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Havana - Best Tours & Trips 2019

92 trips to Havana tours from 44 tour companies. 22 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.
Cuba's capital, and a cultural hub, Havana is a city of classic cars, cigars, music, and art. Here is where many Cuba tours begin, introducing you to the Spanish colonial history, particularly noticeable in the architecture dating back to 16th century. Then there's the modern history, reminders of which permeate every step. Enjoy wandering through this place where Hemingway passed the time and where time, it seems, stands still.
All Havana tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group 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 Tour 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 Ship 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 Guided 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.
Self Guided / Independent Tour 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 Ship 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*

$ 719 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

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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.

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

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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.

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Continents & Regions

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The Best of Cuba

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 411 / day
$ 3,699
From : $ 4,994
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • A true “people-to-people” experience with cultural exchanges such as visits with artists, musical performances, and local organizations
  • Riding in American Vintage Automobiles (Havana)
  • Home of Ernest Hemingway (Havana)
  • Cigar Factory (Havana)
  • Casa Fuster (Havana)
  • Bay of Pigs Museum (Giron)
  • Walking Tour of Trinidad
  • Bici-Taxi Tour of Camaguey
  • Beaches of Guardalavaca (Holguin)
  • Meeting Local Fishermen (Gibara)
Visits:
Camaguey, Havana, Miami, Trinidad, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago
View Trip

Kayak Revolutionary Cuba

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
14 days
$ 214 / day
$ 2,990
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Visit Caverna de los Panaderos
  • Visit Hemingway Museum, Cojimar, and Old Havana
  • Visit the Museo de Revolución, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, or the Plaza de la Revolución
  • Discover Túnel de los Alemanes, a natural arch created by trees and foliage.
  • Enjoy Baracoa’s completely unique Cuban cuisine that blends their hybrid cultural ties into the always-present rice and beans
Visits:
Baracoa, Havana, Cuba
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Havana & Trinidad

Lost World Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
7 days
$ 633 / day
$ 4,431
From : $ 5,450
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Visit Jose Marti Park with an explanation of the history and architectural style
  • Visit Finca Kenia,one of the oldest houses in Trinidad
  • Enjoy local music at Fabrica Del Arte
  • Visit the four key squares of Old Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site
Visits:
Havana, Trinidad, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago
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5 Nights In Havana

Lost World Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
6 days
$ 635 / day
$ 3,812
From : $ 4,346
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
Highlights
  • Enjoy a quaint piece of Cuban history
  • Get interesting insights into the life of Hemingway
  • Visit the famous Museo de Guanabacoa
  • Visit Cuba’s largest cave system, Santo Thomas Cave
Visits:
Havana, Cuba
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Cuba by Kayak

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 448 / day
$ 3,585
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Enjoy walking tour through Colonial Havana’s plazas 
  • See former military fortifications lining the beach in sharp contrast to the paradisiacal shores.
  • Visit Museo de Ernesto Hemingway, a somewhat recent development to Hemingway’s Cuban legacy. 
  • Explore surrounding banks, and snorkel along the coral reefs.
Visits:
Havana, Miami, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago
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Cuba Today: People and Society: Cienfuegos to Havana

Road Scholar
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 444 / day
$ 3,999
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Meet with members of a local musical group in Cienfuegos and learn about their careers as musicians.
  • Enjoy lively interactions at a local Senior Center.
  • Learn about conservation and enjoy lunch at a beachfront private enterprise.
Visits:
Havana, Miami, Cuba
View Trip

Cuba People-to-People Multisport Tour

8 days
$ 975 / day
$ 7,798
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Legally travel to Cuba on this special People-to-People Multisport Trip—the very first trip of its kind!
  • Explore Matanzas on foot, discovering caves and white-sand beaches, and meeting farmers and some of Cuba's famous artisans
  • Pedal alongside members of Cuba's National Cycling club through beautiful natural areas, rural villages and captivating colonial towns
  • Bike and hike the Viñales Valley, tobacco farm capital and World Heritage site, beloved for its geologically unique landscape dotted with mogotes
  • Be enchanted by the vibrant history, beautiful architecture and seductive vibe of Havana
Visits:
Havana, Cuba
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Cuban Highlights Ride

