Havana-Varadero 6 Nights

Havana-Varadero 6 Nights

7 Days Tour

Day 1 - HAVANA CITY

ARRIVAL DAY

HAVANA CITY MEET & GREET AT Havana International Airport

The designated tour guide will be waiting for you at the airport to welcome you, pick you up, and take you to the hotel or private place where you will be staying.

WELCOME TO THE HOTEL OR ‘BNB’ PLACE.

After checking in, the Tour guide will go over the Itinerary and answer any questions you may have about it.

DINNER AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 2 - HAVANA CITY

BREAKFAST

You will be met by your guide after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

THE FOUR PLAZAS OF OLD HAVANA - A FAVORITE PASTIME OF THE LOCALS!

The morning begins with a walking tour of the Four Plazas; a magical journey through five centuries of history and architecture that culminate to comprise Cuba’s first of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites – “La Habana Vieja” or Old Havana. The tour takes you on a stroll through the four main plazas, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza de la Catedral, giving you an insight to the truly magnificent and powerful place Cuba held in the Caribbean for centuries. You’ll see colonial fortresses and opulent palaces highlighting the majestic architecture spanning from Spanish Colonial to Neoclassical interspersed with a mix of Baroque. Old Havana is packed with churches, cathedrals and monuments, as well as a homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought iron gates and internal courtyards -- many evocatively time worn, but many restored to their original majesty.  The plazas host outdoor cafes, bars and restaurants where live music is always playing, as well as art galleries and quaint shops that can range from touristic items to hand crafted gourmet chocolates and exotic spices. You will want to return to explore La Habana Vieja on our own to explore and discover its magic and mystery for yourself.

LUNCH AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

EL PRADO – CAPITOLIO, PARQUE CENTRAL, PASEO AND MORE...

El Prado is one of the most exquisitely designed and splendid major avenues in all of the Americas and home to the quintessential structures that define Havana, ranging from Colonial to Baroque to Neoclassical to Art Deco. Designed in 1772 by French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, El Prado runs for many blocks from the dramatic fountain, La Fuente de la India, to the iconic Malecon, marking the boundary between Habana Vieja and Centro Habana. El Paseo, a marble promenade lined with a natural canopy of trees, marble benches, and bronze lions was recently chosen by the House of Chanel for one of the most dramatic runway shows in the history of fashion. El Prado encompasses all of the mystery and magic, all of the historic and cultural wealth that Havana has offered from the 17th to the 21st century.

MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES CUBAN ART COLLECTION

Very near El Prado, still in the heart of Havana’s urban center where La Habana Vieja meets Centro Habana, is a notoriously modern structure, housing the largest permanent collection of Cuban art in the world dating from the 16th Century to present. The collection boasts extensive works of the Cuban masters from the 1920s through the post-modernists of the 1980s who influenced a worldwide movement and hang in museums and private collections worldwide. The Palacio de Bellas Artes, curated to show exclusively Cuban works has its international counterpart in the Palacio del Centro Asturiano, devoted to universal art. You might have time for both, but you cannot miss the Cuban collection whose artists exemplify the profoundly multicultural, mysterious and rich history of Cuba and its people. Don’t forget to take a short stroll to catch a glimpse of the original Bacardi Building; an art deco masterpiece and a quick stop at the world famous Sloppy Joe’s bar that was reopened in 2013 after 43 years.

SALSA CLASSES

Learn all about the many traditional and modern Cuban dances such as the Cuban Salsa, Rumba, Son, Mambo, etc. Participate in a custom class based on your individual needs, considering your knowledge, capabilities and wishes.

DINNER AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT
FABRICA DE ARTE CUBANO

Fabrica De Arte is probably Havana’s most exciting art and performance venue. FAC an old oil factory that’s now a thriving arts space in Vedado, one of Havana’s residential districts. The eclectic crowd includes the who’s who of the art and music world mixing it up with young people from all over the city who attend regularly to experience art and music. The cavernous space includes an art and photographic gallery, a dance space, a cinema and a very well-stocked bar. On any given night you can watch a fashion show and a live concert, enjoy a meal, see a film and generally hang out in the most creative scene on the island. It was Mick Jagger’s favorite hangout in Havana and it will probably be yours.

