Credit: Dara Johnson
Visa requirements for American citizens require that you present an itinerary of activities planned for a stay in Cuba. While you may not be singled out to show one, it’s best to CYA (no one wants to go to the back room). Plus, putting together an itinerary can be time consuming, so let us help you take the guess work out of your first visit to the island nation.
Here’s a sample itinerary:
$235 for round trip plane ticket (Spirit Airlines *fly at your own-risk)
seat assignments @ check in
Depart BWI at 6:35 a.m. (with 1 hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale)
Arrive in Havana 11:42 a.m.
ACCOMODATION (CASA HOMESTAY via AIRBNB)
Check in at 4 p.m.
Check out at 11 a.m.
(Daily breakfast and house cleaning are included)
*Taxi from airport is $30 and takes about 30 min
[Related Post: The Ultimate Melanin Guide To Havana]
Drop off bags at Airbnb; explore nearby area until we can check into the Airbnb at 4p
Malecon (promenade along Havana harbor): I have heard that a lot of people go out here in the evening
Dinner at Dona Eutemia: paladar (privately owned restaurant located at Callejon del #60C in Old Havna’s Plaza de la Catedral; recommended by everyone everywhere)
Fabrica de Arte Cubano (open thurs-sun; 8 p.mm-3 a.m.): Located in a former cooking oil plant near the Almendares River in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. La Fabrica del Arte Cubano (FAC) has quickly become one of the hottest spots in Havana. For a $2 cover you can drink Havana Club and explore Cuba’s growing underground art and music scene. At the FAC you can see the work of a Cuban photographer or listen to any number of cuban musicians and maybe even questlove.
Museo de Guanabacoa (Afro Cuban Museum; $2 admission; open 10am-6pm on Mondays; calle Marti 108, entre Versalles y San Antonio; Guanabacoa, Havana, Cuba): Since its creation in 1964, the Museum of Guanabacoa has undertaken the work of rescuing objects relating to Afro-Cuban rites. The museum exhibits, for the first time in Cuba, a whole collection of goods corresponding to the religious expressions of African origin. Carriers of these religious expressions are the followers of a heritage of traditions, habits, spiritual values, and materials that give traditional popular culture a genuine singularity, which helps give authenticity the national culture and in particular the culture of Guanabacoa
Callejon de Hamel: This colorful and lively street is perfect for art heads and travelers interested in chatting with locals (be sure to invite them for a drink to hear their stories). There are galleries full of impressive Afro-Cuban art and alleyways with murals and sculptures. Wear your dancing shoes for rumba every Sunday around noon and check out the small shops for Santería beads and novelties.
Fusterlandia (house in neighborhood of Jaimanitas, which is outside of Havana about 15 minutes from our Airbnb, that was transformed into an art “kingdom”; no cost tours; google said hours are 9-1 p.m.; 2-6 p.m.)
Almancenes de Deposito San Jose (local artisan/handcraft market located within 1 mile of Old Havana; open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
Havana Club Rum Museum (salsa show on Mondays/Wednesdays in Havana run by grandson of member of Buena Vista Social Club; starts at 9:45 p.m.; $30)
Severino Castle (built in 1735, but was destroyed, restored, & converted into a museum of the Cuban slave route; $2 admission; open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.)
Lunch at Romantivo San Severino
Step in the Valley Horseback Tour (8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.; $40/person; ): We match our well trained horses with clients according to their abilities. You will have the opportunity to admire the gorgeous geography of the valley and the distinctive mogotes which are regarded among the rarest formations in the world. During the tour a coffee farm will be visited to witness the process of coffee being handmade, you will also be able to taste some of our traditional drinks and meet the endemic wildlife of the area by stepping into a natural cave. It is also possible to discover the secrets of the finest tobacco in the world from one of the most traditional tobacco farms in the valley, you can taste a cigar for free. You will also enjoy a refreshing bath in a natural lake.
Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas (2nd largest cave in the Americas; open 9-3p & costs $10;) or Cueva del Indio (can do a short boat ride on the underground river that flows through cave, but the line gets long)
Lunch/Dinner at Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso (organic farm with a highly recommended restaurant; have to book reservations early, so we should either try to call in advance, get our horseback tour company to book it for us, or go there at lunch for reserve a table for that evening; Carretera Al Cementerio KM 1 1/2, Vinales 22400, Cuba; +53 5 8188581)
Centro Cultural Polo Montanez (popular bar in Vinales live salsa music and dancing; $2 admission)
Check out of Airbnb by 11 a.m.
Eat in Havana & see El Morro (16th century fortress; open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.) before heading to airport
Bring lots of cash (in small bills); toilet paper; outlet converter (they use 110V/220V/60hz)
If you want, bring flash drives to give away (it’s the only way the internet can be accessed there)
Transportation: Víazul bus from Havana (~$15 to vinales; need to book in advance); vintage taxis
OTHER THINGS TO DO:
Recommended places to eat in Havana: El Atelier (near the Malecon); El Cocinero (in Vedado); San Cristobal (complimentary rum and cigar after dinner); La Floridita (in Old Havana)
Trinidad/Cienfuegos (AREA ON ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND): Sol Ananda (food); Casa de la Musica/Club El Rincon (bars); Valley of the Ingenios
Santa Maria Del Mar (nice beach in Playa del Este, between Mantanzas and Varadero)
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana (fine arts museum; closed on Mondays)
Casa de Africa (located in Havana; only open tues-sat 2:30-6:30 p.m. and sun 9-1 p.m.): Founded in 1986 and located in a colonial palace in Old Havana, the House of Africa has played a pivotal role in preserving the historic legacy of African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean Island centuries ago. It’s a major educational institution frequented by researchers, linguists and students in general uncovering Africa’s undeniable influence on Cuba’s history.
Partagas Cigar Factory (CLOSED TO TOURS NOW – TOURS AVAILABLE AT MODERN FACTORY DOWN THE STREET FOR $10; MUST STATE TICKET FROM A HOTEL; TOURS END AT 1 P.M.): Over 166 years old and counting, the Partagás Cigar factory is the most popular factory in Havana. Soon to be under renovation, this factory gives you a glimpse at why Cuba’s reputation for Cigars is so renowned. Inside this factory you can feel the history and the art that is cigar rolling. Now that restrictions are lifted make sure to take a box or two with you.
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