Cuba itineraries

Most visitors are surprised that it can take a full day to travel between cities in Cuba; this island is deceptively large. For shorter trips, plan your Cuba itinerary around Havana and the scenic west; two weeks or more allows you time to reach the Afro-Cuban stronghold of Santiago, with plenty of stops along the way. For those traveling independently, daily Viazul tourist buses are comfortable and air conditioned; while drivers will find roads poorly signposted but pleasantly free of cars. Many Cubans hitchhike to get to work; you could pick up an impromptu guide!
1. Baracoa
2. Bay of Pigs
3. Camaguey
4. Cayo Levisa
5. Cienfuegos
6. Havana
7. María La Gorda
8. Santa Clara
9. Santiago de Cuba
10. Sierra Maestra NP
11. Soroa
12. Las Terrazas
13. Topes de Collantes
14. Trinidad
15. Valle de Viñales
Baracoa

1. Baracoa

One of Cuba's most overlooked spots, this little seaside town gives way to some of Cuba's most dramatic landscapes: river-filled rainforests, towering mountains, glorious waterfalls and the flat-topped El Yunque mountain - ideal for hiking. Baracoa's unique character has been preserved by its geographical isolation; until the 1960s it was only accessible by boat.
Bay of Pigs

2. Bay of Pigs

The scene of the US military's spectacular failure, most people visit this region purely for the name. However, the bay's most spectacular attraction is arguably its endemic flora and fauna, along with a "cenote" - a deep, collapsed pool, where you can snorkel with fish. The battle was fought out at Playa Girón - today home to a small museum and peaceful beach, popular with divers.
Camaguey

3. Camaguey

The labyrinthine streets of Cuba's third-largest city were designed to confuse invading pirates - hence its nickname "the Maze". But if you're worried about getting lost in the medina-like maze, tour Camaguey by bicitaxi. There are numerous hidden plazas, large earthenware water pots and pretty churches are characteristic - as is the Ballet of Camaguey, the best outside Havana.
Cayo Levisa

4. Cayo Levisa

Separated from the mainland by a breezy half hour ferry journey, you'll feel like a real castaway on little Levisa's 3km beach. Wander along the mangroves, gaze out to the impossibly blue sea, have lunch at the little cafe or take a snorkelling trip to a nearby reef - there's little to do on Levisa other than relax, and sip a fresh piña colada.
Cienfuegos

5. Cienfuegos

The "Pearl of the South" is set on a beautiful bay, and its colonial architecture - including pretty palaces - has earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hang out with the locals along the Malecón, discover Cienfuegos' French colonial history in the Museo Provincial, or relax with a boat trip across the bay or a visit to the botanical gardens.
Havana

6. Havana

The Caribbean's best-loved city, Havana's old quarter is a UNESCO site. This living movie set is as exquisitely atmospheric as they come; people pedal round cobbled streets, classic cars cruise the Malecón, musicians strum and sing on every street corner and sloppy Spanish echoes from every half-empty, crumbling home. Check out the cultural centres, artists’ studios and well-preserved theatres.
María La Gorda

7. María La Gorda

Few make it out to the isolated peninsula of María La Gorda, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of mangrove swamps and empty beaches. Some of Cuba's best scuba diving takes place off these shores, but you can also take treks into the surrounding forest that protects the world's smallest bird, the tiny bee hummingbird. Divers should have reasonable experience; some prefer to bring their own equipment.
Santa Clara

8. Santa Clara

History buffs and Che Guevara fans tend to make a beeline for Santa Clara - the scene of the final battle of the revolution, and the final resting place of Guevara. The town is pleasant but otherwise unremarkable; the real draw here is the Che Guevara Memorial, the huge Che statue, the Che museum and the site of a train derailed by the guerrillas, with exhibits inside the actual carriages.
Santiago de Cuba

9. Santiago de Cuba

Steamy Santiago has Cuba's hottest climate - and its hottest culture. Edgy and urban, Santiago proudly divides opinion; some revel in its fiery Afro-Haitian culture and well worn city centre, too far from Havana for the limited wealth to filter down. Others are shocked at the hardship and hawkers. The bullet riddled Moncada Barracks are a legacy to the revolution that never happened here.
Sierra Maestra NP

10. Sierra Maestra NP

AKA Pico Turquino National Park, the Sierra Maestra feature Cuba's highest peaks and some of its most stunning scenery, ideal for multi-day hikes and mountain biking. But there is historical appeal here, too. The steep valleys have sheltered guerillas since the earliest colonial invasions, followed by escaped slaves and finally Castro and his fellow revolutionaries, whose wooden, wartime HQ can still be seen.
Soroa

11. Soroa

A read draw for birders, this forest is ideal for day hikes with naturalist guides. Sample the fruit that falls from the trees, trek up to the viewpoint and finish off with a dip in the dreamlike natural pools, frequented more by Cubans than foreigners. The forest also hides a darker secret - the remains of coffee plantations with tiny stone huts built by the slaves who were forced to live in them.
Las Terrazas

