DAY 1: DEPART US – ARRIVE IN HAVANA
After clearing immigration and customs at the José Martí International Airport in Havana, our driver will transfer our small group tour to our 5-star hotel, located in the heart of Havana. After check-in, we will enjoy a welcome dinner at paladar El de Frente.
DAY 2: HAVANA
After breakfast at the hotel, we will explore a labyrinth of cobblestone streets during a privately-guided walking tour of Havana’s city-center, La Habana Vieja. Founded in 1512, we’ll visit some of Old Havana’s most important sites: the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza de Cathedral, Plaza Vieja, San Francisco de la Havana. Expect more than a few surprises along the way at this UNESCO World Heritage Site
At 11 a.m. we enjoy the Cuban tradition of riding in a Bicitaxi, and continue our tour through Old Havana. We visit the Jesus Maria area to see the impressive Havana Street Murals and learn more about why this area was chosen for the street art.
Lunch at Paladar Jesus Maria 20, then on to Salsa!
CUBAN SALSA, RUEDA DE CASINO, was
developed in the 1950s as the island’s own, unique form of salsa. Since then, Cuban salsa has captivated audiences worldwide. And in the country itself, the dance is ubiquitous. You’ll see it in restaurants, night clubs, the symphony – even the kitchens between locals old and young. Cuban salsa is incredible to watch – and fun to learn. We’ll meet some of the country’s best dancers in their studio for a demonstration and hands-on Salsa lessons.
Return to hotel, dinner at Paladar Rio Mar
DAY 3: HAVANA
After breakfast at the hotel, we dive into daily Cuban life and experience Cuban street food. Cuban Street food is an essential part of Cuban life. Join us for a walk through the Havana neighborhood of Vedado as we visit our favorite street food spots. You can expect traditional entrees like the CAJITA – a boxed snack of rice, beans, and pork with tomato and cabbage. Another delicious treat is Cuban pizza, which is usually made with gouda – instead of only mozzarella. Cuban dessert includes croquetas – small balls of fried food – and plenty of pastries, pies, and juices made from local guava, coconuts, and sugarcane.
Lunch at Cafe Laurent.
We will then visit the home/studio of famous artist, Justo Amable Garrote, in Nuevo Vedado.
One of our favorite activities in Havana is a tour of a classic car workshop; guided by the owner and artist responsible for the beautifully restored cars. When the US placed an embargo on Cuba in 1960, the island’s pipeline of American cars was abruptly cut off. Now, you’ll find 60,000 vintage cars from the 1950s, 40s – and even the 30s. Meticulously maintained for decades, the streets of Havana feel like one, big, classic car show – but not without some surprises under the hood, as Cubans used whatever they could find to keep their cars running.
Following our tour, we will be picked up in vintage cars for a ride from Havana to Paladar Vista Mar for a lovely dinner with a breathtaking view of the ocean.
DAY 4: HAVANA
After breakfast at the hotel we will have a musical presentation by David Faya, a well-known musician, and son of famous singer and songwriter Alberto Faya. Learn about the island’s jazz history and the African, Spanish and even American roots of modern Cuban music from this captivating musician.
From here, we visit a local farmer’s market, where we’ll get a first-hand look at Cuba’s agricultural revolution. Cubans shop at state-run shops, dollar stores, and recently legalized farmer’s markets to prepare their family meals. The market stalls of bananas, peppers, and oranges are a rare free-market experiment in Cuba’s price-controlled economy, where food shortages are still fresh history.
We will visit an organic, family farm on the outskirts of Havana to learn about the role of food in Cuba’s culture and economy. Cuba imports most of its food. But a growing, organic farm movement is looking to decrease the island’s dependence on outside farming.
Farm to Table Lunch at Finca Tungasuk.
Upon our return, we will enjoy a fiery and energetic performance by the Habana Compás Dance Company, the Cuban equivalent of STOMP. These young and dedicated dancers combine Spanish folk music with Afro- Cuban rhythms to create one-of-a-kind performances. Fiery and energetic by nature, the HABANA COMPÁS DANCE COMPANY surprises guests with beats and moves based around chairs, boxes, and drums.
Dinner that night at a local paladar. (B,L,D)
DAY 5: TRINIDAD
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out and depart for Trinidad. Sit back and experience the peaceful beauty of rural Cuba.
Our first stop is the Koramicao project. The Korimakao Cultural Project is a tuition-free boarding school focused on developing skills in music, dance, theater, poetry and more. Located in the community of Pálpite, in Cuba’s largest, most sparsely populated region, the academy draws in students from across the country. We’ll meet the students, teachers, and supporters that bring this incredible project to life and learn more about their goals of bringing the arts to every corner of Cuba.
Lunch is in Playa Larga, a beautiful, cozy, coastal town.
We continue on to Trinidad and settle in to our casas (these are private homestays in Cuba, similar to a bed and breakfast)
Enjoy dinner at a local paladar. (B,L,D)
DAY 6: TRINIDAD
Breakfast at your casa.
Trinidad, Cuba is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the center of the island, located in the province of Sancti Spíritus. You know the famous pastel colored buildings that Cuba is known for? Yeah, that’s Trinidad! The nearby Playa Ancon deserves a shout out too because it is a postcard perfect beach
Our activities begin today with a presentation from official Cuban historians, as we visit the center of Trinidad.
We then visit a local artist’s studio.
Lunch at paladar.
Get a tasteful insight into Cuban culture when we go hands-on and prepare a meal with locals. We’ll laugh, share stories, and learn every step of authentic Cuban dishes. And finally, we’ll all sit down to enjoy the fruits of our labor, with our local host.
DAY 7: TRINIDAD
After breakfast at your casa, we set out for a Cuban nature excursion in Topes de Collantes, a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountain range. We enjoy the varied beauty of this park on an easy, light hike, the “Hacienda Codina” circular trail that features orchid and bamboo gardens, a mud bath, and a scenic viewpoint.
Finish your hike at a local hacienda where you will be treated to local pig roast.
A refreshing stop follows, as we visit a small coffee farm and the local coffee shop in Topes de Collantes for local-grown and brewed Cuban coffee.
Dinner at a local paladar. (B,L,D)
DAY 8: Saturday, June 6 – CIENFUEGOS/HAVANA
Breakfast at your casa. After check-out, we travel to Cienfuegos, a city on Cuba’s south coast, situated on Bahia de Cienfuegos (bay of Cienfuegos). It is known for it’s striking colonial architecture. We will meet with members of the choir and orchestra of Cienfuegos, and be treated to a phenomenal performance.
Lunch in Cienfuegos.
We conclude our day in Havana, with a farewell dinner at paladar San Cristobel. (B,L,D)
DAY 9: HAVANA/RETURN TO U.S.
After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)