Cuba is quite unlike anything in the democratized Western world, a socialist country at our doorstep, whose people have figured out that socialism does not ideally work and have found brilliant ways to create an underground economy, while the government that owns virtually all businesses turns a blind, perhaps winking eye. Indeed, the government is beginning to privatize many businesses- evidenced giving latitude to the tobacco farmers, paladar operators (private restaurants) and owners of well appointed, luxurious private homes and apartments for short term tourist visits.
You will find that the Cubans are friendly, well educated, and generally pleased with the standards of health care and education, all free.
The Revolution in the late 1950s destroyed the US backed Batista government. Fidel Castro opposed corrupt government and dictatorship and was able to overthrow the government by enlisting the peasants in the 1959 coup. Cuba was not communist until late 1962 when the Soviet Union saw an opportunity to place missiles off the U.S. coast. Argentinian Che Guevara’s influence on Fidel Castro led to Russian’s support of the Cuban economy. The 70s-80-early 90s was boom time with the Soviet support. The collapse of The Soviet Union had a devastating effect on the economy.
Cuba’s main trade partners today are Canada and China. Tourism with non U.S. countries has been steady. Westernized hotels exist, but are few, and service and amenities are generally not up to U.S. standards. U.S. citizens under current restrictions, since 2019, are required to have a special visa called “support for the Cuban people” which limits the choices with regard to accommodations and the inability to explore on their own. A guide is essential and the properties to stay in our private homes and apartments that actually provide a much better choice than the hotels.
To say the least, guide selection is very important so selection of the right operator is paramount.
Cuba is perfect for a long weekend, ideally 3-5 days. Havana is the prime destination, with day trips to the countryside.
Other stops could include Cienfuegos- 3 hours by car from Havana, a French founded city with castles and an eclectic nightlife, or Trinidad, a colonial city with history in regard to the slave trade or Varadero beach, 2.5 hours from Havana. Private accommodations in these destinations are limited.
What’s To Love in Cuba
See Modern History Through Cuban Perspectives
Spend a few hours in the Modern Art Museum- art and expression throughout history tell a vibrant story of the Cuban culture and its triumphs and travails.
Meet the Artists in Their Studios
Visit private installations of local artists and meet with them in their homes intimately understand their gifts and artistic interpretation.
Master the Art of Salsa
Throughout Havana you can find private dance studios to learn the sultry Cuban salsa. It will probably take a couple of sessions to master!
Make sure to visit F.A.C. a multi stage, multi bar, multimedia club experience that is not to be missed. Other nightclubs are lively and small- very accessible and inexpensive with great local and even globally recognized performers
Savor the Local Cuisine in a Paladar
Experience some local Paladares- restaurants in private homes. You would not find these on your own! Two favorites: la Guarida and El Litoral
See the Funky Art in Fusterlandia
Visit the outdoor mosaic art creations in the Fusterlandia neighborhood inspired by Jose Fuster, reminiscent of the works of Gaudi in Barcelona)
Dance to the Beat of a Different Drum
Make time to enjoy an energetic performance at a percussion and group dance school. Audience participation encouraged.
Cook with a Celebrity Chef
Invite a celebrity chef for a hands on cooking class for lunch or dinner in your private home or his paladar.
Wander the Streets
Take in the interesting architecture- incredinle photos of beauty, decay, and restoration.
Take in Sights of Old Havana
Greet the locals. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere that still exudes friendliness and hope.
Relax in a Private Home Stay
There are a number of private homes and apartments, beautifully furnished, some even with swimming pools and private chefs to enjoy in Havana.
Cruise the Streets in a Yank Tank
Restored vintage automobiles from the 50s are all the rage and a fun way to see Havana and cruise the Malecon.
Visit a Tobacco Farm
Just outside Havana you can be the guest of a local farmer to learn about the process of tobacco farming and cigar making.
The best time to visit Cuba is from December to May, when you can expect dry, sunny days and plenty of blue skies. The wet season begins in June. August through October should be avoided as there is a risk of hurricanes.
Typically for the type of Custom Itineraries we build, prices in Cuba can run from $800 - $1,200 + USD per person per day, primarily dependent upon the accommodations, activities, and single or double occupancy. All activities must be accompanied by a guide. Quoted Tour prices include accommodations, guides, excursions, ground transfers and the special visa required. The higher priced itineraries are fully inclusive of all meals.
Credit cards and US dollars are not accepted in Cuba so it's best to carry Euros or exchange US dollars at the airport for incidentals like beverages, meals not included and souvenirs.
Tour proposals exclude international flights, travel insurance, and gratuities. Each proposal will detail all inclusions and exclusions for clarity.