22 independent reviews for Cuba cultural vacation

These full and frank independent reviews are from travelers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travelers below.


review 17 Feb 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The people I met and friendships I made. Dancing, hiking and getting to know Cuba.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be patient and flexible. Relax and have a great time.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes I think the local people were very glad to have tourism and having gave them a sense of pride in addition to the financial benefit.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

One of the best trips of my life. I am definitely looking into going back to see more of the island.

review 27 Dec 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The amazing tour guide and great tour group.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Definitely book the tour as have a great insight into Cuba. Also allow extra time to stay at a resort or Havana.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The most memorable vacation I have had so far. Rated 11 out of 10 by my teenage daughters.

review 6 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There are too many to mention but if I have to pick one, I would have to say taking a trip in the classic cara around Havana.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Pack toilet paper. Takes lots of small mini toilettries to give to your hosts. Go to Cuba with an open mind and talk to the locals about their lives.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, I would encourage all tourists to go on a tour structured like this where the real people of Cuba can benefit from their countries massive potential.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It is probably the best vacation I have been on and it is in no small way thanks to our guide Pedro Foster. The man was fun and passionate about his country. He was a genuine friend who happened to know all the great things to do around Cuba. He suggested things that he knew the group would enjoy and carefully planned each day so that there was enough free time to relax and just sink into that Cuban culture. The tour group loved Pedro for his witt and humour and appreciated his depth of knowledge and being willing to guide us on the tour of Cuba.

review 11 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Meeting the Cuban people and staying in the Casa's. We got to see Cuban people in their daily lives, going to work, going to school, farming and relaxing in the evenings. Cuba is quite beautiful and snorkeling was amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Havana is a high energy town and a lot of fun but traveling to the other cities gives you a completely different perspective on Cuba. The trip and the traveling was well organized and seamlessly delivered. Our guide arranged the details even for our personal non-tour time and activities and was available for any potential problems. She even found someone to look after the horse we found walking down the road in Vinales. Be prepared for a lot of walking with stairs and bring you spanish phrase book because outside of Havana there is less english speakers.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most of the money we paid out was to local people and their businesses. I was amazed at the extent of the entrepreneurial spirit, the people opening their houses, starting restaurant or bars and providing tourist services was amazing.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We had a great time and we feel like we saw some of the real Cuba. The food was good to very good at the Casa's and the local restaurants. The country was beautiful and fascinating as the people are dealing with massive change. Our guide was wonderful and gave us an insight into her country especially through the local contacts.

review 8 Nov 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

So many memories but walking to the tobacco farm at Vinales was a highlight. Our tour guide Dayana was wonderful

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't lose your razor they are impossible to buy. (One of the Casa owners managed to find me a razor and refused any payment for it)

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. Staying in the Casa's obviously helped the casa owners directly but also all the restaurant recommendations were for locally owned and run establishments.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The Cuban Lively Tour from the vacation prvoder was excellent. We did a lot but never felt rushed and had enough time to ourselves to enjoy the places we visited. Great way to get an flavour of the many aspects to Cuba. Finally, our guide Dayana was superb, everything ran smoothly and any problems solved effectively. She contacted us before the tour started and made sure we got to the first Casa she also arranged the transport to our destination after the tour ended. She also gave us an excellent understanding of life in Cuba

review 2 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Having a great guide, Pedro, to lead our small group tour around Cuba.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be flexible and open minded. Our tour turned out to be 7 singles who got on brilliantly - haven't laughed so much for ages!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - used casas run by locals and restaurants run by locals. Bought large bottles of water to refill small therefore reducing waste by recycling.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A fantastic experience!

review 17 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

All the places were great, but I would have to say the live nightly music in the main square in Trinidad was a real treat. No charge to see great Salsa bands and dancing!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring plenty of cash, because there are no credit cards accepted anywhere. Also, be wary of eating Cuban food on the street. It may be tempting, but you're better off eating in restaurants that cater to tourists so that you don't get sick. Get plenty of extra internet cards. They're cheap and you don't want to wait in line a second time. (There's always a huge wait at the Wifi access store)

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I feel it benefited local people, as the places we stayed in were B&B's in peoples houses (casas) and the money they make helps to supplement their otherwise meager incomes. I'm not sure about reducing environmental impacts or supporting conservation. There was a fair amount of waste (burning trash, some trash in the streets) that could be addressed by the local government, but I don't think our vacation added or reduced that in any way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Our vacation was incredible. Our guide was super knowledgeable, helpful and easy-going. We found the Cuban people to be kind and gracious hosts and we felt very safe. From beginning to end, the whole trip went very smoothly and we would love to return someday.

review 1 Jul 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Walking through the streets of Havana which are so full of life - beautiful (albeit crumbling) buildings, lovingly kept cars from the 1920's and '30s, the sound of salsa playing at all hours, locals congregating at the sea wall (Malecon) to socialise and dance...

