A self-drive adventure, with the freedom to spend each day exactly how you wish
This trip shows you the best of Cuba, from the metropolis of Havana to the serene countryside of the Pinar del Rio province, where magnificent highlights include the green Viñales Valley and the sleepy town of Maria La Gorda, a divers’ paradise. Spend the night in a remote, cozy castle, and explore the historic cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Visit charming colonial towns before heading for the beach, where you can reminisce about your Cuban adventure while relaxing on stunning white sands.+ Read more
Besides must-see destinations, including buzzing Havana, the serene Viñales Valley and the historic cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad, you will experience some of Cuba’s most secluded spots and unexplored sights. Maria La Gorda is a remote gem, and the drive to this westernmost tip of the island is an experience in itself, as you leave the tourist trail behind and cross into the beautiful Pinar del Rio province. You’ll also step back in time in the city of Remedios, founded in 1514, where colonial charms merge with Cuba’s distinct cultural identity. All the way through your adventure you’ll be immersed in the real Cuba.
Tour on Map
- Departure time
- Starts in Havana, ends in Havana. Gateway Varadero can also be used for this journey.
- English, Spanish
- Activity level
- Easy (light walking)
- Insider's tip
- Viñales is renowned for its beautiful nature and its rustic main street. Be sure to take in the town’s many charms by taking an early evening stroll, during which you’ll probably see the farmers returning home on their horse carts, which are often laden with produce. There are many quaint eateries and cafés with porches perfect for taking some time out to enjoy the serene country life.
Day 1: Welcome to Havana
Meet and greet at Havana international airport on arrival day, including use of our VIP services:
- Our airport representative will meet you at the gate and direct you to Preferential Immigration, the customs booth for VIP lounge clients, diplomats and airline crew.
- You will have use of the VIP lounge at Havana airport while your luggage is taken care of.
- Luggage assistance.
- Private transfer to Havana City.
Upon arrival in Cuba you will receive:
- 100 CUC (the local currency) to help you pay any expenses on your first day. This prevents you from waiting to exchange cash in the airport.
- WiFi scratch card: wherever you find WiFi available, you’ll be able to log on using this card.
Day 2: Havana
Today you can explore Havana. Your hotel in the old, historic city center is the perfect base to venture into Havana’s old town, which was founded in the 16th century and is now an incredible living open-air museum of architecture, art and culture. This part of the city is great for walking, or you can hop on a horse-drawn carriage, bike taxi, or take a ride in a tricycle 'cocotaxi', which is always a hilarious and thrilling experience. Our tip: make sure you agree on the fare beforehand!
You can also book an optional Private City Tour (3-4 hours), including:
- Sightseeing in Havana in an Oldtimer driven by a private chauffeur.
- A local guide shows you the most beautiful sights of historic 'La Habana Vieja' during a walk in the old town.
- Drop-off transfer at the hotel.
There are many different ways to spend the evening. Our recommendations:
- Dine like a local in a ‘paladar’, where you can enjoy some delicious traditional Cuban cuisine.
- Hipsters Cuban Style: visit the cultural project ‘Fábrica del Arte Cubano’ (FAC), the Cuban Art Factory, and meet some real Cuban artists. The project, brainchild of internationally-renowned Cuban musician X Alfonso, is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Music. Insider tip: combine this visit with dinner at the privately owned ‘El Cocinero’ restaurant next door.
- Cabaret Tropicana! The one and only ‘paradise under the stars’. An extravaganza that appeals to all the senses. Expect live music, crooners, fabulous dancers and dazzling costumes in an exotic setting like no other. The grand show starts at 10:00pm. Our local assistants will make the reservation for you.
Day 3: Havana - Viñales Valley (approx. 180 km/110 miles)
- Pick up rental car.
This is your first day on the road, heading for the lush splendor of the Pinar del Rio province, where you’ll discover the wonderful Viñales Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the region is dotted with tobacco fields and surrounded by hillsides of 'mogotes', craggy shaped limestone formations that rise like giant cones from the earth. This is the area where the best Cuban cigars are produced. Experience rural Cuba, where the pace of life is exceptionally peaceful. Expect to see ox-carts in the fields, smell the fragrant leaves in the tobacco sheds, and take in colorful farms as children wave at you as you pass. A reminder of the beautiful simplicities in life.
Day 4: Viñales - Maria La Gorda (approx. 180 km/110 miles)
Today’s drive leads you to the westernmost tip of Cuba, to the hamlet of Maria La Gorda, where only one hotel can be found – aptly named the Hotel Maria La Gorda. According to legend, this ‘Fat (La Gorda) Maria’ was a Venezuelan lady who was captured by pirates and finally dumped in this remote area on the Guanahacabibes peninsula. What happened to Maria after that remains a mystery, but the hamlet is now named after her. What is known is that this area attracts scuba-diving fans from all over the world, who come for the crystal-clear waters (with an average temperature of 24-30 degrees Celsius) and the unique underwater landscape, which offers the chance to explore fascinating shipwrecks, caves and a wide variety of corals, including rare black coral.
Day 5: Maria La Gorda
Adjacent to the hotel is the Maria La Gorda International Dive Center, which boasts a dazzling array of diving facilities. Non-divers can also enjoy unspoiled nature, the azure sea and the virgin sand of the area’s beautiful white beaches. And there’s plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, fishing or to take a boat ride.
