however. As relaxing as it might sound, it's still technically illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba to laze on the beach, mojito in hand. 

However, the OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) does permit American travel to Cuba, provided it fits within 1 of 12 general categories. One of the most popular of these is 'educational activities' and tour operators have long led 'people to people' tours, which include activities like visiting with local musicians, farmers, and artisans. This is how the majority of American citizens have legally traveled to Cuba for the past few years.

More recently, travel regulations were further relaxed, giving tour operators even more flexibility with the types of itineraries they run in Cuba. This means virtually any tour in Cuba is legal for American travelers, but always check direct with the tour operator first.

Options for Cuba travel include primarily guided tours in Cuba. Taking a tour is one of the best ways to have an authentic experience in this rich and diverse country. Taking a tour doesn't mean being stuck in a large group on a coach bus either. Some companies limit their groups to 10-15 like-minded travelers to provide an intimate, accessible experience.

Why Consider a Tour In Cuba?

Although traveling to Cuba independently is now possible, it’s still wise to consider a tour. Due to the increased demand, hotel rooms in popular cities like Havana and Trinidad are hard to come by. This means that unless you plan many months in advance, you might be relegated to a less than desirable hotel that isn’t centrally located. Cuba tour operators, on the other hand, purchase rooms in bulk up to a year in advance, so you are guaranteed a room in some of the country’s most famous and beautiful accommodations.

The infrastructure in Cuba, specifically the road and transportation network, are still quite basic and developing. It can be hard to get around from city to city and all of the signs are in Spanish. Speaking of language barriers, it’s a challenge to find many English speakers outside of hotels and major tourist attractions.

On a tour, you’ll hit the major tourist sites, such as El Floridita (where Hemingway himself used to drink) but you’ll also have a chance to meet local artists and business people - all who can offer unique glimpses into the current affairs of this fascinating country. Tour guides can often show you a side of Cuba that you’d otherwise miss if traveling independently.

Must See Cuban Cities

Tours in Cuba often begin in Havana, with the most direct flights from Miami and other US cities. However, it is recommended to explore beyond the famous capital city, venturing farther afield to places like Vinales Valley, Trinidad, and Santa Clara. These ‘secondary’ cities have less tourists, but offer unique cultural and natural experiences that are not to be missed. 

Vinales

The small city of Vinales, and the surrounding UNESCO World Heritage Site Vinales Valley, lies a few hours to the west of Havana.  If Havana is like stepping back to the 1950’s, it can be said that visiting Vinales harkens back even further to the 19th century.

This largely agricultural area, where crops such as coffee and tobacco are still grown following centuries old traditions, is an outdoor-lover’s paradise. The lush landscape is dotted with karsts which attract climbers and hikers alike. The region is also known for its music and arts scene, much like other parts of Cuba. See best Cuba travel packages to Vinales »

Trinidad & Topes de Collantes

The beautiful cobblestoned-street city of Trinidad lies in the southern part of the island, about a 6 hours drive on Cuba’s notoriously choppy roads. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad has been beautifully preserved to its colonial charms. Artist galleries and restaurants with live music line the narrow cobblestone streets. Walking through an open door might reveal a couple of men playing dominos on a plastic table or a traditional pig roast in process.

Visit the Plaza Major to experience an open air colonial architecture museum and then check out live music next to the cathedral in the same location. Although accommodation is hard to come by, many Cuba tours make stops in Trinidad to take in its authenticity.

Trinidad also acts as a great jumping off point for Cuba adventures into Topes de Collantes, one of Cuba’s many national parks. Located about 12 miles from the city, Topes de Collantes lies in a mountainous region home to a plethora of flora and fauna, many endemic to Cuba.

Guided hikes are available around the park and are mostly mellow over well blazed trails. There are opportunities to hike with a local naturalist, who can point out local bird varieties. Other hikes end at picturesque waterfalls where a cool swim is inviting in the tropical heat. Topes de Collantes is most popular with local Cubans on vacation, although many tourists, especially Europeans, are starting to discover its charms.

Santa Clara

Santa Clara is located is close proximity to Havana, due east about 3 hours. It’s probably most famous for being the place where revolutionary fighter Che Guevara is buried, and thousands of tourists flock here to see his final resting place. This historic city is also where the final battle of the Cuban Revolution took place in 1958.

Two columns of revolutionary fighters attacked the city, one led by Che. After intense fighting, the city was captured, and hours later, General Batista, then leader of Cuba, left the country. Santa Clara is a tour highlight for history buffs and a common stopping point on the drive from Havana to Trinidad.

Music & Art in Cuba

There’s something about being in Cuba that brings out the dancer even in those who travel with two left feet. It’s no mystery: the music -- salsa, jazz, rumba, merengue, and other genres, often combined into a unique Afro-Cuban sound -- is both ubiquitous and irresistible. You’ll hear it in clubs, bars, restaurants, bodegas, or just emanating from the nearest homes.

