Cuba overflows with colourful character, fraught history, faded glamour, crumbling architecture and a vivacious spirit. It’s a fascinating destination where exquisite beaches and bright blue seas contrast with a 1950s time capsule ambience of intoxicating rum, iconic cigars, rhythmic maracas, sweltering rumba and vintage Cadillacs. If you want a holiday that is both blissfully beachy and culturally rich, Cuba will astound in more ways than you could imagine.
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Capital city Havana is dusty, busy and crumbling, but of course that’s all part of the allure. This is authentic Cuba, a sultry and surreal step back in time. The Vedado district’s late night bars pump with the sound of congas, güiros and jazz, the face of Che Guevara is imprinted on nearly every wall you pass and a golden statue of Ernest Hemingway stands proudly in his old drinking haunt El Floridita, where you can enjoy great seafood and a daiquiri or two. People-watch on Havana’s oldest square, La Plaza de Armas, experience Cuban cuisine in a paladar, walk the Spanish colonial quarter’s cobbled streets, watch lightning-quick cigar rolling at the Partagas Factory and cruise in a Chrysler along the oceanfront Malecón promenade.
Travel east to Santiago de Cuba or west to the verdant Viñales Valley, where you can ride on horseback through tobacco farms and take in some of the most spectacular views in Cuba. Built on the fortunes of sugar and now frozen in time, tenderly preserved Trinidad is also a must with its dreamy blend of colonial palaces and mountain scenery. After soaking up the atmosphere of days gone by, it’s time to explore Cuba’s beautiful beaches. Most famous is Varadero, with huge stretches of white-gold sand and luxury resorts, while just off the north coast, amidst palm trees, mangroves and exotic birds, you’ll find the deserted white sands and emerald waters of unspoilt Cayo Santa María.
La auténtica Cuba...
A night at the ballet
For a really special night out, go and see a performance of the Cuban National Ballet at the Gran Teatro de la Habana. This amazing ballet company has dancers of outstanding ability who have received international acclaim. The performances are breathtaking and the setting is magical.
Be it along the Malecón or the Plaza de Armas in Havana, or the main squares in Trinidad or Santiago, you’ll love just sitting and watching the world go by. Enjoy a cool drink as you take in all the sights and sounds of this communist country, quite unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean.
Take a ride in a vintage car
You’ll find some interesting types of local transport in Cuba, from coco taxis (a bit like a hollowed out coconut on wheels, and with suspension to match!), to pedal-powered ‘bici taxis’ or even a horse and cart. But you really can’t come here without taking a ride in one of Cuba’s iconic 1950s cars.
Roll a cigar
Take a trip to the tobacco growing region of Pinar del Río (also part of our Cuba Uncovered tour itinerary) and see the humble origins of Cuba’s world famous cigars. Dominated by big limestone formations called mogotes, this beautiful picture postcard region is carpeted with tobacco farms and dotted with pretty little farmers’ cottages. The sleepy regional town of Viñales is worth a stroll around and you will be warmly welcomed by the local residents.
You must try a traditional paladar - one of the privately run eateries, often tucked away on quiet residential streets. La Guarida (The Hideaway) is the city’s most longstanding and best-known paladar; everything from the mysterious location, up three flights of darkened stairs, to the eclectic mish mash of furniture and the surprisingly good food, adds to the special ambience here. As more and more paladares are popping up all over Havana, you may want to check once you’re there which are the current hottest venues.
What to pack... Your dancing shoes
Cuba really comes alive at night and music is an integral part of life here. The locals love their dancing and you won’t be short of opportunities to join the fun. Leave your inhibitions at home, take to the dance floor and learn to salsa or rumba with the experts.
Cuba - The Inside Track...
Cuba - The Inside Track
Five years on from her last visit, our travel adviser Fiona returned to Cuba, and fell in love with this intoxicating island all over again. Read about her trip, from the heady streets of Havana to the blissful beaches of Cayo Santa María...
Virgin Atlantic operates non-stop flights from Gatwick to Havana twice a week. Total flying time is 10hrs 45 minutes.
Air France operates daily flights from Heathrow and several regional UK airports to Havana via Paris. Total flying time is approximately 13 hrs.
Note: All our inclusive holiday prices are based on Virgin Atlantic Economy flights.
All those travelling to Cuba require a Tourist Card which must be presented together with your passport when checking in for your flight. Please advise your Travel Adviser at the time of booking if you wish to purchase your Tourist Card from Caribtours - the cost is £15 per person.
5 hours behind GMT and 6 hours behind BST.
The Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which can be obtained on your arrival into Cuba at the airport. They are of no use outside Cuba and must be changed before leaving the country. Non-American issued credit cards are accepted but may be subject to a local charge. UK sterling and sterling travellers cheques can also be converted on the island provided they are not American Express or issued by an American bank.
All British nationals require a visa to enter Cuba, which must be purchased prior to travel. A full British passport is required and it should be valid for 6 months after the return date of your holiday. It is also a requirement that everyone entering Cuba has travel insurance cover purchased from a reputable company. On arrival, you may be required to present your policy to the authorities to indicate you have adequate medical cover which must include evacuation by Air Ambulance. You will be required to purchase a policy locally if you are unable to show evidence of adequate medical cover.