For many, exploring the country at your own pace is the ideal way of spending holidays. Our carefully designed Self Drive Tour of Western and Central Cuba itinerary will take your mind off any organisational issues. The trip would start in Havana, where you won’t need a car, as driving might prove difficult. Discover the highlights of the city and then carry on driving at your own pace. We would suggest the programme and provide you with a map for your self-exploration of the island. We have also incorporated some wonderful excursions to make the trip truly memorable.
Day 1 - Welcome to free-spirited Cuba
Meet & greet at the airport with your English-speaking guide or our airport representative and transfer to your casa particular.Accommodation
Day 2 - Hemingway, Mafia & Vintage Cars
In the morning pick up at your hotel by your private, English speaking Cuban guide. The day starts with a walking tour through colonial Old Havana with its most important sites: Calle Obispo, Plaza de Armas with Palacio de los Generales, El Templete and Castillo de la Real Fuerza. Cathedral Square with Hemingway’s “Bodeguita” just arounfd the corner and the “Old Square” Plaza Vieja. Lunch in one of the popular private restaurants like “Dona Eutimia” or “La Moneda Cubana” near the Cathedral Square. In the afternoon, a classic American car with driver is waiting for you for a tour through the Havana of the 1950’s along the Malecon to the Revolution Square and via Avenida de los Presidentes to the residential and diplomatic quarter of Miramar with its beautiful mansions along the Quinta Avenida. After a cocktail at the garden of the legendary Hotel Nacional with stories of the Mafia in the 50’s, then it’s back to Old Havana.
Day 3 - Tobacco & Vinales
The day starts with the visit of one of the famous tobacco factories e.g. H.Upmann, Partagas or Romeo y Julieta. See the skilful hands of the torcedores (cigar rollers) producing the best cigars in the world. Further on to Marianao, where in an old theatre, you will see a rehearsal session of the Havana Queens, the leading contemporary dance ensemble in town. You will sit on the stage close to the dancers, while the manager or choreographer will tell you the exciting history of the young dancers.
Afterwards, our English speaking assistant will pick you up from your casa and accompany you to the car rental station to assist you with picking up your rental car.
Drive along the “tobacco route” to the western part of the island, where the best tobacco-growing soil can be found. Enjoy breathtaking views from the mirador “Los Jazmines”. The Viñales valley is a UNESCO world heritage site, with its impressive landscape panorama and diverse vegetation. Panoramic tour through the valley.
Evening at leisure.
Day 4 - Vinales
During your hiking tour, you will cross the valley, which with its red, fertile land and the impressive rock formations, called mogotes, is a perfect photo spot. The camera stays ready at hand on this tour. Stop at a local veguero (tobacco farmer) who will introduce you to the secrets of tobacco cultivation. While walking through a tobacco drying house, you will be shown how to produce a real Cuban cigar the traditional way.
Day 5 - VIÑALES – PLAYA GIRON - CIENFUEGOS
Early in the morning start for a longer trip to Central Cuba along the „autopista”, the Cuban central highway, sometimes nearly empty without traffic and where you still can encounter strange “vehicles” such as horse drawn carriages, bicycles or sleeping cows.
Stop for a refreshing swim at the snorkeling bay “Caleta Buena” in the historic Bay of Pigs.
Continue to the port city of Cienfuegos, characterized by its French colonial architecture and also known as the “Pearl of the South”.
Distance: approximately 470km, 6h by car
Day 6 - Cienfuegos - Trinidad
In the morning city tour in Cienfuegos. Walk around the main square Parque Marti with its nostalgic Terry Theatre, where Caruso himself once sang. Continue to the Peninsula Punta Gorda with its mudejar-style Palacio del Valle and the white Yacht-Club. Time for lunch now.
Afterwards, follow the panoramic coastal road to Trinidad – a UNESCO world heritage site with unique colonial architecture. Enjoy a walking tour through the cobblestone lanes and over the idyllic squares of Trinidad, surrounded by the beautiful colonial mansions of former sugar barons. Visit one of several museums, e.g. the City Museum at Palacio Cantero. Don’t miss the local honey liquor, which you can try at the rustic local bar „Canchancharra“.
Distance: approximately 85km, 1.5h by car
Day 7 - TRINIDAD: TOPES DE COLLANTES NATIONAL PARK
Today up into the mountains of Topes de Collantes, known for their healthy micro-climate.
Stop at the “Casa del Café y Cacao” and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee after an explanation of the art of coffee growing. Later enjoy a beautiful walk on the “Guayanara Trail” through the wild Sierra Escambray. The path takes you along the “melodioso” river and through stunning nature. On the way you can take a cold shower under a waterfall and go for a refreshing swim in a natural lagoon. Afterwards lunch at the “Finca Gallega”.
Later that afternoon it’s back to Trinidad. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 8 - TRINIDAD – SANTA CLARA – CAYO SANTA MARIA
In the morning drive to the Sugarmill Valley. Stop at Hacienda San Isidro with a short explanation to the history of slavery and sugar cane cultivation of the 19th century. Continue to Manaca Iznaga with the hacienda of the former sugar barons Iznaga and the legendary “Slave Tower” from where you can enjoy breath-taking panoramic views over the valley. Afterwards you continue your journey to the historic city of Santa Clara, where Che Guevara celebrated his greatest victory and found his final resting place. Visit the Che Guevara Monument and the small Café Revolucion, with it unique collection related to Fidel and Che. In the late afternoon further on to the nature-, beach- and island paradise of Cayo Santa Maria.
Distance: approximately 240km, 4.5h by car
Day 11 - Night Biking in Havana
Private transfer back to Havana.
In the evening enjoy a an E-Bike tour with the original Cubykes by night.
You pass the most important districts of Havana in the darkness and get completely new impressions of life in Havana by night. You will visit the most popular spots and districts of Havana and get to know the most interesting historical and cultural highlights. Transfer to the starting point of the tour in Vedado from your hotel in the old city centre by Coco Taxi.
This itinerary costs from £1,815 per person based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers, car hire but not international flights.
You can get flights from as little as £550 per person return and feel free to ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.
- Return Airport Transfers
- Transfer Cayo Santa Maria – Havana
- Car rental for 5 days
- Excursions, visits and entrance fees according to the program
- Full day city tour “Fascinating Havana” on day 2 with private English-speaking guide
- Half day tour on day 3 including visit to a tobacco factory and Havana Queens Backstage on day 3
- Hiking tour in the Viñales valley on day 4 with a local guide
- Excursion in Topes de Collantes National Park on day 7 with a local guide
- CUBYKE E-Bike tour on day 11
- 8 nights in comfort casa particulares on B&B basis
- 3 nights in Angsana Cayo Santa Maria on all inclusive basis
- 2 Lunches