Few islands on the planet are as complex and captivating as Cuba. Just 90mi (145km) from the United States – yet a world away in nearly every sense – the Pearl of the Antilles is so much more than cars, cigars and crumbling snapshots of Havana. Beyond the sea of pink Cadillacs are coastal towns that feel as old-world as you’d imagine. Whether you’re a fan of rum, seafood, or simply a good fishing hole, you’ll find everything when sailing the towns of Cuba’s coast.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Your snorkel and fishing rod will get their fair share of use off the coast of Guardalavaca. Wading around the northern coast of Cuba, the deep waters and coral reefs offshore make Guardalavaca an ideal port of call for fishing and diving. Need to sit on land for a moment and let it be? Take a seat next to a bronze Beatle on a bench at John Lennon Park and watch the waves crash on Playa Bani.
Matanzas is a popular haven for poetry, Afro-Cuban folklore and other cultural introductions to Cuba’s diverse population – but we think you should set sail due east to the nearby Hicacos Peninsula. Home to 20km (12.4mi) of coastline and all-inclusive hotels, you may just want to treat yourself to a luxe night on land. Varadero Golf Club is a pretty picturesque place to play 18 holes, though you can still get a solid afternoon of exercise by walking the trails of Reserva Ecológica Varahicacos to the historic Ambrosio burial caves.
Though the colonial city of Trinidad is only 10km (6.2mi) away, the Playa Ancon peninsula feels surprisingly untouched. Only a few resorts dot the long stretches of sandy beach, with just enough restaurants covering the space between to offer the right amount of options. There’s not much to do here – and that’s the point. You deserve a day with no worries other than keeping your toes dug into the sand and keeping the Cuba Libres coming.
The island had been inhabited for thousands of years before Christopher Columbus arrived – but history buffs who want to gain a sense of Cuba’s colonial history should drop anchor at Baracoa. Known as the “First City of Cuba”, you can cover this town by hopscotching through its landmarks. The Museo Municipal features special exhibits like the remains of Cuba’s aboriginal people – while the Cruz de la Parra sites mark Columbus’ arrival.
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba has a little something for everyone who steps off your boat – and hiking the steep mountains of Parque Nacional Turquino will earn you a well-deserved drink at the Bacardi Rum Factory. Your toes can get a workout without venturing far from the lively Céspedes Park if you dance your way through the clubs like Casa de las Tradiciones. Feel like you could stay on your feet all day and all night? Make your visit to Santiago de Cuba during carnival time – around the end of July – and party around the clock.
Leave the waves behind for the calm waters of the Bay of Cienfuegos. The Museo Historico Naval Nacional is far from the only example of Cienfuegos grand architecture in the city – but this beautiful blue building should be your first stop in this nautical Unesco World Heritage Site. When you’re not strolling the Malecón staring agape at Punta Gorda’s eccentric palaces, stock up on local coffee, tobacco and sugar cane to keep you content at sea.
Close to Cayo Largo del Sur – one of the ports where your yacht can gain official passage throughout Cuba – Nueva Gerona is the sole city on Isla de la Juventud, otherwise known as the “Island of Youth”. Fishing and swimming on the black sands of Playa Los Estudiantes and Bibijagua may seem like paradise, but an exploration of Nueva Gerona’s interior will lead you to the Presidio Modelo – an abandoned prison where Fidel Castro served time.
Is it any surprise that Havana has made the list? Cruising in classic cars, drinking Cuba Libre cocktails in the Plaza Vieja and watching sunsets from the Malecón coastal esplanade are just a few of the reasons you’ll fall in love with this city. But the main reason? The people. We can’t urge you enough to venture away from the main square and into the local neighborhoods to eat Cuba’s national dish of ropa vieja at family-run paladares – tiny restaurants, often in people’s homes. If you’re not due back at port for a few hours, hire a driver, hop in a bright pink Cadillac and explore the caves, cigar fincas and painted mountains around Viñales.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.