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring cash as ATMs are hard to come buy and buy an Internet card as soon as you see one as they're very difficult to get in some towns.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes as, for instance, we had a local guide, stayed in people's houses (Casa Particulares) and looked out for women with children and the elderly to give lifts to in our minibus. Plus it was a small group tour.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Brilliant - a real insight to the history, culture and people of Cuba...plus salsa, rum and cigars.

review 20 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The salsa clubs, the beach barbecue, the classic car tour in Havana and the Buena Vista Social Club. So many things !

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go with an open mind and remember Cuba is a third world country.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Casa particulare owners, bars, restaurants etc benefit. Hike with National Park ranger for fee helps conservation. Unfortunately have to use bottled water a lot

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic and very good value for money. Oscar our guide was wonderful, very knowledgeable and efficient. We packed an amazing amount into a week.

review 12 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Undoubtedly meeting Cuban people, and learning about Cuba from our tour guide.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read in advance as much as you can about Cuba past and present.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, undoubtedly.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic.

review 17 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing the sights of Cuba, hiking in a beautiful natural area, swimming at the beach, riding in classic cars, having a great guide.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go for a longer amount of time and know that things change rapidly, the excursions listed are not actually available....but there is plenty to do.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely. Staying in Casas was a benefit to locals as well as to those of us who stayed in them. I loved meeting local Cubans.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Overall, it was a very good value for the money. I would take another. Cuba is evolving so you need to be patient and understanding when things change.

review 12 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cayo Blanca y Yuri

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Spend more time in Trinidad

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent

review 6 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The best way to experience a destination is with the people who live there so staying in Casa Particulares, home stays, provided this opportunity. Every home stay was wonderful – modest, clean, friendly service - and, great breakfasts with fresh fruit, eggs and Cuban coffee. From the start our tour guide Yunier, a local Cuban, fluent in English, was there to offer great suggestions as to how to spend our days. Always willing to help and provide unique insight to ensure we had the best experience! He was a wonderful guide and Frank, an excellent driver. Our 8 day tour included: Havanna, Cienfuegas and the Bay of Pigs, Trinidad via Santa Clara and Vinales. Our journey started in Havanna staying in a Casa Particulare in the Malecon district with wonderful views on the sea front, a short stroll into the Old Havanna. The variety of activities at each destination was extensive. I thought the balance was just right. Vinales and Trinidad were worth spending two nights each. They are outstanding destinations. Cienfuegos at sunset from the yacht club was stunning, but one night was sufficient. Offering extra days in Havana before or after the tour was a great option and I`m glad I did that. My favourite activities included the Che Guevarra museum in Santa Clara; visiting a tobacco farm/ organic small holding in Vinales; diving in the Bay of Pigs and again at Playa Ancon, Trinidad; my salsa lesson in Trinidad; the Old Havana tour on the last day of our tour in a classic convertible 50s car; and, having cocktails with a bottle of rum placed on our table to have as much as we wanted.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Its one of those destinations that you're probably saying 'one day'... but I'd recommend booking your trip sooner rather than later. Exchanging money: Hotels, restaurants and most casas will exchange Euros into CUC which is far easier than standing in long queues for an ATM or bank. Don't bother with CUP as my fellow travelers got stuck with them and not even useful for buying water. The internet is not readily accessible in Cuba so you'll need to rely on sms and not email nor WhatsApp. Plan your activities in advance to maximize your trip as you'll not be able to search for tours and activities when you're there. Finally, plan to have fun whilst respecting the local culture - then you'll have a fantastic time. Make plans in advance specifically your accommodation arrangements in Havanna as my guide mentioned it was fully booked due to significantly increased tourism.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Staying in Casas or home stays, provided the opportunity of benefiting local people as well as our guide being a local Cuban. Visiting organic farms also supports the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely stunning - I would highly recommend this tour to anyone interested in an authentic experience of Cuba.

review 15 Jan 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I loved all of it. The hike up to the waterfall was certainly a highlight, but so was the tour of Ché's mausoleum, and the city tours, and the history, and the people ... everything. Too many to mention. In fact, I am blogging about them in detail at https://iamallwrite.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/watch-listen-learn-cuba-1-havana/

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be very careful to learn the look and value of the Cuban money soon after you arrive. Always have small coins or bills (CUCs or CUPs) to pay to use toilets (I generally gave them 25 centavos) and for other tips (1 to 3 CUCs). Don't drink the water, even to brush your teeth. Be PATIENT. Have fun!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. I hope so. We loved staying with local people and they were very kind to us and friendly.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Outstanding.

review 8 Nov 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The cultural contrast between different towns was remarkable. Highlights for me personally were the Che Guevara Mausoleum at Santa Clara, and the old world feel of Trinidad.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Vegetarians - pack a little 'something' extra - as choices often rather limited.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - use of Casas changed the whole feel of the vacation from being a 'tourist' to being a 'visitor'.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent guide, well organized - but 7 days was too short for me to do everything I wanted!