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 161 / day
$ 2,249
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Time to relax, swim and sample Cuba's famous mojitos
  • Immerse yourself in Cuba's unique history and culture
  • Cycle gently through stunning tropical scenery
  • Full vehicle support throughout trip
  • Cycling leaders trained to UK leadership standards (CTC Bike Tour Leader Award)
  • Cuban Tourist Cards included for all UK residents
  • Direct flights with Virgin Atlantic usually available
Visits:
Caribbean, Havana, Trinidad, Cuba
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A Taste of Cuba

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 144 / day
$ 2,049
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Learn to dance salsa in Trinidad
  • Visit to a tobacco farm and walk through tobacco plantations in the UNESCO Vinales Valley
  • Spend four nights in Cuban guesthouses
  • Three nights staying in a hotel in Havana
  • Visit Playa Ancon
  • Cuban Tourist Cards included for all UK residents
Visits:
Havana, Trinidad, Caribbean, Cuba
View Trip

Cuba: Havana Weekend Getaway

Discover Corps
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4 days
$ 499 / day
$ 1,995
From : $ 2,693
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Jetting off to Havana for a weekend uncovering the city’s main sites
  • Learning salsa dancing with an Afro-Cuban dance company
  • Walking along the cobblestone streets of quaint Old Havana
  • Uncovering Cuba’s artistic heritage at the Museum of Fine Arts and private art galleries
  • Watching vintage cars drive along Havana’s seaside boardwalk – the Malecon
  • Touring the home of one of Cuba’s most famous residents, Ernest Hemingway
  • Visiting a factory transformed into a hub for Cuban art & music
Visits:
Havana, Cuba
View Trip

Cuba Highlights

Peregrine Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
13 days
$ 310 / day
$ 3,664
From : $ 5,441
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Get behind the scenes and discover real cuban life. explore avant-garde sculpture with a local artist in ciego de avila, visit the tobacco fields for a snapshot of rural life in vinales and take a private tour of a ballet theatre in santiago de cuba
  • History enthusiasts will not be disappointed. visit the che guevara mausoleum and museum in santa clara, and learn about the bay of pigs invasion at the gion museum
  • The french-founded port town of cienfuegos is a real slice of heaven. enjoy a drink on the roof of its crown-jewel building, the palacio del valle
  • See why trinidad is a favourite among so many peregrine travellers. your time in this old-world cuban town includes a salsa dance lesson and plenty of time for seaside leisure
  • Never mind an impersonal bus tour. be acquainted with camaguey in true local style – on a bicycle taxi
  • Ride through the streets of havana in a vintage american convertible
  • Your 2-night feature stay at hotel nacional in havana which is considered a symbol of history, culture and cuban identity
Visits:
Caribbean, Havana, Santiago, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Camaguey, Cuba, Bolivia
View Trip

Rediscover Cuba A Cultural Exploration

Collette
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 412 / day
$ 3,299
From : $ 4,058
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Meet the owners of a paladar, a small specialty restaurant with its own organic farm.
  • Savor country-style farm-to-table Cuban cuisine.
  • Delve into the world of classic cars as you meet the owners of these restored vehicles.
  • Learn about the Cuban national dance, Danzón, along with a Salsa lesson.
  • Enjoy a musical performance by one of Cuba’s last Piquete bands.
  • Spend 3 nights at Cuba's pristine beaches of Cayo Santa Maria.
  • Savor a 4-night stay in lively and historic Havana.
  • Get an insider's look at the work and life of Cuban artist Jose Fuster.
Visits:
Havana, Cuba
View Trip

Manhattan to Miami

Topdeck
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 145 / day
$ 1,599
From : $ 2,159
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Local legend tour, New York City
  • Airboat experience, Everglades
  • Traditional Cuban dinner, Miami
Visits:
Everglades, Havana, Miami, New York, York, United States
View Trip

Cuba Libre!

