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Cuba Destination

Like a wild and turbulent love affair, Cuba overflows with colourful character, fraught history, faded glamour, crumbling architecture and a vivacious spirit. It's a fascinating destination of distinction, 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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Home to over 300 unspoilt white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and plenty of Latin American soul, there are myriad city and resort hotels to suit everyone from discerning travellers to loved up honeymooners. Capital city Havana is dusty, busy and crumbling, but of course that's all part of the allure. Jump in a taxi – in Cuba that could be a vintage Buick, Chevrolet or Chrysler - for a journey that will inevitably be a roller-coaster ride past derelict ration shops, colonial architecture, welcoming paladares (privately owned restaurants), revolutionary statues and children playing football with balls of rolled up plastic. This is authentic Cuba, a sultry and almost 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 (La Guarida is one of the most well known), walk the Spanish colonial quarter's cobblestoned streets, roll a fat cigar 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, mountain scenery and horse drawn carts. After soaking up the intoxicating atmosphere of days gone by, it’s time to explore Cuba’s most stunning asset – the beautiful beaches. Most famous is palm-fringed Varadero on the Hicacos peninsula, an amalgamation of warm Atlantic waters, huge stretches of white-gold sand and luxury resort hotels. Soak up the sun under swaying palms with a guarapo in hand, swim with dolphins, pamper yourself at the spa and enjoy a round of golf at the Varadero Club.

The transparency of the water around Cuba is a huge draw for divers and with over 30 dive sites including Coral Beach, the Bay of Pigs and Saturno Caves, underwater lovers won’t be disappointed. Just off the north coast, amidst palm trees, mangroves and exotic birds, you’ll find Cayo Santa María’s deserted white sands and emerald waters inviting you to beach comb on an isolated island that tourism has barely reached. Look out for Cayo Santa María’s native bird, the colourful tocororo. Separated by the Bay of Dogs' waters and fringed by coconut palms, the island of Cayo Coco is also worth a visit for its shallow aquamarine sea, pristine beaches and magnificent flock of 30,000 pink flamingos. 

Experience the real 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. Photo courtesy of Chrys Omori

People watching

Be it along the Malecón or the Plaza de Armas in Havana, or the main squares in Trinidad or Santiago, you’ll just love sitting and watching the world go by. Enjoy a cool drink as you take in all the sights and sounds of this communist country, which is 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.

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...

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Getting There

Virgin Atlantic operates non-stop flights from Gatwick to Havana twice a week. Total flying time is 10hrs 45 minutes.

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 at Gatwick. 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.

Language

Spanish.

Time Difference

5 hours behind GMT and 6 hours behind BST.

Currency

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.

Useful Information

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.

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