12. Las Terrazas

This eco-community was one of the communist government's 1960s projects. Residents were moved from the surrounding land - which could then be protected - into purpose-built housing around a picturesque lake. Today, this village is full of painters, sculptors and woodworkers, as well as Cuba's only vegan, eco-restaurant, where meals are cooked in a solar oven.
Topes de Collantes

13. Topes de Collantes

The Escambray Mountains protected by this nature reserve are a giant playground for adults and kids alike. Canyon down a waterfall, ride horses along a river, spot rainbow-coloured hummingbirds, visit coconut plantations and swim inside an open cave. If you need an energy boost for that - then you're in luck. This is also the home of the best coffee in Cuba - visit a coffee farmer for a fresh cup.
Trinidad

14. Trinidad

Founded by the Spanish and later used as a base for French settlers fleeing nearby Haiti, Trinidad's colourful history is reflected in its perfectly preserved architecture, the ruins of the surrounding sugar mills, and Afro-Cuban religions. The plaza comes alive with salsa rhythms at night - this is one of Cuba's best live music destinations. Don't miss the nearby Playa Ancon - a pleasant cycle from the city.
Valle de Viñales

15. Valle de Viñales

The laidback, agricultural town of Viñales is surrounded by "sugarloaf" limestone mountains, organic farms and tobacco plantations. You could spend days in this UNESCO site - exploring hidden caves, horse riding to tranquil lagoons and listening to salsa in the plaza each evening. Banana leaves peek out from behind casas and donkeys and oxen slowly draw carts through the streets.

Our top Cuba Vacation

Small group tour to Cuba

Small group tour to Cuba

Discover the fascinating diversity of Cuba

From US $1130 to US $1245 20 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2018: 15 Jun, 3 Aug, 10 Aug, 17 Aug, 24 Aug, 31 Aug, 7 Sep, 14 Sep, 21 Sep, 28 Sep, 5 Oct, 12 Oct, 19 Oct, 26 Oct, 2 Nov, 9 Nov, 16 Nov, 23 Nov, 30 Nov, 7 Dec, 14 Dec, 21 Dec, 28 Dec
2019: 4 Jan, 11 Jan, 18 Jan, 25 Jan, 1 Feb, 8 Feb, 15 Feb, 22 Feb, 1 Mar, 8 Mar, 15 Mar, 22 Mar, 29 Mar, 5 Apr, 12 Apr, 19 Apr, 26 Apr, 3 May, 10 May, 17 May, 24 May, 31 May, 7 Jun, 14 Jun, 21 Jun, 28 Jun, 5 Jul, 12 Jul, 19 Jul, 26 Jul, 2 Aug ...
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Cuba or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Cuba itineraries

Beaches, forests & cities: 2 weeks
Havana > Viñales > Cayo Levisa > Soroa > Trinidad > Sierra Escambray > Havana

Backroads & beaches: 8 days
Havana > Viñales > Bay of Pigs > Trinidad > Escambray Mountains > Topes de Collantes > Santa Clara > Havana

Complete Cuba: 22 days
Havana > Bay of Pigs > Cienfuegos > Santa Clara > Trinidad > Camaguey > Santiago de Cuba > Baracoa > Havana

Driving times in Cuba

The following times give you a rough idea of the driving and flying times between the main attractions in Cuba.
Havana – Viñales: 3 hours by road Havana – Baracoa: 1.5 hours by plane Viñales – Santa Clara: 7 hours by road Viñales - Maria la Gorda: 3 hours by road Santa Clara – Trinidad: 2.5 hours by road Trinidad – Camaguey: 6 hours by road Camaguey – Santiago de Cuba: 7 hours by road Santiago de Cuba – Baracoa: 5 hours by road Santiago – base of Sierra Maestra: 3 hours by road

Next: Things to do

Fans of flânerie will get their fill wandering the backstreets of Old Havana, while away from the crumbling charm of Cuba’s cities, limestone karsts, tobacco plantations, the Sierra Maestra and bird-filled forests offer a different appeal to rural wanderers. Afro-Cuban culture abounds in the southeast, while the beaches feel a thousand miles from the booming bass lines and 50s cars. Read more about our top things to do in Cuba.
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Nick Kenrick] [Top box - bus: Bruce Tuten] [...or: puffy eyes] [Baracoa: Paul Postiaux ] [Bay of Pigs: Bruce Tuten] [Camaguey: Marika Bortolami] [Cayo Levisa: Vicki Brown] [Cienfuegos: Stephen Colebourne] [Maria La Gorda: Charlesjsharp ] [Santa Clara: Bruce Tuten] [Santiago de Cuba: Marika Bortolami] [Sierra Maestra National Park: David Bacon] [Soroa: Annie Mole] [Las Terrazas: Javier Ignacio Acuna Ditzel] [Topes del Collantes: Guillaume Baviere] [Trinidad: Chris Brown] [Driving times: nathanmac87]
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