In Havana, there is live music on many street corners, including outside most of the major hotels. If you desire something more formal and organized, the famous Cuban band The Buena Vista Social Club still performs most nights in a bar in Old Havana. While many of the original founders of the group have passed or are no longer playing, a few still remain.

Many tours include a night out to hear these legends of Cuban jazz and it’s well worth the relatively expensive cover charge. Many times, the musicians will hang around after the set and if your Spanish is decent, striking up a conversation could be one of the highlights of your trip.

Other opportunities to see live music include the rooftop bar of the Hotel Inglaterra, located near Parque Central, where a salsa or rumba ensemble plays most nights. There are also a number of dance clubs around Havana, including Casa de la Musica de Miramar, El Turquino, and Cabaret Parisien, which hosts an elaborate cabaret show, complete with flowered dancers.  

Believe it or not, some of the most authentic music in Cuba can be heard while sitting outside having dinner at a paladares, or local restaurant, in Old Havana. Small groups of musicians will approach your table and give you a private concert, of course in exchange for a few pesos.

Many famous artists, such as Wifredo Lam, have come out of Cuba, however, many are still relatively unknown due to the isolation of the country for so many years. For authentic local Cuban art, a visit to the El Taller Experimental de Grafica is a must. This artist workshop, founded in 1962 with the support of infamous revolutionary Che Guevara, is still a thriving studio today. Inside, artists of all ages delicately create traditional prints using decades old techniques. Prints are for sale and you can discuss the pieces of art direct with the artist, which is a special experience.

Other top art galleries include Galeria Victor Manuel, Galeria Habana, and Fototeca de Cuba, which houses the country’s largest collection of photographs. Although many tours will only include a stop at the Museo de Nacional, most itineraries offer ample free time to explore these artistic havens on your own.

Art is also central to Cuban life, from Havana’s excellent National Museum of Fine Arts to street corner painters and much in between.

The Hemingway Legacy

You might be surprised to learn that American author Ernest Hemingway -- a longtime resident of Havana, where he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea" and "A Moveable Feast" among other works -- is still venerated in Cuba. His finca, where he lived just outside Havana throughout the 1940s and ‘50s, is maintained as a museum, and a popular stop on most tour itineraries.

Everything is kept the way he left it, except that a new set of cats (many of which have six toes, the progeny of Hemingway’s own fleet of stray cats), now curl up on his desk for naps. One of the most intimate glimpses into Hemingway’s sometimes lonely existence is apparent by the writing on the bathroom wall of his home. This is where he recorded his daily weight, in pencil. At some point in history, the writing was covered up, only to be discovered by museum curators years later while conducting restoration around the home.

You can also visit many of his old haunts around Havana such as El Floridita, said to be the birthplace of the daiquiri (one of Hemingway’s favorite libations) and La Bodeguita del Medio, which serves as a virtual Hemingway memorial (though still a working bar, with plenty of atmosphere). Both places can get very crowded with tourists and there are better drinks in town. However, it can be worth the stop for any literary buffs who’d like to sit side by side with Hemingway’s statue at the bar.

Another Hemingway haunt worth a visit is La Terraza Restaurant, located in the small fishing village of Cojimar, about 20 minutes from Havana. This is the very place depicted in his novel ‘Old Man and the Sea’ and the walls are adorned with black and white photos of the author himself, including many of him dining at La Terraza. It’s no surprise that Hemingway chose this seaside gem as a top spot in Cuba.

Best Beaches in Cuba

While Americans can’t go to Cuba just for a beach vacation yet, (if that's what you're after, consider the best travel packages to Costa Rica) other nationalities can -- and if you’re in a position to visit one of the island’s 300-some sandy beaches, you may find yourself mostly alone despite the glorious settings.

Among Cuba’s finest beaches are the white-sand Playa Ancon (on the southern, Caribbean side of the island) and 12-mile-long, white-sand Varadero Beach, the best known beach in the country. Both offer crystal clear waters for swimming or snorkeling. Be warned though that if you are looking for seclusion, you won’t find it at Playa Ancon or Playa Varadero. Both are well-trodden with tourists and feature many all inclusive resorts.

Other top beaches include Playa Los Flamencos, located within Cayo Coco off Cuba’s north shore. There are three main beaches in this idyllic location, although Los Flamencos offers the most privacy and tranquility.

Playa Pilar was the choice beach of Ernest Hemingway himself. He spent so much time here that the beach was named after his yacht, the Pilar. This bit of sand on the western tip of Cayo Guillermo is probably one of the least popular beaches in the region, for now.

