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Cuba

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.

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.

 

Getting There

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.

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.

See the island

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.

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People watching

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.

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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.

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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.

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Dining out

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.

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"The epitome of luxury and elegance, Fairmont Royal Pavilion is one of Barbados’ truly iconic west coast hotels."

"We love the decadent complimentary evening canapés which are delivered to your room each evening when staying in a Signature Beachfront Room or above."

"Kids and teens are spoilt for choice with activities including sailing, surfing, snorkelling, paddleboarding or kayak tours around the calm waters in the bay. Family movie nights, traditional Bajan games, beach cricket and swimming with turtles are also very popular."*

"All guests receive a VIP welcome at Barbados airport and you’ll be fast-tracked through immigration. Plus, all room categories, with the exception of Luxury Oceanfront Rooms, benefit from luxury return transfers and dedicated butler service." 

Seasonal swim with the turtles experience. See concierge for dates as they are a migratory species*.

 

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