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 3 - MATANZAS-VARADERO

BREAKFAST

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

DAY TRIP to Matanzas -Varadero

Known as the “Venice of the Cuba”, Matanzas is one of the most historically diverse and culturally rich cities in Cuba, known for its poets, culture and Afro-Cuban folklore. This historical city’s name, Matanzas, means “massacre”, and was named for a slaughter of Spanish soldiers trying to reach an aboriginal camp. By far, one of Cuba’s most emblematic cities, it is a tribute to 19th century architecture, with palaces and large parks and plazas surrounded by neoclassical structures, churches and museums.  This lovely, quiet city that stretches along the edge of a huge bay invites visitors to come and see its rich cultural wealth.  Twenty miles east lies the beach resort town of Varadero and traveling inland toward the south, you’ll reach The Bay of Pigs.  Your guided visit to Matanzas will focus on the city and surrounding areas, but the rest of this diversely and inviting province awaits you on your next visit to Cuba

THE BRIDGES OF MATANZAS

The city of Matanzas is built around the huge Bay of Matanzas, which cuts deep in the island and into which three rivers flow inside city limits. The Yumuri, San Juan and Canimar Rivers flow through the city, traversed by seventeen bridges, making it the Venice of Cuba or The City of Bridges. A guided tour of the bridges is fascinating and offers a great perspective of the city before you enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

HISTORIC SITES - CITY TOUR OF MATANZAS

An expert from the City Historian will join your group and act as your escort through a brief history of Matanzas through its institutions and architecture.  You will visit and interact with the personnel and artisans at the Pharmaceutical Museum -
A pharmacy, originally built in 1882 by the French, it stands unchanged today, giving the impression that time stood still. The tour will take you to the Palacio de Junco aka the Museo Histórico Provincial de Matanzas, is an outstanding example of Matanzas' 19th-century architecture, a built between 1835 and 1838 for the de Junco family, it has been a museum since 1980; and the Teatro Sauto, a proud symbol of the city, opened in 1863. The U-shaped, 775-seat theatre is a National Monument of Cuba with Carrara marble statues of Greek goddesses gracing the lobby.  Finally, you will visit the Catedral San Carlos De Borromeo whose first stone was laid on October 12, 1693. The once beautiful church with frescoes on the walls, ceilings and in the big dome, is now in a state of irreparable decay but is symbolic of a 17th Century Catholic presence on the island.

EDICIONES VIGIA

These creators of hand-written, hand-made books are among the most inspired and innovative publishing projects in Cuba. Ediciones Vigia is an independent publishing collective that began production in 1985. It produces handmade books, each not only of literary value but also a unique work of art. Located in a restored colonial house in the Plaza Vigia, the books are manufactured by dedicated artisans and no trip to Matanzas would be complete without a visit to this gem and tribute to the intellect and talent of the Cubans.

LUNCH AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

VARADERO CITY TOUR

A guided drive through the historic beach town of Varadero will highlight the modern architecture of the 50’s and the history of how Varadero was the playground for the American elite until the late 1950s. You’ll pass through the historic Parque Josone on your way to Xanadu Mansion. Built in the 1920s by U.S. millionaire, Irenee du Pont, the former president of the DuPont Company, you will participate in a historical tour of the mansion and the grounds while having a peek into a luxurious and opulent past.

RETURN TO HAVANA and Stops over at Yumuri Valley and The Bacunayagua Bridge on the way back.

YUMURI VALLEY AND THE BACUNAYAGUA BRIDGE

Pina Coladas and Panoramic view of the Valle Yumuri and the Caribbean. On your way back to Havana, you will make a stop for Pina Coladas at the Mirador of the Bacunayagua Bridge. The Yumuri Valley is among the most beautiful and breathtaking natural phenomenon of Cuba. Over 89 Acres wide and reaching the altitude of 150 meters, extending to the shore of the Caribbean Sea, it is also a unique ecosystem and home to important archeological sites. The Bacunayagua Bridge traverses the valley, a fete of engineering that offers spectacular and unforgettable panoramic views from the mountain ranges, across the lush and verdant valley all the way to the Caribbean Sea.

DINNER AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

MATANZAS-VARADERO MATANZAS-VARADERO

Day 4 - HAVANA CITY

BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL

You will be met by your guide after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

CIGAR FACTORY PARTAGAS OR SIMILAR

You will learn about the past and present of one of the Cuban cigar factory., founded in 1845 by “Don” Jaime Partagas y Ravell, will give you a first-hand look at the manufacturing of the Habano. You will also have the opportunity to meet and speak with the master rollers that have inherited and will pass down the fine art of rolling the best cigars in the world. Located in the historic colonial district of La Habana Vieja, the factory also has a VIP lounge and a store, offering the US connoisseur the rare opportunity to purchase and smoke a Cuban cigar at the source made by the master rollers at Partagas.