Playa Los Pinos is perhaps the most deserted beach in all of Cuba. Getting here requires an off-road ride that is not accessible by public transport. But for the intrepid beach goers who make the trip, the reward is a long white sand beach where your only companions might be a band of wild horses.

Playa Esmeralda is a good spot for those wanting a bit of understated luxury. This smaller beach features two luxury hotels that are tastefully situated as not to be an eyesore on the pristine beach environment. If you’re looking to relax and recharge for a few days, in style, this might be the place for you.

Food in Cuba

Cuban food is often thought of as beans and rice, which are indeed served at many meals and can be delicious, but there’s much more to it than that. The cuisine has Spanish, French, African, Chinese, Portuguese, and Arabic influences, along with Caribbean favorites such as fried plantains, similar to but different from bananas.

Stews and many other dishes use a base of sofrito (onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano) for flavoring; more contemporary cuisine includes Spanish-style tapas. Coffee is on the strong side and Cuban sandwiches -- ham, pork, pickle, cheese, and mustard on bread -- are among the world’s best. Besides regular restaurants, a number of private homes, called paladares,  now serve as eateries offering authentic local cuisine.

This is great news for visitors as you not only get a fresh, delicious meal, but also the opportunity to catch a glimpse of local, everyday life. Tour companies have caught on and many now include at least one meal at some of the best paladares in Havana such as Doña Eutimia and Le Chansonnier. Just don’t expect a quick meal - Cubans take their time and you should to. Besides, what can beat sitting outside on a warm Havana night, sipping a mojito and eating freshly caught prawns tossed in garlic and pepper while waiting for your main dish of ropa vieja?

Vegetarians and pescatarians should have no trouble finding something to eat, although the former may need to get used to a steady diet of rice, beans, and salad for a few days. Seafood lovers, however, will found a bounty of diverse and fresh options from the surrounding waters.

Regardless of your diet or culinary preferences, you are sure to find something tasty and flavorful in Cuba as long as you are willing to be patient and explore some of the hidden gems in Havana and beyond.

Ultimately, the Cuban people themselves are the stars of any visit to the island. And the best way to meet them is by organized tour, featuring people-to-people encounters.

Travel to Cuba: Practicalities & Logistics

Capital city‎: ‎Havana (population 2.2 million)

Dialing code‎: ‎+53

Language‎: ‎Spanish

Currency‎: ‎CUC

Before you go

Visas are required for all American citizens traveling to Cuba. Most tour operators usually include this fee in the price of the trip, or have a separate visa fee that is paid once your trip is confirmed. Either way, it’s a good idea to book a Cuba trip with a tour company who will handle the visa logistics for you. UK citizens also must obtain a tourist card before traveling to Cuba.

Medical care in Cuba is quite good, with more doctors per capita than many other countries. However, you should always travel with insurance and many tour operators can recommend a plan to cover you while on your trip. Only routine vaccinations are required for Cuba, however, the CDC does recommend both Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations for some travelers.

Safety

Cuba is generally very safe compared to other Central and South American countries. Police are everywhere, and especially apparent in high tourist locations. However, as when traveling in any foreign country, use common street sense and pay attention to your surroundings. This is especially true in Havana, Trinidad and other large cities. Crimes of opportunity, such as pick-pocketing, are not unheard of, but a little vigilance goes a long way, and traveling in a group can help deter any potential trouble. 

Top Cuba Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Cuba tours are increasing in popularity these days, especially as the restrictions on American travelers have been relaxed. It is important to note that US citizens must still visit Cuba on a tour, but it is a lot easier than it used to be.

Cuba Photo Tours

Going on a photography tour in Cuba could mean a couple of things. It could simply mean that there are is time to take photos woven into the trip itinerary, or could go so far as mean that your trip is guided by a Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist, and you will be having photography workshops over the course of your trip.

Either way, a Cuba photography tour is sure to stop at all the most picturesque spots in Cuba. Expect to be taken through the colorful roads of Havana for a chance to do some street photography and find potential subjects, as well to the pristine shorelines to do some landscape photography as well.

How to Get a Cuban Tourist Card

A Cuban Tourist Card is different from a Cuban Visa, and travelers from any foreign country need them to enter Cuba. If you from a country that is not in North or South America, or Europe, you will also need a Cuban Visa.

If you are from the US, the only thing you have to do to a tourist card is pay a monetary fee. The card always costs $50, but some airlines may charge an additional processing fee. This is the first step in registering for a cuba tour package.

What to Expect From a Small Group Tour in Cuba

Tours in Cuba focus on highlighting the country’s history, food, and culture. Cuba’s infrastructure is still fragile - and somewhat rudimentary when it comes to tourism. For this reason visiting on a tour is the best way to ensure reputable and comfortable accommodation, and avoid scams, which are common.