review 13 Jun 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Horse riding Vinales

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take condiments! And snacks - food very bland. Travel light Take a lot of spending cash

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes but it was much more expensive than I had anticipated. I almost ran out of cash. I suspect the tourist rates are rather hiked up.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


review 14 Nov 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Although the architecture and scenery were spectacular, the people were clearly my favorite part of the trip. The friendly, warmth they exude is intoxicating, and refreshing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Reach out to the people you come in contact with. Allow them to share their experiences, and share yours.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

My vacation certainly benefited the local people. Economically and socially. I had the opportunity to listen to and share life experiences with the people I met, and there is personal growth through this type of learning.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was better than I had imagined if could be. I was really surprised at the quality of experience in Cuba, and very impressed with the coordination of tours, and transportation. The guides were very well versed, and communicated clearly and thoroughly.

review 9 Apr 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The diversity of activities and places

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read a guidebook so you know the options and the history

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I hope that our homestays benefitted the people whose homes we visited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was great! We were all very impressed with 1) Dan who helped us plan our trip and quickly answered all our questions and requests 2) our lovely guide Barbara who was always cheerful, flexible and enthusiastic about showing us her country 3) Ale our careful and friendly driver. Thanks again to all, Jean, Bharat, Kathie and Terry

review 9 Apr 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The tour guide. He was very personable and tried hard to make us comfortable. and shared a lot of good information with us about what it is like to live in Cuba. The best experiences, i felt, were these three: (1) the hike to the waterfall in the national park near Trinidad -- we saw Cuba's national bird, huge wasp nests/colonies, woodpecker, and swimming to the cave behind the waterfall was cool. (2) visiting the farmland near Vinales, a tobacco farm, and listening to Cuban music in the town. (3) walking tour of old Havana and classic car tour of new Havana

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go during low season you may get a smaller group. My group was particularly small (just 3 people and we had two Cubans from the company with us) so we were especially lucky.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I had heard from many people that when they go on large bus tours from resorts that local people in Trinidad will wait there at the bus stop for them. When they get off, people will ask them for clothing, and goods for donation. I didn't experience that to my surprise. We came surreptiously and unannounced, I guess, so that was good. I brought some clothes and one of our tour guides took it to the town square in Vinales and distributed it to some people. I'm not sure if we helped the poorest people. The casas we stayed at were very nice, so I imagine those people have money. I think that we did help them, and got to stay at some very nice places too. Generally, I think we benefitted the upper class of the local people. Because we went to the nicest restaurants. The poor are still poor, except maybe a few farmers serving drinks or running a tobacco operation in Vinales. We didn't visit where they lived or see them. I would have liked to see what the average person's house in old Havana looks like, because the casas we stayed at in Habana, Trinidad and Vinales were very nice! I don't think I got a good grasp of what the average Cuban's life is like. But then again, the tour guides probably wanted to shield us from things like that, and show us the nice places.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Very good.

review 10 Nov 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Personally I liked Vinales best, but Cienfuegos and Trinidad are also well worth the visit.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If staying in casas particulares, simple gift are very welcome, as are clothes. Always take toilet paper as it is often not available. Humidity is a big problem, and so energy levels are often low - don't expect to do anything very taxing.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The hospitality was very warm and the families were willing to do all they could to help us. At least a basic knowledge of Spanish is a big help.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Considering that Cuba is a very poor country and that one cannot expect the standards of hygiene and taste of most western countries, the overall impression is positive because the people are so welcoming

review 14 May 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Staying with the local families was truly an eye opening experience! Every one of these people went beyond expectations to make my stay comfortable. They were always clean, comfortable, private and I loved the experience!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Cuba itself is way more expensive that I expected. Not the tour itself, but the 'walking around' money that you need for food, water, etc. It's also impossible to walk up to a bank or ATM with your ATM card and get more US money, so this can be debilitating.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I felt that my vacation was a very beneficial experience between a common US citizen (albeit one who lives in Mexico) and the local Cuban people. I saw how the common people of Cuba were suffering from the US embargo and how much things need to change.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The guide was charismatic and newly helpful, but he could have provided more information. I would rate the vacation a 4.5 out of 5.

review 23 Dec 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Visiting Vinales

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take some time out to explore the surrounding country. Nature is beautiful. Make sure you learn some Spanish before going. The families you stay with do not necessarily speak any English.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Hard to say

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was nice and relaxing. I do wish, though, that we would have visited Santa Clara as stated in the itinerary. I was sad to miss this site (even though I understand the Che Guevara-memorial was closed due to restoration) - big part of the reason why I booked the tour was to see Santa Clara.

Vacation Reviews

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations. In addition, we don't run these vacations ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.

Read our review policy

Unedited reviews from other travelers

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Convert currencies