It’s your first time in Cuba and you want to see everything, as much and as interesting as possible in a short time? The perfect one-week itinerary in Cuba has to be a mix of culture, nature, cities and, of course, beautiful paradise beaches!
CUBA ITINERARY DAY ONE : HAVANA
Start in Havana and take your time exploring this city. The Habana Vieja (the old town) is a that has a totally unique atmosphere with its colorful architecture and old cars squeezing past the little bars in every street. The Vedado district is less famous but also worth a look. This is where all the wealthiest people live in huge houses standing in rows like in an American soap opera!
Havana is a coastal town, and the is the perfect way to enjoy the sea. This promenade runs along the seafront and is the life center of Havana. You can walk at any time of day or night and see local life happening all around you.
Of course, a visit to Havana would not be complete without some music, which you can find pretty much anywhere. Just walk around the streets and stop when you hear something you like!
WHERE TO STAY IN HAVANA? BEST HOTELS DEALS
CUBA ITINERARY DAY TWO: VINALES
Say goodbye for a little while to the hectic life in Havana and take the road to the beautiful and enchanting part of Cuba: .
This valley has a very different atmosphere. Everything is calm, sunny and relaxing.
You can hike around the countryside and explore the different kind of things growing in there, mostly sugar cane, orange, and tobacco. You will find little houses called Casas de Tabac used to dry tobacco leaves scattered everywhere, giving your holiday a truly authentic vibe!
The Viñales Valley is also renowned for its weird and fascinating landscape. Most of the valley is made of flat fields, but here and there miniature rocky mountains (called mogotes) are standing in the middle of the plantations!
WHERE TO STAY IN VINALES?
In Vinales I recommend to try a more authentic experience and stay with a local at their home! One of the best websites I have tried when I want to immerse myself in the local culture is with Homestay, they are very reliable and have more than 100 options in the Vinales area!
CUBA ITINERARY DAY THREE: PINAR DEL RIO TO CIENFUEGOS
Just a short drive away from Viñales, Pinar del Río is a lively, artistic town. Take the morning to explore those streets before getting back on the road to Cienfuegos. This is the longest stretch of driving. If you don’t feel like doing it all in one day, you can make a stop halfway at San José de Las Lajas. .
One you’ve made it to Cienfuegos, relax! The cultural part of the trip is just beginning. Cienfuegos’ old town is also a UNESCO protected site, and there are several buildings there that are well worth a visit: the theater, the Palace, and a couple of cemeteries listed as National Monuments. At night, go to a Cabaret show to get a good dip into the Cuban culture and have some fun!
WHERE TO STAY IN CIENFUEGOS?
After carefully researching the accommodation options near Cienfuegos, the best deals so far can be found at hotels.com, check out the properties and find what best suits your budget!
CUBA ITINERARY DAY FOUR: TRINIDAD
Near Cienfuegos, there are several opportunities for nature or animal lovers, in particular at the El Nicho Waterfall and Laguna Guanaroca. Take the morning to enjoy a bit of fresh air outdoors, then take the car to drive to Trinidad.
Map with the route from Cienfuegos to Trinidad
Trinidad is a little charming town that, seemingly, got stuck in time somewhere during the 17th century. It’s going to be a joy to explore those old streets and houses! At night, Trinidad wakes up with its musical scene, you’ll find it hard to spend a night in Trinidad without finding yourself singing or dancing at some point!
WHERE TO STAY IN TRINIDAD?
In Trinidad, there are a few convenient places I have found at a reasonable price (starting from less than 40$ per night in the center, including breakfast) check it out!
CUBA ITINERARY DAY FIVE: SANTA CLARA & CAYO SANTA MARIA ISLAND
Drive to Santa Clara to explore this young and vibrating town. For history fans, this is also where you’ll find the most references to the Che himself. The Plaza de la Revolución and the Tren Blindado (armored train) are two big landmarks from this era.
Map from Trinidad to Santa Clara and Cayo Santa Maria
After Santa Clara, take back the car to rejoin the east coast and the wonderful beaches of Cayo Santa Maria Island for some well-deserved rest!
ACCOMMODATION IN CAYO SANTA MARIA
In Cayo Santa Maria I’d recommend spoiling yourself a bit and get comfortable in one of the resorts in front of the beautiful turquoise seas! Welcome to paradise!
CUBA ITINERARY DAY SIX: CAYO SANTA MARIA OR VARADERO?!
Now you’ll face a terrible dilemma: Stay in Cayo Santa Maria or drive up the east coast to find other sunny pieces of white sand to lay your towel on.
Cayo Santa Maria is pretty perfect, but you can also try for a dip at Varadero. This beach has some of the clearest water in the world!
Just in case you have more than 7 days in Cuba and you want to enjoy both Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria, here is the map with the route and distances in between these paradises!
Wherever you end up on this dreamy coast, make sure you wear sunscreen and try some diving and snorkeling, as the reefs around Cuba are hosting a good variety of marine life you don’t want to miss!
ACCOMMODATION IN VARADERO-CUBA
One of the most famous beaches in Cuba, so you need to check out the best deals to fully enjoy this paradise without spending too much!
CUBA ITINERARY DAY SEVEN: BACK TO HAVANA
Havana By night
Drive back to Havana! If you have time before your plane, keep some more time to explore the town. There are always new things to do and see: hidden bars, a new exhibit at the gallery, some concert happening, or just the never ending show of the vibrating Cuban life!
TRAVEL AROUND CUBA: TRANSPORTS AND TOURS
To the easiest way, but not the cheapest, is to rent a local car. Otherwise, you can also follow a tour to Cuba to make things easier. There’s a good bus network between the major cities that can also speed you on your way, but you can’t go everywhere on this itinerary by only using buses, you’ll have to book some day tours at some point if you want to explore all that Cuba has to offer!
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