Almost all Cuba tours visit Old Havana, a fascinating glimpse into Cuba’s past. Cuba tours for US citizens commonly visit schools, coffee plantations, meet local artists and musicians to fulfill the “Educational Activities” requirement allowing US citizens to travel more freeling to Cuba.

You could also stay with a local family on your Cuba tour, which is a great way to learn about Cuban culture, and especially the food!

Cuba Wildlife Tours, Birding, and Diving

Although Cuba is well known as an incredible cultural and food destination, it is subtropical island in splitting the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. As a result, Cuba has a wide variety of wildlife on land, and in the water.

For this reason, there are many famed bird spotting tours that wind their way through Cuba. With its variety of habitats (Cuba ranges from mountain ranges, to scrubland, to coastal mangroves, to extensive wetlands, to rainforest), there are dozens of unique, endemic bird species. 

These are mainly located on the Western half of the island, but a trip out to this part of the island will be highly rewarding. Bird watching in Cuba might result in your chance to see the bee hummingbird (the smallest bird in the world), the incredibly rare Fernandina’s Flicker, the Cuban Parakeet and Parrot, and the island’s national bird, the Cuban Trogon

The best scuba diving in Cuba is done between the Atlantic to the north of the island, and the Caribbean to the south. In particular, the marine park and archipelago Jardines de la Reina is worth visiting. Shark lovers will be pleased, while this park may not be known for its coral, it is noted to have very large fish and is virtually undisturbed, as it is a harder-to-reach dive spot. Regardless of where you are, though, snorkeling or diving in Cuba’s warm waters is a treat!

What to Wear & Cuban Weather

Cuba benefits from a year-round tropical climate. In the winter, it may get a little chilly at night, so pack a sweater. In the summer, temperatures are only moderately higher, although this is Cuba’s off season, and there is less tourism.

Overall, a vacation to Cuba is one of the easiest to pack for. Bring a bathing suit, some athletic shoes if you plan on doing anything active, and a pair of sunglasses. You can even forget your rain jacket, Cuba experiences the lowest number of hurricanes and tropical storms of the entire Caribbean.

Is Cuba Safe?

Travelers in Cuba still have trouble with pickpockets and scams, especially when it comes to exchanging money, which is notoriously complicated in Cuba. This is a good reason to visit Cuba on tour. Besides the safety of having other travel companions and a knowledgeable tour guide, they can help you avoid common scams.

Driving in Cuba is an adventure in itself, and travelers are advised to pay very close attention on the roads. Be prepared for very uneven surfaces and little to no light. Because of this, rail lines, animals, and pedestrians can, and do, come out of nowhere. And if you are in an accident, you will be heavily fined, regardless of who is at fault. This is yet another reason it’s better to have someone else drive you, get a Cuba package deal, and go on a tour!

Cuba’s History: Why is there a US-Cuba Conflict?

The reason for all of the increasing travel to Cuba is that the US and Cuba restored relations in 2015 after a 54 year hiatus.

This hiatus was a result of tensions generated before, and during the Cold War. In 1989, the US acquired Cuba as a territory after winning the Spanish American War. The Cubans then revolted in 1959, led by Fidel Castro, and the U.S. recognized this new government, although it was uncertain about Castro’s communist tendencies.

Tensions became more severe when Castro seized all U.S. private land. From this moment forward, the United States began to pass economic and diplomatic sanctions to isolate Cuba. In 2014, all of this changed when President Obama and Raul Castro (Fidel’s younger brother and successor) announced they would fully restore diplomatic ties.

All Cuba tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.8 for all Cuba trips.

191 trips from 78 tour companies with 72 reviews

More Cuba Guided Tours

What is Stride?

Stride is the top reviews site for experiential travel and tour packages.

Now you can search tens of thousands of trips from more than 1,000 operators and expert trip planners. Most travel agencies and websites only show options from large companies that pay big commissions. We show you all the options we can gather. We want you to have all the information to find your perfect trip, no matter who it’s with. About us.

Use Stride to:
Search thousands
Search thousands of itineraries and match your style and budget.
Compare local
Compare local experts with global tour operators side by side.
Read reviews
Read reviews by travelers and experts.
Read reviews
Save money as a Stride member (its free), with exclusive deals & rebates.
We are on a mission...

...to help more people travel further, travel more, and travel better. Learn more.

Got it
×
×
Sign in to Save Trips
Welcome back! We're so happy to see you. ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
  • Bookmark trips you like
  • Share with your travel companions
  • Track price changes
  • Access private discounts on trips you save
×
Sign in to see your results

TripFinder is a member-only feature. Don’t worry, it’s free!

With a membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
Activate your free Stride membership

Just use the email address and password provided in the email we sent.

? Forgot Password?

With your free membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
To Follow, sign in or sign up (it's free) ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
member benefits
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Please enter valid email address
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!
Something went wrong! Try again later!

x