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.

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Top Cuba Attractions

Old Havana

Vinales

Buena Vista Social Club

Trinidad

Hemingway's home at Finca Vigía

Museum of the Revolution

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Must See Cuba Attractions

1. Old Havana

Street in Old Havana Cuba with classic cars

By far one of the top attractions in Cuba, and often the beginning and end point for Cuba tours, is Old Havana. Known for classic 50s era cars everywhere, crumbling yet still impressive architecture, and historic sites. Old Havana is a classic jumping off point for most tours in Cuba - providing historical and cultural context.

Havana has become synonymous with the vibrancy of Cuban culture and Old Havana takes this reputation in stride. Be aware of scams - many vendors will be ready to take advantage of travelers, eager to experience the real Cuba. For this reason, visiting on a tour is highly recommended (and required for Americans)

2. Vinales

Vinales valley Cuba

Getting out into the countryside of Cuba is one of the best parts of traveling there. When you venture away from the city you get a different taste of Cuba. Rural Vinales has its own kind of charm, despite being an economically depressed area. Vinales Valley has been named an UNESCO World Heritage Site - Cuba tours often include visits to tobacco or coffee farms, which are the main crops of the area.

3. Buena Vista Social Club

The music of the “Buena Vista Social Club” is intricately linked to an ideal of Cuban culture. A visit to the brick and mortar Buena Vista Social Club is a common included activity on Cuba tours. And while the experience has the potential to feel touristy, when you let the music take you - there is nothing but enjoyment to be had.

4. Trinidad & Topes de Collantes

Trinidad church in Cuba

Another region many may not think of immediately when traveling to Cuba, Trinidad & Topes de Collantes are frequently included on Cuba guided tours. Known for colonial era architecture, Trinidad is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for showcasing authentic Cuban life and for amazing art galleries.

Outside of Trinidad you'll find Topes de Collantes National Park. This is the perfect spot for hiking and taking in the natural beauty and wildlife of Cuba. 

5. Hemingway Haunts

The mythos of Cuba is, for better or worse, tied heavily to mid 20th century American author Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway famously spent many years in Cuba, the country inspiring much of his writing.

Travelers to Cuba will get a healthy dose of Hemingway when you visit his many haunts, as well as his residence in Havana - which has been converted into a museum dedicated to his life and works.

6. Museum of the Revolution

History buffs will love this museum dedicated to the legendary, if ill fated, Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the 1950’s. Housed in the original Presidential Palace in Old Havana, the museum goes through the revolution from inception to initial success, covering several key moments throughout the tumultuous road to oust President Batista.

This is a great stop on your tour of Cuba, providing wonderful context to Cuba’s complicated past, relationship with the United States, and how the revolution informed present day Cuban culture.

7. Morro Castle

Morro Castle in Cuba

This fortress, guarding the entrance of Havana Bay, is a classic stop for tours in Cuba. Originally built as a formidable defense against pirates and other invaders, Morro Castle was built in the late 1500s, taking close to 50 years years for completion in the early 1600s. While the castle was innovative in how it protected the island, the castle was captured by British forces in the mid 1700s.

Today the castle serves as a museum and very popular tourist attraction. Keep your ears open for the traditional 9pm canons!

56
Cuba Tour Reviews - Summary
96% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 46 Great 8 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 2
Value
4.7 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7

E

Recommends

Amazing trip! January 2017

5.0

Western Cuba

A truly amazing trip of a fascinating island. Our tour guide Ivan organized everything extremely well, and had an excellent relationship with all of us.

Operator Intrepid Travel

m

Recommends

Cuba - this was one terrific tour! November 2016

5.0

The Best of Cuba

this was one terrific tour! a great sampler of what cuba has to offer. the guides elio and randy were superb. i learned so much and my curiosity has continued. i've done much research on the history which was and is quite amazing. hotels were air conditioned and comfortable. i thank smartours for this wonderful opportunity. Read more

Operator SmarTours

MR

Recommends

Cuba tour October 2016

5.0

The Best of Cuba

Excellent Tour. Tour guides were outstanding.

Operator SmarTours

C

Recommends

People and Society tour July 2016

5.0

Cuba Today: People and Society: Cienfuegos to Havana

A trip of a lifetime! Scanning the catalogue for my next adventure!

Operator Road Scholar

S

Recommends
This program exceeded all of my expectations and makes me hungry for more! The sights and sounds of Havana thrill the senses, and the openness of the people I encountered challenged any erroneous or biased assumptions I may have held. The excursions to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santa Clara were equally rich. I feel that the depth of cultural and political knowledge I gained through this program could not have been achieved elsewhere, or with a more delightful group of people. Read more

Operator Road Scholar

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Top tour operators to Cuba for US citizens will focus on humanitarian travel, cultural activities, and educational travel. Those with a global focus may include similar items on their itineraries, however not as a legal requirement.

Cuba’s tourism infrastructure is still growing. Traveling with a reputable tour company, that has operated trips to Cuba for a long time, will significantly improve your chances of having guaranteed and comfortable accommodations. This will also ensure you see some of the countryside outside the major cities in safety and with knowledgeable guides.

Things To Know Before You Go

Useful Links

Visa Information

  Visa Needed?  Link
US Y  Visas to Cuba for United States Citizens
UK  Visas to Cuba for United Kingdom Citizens
CA Y  Visas to Cuba for Canadian Citizens
AU Y  Visas to Cuba for Australian Citizens
NZ Y  Visas to Cuba for New Zealand Citizens
IN Y  Visas to Cuba for Indian Citizens

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