Explore!
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
15 days
$ 153 / day
$ 2,290
From : $ 3,092
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Havana - Soak up the atmosphere of this contrasting city, bursting with life beneath a backdrop of faded colonialism
  • Trinidad - Enjoy the laidback vibes in this colonial town. Dance at the Casa de la Musica or sip a rum cocktail under the stars
  • Topes de Collantes - Walk through mountain forests, swim in fresh water pools and camp out in haciendas
  • Comandancia de la Plata - Trek through the jungle to Fidel's 1950's rebel headquarters
  • Vinales Valley - Admire the peculiar but spectacular landscape of steep limestone hills (mogotes) rising from the valley floor
  • White sand beaches - Enjoy Cuba's famous beaches in the coastal town of Santa Lucia
  • Casas Particulares - Stay in locally-owned and run private homestays in the heart of colonial Trinidad
Visits:
Camaguey, Caribbean, Havana, Santiago, Topes de Collantes, Trinidad, Santo Domingo, Chile, Cuba
View Trip

Cuba Libre

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
6 days
$ 87 / day
$ 719
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Experience cuban hospitality during a homestay
  • Visit a tobacco farm that produces world-famous cuban cigars
  • Discover havana's street art
Visits:
Havana, Cuba
View Trip
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Top Havana Experiences and Attractions

Top Havana Experiences

Wandering the streets of Old Havana while being transported back in time

Listening to the rhythmic sounds of salsa emanate from open doorways

Meeting famous local Cuban artists

Visiting the Havana Club rum factory, complete with tastings

Strolling the seaside Malecon at sunset, interacting with locals

Visiting the beautifully preserved home of Ernest Hemingway

view more

Havana Trip Reviews

22 Havana Tour Reviews - Summary 95% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 20
Great 1
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 1
Value
4.8
Guide
4.9
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.7
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.6

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Cuban Experience

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

Great travel agency! Quick and easy VISA processing. Agents are very accommodating. It was my first time traveling to Cuba and the Agents tailored a perfect guided tour for my family and I to get the authentic Cuban Experience!

Read more
Operator OnCuba Travel

Just getting her on the plane required

5.0
  • 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

They take advantage of the elderly

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0

I had high hopes for Road scholar. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer I got no sympathy from Road Scholar. The agents and management kept saying you should have purchased insurance. But the insurance was extremely expensive and would not have covered the cancellation fee either. I ended up attending anyways because I didn't want to lose my money. I felt sick the entire time and could barely complete the activities. The group leader was wonderful. But the program was very strict and I felt that they over charged for everything. They demonstrated shocking behavior for a non profit that is supposed to be all about education and supporting the elderly. Yet they constantly are sending catalogs and pushing expensive programs. I highly recommend taking your money elsewhere. They do not respect their customers and only care about money. They took advantage of a cancer patient and according to the others on my trip this is common.

Read more
Operator Road Scholar

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.

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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!

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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.

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Operator Smithsonian Journeys

Havana Tours and Travel Guide

Havana Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Cuba's capital, and a cultural hub, Havana is a city of classic cars, cigars, music, and art. Here is where many Cuba tours begin, introducing you to the Spanish colonial history, particularly noticeable in the architecture dating back to 16th century. Then there's the modern history, reminders of which permeate every step. Enjoy wandering through this place where Hemingway passed the time and where time, it seems, stands still.

Best Havana Sights

Havana is very walkable city and most hotels and guesthouses are centrally located to the major sites. Most tours spend at least three to four days in the island’s capital city, which is required to really soak up the local flavors and sights. Here are some of the ‘must-see’ sights around Havana:

Old Havana

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Havana is the epicenter of tourist activity in Havana. This is where the government has spent the most time and care in preserving the old Spanish colonial architecture to its original splendor. Building of varying bright, vivid colors pop from every corner, and the atmosphere is almost always very festive, with outdoor performers and street musicians. It’s worth wondering around for a few hours with little to no agenda as you’re sure to be entertained and engaged solely by the people watching.

Old Havana does have some worthy stops, including:

El Taller Experimental de Grafica. 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.

