Cuba Explorer popular tour Havana Extravaganza for Americans
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days

Revel in Havana’s cultural delights

Havana extravaganza tour

Tour Old Havana World Heritage sites
Swim on white sand beaches
Witness Havana humanitarian projects
Cruise in 1950s American classic cars
Curated history and art museum visits
Dine in Havana’s best private eateries
Visit Ernest Hemingway’s house
Delight in the Tropicana dance show
Learn Cuban cooking from master chefs
Ride in coconut cabs and bicycle taxis

Havana extravaganza tour overview

Havana extravaganza is the trip thousands of Americans have picked to witness authentic Cuba. It’s our most popular and affordable tour.

You will stay in the four star-plus NH Capri hotel. Its glamorous 1950s Las Vegas-inspired roots shine brightly today in comfort and amenities. The Capri’s Salon Rojo club was a favorite nightspot for global heartthrob actor Errol Flynn. Capri’s hallmarks are: caring staff, central location, and excellent WiFi.

Wow factors. Hear music on the streets and feel it at the gala Tropicana floor show. Taste unique delicacies of Cuban cuisine. Swim in the warm, clean waters of Caribbean Sea. Discover heart-warming humanitarian projects in Old Havana. Ogle fantastic architecture and art. Behold kind effusive Cubans eager to connect with Americans.

Habana mi amor. On this tour, you’ll see and do a little bit of everything. It provides an up-close slice of Cuba life and culture. Geared to explorers, adventurers and sojourners seeking new encounters, and insights on humanity. It’s the ideal way for first-time visitors to learn about island society, or for returning guests who can’t get enough of Cuba.

Havana extravaganza tour map

Cuba is big. It’s larger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Cities and provinces you’ll visit

Print itinerary

Day 1 • Saturday • Hello Havana!

Cuba’s national capitol building.
We’ll tour Parque Central, home to Cuba’s recently restored capitol building, in bicycle taxis. Human-powered “bicitaxis” are a popular form of transport in Old Havana.
  • Arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport.
  • Collect your luggage and proceed through Cuban customs to the arrivals lobby.
  • Consider purchasing Cuban Convertible Pesos at the airport exchange bureau (CADECA), or later at your hotel.
  • Our airport concierge or your tour guide will arrange tour bus or private taxi transfers from the airport to the NH Hotel Capri, located in El Vedado, the heart of Havana’s cultural district. Every room has a panoramic view of Havana and the sea, and five hours of high-speed internet access.
  • Hotel check-in is pre-arranged – just present your passport.
  • Enjoy a welcome cocktail, then settle in and freshen up.
  • Group arrival dinner with your guide and tourmates at hotel.
  • Evening entertainment options: Groove to live jazz, relax in a lounge, or explore the sounds of the city – all within walking distance of your hotel!

Day 2 • Sunday • Romancing historic Havana

Cubans in horse-drawn cart.
Havana harbors the most extensive collection of Spanish colonial-era architecture outside of Spain. This Moorish influenced building is one of many building styles spanning 450 years. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • The NH hotel Capri serves delicious breakfasts prepared by Havana’s best chefs.
  • Havana sightseeing. Visit Plaza de la Revolución. Awe at the giant image of Ché Guevara and the towering monument to José Martí, Cuba’s national hero. Then onto the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba frequented by world leaders and superstars. At points in between, you’ll savor the architecture of one of the oldest and most stunning cities in the New World.
  • A bicycle made for you. We’ll enlist a cortège of bicycle taxis, and navigate the Old Havana’s narrow streets arriving at Parque Central, the location of Cuba’s national capitol building (a scale model of the U.S. Capitol, only taller). You’ll see numerous architectural landmarks including the Gran Teatro where the Ballet Nacional de Cuba performs.
  • Followed by a guided walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll explore four landmark plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. Together they contain the most extensive collection of remaining Spanish colonial-era architecture in the world. We’ll wander Cathedral Square, Square of Arms, San Francisco Square, and Plaza Vieja.
  • Welcome lunch at the private restaurant Mojito-Mojito. Ideally situated in Plaza Vieja, its friendly atmosphere, and delicious food makes it rank high on TripAdvisor. The restaurant’s slogan: "A single mojito is not enough."
  • Now we visit Casablanca, a quaint village to the north of Havana accessible by ferry. The hamlet was established in 1762 by shipbuilders and carpenters who serviced Spanish galleons and merchant vessels. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the giant marble sculpture "Christ of Havana," and the National Weather Observatory. Its panoramic view across the bay to metropolitan Havana is mesmerizing. Fortunately, Eusebio Leal, president of the Office of the Historian of Havana, is restoring Casablanca to its deserved past glory.
  • We’ll visit the magnificent statue Christ of Havana [Cristo de La Habana] by Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera. She won a 1953 design contest organized by the wife of dictator Fulgencio Batista for this work. Madera created the statue in Italy and shipped the marble pieces to Havana. It is carved from 67 blocks of white Carrara (each blessed by Pope Pius XII), stands 74 feet tall from its base, and weighs 320 tons. It’s the most massive statue created by a female artist.
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up.
  • Hidden gastronomical gem. Group welcome dinner featuring an open menu at Paladar Café Laurent. This sophisticated private restaurant serves Caribbean, Latin, seafood, Cuban, and fusion delights on starched white tablecloths, with polished glasses, and sparkling cutlery. The bright modernist 1950s interior promises an excellent meal and great views of Havana.
  • Paradise under the stars. We’re off to the Tropicana experience. It’s a glimpse of pre-revolution Cuba, where Carmen Miranda, Josephine Baker, Nat King Cole, and others entertained the wealthy with Latin dance numbers performed by women with 10-pound headdresses. It’s a stunning pageant filled with music, crazy dance numbers, a few contortionists and acrobats, and showgirls decked out in fabulous costumes. Many say the Tropicana is more engaging and earthy than glitzy Las Vegas productions.