REVOLUTION SQUARE (PLAZA DE LA REVOLUCION)

One of the most dramatic examples of modern architecture in Havana, if not the world, is the Plaza de la Revolución José Martí. The Plaza is among the largest civic plazas in the world, measuring nearly 24,000 sq. ft., surrounded by modern construction and featuring the enormous obelisk monument to Jose Marti, built on the highest ground in Havana. It is major attraction for visitors of all walks of life, world leaders and dignitaries, including Pope Francis who held mass there recently and Pope John Paul II who visited in 1998. The plaza was constructed prior to 1959 during the government of Fulgencio Batista but gained popularity afterward as the center of public celebration and demonstration in Cuba. Two of the government buildings in the square, both mid-century modern (1958), is best known for the iron sculptures of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos that cover their facades, both by Cuban artist Enrique Avila. This grand plaza is also home to the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, built in 1979. This plaza is another one of those magical locations in Havana that throw you back in time but simultaneously offer you a great vision and hope for the future.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS CEMETERY - NECROPOLIS CRISTOBAL COLON

Founded in 1876, the Colon Cemetery is one of the great historical cemeteries of the world and is held to be the most important in Latin America in historical and architectural terms.  Located in the Vedado district, it was built by the Galician architect Calixto Arellano de Loira y Cardoso, who became Colón’s first occupant when he died before his work was completed.  The great cemetery is 140 acres in size and is noted primarily for the elaborately sculpted memorials and the opulence and majesty of the mausoleums and statues. There are more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels and family vaults.  Among the most notable figures buried here are many of Cuba’s greatest cultural figures including Jose Lezama Lima, Alejo Carpentier, Dulce Maria Loynaz, to name only a few; and since the 19th century, Jose Miguel Gomez, president of Cuba and many generals and dignitaries. With 800,000 graves and one million interments, there may not be a more beautiful place to be interred than Havana’s “city of the dead”.

PEOPLE TO PEOPLE EXPERIENCE - SHOP LIKE A CUBAN

Cuba is known for its fertile lands, diversity of ecosystems and its agricultural productivity.  The local farmer's markets are strategically located throughout the towns and cities are the source of this spectacular selection of products for the Cuban population.  Daily, folks purchase their fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and other produce at the local market in local currency.  Your guide will escort you to one of the best of these markets in the heart of the Vedado district on 19th St. and B.  Pick up some fresh fruit for your room or just feast your eyes on the tropical delights that grow on this island paradise. 

CALLEJON DE HAMEL COMMUNITY PROJECT

Callejon de Hamel is a unique tourist attraction in Havana Centro, the venue is known for its Afro Cuban art and Santeria rituals with rumba dance sessions.
The narrow two-block long alley between Aramburu and Hospital streets in Centro Habana has over the years become a shrine to Afro-Cuban religions through the art created by Salvador González. The buildings are lined with brightly-colored paintings, murals, sculptures and objects, which depict rituals and deities. Also, rumba groups play here every Sunday.

LUNCH AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

COPPELIA ICE CREAM PARLOR (FOR DESSERT)

Havana's Coppelia is a Cuban Revolution modernist building from 1966. Features five white granite discs annexed to one great helicoidal staircase, with wood and tinted glass division panels, all inside one big round roof supported by twelve reinforced concrete arachnid columns. The flying-saucer-shaped building that represents a UFO that has landed in Havana and is one of the largest ice cream parlors in the world. Holding 1000 guests, it is located on the part of Calle 23 known as La Rampa in the Vedado district, and occupies the entire city block between Calles 23 and 21, and Calles K and L. Coppelia has been a major city landmark for both locals and visitors since its opening in 1966, but acquired additional fame when it was featured in one of the most widely viewed Cuban films, Strawberry and Chocolate

VISIT TO FIDEL CASTRO SUITE AT HAVANA LIBRE HOTEL

Havana Hilton (now the Hotel Habana Libre), designed by Los Angeles architect Welton Becket. Opened in March 1958, it was Latin America’s tallest and largest hotel, financed by the pension fund of the union of Cuban restaurant workers but operated by Hilton Hotels. On January 8, 1959, Fidel Castro arrived at Havana and the hotel served as his headquarters, even as it continued operating as a Hilton (until October 1960, when all American hotels in Cuba were nationalized). In 1996 the Spanish Sol Melià chain assumed management of the hotel and restored the enormous original mural by artist Amelia Peláez over the main entrance which had spent decades hidden from public view.

