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The BEST Cuba Itinerary – Sightseeing & Activities

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Overview

The Itinerary

Cuba is the land of nostalgia, vintage cars, and cigars. The clocks tick slower here, but with a lot of passion and rhythm. Stroll through Havana's old town, hike through the tropical Alexander von Humboldt National Park, marvel at the giant Mogotes in Viñales, and unwind on one of the many breathtaking beaches.

We have summarized our 3-week Cuba itinerary for you. All stops and all tips can be found here in an overview. Travel the itinerary 1:1 or let us inspire you and plan your dream vacation in Cuba according to your wishes! Whether with beach days or without, more or less time in Havana, with or without the south, everything is possible.

Stop City Days Distance to next Stop
1 Havana 3 145 mi
233 km
2 Cienfuegos 2 52 mi
83 km
3 Trinidad 2 162 mi
261 km
4 Camagüey 1 209 mi
337 km
5 Santiago de Cuba 2 145 mi
234 km
6 Baracoa 3 124 mi
199 km
7 Holguín 1 33 mi
53 km
8 Guardalavaca 4 323 mi
520 km
9 Santa Clara 1 175 mi
281 km
10 Havana 2

Walked: 140 mi (244 km)

Driven: 1368 mi (2201 km)

Video

Your Day–to–Day Plan

Day 1-3: Havana

Charismatic, slightly rocked, and yet idyllic. Discover this beautiful city with a vintage car ride, an absolutely brilliant experience. Havana offers something for everyone. Whether you love history, cars, cigars, or architecture, you'll find it here. Drift through the beautiful and lively streets of Havana's Old Town (Habana Vieja) and enjoy the Cuban scenery.

Visit Ernest Hemingway's favorite bars and sample his favorite drinks. True to the motto: “My Mojito in La Bodeguita, my Daiquiri in El Floridita” (“My Mojito in La Bodeguita, my Daiquiri in El Floridita”).

Make sure you plan a trip to the beautiful Valle de Viñales (Viñales Valley), a landscape. For outdoor enthusiasts, this area offers fantastic opportunities. Guided tours will show you the most beautiful places and warn you about dangers – because underground rivers undermine the area.

Havanas sunsets are absolutely magical. Our favorite spots by far are El Malecón – where the whole city meets, kisses and debates, the rooftop terrace of Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, and the rooftop terrace of Hotel Raquel.

Day 4-5: Cienfuegos

Fancy a bit of Parisian flair in Cuba? Then Cienfuegos is the place for you. French élan with an exotic Caribbean touch also called “The Pearl of the South.”

The Parque José Martí is the heart and soul of the city; here actually stands a triumphal arch – the only one in all of Cuba. Enjoy the view from the Palacio Ferrer tower and watch the sunset in Punta Gorda.

The nearby Laguna Guanaroca is the best place in Cuba to see flamingos! On board of small boats you will go to the other side of the lake where the flamingos are. The sight of these animals is fantastic – especially because it is in the wild and not in a zoo.

Day 6-7: Trinidad

Colorful houses with terracotta tiled roofs and cobblestone streets. Birds chirping, hooves clattering, and carriage wheels. Trinidad is absolutely idyllic; no wonder it is so popular. Travel souvenirs are best bought here; nowhere else will you find so much choice and craftsmanship.

The meeting point of the city is definitely the Spanish stairs in front of the Casa de la Musica, especially at sunset. The many cute little bars play wonderful live music and they're perfect for long Cuban nights.

Day 8: Camagüey

Spells more complicated than it is: Camagüey = Kamawei (kamaˈɣwej). A place to experience something completely different because the city was built like a labyrinth to keep attackers away. Our tip: let yourself drift and don't use the map; even locals get lost here.

Throughout Camagüey, you will find clay jars, so-called Tinajon. They were used to collecting rainwater, sometimes also wine. It is said that the wealthier a family was, the more jugs they owned.

Day 9-10: Santiago de Cuba

Spanish, African, French, British, and Haitian influences shape Santiago de Cuba. Colorful, loud, culturally diverse, and liberal. The innate rhythm of the “Santiagueros” made them the creators of almost all Cuban music genres like Salsa or Rumba; the city is full of music and dance.

The Casa de Diego Velázquez is said to be the oldest house still standing in Cuba. And one of the five oldest stone houses in the Americas. And don't forget the impressive Hotel Casa Grande – visit the roof terrace at sunset.

The Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia is one of the most impressive cemeteries in Cuba. Here, you will find the mausoleum of José Martí, the tombs of Fidel Castro Ruz, Emilio Bacardí y Moreau (from the famous rum dynasty), 11 of the 31 generals of the independence struggles Compay Segundo (from the Buena Vista Social Club).

Day 11-13: Baracoa

Baracoa is a very special place. Original, pure and colorful. Everyone knows everyone and everything is more relaxed and quiet, the city seems more like a village.

Baracoa is famous for its cocoa, be sure to visit Casa del Chocolate and try the chocolate ice cream. Baracoa's cuisine is also unique, there are all kinds of seafood on the menus, and many dishes are prepared with coconut or chocolate.