Day 3 • Monday • Ernest Hemingway, Cuban cooking

Cubans in horse-drawn cart.
Residents of Old Havana commute in a horse-drawn wagon. Eco-friendly transportation alternatives make Cuba one of the most environmentally sustainable nations on the planet according to the World Wildlife Fund.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel.
  • Foodie’s delight. Imagine how thrilled your friends will be when you return home and prepare authentic Cuban food and mojitos for them? This morning we’ll learn from the renowned Cuban chefs at El Ajiaco Paladar the secrets of preparing tasty Cuban dishes and drinks.
  • Lunch under the palms. El Ajiaco is considered one of the best private eateries in Havana and ranks high on TripAdvisor lists. Hands down it’s a Cuban dining highlight. Ajiaco is noted for fantastic service, atmosphere, and scrumptilicious traditional Cuba cuisine. Nearby family gardens supply organic vegetables and spices, lending to each dish a delightfully fresh aromatic flavor you’ll always remember.
  • A brief visit to the village of Cojímar, a small fishing community of east Havana. Here local fishers cast bronze bust of Hemingway from old anchors, props, and tools. The inscription reads, "In loving memory of the people of Cojímar to the immortal author of Old Man and the Sea." A plaque below the bust notes, "Sculpted with the contributions of the Fishermen Cooperative of Cojímar."
  • Hemingway’s haunt. We’re off to visit Finca Vigía [Lookout Farm] where North America’s literary titan Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. Hemingway’s house has remains just as it was when he lived there. You’ll see his personal effects, thousands of books and photographs, as well as animal trophies, bagged on his numerous African safaris.
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up.
  • Dinner not included in tour cost. Tonight is an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines. We’ll provide suggestions for restaurants most popular with Cubans and our travelers.
  • Time to explore Havana’s vibrant nightlife, and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options.

Day 4 • Tuesday • Capitol building and the beach

Cuba Explorer history and cultural tours of Havana
Cubans play on the beach. East of Havana, we’ll visit Santa María del Mar, with time to relax on 14 miles of palm-lined seashore of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel.
  • Joyride. We’re off to dinner in a cavalcade of Cuban coconut cabs. Cocotaxis are a delightful crazy vehicle with a body shaped like a coconut set atop a motorcycle frame. Get ready for an exciting ride along the Malecón to Old Havana.
  • We’ll visit Cuba’s National Capitol Building, a Latin American architectural treasure. Its size and appearance are similar to Washington’s Capitol Building, but the Pantheon in Paris inspired its opulent neoclassical form and art nouveau flourishes. Cuban architects Raúl Otero and Eugenio Rayneri Piedra designed the colossus in 1925, and construction began in 1926 by the U.S. firm Purdy and Henderson. Completed in 1929, it served as the seat of Congress until 1959 when Fidel and fellow rebels chose less bourgeois digs to conduct revolutionary affairs. From 1959 until 2018 the edifice housed the Cuban Academy of Sciences. Over ensuing decades, the Capitolio fell into critical disrepair. In 2010, Eusebio Leal, president of the Office of the Historian began a mammoth and meticulous restoration project. Today the Capitol resumes its role as the legislative center, housing Cuba’s National Assembly. Restoration will be complete in November 2019 to mark the 500th birthday of the city of Havana. Chocked full of grand statuary and breathtaking ornamental details, Cuba’s Capitol is a "can’t miss" visit.
  • What would a trip to Cuba be without a view of the sea? We’re off to Havana’s eastern beaches known as Playas del Este. We’ll visit two notable white sand shores: Santa María del Mar and Guanabo. Just 30 minutes from the capital, en route, we’ll gaze incredible tropical vistas of sea and countryside. First stop is Santa María del Mar and time to relax on 14 miles of palm-lined seashore of the Caribbean Sea. Later we’ll explore the small resort town of Guanabo founded in 1800. Cubans and foreign guests love these littoral spots. Don’t forget your swimsuit, towels and beach gear.
  • Lunch is not included. At the beach, there are numerous food vendors. While in Guanabo we’ll schedule a stop at a local paladar [private restaurant].
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up.
  • Dinner not included in tour cost. It’s an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines. We’ll provide suggestions for restaurants most popular with Cubans and our travelers.
  • Time to explore Havana’s vibrant nightlife, and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options.