Day 6: Maria La Gorda – Soroa (approx. 230 km/145 miles)
The ride through the Pinar del Rio province is an experience in itself. Think of driving in Cuba as an important part of your vacation and take your time to enjoy the charming sights you spot on your way to new destinations. The only thing you need to remember is to try and arrive at your next stop before dusk. This certainly applies to the lodging in Soroa: the hotel Castillo en las Nubes (or 'castle in the clouds' in English), which is perched on top of a hill. The hotel has six rooms, all with stunning views of the surrounding nature. Expect to see green hills with waving palm forests, rivers, waterfalls, indigenous flora and fauna and orchid gardens. The hotel’s exceptional 24-hour butler service can take care of your every need.
Day 7: Soroa - Cienfuegos (approx. 330 km/205 miles)
From serene nature to a city boasting a rich wealth of history and attractions: Cienfuegos is also known as the 'Pearl of the South'. This charming port city is home to French-inspired architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure you visit the eclectic Palacio del Valle and the central park’s Tomás Terry Theatre, a 19th-century architectural gem. Also worth visiting is the Punta Gorda peninsula, which was once an exclusive residential area but has now been transformed into a quaint seaside neighborhood. The area’s beautiful wooden houses often have vintage cars parked in their driveways.
Day 8: Cienfuegos – Trinidad (approx. 85 km/55 miles)
UNESCO World Heritage Site Trinidad was founded in 1514 and is Cuba's best preserved colonial city, and arguably its most beautiful too. The picture-perfect town is relatively unchanged from Spanish colonial times, complete with horse-drawn carriages that clatter down its cobbled stone streets. The colonial center is compact, making it easy to explore on foot.
Day 9: Trinidad - Santa Clara - Remedios (approx. 170 km/105 miles)
On the way to Remedios, stop at Santa Clara: a city synonymous with Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. Visit the museum and the impressive mausoleum, where Che Guevara’s remains are housed. Founded in the early 16th century, Remedios is one of the oldest cities in Cuba. When you arrive, you’ll discover a picturesque, quiet town, where you’re well and truly off the tourist trail and can experience authentic Cuba. One of the loveliest spots is Plaza Marti, so find a bench and take some time to enjoy the magnificent surroundings – including colourful colonial buildings, majestic monuments and palm trees.
Day 10: Remedios - Varadero (approx. 250 km/155 miles) or Cayo Santa Maria (approx. 70 km/45 miles)
- The journey ends at Varadero, Cuba’s number one beach destination and one of the most famous beaches in the entire Caribbean. The town boasts more than 20 kilometers of fine white sands and an array of resorts and water sports facilities. You can extend your stay for any number of additional nights.
- Another option is to drive from Remedios to Cayo Santa Maria, where you can also extend your stay with a beach holiday. This paradise island is part of the 'Jardines del Rey' archipelago, connected to the mainland by a spectacular bridge road that also links the islands of Cayo las Brujas and Cayo Ensenachos. On the way, you can enjoy beautiful vistas of azure water and mangroves. You might even get lucky and spot eagles, pelicans or pink flamingos!
Day 11: Homebound
- On departure day you drive your rental car to the airport and drop it off.
- Alternatively, drop the rental car at Cayo Santa Maria if you opt to stay on. After your beach holiday, you will be transferred to Havana International Airport or Varadero for the return trip.
- Accommodation with meals as per description
- Transfers: arrival transfer, from Havana international airport to hotel in Havana
- Car rental, Economy manual (Geely CK or similar) from day 3 (pick-up in Havana), to day 11, (drop-off at Havana international Airport)
Note: this is a flexible program; the hotels and car category can be adjusted to suit your wishes, as well as the duration you stay at each destination. The final price depends on travel dates and the options chosen.
Customise your trip
- The travel program is flexible, adaptable to your travel wishes. This allows you to add destinations, alternate hotels, number of nights, excursions or travel sections. With your specific wishes and our expertise, together we put your ideal journey together. Once you have that perfect itinerary, the booking process is easy. The trip can be confirmed and booked within one day, a unique service, which you will not find elsewhere.
- This journey is a self-drive trip, which means you will drive along the route yourself in a rental car. The car and accommodation will be booked according to the itinerary. For the rest of the program, you have the freedom to enjoy each day exactly as you want to. Driving in Cuba isn’t too challenging, but it does help to be prepared. To help you feel more confident, check out our <driving in Cuba hyperlink> information.
Terms and conditions
The price for this example tour is an indication of what a travel plan such as this would cost on average. This price is per person, based on room occupancy with 2 people, and is exclusive of international flights. The exact price varies per season and depending on availability.
Indication prices per season:
- Low season (May-Jun, Sep-Oct): 995 EUR
- Mid season (mid-Nov-Dec, Jan): 1095 EUR
- High season (Feb-Apr, Jul-Aug): 1245 EUR
- Peak season (mid Dec-early Jan): 1395 EUR Average low/mid/high: 1095 EUR
*Please note: peak season prices may apply during festivals and fairs/events Travelling with children:
Travelling with children:
Suppliers often have different conditions with regard to prices for children. For babies (0-2), take into account 10% -25% of the indicated price per person. For children up to and including 11 years old, a rate of 50% -75% of the indicated price often applies. Most suppliers see children aged 12 and older as adults and charge the regular rate for them.
The final price for a customized tour depends on the travel dates, availability and your personal wishes. Please contact us to discuss the options, we’re happy to explore with you how we can make a trip to Cuba possible for you within a set budget.
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