The Catedral de San Cristobal, located in a square on the edge of Old Havana, was completed in 1777. Explore its history and then relax with a coffee at one of the square’s many cafes.

Plaza de Armas is another popular square in Old Havana. Besides housing the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) it’s also a great place to grab a coffee or refreshing drink and watch the people go by.

La Bodeguita del Medio is a must-see for any Hemingway fan, as this was one of his most frequented haunts. This restaurant, famous since 1942, has played host to people like Pablo Neruda and Nat King Cole. They also have some great seafood and typical Cuban drinks like cubre libres, daiquiris and the like.

Plaza Vieja is yet another open space inside Old Havana but certainly worth a look on your tour itinerary. Surrounding the plaza are beautiful restored and colorful colonial buildings, with all of their architectural splendor still intact. The Casa del Conde Jaruco, built in the 18th century, displays some of the city's most beautiful stained glass windows.

El Floridita is another Hemingway favorite and the so-called birthplace of the daquiri. Although a bit touristy and cramped, these days, it is worth a stop on your walking tour around Old Havana to saddle up next to Hemingway himself (actually, a bronzed statue) and taste the drink that put this place on the map.

The Malecon 

This seaside promenade stretches for 8 kilometers around Havana and is a great place for a morning jog or sunset stroll. The Malecon is where local Cubans of all ages come to hang out, chat, listen to music, or just catch up on the day’s news. You’ll also see fisherman testing their skills from the edge of the seawall. For many Cubans, a night out just isn’t financially accessible. However, anyone can afford to take a beautiful walk with their loved one, and tourists seem to flock there for the same reasons. It’s generally safe to walk on the Malecon, but always be aware of your surroundings and go earlier in the evening when it is busy with people.

Havana Club Rum Museum (Museo del Ron Havana Club)

Given its ideal climate for growing sugar cane, Cuba is perhaps most synonymous with rum - which is made from distilling sugar cane. A visit to Havana just wouldn’t be complete without learning more (and tasting) how this drink is made. The museum offers multiple daily tours, in English and Spanish, and reservations are recommended. During the tour, see the machinery that is used to this day to process the cane into the final product. After the tour, enjoy a drink in the attached bar which often has live music.

Best Havana Restaurants

Havana offers many culinary adventures and the food quality has generally increased as more travelers have visited the city. 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.

Tour companies have caught on and many now include at least one meal at some of the best paladares in Havana. If you want to venture out on your own one night, reservations are almost always suggested at the following restaurants:

Cafe del Oriente is perhaps the best ‘fine dining’ establishment in all of Havana. Expect a good imported wine list and everything from steak to fish. A bit pricey but good food.

Habana Mia 7 is a tiny restaurant very close to the Malecon. On the menu: octopus, risotto, and fresh fish. Another spot for a nice dinner out in Havana.

Somos Cuba is a classic Havana paladar run by a couple. It’s a small, casual place with basic but delicious food. Have patience as the service can be slow.

La Guardia is one of the city’s more upscale and popular paladares. Walk up the marble staircase into the grand dining room and be transported back in time. Delicious food from seafood to lasagna.

Le Chansonnier delivers white booths with table clothes and an upscale dining experience. While waiting for your food, take in the beautiful artwork on the wall created by local Cuban artists.

Dona Eutimia is one of the more well-known paladares in Old Havana. Guests can sit inside or out and can expect basic Cuban fare. Not cheap but not fine dining prices either.

Travel to Havana: Practicalities & Logistics

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. Read more about what you need to know 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.

Given the influx of American and other tourists into Havana in recent years, advance reservations are almost mandatory for hotels, restaurants, and popular city attractions. Hotel and some meals will likely be included in your tour price, but always check direct with the operator. Most tour operators can also help secure individual dinner reservations.

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. Due to the recent increase in tourism, there have also been reports of prostitutes congregating around Old Havana and the Malecon. If you are propositioned, simply say ‘no’ and continue walking.

Top Havana Travel Companies

All Havana 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 Havana trips.

92 trips from 44 tour companies with 22 reviews

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