For many, Cuba will be on their list of places to visit. It’s a big place so don’t expect to be finished within a week. In fact, you may need to separate breaks or one long one to cover everything you want to.
When we stayed, we visited Havana for 3 nights and Varadero for 7 nights with a long day trip to take in Trinidad, Santa Clara and Cienfuegos. The time spent in Havana was about right and the day trip broke up our beach break nicely but we felt that we didn’t have anywhere near as much time as we wanted in some of the other places which set us off looking for the perfect Cuban itinerary. The suggestion below is for 10 nights and covers most places but a second trip may still be required for the south of the island!
We would recommend staying for 3 nights and our favourite hotels here are Iberostar Parque Central for its fabulous rooftop pool views and The Sevilla which is an historic building and has a charm of faded grandeur. If you arrive before sunset, take a walk along the Malecon and enjoy the classic cars you will spot around every corner before heading to a Paladar for a homely welcome and great food. We tried La Guarida.
Spend your first day visiting the famous Havana Club Museum, historic settings such as Plaza de San Francisco, the beautiful 18th Century Cathedral of San Cristóbal de la Habana and of course a tour of a cigar factory (Partagás is our favourite). You can do this on foot or maybe hire a classic car and be chauffeur driven around this wonderful city. End with a cocktail at El Floridita, one of Hemingway’s favourite bars!
Enjoy the morning at Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabana before hopping on a coco taxi to the Plaza de la Revolution. Visit Parque John Lennon and his statue on the bench and stop on the way for ice-cream at Coppelia, where locals queue around the block for its great value ice-cream. If you have time, do visit Plaza Vieja, a beautifully renovated square where you can get a coffee and enjoy the atmosphere.
Havana to Remedios via Santa Clara
After your 3 night stay in Havana it’s time to move on. The first stop is Santa Clara, the first major city to be liberated by Catsro’s forces during the revolutionary struggle against Batista in 1958. You can take a tour of the city before having lunch. In the afternoon, head to Remedios where you can visit the Sugar Museum and take a ride on a steam train.
Remedios to Cienfuegos
Spend day 5 making your way to Cienfuegos and visit the Teatro Tomas Terry, the city’s cigar factory and Parque Jose Marti. Enjoy your afternoon taking in the Palacio de Valle before enjoying a boat trip around the bay in the evening. We would recommend basing your night’s stay at Hotel La Union which has fine views of Cinefuegos from its roof terrace.
Cienfuegos to Trinidad
Once in Trinidad, take a tour of the city. Walk along the cobbled streets, past the pastel buildings, visit the Palacio de Cantero Museum and La Canchanchara Bar. If you can, climb the bell tower to take some wonderful photos of Trinidad from a different angle. Stock up on handmade souvenirs and breathe in the wonderful architecture and sights around every corner. You will have earned your overnight stay at Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad or for a smaller hotel, try Hotel La Ronda.
Trinidad to Varadero via Santi Spiritus
Explore the ruins of sugar mills and take a tour of the warehouses, manor houses and slave quarters in Valle de los Ingenios before heading to Santi Spiritus, the centre of Cuba and the oldest city in the Cuban interior. Stretch your legs and enjoy a walking tour before heading to Varadero for an over night stay. We would recommend staying on at Varadero for at least a further 3 nights before heading home. You can relax on the beach or take a diving tour if you still want to explore further. We enjoyed staying at Iberostar Tainos or we could recommend the Royalton Hicacos.