LIVE LIKE A CUBAN AND WALK “LA RAMPA”

La Rampa, which means “the slope” in Spanish, is the last stretch of the famous Calle 23 or 23 Street, leading up to the center of Vedado. Built in 1930, the location primarily was used for a battery of canyons that protected the city from attack. In the 1950s, this was the area where many of the city’s highest buildings were built, including Someillán and the Mountain Lopez. Many hotels, clubs and shops also crowded along this stretch, such as Havana Libre, the former site of Hilton Hotel, the Hotel Capri and the Hotel Nacional. The country’s most famous ice cream shop Coppelia is also very close to the street.

This is one of the busiest streets in Cuba, at any time of the day. At night, it’s a vibrant, bustling street, filled with street-food vendors, thousands of attractive, young people and families. It’s an active, festive atmosphere, particularly on weekends.

Make a stop over at the Iconic well known National Hotel

EXPLORE THE MALECON LIKE A CUBAN

If you would rather walk off the calories from your delicious lunch, your guide can drop you on Havana’s Malecon, the seaside avenue that borders the Caribbean Seas through Centro Havana and Vedado.  A quintessential seawall is a gathering place for Cubans from all walks of life. Strolling the Malecon as the waves break on the rocks below, you might hang out on the seawall with friends and enjoy a cigar or a sip of rum, run into musicians playing to the rhythm of the city and tides, pass a couple in love or a whole bunch of local kids swimming in the pools created waves on the rocks.  The Malecon is the city’s artery and the heart of social interaction in Havana and there, you are truly living a Cuban experience like a real “Habanero”.

DINNER AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

LA ZORRA Y EL CUERVO

The nightclub (The Fox and the Crow) is located on La Rampa (23th street) between N and O street close to the Habana Libre hotel. This famous jazz club is considered as one of the best in town. You can't miss the location on La Rampa, the entrance is a replica of a red English telephone box and lead you to the basement where the club with a capacity of 120 people is situated.
The venue is popular among Cubans and tourists, many renowned names like ROBERTO FONSECA and CHUCHO VALDES have given performances in the jazz club.

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 5 - HAVANA CITY

BREAKFAST

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

FERRY RIDE ACROSS HAVANA BAY TO CASA BLANCA

When driving or strolling along Havana’s “Malecon”, the coastal avenue that hugs the city of Havana along its majestic port and iconic sea, you have a constant view of the iconic lighthouse that stands proudly atop a cliff guarding Havana’s spectacular natural harbor. The towns of Casa Blanca sit at the end of the promontory, across the harbor from La Habana Vieja and home to the famous statue of Christ, the Blanco Cristo.  From the ferry landing on the port side of Old Havana, you will board the ferry and enjoy the views for the 10-minute crossing to Casablanca or Regla. Most locals who live and/or work in portside towns travel across the harbor on a pedestrian ferry boat which crosses to the landings in Regla and Casablanca all day long at 10-minute intervals.

FINCA VIGIA - ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S HOME & MUSEUM

Your transportation will await you at Casa Blanca for the short drive to Ernest Hemingway’s home in the rural village of San Francisco de Paula, also just east of Havana. Named Finca Vigia or “Lookout Farm”, the home was built in 1866 and purchased by Hemingway in 1940.  This property, emerging from a lush tropical flora and fauna, was his primary home from 1940 until his death in 1961.  Hemingway loved Cuba and according to close sources, he spent more time there during those two decades that any of his homes around the world.  Here, Hemingway wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Old Man and the Sea”, and his famous fishing boat, El Pilar, is also on display here.  In 1962, Finca Vigia was turned into a museum making it the first institution in the world devoted to Ernest Hemingway and his work. Recently, the feature film, “Papa” was filmed on location in Cuba and much of it at Finca Vigia.

LUNCH AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT
EL MORRO CASTLE AND LIGHTHOUSE

Built on the high rock entrance to the Bay and completed in the early 1600s, El Morro Castle guards the Port of Havana, complete with dungeons, cannons and the iconic lighthouse.  Known as “El Morro”, the castle is actually The Castle of the Three Kings, named for the biblical Magi. The lighthouse stands on the end of a promontory strongly fortified with huge walls and battlements built by the Spanish Conquistadors to defend the city against pirates and bounty seekers.  You will make a brief stop here for photo opportunities of the colonial fort and the magnificent panoramic views of Havana.