Day 5 • Wednesday • Havana’s big heart and great art

American convertible in Cuba.
One in ten cars in Havana are more than 60 years old. Classic American cars serve as taxis for Cubans and tourists. You’ll enjoy a city excursion during your Havana extravaganza tour!
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel.
  • Charity act. We’re off to visit Convento de Nuestra Señora de Belén [Convent of Our Lady of Belén], a humanitarian healthcare and community service project in Old Havana. Construction of the massive Convent commenced in 1712. It was expanded and remodeled several times over the centuries. Finally abandoned in 1925, it fell into grave disrepair. In 1991 restoration began and continues today with fantastic results. The Office of the Historian (our Cuban sponsor), public health authorities and the Order of the Sisters of Charity jointly manage Belén Convent. It is home to elderly people and provides physiotherapy and ophthalmological services to many more seniors in the community. It hosts a daycare and primary school. Other activities include exercise classes, board games, cognitive rehabilitation, films, crafts workshops, and "love among the elderly" workshops.
  • Good hair day. Arte Corte [Art Cut] is a barbershop, an art project, a hair museum, a community center, park, and barber academy! Arte Corte is a little bit of everything. Stylist-proprietor-curator Gilberto Valladares, also known as Papito, runs this quaint spot in Old Havana, where visitors can have their hair cut or receive some other beauty treatment, all the while surrounded by objects, artifacts, and memorabilia that tell the story of hair care through the ages. It’s known as Callejón de los Peluqueros [Hairdresser’s Alley].
  • While in Hairdresser’s Alley, we’ll break bread at El Fígaro, affectionately named after the central character in the “The Barber of Seville.” It’s much kudoed in social media for atmosphere, gracious staff, Cuban music, delicious cocktails, and great food and desserts. Chef Alex Luco descends from a line of famed Cuban cooks. El Fígaro is part of the Arte Corte [Art Cut] community project that has received UNESCO World Heritage recognition. Its motto is “comida sin pelos” (food without hairs). Smile.
  • Art attack. Examine Cuba’s greatest visual masterpieces spanning three centuries at Havana’s museum of modern art – Palacio de Bellas Artes. Sections are devoted to landscape, religious subjects and narrative scenes of Cuban life over 300 years. Together the exhibits account for the richness of the island’s Spanish, French, Chinese, African and Aboriginal cultural roots. Notable works include those of René Portocarrero and Wilfredo Lam. You’ll meet and chat with museum staff and perhaps local artists.
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up.
  • 1950s time travel. Think cocktails, Frank Sinatra, popsicles, sox hops, Hula Hoops, the twist, road trips, bikinis, I Love Lucy, Elvis Presley, and pink Cadillacs. One in ten cars in Havana are pre-1959. And they’re all American: Chevrolet, Ford, Buick, Mercury, Dodge, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. We’ll cruise the romantic Malecón in these lovingly maintained classics.
  • Special farewell dinner at the private restaurant Los Naranjos. Located in the heart of Vedado in an expansive 1930s mansion, its Chef Ernesto specializes in fusion style dishes combining Cuban, Italian and Spanish influences. Los Naranjos’ ambiance is fun and light, its food wonderful, authentic and fresh, and staff upbeat and attentive. It’s a favorite among TripAdvisor diners.
  • Time to explore Havana’s vibrant nightlife, and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options.

Day 6 • Thursday • Adios Havana. Extend your stay?

Cuba boys playing in Havana.
Cuban kids are effusive and smart. They get the highest academic scores in Latin America. Free education and healthcare have resulted in the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel.
  • Check-out of your Havana hotel.
  • Transfer to Havana’s José Martí International Airport for flights home.
  • We’ll miss you and hope you will return soon. In Cuba we say: A true friend remembers the song in your heart when you have forgotten the lyrics.
  • Wait! Want to extend your stay in Cuba? We’re here to help. Just ask us.
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Included in Cuba travel package cost

  • Small group size – usually fewer than ten guests
  • Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel ensuring compliance with U.S. Cuba regulations
  • Knowledgeable, fun, caring Cuban guide from arrival to departure
  • Quality hotels in Cuba as mentioned in this itinerary
  • Modern air-conditioned bus and professional chauffeur, and bottled water daily
  • Cuban airport-hotel transfers on tour start and end days
  • All activities, entrance fees, and services described in this itinerary
  • Emergency telephone and internet access from Cuba to America
  • Cash advances for participants caught short of funds in Cuba
  • Ongoing support from our U.S. and Cuban staff before, during and after travel
  • Read Cuba Explorer travel advantage for many more benefits

Tasty meals included each tour day

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Not included