Alexander von Humboldt National Park is an incredibly fascinating and impressive national park and is one of the most important in the entire Caribbean. Many plants and animals are endemic – with a bit of luck, you will also see Cuba's national bird, the Cuban Trogon, called Tocororo.

Day 14: Holguín

If you want to immerse yourself in Cubans real life, Holguín is the place to be. You can feel the charm of the city. Unexciting, exciting, wonderfully normal, and sociable city life. Authentic, no mass tourism, and no race against time to see all the sights in one day.

Known as the city of parks in its center, Parque Peralta, also called Parque de las Flores, where young and old meet. People play dominoes or chess together, laugh, make music, and dance until late in the evening.

Day 15-18: Guardalavaca

Glistening sand, crystal clear water, and palm trees as far as the eye can see. Divers and snorkelers can explore much marine life along the coral reefs. We spent a couple of nights at Hotel Sol Río de Luna y Mares and absolutely loved it.

Day 19: Santa Clara

Santa Clara became famous and historical in December '58 because Che Guevara won the most important battle in the civil war here and thus heralded the end of the Batista regime – Monumento al Tren Blindado (Train Monument).

But Santa Clara is more than just history. It is one of the most vibrant and revolutionary cities in Cuba. In Santa Clara, trends are born. No wonder Cuba's first homosexual nightclub opened here, Cuba's only official drag show exists here, and every year the country's best rock festival is held here: Ciudad Metal.

Day 20-22: Havana
Before heading home, feel free to spend some time in Havana. There is so much to see and experience here. The tour of Cuban street artists is super exciting and colorful. You'll learn a lot about the artists and their projects that are making Havana's neighborhoods shine again.

Be sure to make a stop at the corner of Aguacate Street (Obispo / Aguacate). Why? They have Guarapo there! What is Guarapo? Raw sugar cane juice, absolutely delicious and refreshing. It is usually mixed with lime and ice and can be found in almost any bar, restaurant, or bodega. It also tastes good with a shot of alcohol.

How to Get Around

Cuba offers a wide range of transportation options, even by train or air. Cuba's technology is not up-to-date, so always plan a bit of extra time.

From City to City
Long-Distance Bus

With Viazul buses, you can get from A to B in comfort. Get on and relax. You can buy bus tickets at bus terminals and also at Cubanácan travel agencies. Viazul schedules and prices are available online at Viazul. Be there at least 20 minutes before departure and have your name checked off the list – this will confirm your seat. Be sure to pack a hoodie, as the buses are air-conditioned.

Rental Car

With a rental car, you are very flexible, but in Cuba, there are a few peculiarities:
a rental car is not cheap, and you need to book well in advance (2 months in advance). The road conditions get worse, especially towards the east. It is not uncommon to meet pedestrians, bicyclists, horse-drawn carriages, ox teams, and free-roaming animals on the roads. There are few gas stations on the way, and you should rather not drive in the dark because of the poor lighting. Never pay fines in cash to a police officer, and always look for a parking lot with a valet who will watch your car for a bit of money.

Collective Cabs /Colectivo And Co.

Also called maquina, almendron or colectivo. Either you will be picked up from your accommodation, or there is a fixed meeting point. Similar at the destination. Very cheap, but can be crowded. You will always find colectivos near the places where buses stop, and at central locations, you will be approached by intermediaries, but your accommodation will also help you with the organization. Check the price in advance, it should not be much higher than a bus ticket.

In the City

Many cities in Cuba are perfect for exploring on foot. But don't worry, there are cabs and bici-taxi in every town, these cute little bicycle cabs are super convenient for shorter distances.

Visa

You need a visa to enter Cuba. Only a handful of nations do not require one. With the necessary tourist visa, also called a tourist card, you can stay in the country for 30 days and can extend it for 30 days on the spot. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months when you enter the country and apply for your visa in time.

Budget

Travel is overall inexpensive in Cuba. Hotel accommodations, a rental car, and domestic flights are expenses that can quickly take up a large portion of your budget, but don't have to. Because staying in Casa Particulares is not only cheaper but also more authentic. The connections with Viazul buses cover the whole of Cuba. You can only fly a few routes in Cuba.

For your budget: Plan for you alone at least 23 – 34 US-Dollar per day.

We spent this for 21 days in Cuba for 2 people (including 4 nights at 120 US dollars in the all-inclusive resort):

Total

2235 $

106 $ / day

Transport

451 $

22 $ / day

Activities

121 $

6 $ / day

Food & Drinks

restaurant

648 $

31 $ / day

Accomodation

1015 $

48 $ / day

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Best Time to Visit

The temperatures are around 82 °F (28 °C) during the day, and the water temperatures are around 77 °F (25 °C) all year round. In July and August, it can even reach 95 °F (35 °C). At night the temperatures are around 59 °F (15 °C), and in the warmer months, around 68 °F (20 °C). The high season is from November to March. We visited Cuba from mid-March to mid-April, and only in Baracoa, it rained briefly.

Packing List

For your trip to Cuba, we have some packing tips worth their weight in gold. Cuba is not a shopping mecca, and you will search in vain for drugstores or supermarkets. There are small corner stores, but they are difficult to recognize as such.

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