CALLEJÓN DE LOS PELUQUEROS COMMUNITY PROJECT

The Hairdressers' Alley has become an attractive proposal in just a few years. In this street, as its name indicates you can find barbershop and hairdresser, but you also services of Art, crafts and gastronomy. Nestled in the most historic part of Havana, near Avenida del Puerto is a sample of fusion between different knowledges among which highlight culture and history combined with a new look.

DRINKS AT EL FLORIDITA

Ernest Hemingway was known to say, “My mojito at La Bodeguita; my daiquiri at Floridita”, the world-famous bar and one of Papa’s favorites where it is rumored he invented the “daiquiri” with his regular bartender.  The venue opened in 1817 under the name “La Pina de Plata” or The Silver Pineapple in English, and almost 100 years later the name was changed to “El Florida”, but in time became known as “El Floridita”.  One the famed Old Havana corner of Obispo and Monserrate, the bar was not only frequented by Hemingway, but was a regular haunt for generations of Cuban and foreign intellectuals and artists including Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos and British novelist, Graham Greene.  The Bar, complete with the bronze bust of Hemingway (2003), still preserves much of the atmosphere of the 1940s and 1950s and no trip to Havana would be complete with a visit to this iconic location.

DINNER AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

TROPICANA NIGHTCLUB

Founded in 1939, the Tropicana was once the most famous nightclub in the world, featuring the musical extravaganzas of choreographer Rodney and the talents of Celia Cruz, Nat King Cole, Carmen Miranda, and a host of other international performers. The nightclub continues to be the most visited music and dance revue in Cuba and its buildings are considered the finest examples of International-style modernism in the Caribbean.

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 6 - HAVANA CITY

BREAKFAST

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

FUSTERLANDIA

Fuster - Artist Studio Visit & Jaimanitas Fishing Village
An intimate discussion with Fuster, the fishermen from Jaimanitas and townspeople offers an opportunity for a meaningful encounter with Cubans off the beaten path of the bustling city and an insight to a tightly knit and thriving community. Fuster has made a major contribution over 10 years of work of rebuilding and decorating the fishing town of Jaimanitas in the outskirts of Havana, where he lives. Jaimanitas is now a unique work of public art where Fuster has decorated over 80 houses with ornate murals and domes to suit the personality of his neighbours, he has built a chess park with giant boards and tables, The Artists’ Wall composed of a quilt of dozens of tiles signed and donated by other Cuban artists, a theatre and public swimming pools.

LUNCH AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

ARTS & CRAFTS MARKET - ALMACENES SAN JOSE IN OLD HAVANA

Your last free morning in Havana is a perfect opportunity to catch a taxi at the hotel for one last visit to Habana Vieja and a quick shopping trip for that last minute gift or souvenir.  Almacenes San Jose, the vast craft market right on the docks at the Port of Havana, offers an impressive diversity of goods and artwork crafted by artists and artisans in Cuba.  You can walk up and down the aisles between stands, while the vendors play their maracas and claves in the morning breeze coming off the bay, and find everything from traditional souvenirs, original paintings, an impressive array of fashion, leather goods and accessories, all designed and handmade by local talent.  Your last stroll through the picturesque, narrow streets of Old Havana and farewell ride up the Malecon will leave the indelible mark on your memory that Havana inevitably leaves on all who have made her acquaintance and dream of returning to explore the rest of this island paradise.

CLASSIC CARS RIDE

Enjoy an amazing driven tour of Miramar’s Quinta Avenida and Havana’s “Malecon” in beautifully restored vintage 1950s convertibles. Spending an hour with the owner/operators of these classic cars promotes the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and offers the US traveler the chance to learn about and support the entrepreneurial efforts. This drive is a retrospective, nostalgic journey through time and you can feel you’re in the 1950s with the backdrop of the Cuban skyline, nearly frozen in time.

DINNER AT A SUGGESTED RESTAURANT

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 7 - DEPARTURE DAY

BREAKFAST

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

CHECK OUT OF HOTEL or Private place

You’ll be met by your guide and transportation for your airport transfer from the hotel to Jose Marti International Airport.  Your guide will remain with you at the airport, assisting with check-in and to see you off, ensuring a smooth departure.

DEPART HAVANA FOR YOUR COUNTRY

Cuba and her people bid you Adios! Hasta la Proxima!

DEPARTURE DAY DEPARTURE DAY

Experience Cuba

Featured Experiences