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Cultural Cuba: Havana to Sancti Spíritus

  • Duration: 9 days
  • Group size: 14-26
  • Reviews: 48
Soak up the singular culture of this colorful Caribbean island.

Make your way from Havana, Cuba’s vibrant capital, along the beautiful coastline of Cayo Santa María to the Spanish colonial city of Sancti Spíritus. Local artists, musicians, historians, naturalists, and students will show you their country from an insider’s perspective as you go, opening up this lively island nation cut off from much of the western world for decades.

Your tour package includes
  • 8 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 7 lunches
  • 7 dinners with beer or wine
  • 13 guided sightseeing tours
Included highlights
  • Old Havana
  • meeting local artists and musicians
  • Cuban music performance
  • Ernest Hemingway’s home at Finca Vigía
  • Cienfuegos
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Day-by-day itinerary
Miami, Florida1 night
Day 1: Arrival in Miami
Included meal: Dinner

Welcome to Florida! Arrive in Miami and make your way to your hotel. Review important information with your Tour Director before gathering for a welcome dinner with your fellow travelers.

Havana3 nights
Day 2: Arrival in Havana & sightseeing tour
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, board your flight from Miami to Havana, Cuba. Upon arrival, head out with your group and discover the city with a local guide. (Please note: flight times are subject to change.)

• Engage with locals as you visit Havana’s historic districts, including the Cerro, El Vedado, and Miramar

• See Metropolitan Park, the beautiful green space along the Almendares River, before making your way down the Malecón, a five-mile-long waterfront esplanade

• Enjoy open discussions about important restoration projects as you view the historic Capitol Building, Revolution Square, Plaza Vieja, and Plaza de San Francisco in Old Havana

After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, meet a local artist for an interactive discussion about what life is like in Cuba. Tonight, head to a paladar, an authentic local restaurant, for dinner with your group.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Old Havana
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Get to know the UNESCO-recognized neighborhood of Old Havana, the heart of the city, with a local architect leading the way.

• Engage in open discussions about recent restoration projects in Havana as you walk along the colorful main streets

• Pass through Plaza de Armas, Plaze de San Francisco, Plaza de la Catedrale, and Cortina de Valdés, home to the city’s ancient arsenal

After enjoying an included lunch at a local restaurant, continue learning about Cuban culture this afternoon.

• Interact with locals at Arte Corte, a community project centered around a hair salon and barber school

• Enter the National Museum of Fine Arts, where you’ll take a guided tour led by a local art historian and discuss a vast collection of Cuban work

• Engage with community representatives at the Callejón de Hamel, where you’ll learn about Afro-Cuban religion and ceremonies as you watch performers in a traditional dance

Tonight, enjoy dinner at one of the city’s paladares. Then, engage with musicians and locals at a traditional performance to get a taste of the lively Cuban music culture.

Day 4: Finca Vigía & Cojimar
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, get a look at some of Cuba’s world-famous cultural touchstones, including the cigar, Hemingway’s writing retreat, and antique cars.

• Interact with staff at a local cigar factory to see how Cuba’s most famous export is made from start to finish

• Take a salsa dancing lesson taught by the masters and engage with the performers at a demonstration

• Enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant

• Meet with a local historian at Finca Vigía, where Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his most famous works, and discuss the importance of Hemingway’s novels in both Cuba and the United States

• Visit with local fishermen at the nearby village of Cojimar, where Hemingway kept his boat, Pilar

This afternoon, head back to Havana to engage with local artisans at the Almacenes San José craft market. Then, head to the historic Hotel Nacional to learn about its significance and sip Cuba’s signature drink, the mojito.

Cayo Santa María2 nights
Day 5: Cayo Santa María via Bay of Pigs & Cienfuegos
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Say adiós to Havana this morning as you make your way to the historic Bay of Pigs. Along the way, stop at Zapata Swamp National Park to learn about area's wildlife. Then, discover Cienfuegos with a local as your guide.

• Visit the Bay of Pigs and discuss the failed U.S. invasion of 1961 from the perspective of the Cubans

• Enjoy an included lunch

• Interact with locals as you discuss the culture and traditions of Cienfuegos, a UNESCO-recognized city

• Make your way through José Martí Square and view the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, then pass by Teatro Tomás Terry and the neo-Gothic Palacio de Valle

• Meet with members of the Cienfuegos Chamber Orchestra

Continue on to the beautiful island of Cayo Santa María, home to pristine coastal scenery and azure waters, and sit down for an included dinner.

Day 6: Caibarién & Remedios
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Head out to the agricultural and cultural center of Caibarién this morning.

• Engage with a local artist to learn about Cuba’s vibrant creative scene

• Discuss the tools and machinery used in sugar production at the sugar factory-turned-exhibit, Marcelo Salado Sugar Mill Museum

Then, board a steam train to Remedios, the eighth-oldest city in Cuba, and interact with the conductors en route.

• Meet with a parish priest at the Remedios Cathedral to discuss the church’s work and community projects

• Learn about the famous Parrandas festival, one of the Caribbean’s largest and oldest traditional carnivals with roots stretching back to the 18th century

• Hop on board a bicycle taxi for a tour of Remedios, heading into the main square where you’ll meet the drivers and share coffee

Head back to Cayo Santa María where you'll enjoy an included lunch and dinner.

Sancti Spíritus2 nights
Day 7: Sancti Spíritus via Santa Clara
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Travel to Sancti Spíritus, stopping in Santa Clara to discover the vibrant city from a local perspective.

• Visit Parque Vidal, named a national monument in 1988 for its eclectic and historic surrounding architecture and statues

• Marvel at the impressive Che Guevara Mausoleum• Listen to traditional trova music and interact with the local musicians who play it

• Sit down for lunch at a local paladar

Continue on to Sancti Spíritus, one of the oldest European settlements in Cuba, and enjoy an included dinner.

Day 8: Sancti Spíritus & Trinidad
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Set out to explore Sancti Spíritus with your Tour Director.

• Stroll through the charming historic center

• Enjoy an open discussion about restoration projects in the city

Continue on to learn about the history of the frozen-in-time town of Trinidad.

• Enjoy an included lunch at a local paladar

• Explore and discuss the UNESCO-recognized Spanish colonial zone

• Pass by Plaza Mayor, the Church of the Holy Trinity, Brunet Palace, Sánchez Iznaga Mansion, and the bell tower of the old San Francisco Convent

• Interact with locals at the Romantic Museum, located inside Brunet Palace

• View the ornate furniture, artwork, and sculptures that members of the Cuban aristocracy once used to decorate their homes

• Meet and interact with local artists in Trinidad to learn about their lives and work

Back in Sancti Spíritus, join your group at tonight’s farewell dinner.

Flight Home
Day 9: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast

After a late check-out from your hotel, transfer to Santa Clara airport for your flight to Fort Lauderdale. Then, travel to Miami airport to connect to your flight home.

Please note: Depending on your home destination, you may spend the night in Miami before flying home on the morning of Day 10.

Go Ahead Tours is pleased to offer educational and cultural exchanges to Cuba. Go Ahead Tours qualifies for the people-to-people general license established by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury ("OFAC"). Under this license, Go Ahead Tours will offer educational and cultural exchanges and conversations with the people of Cuba. The itinerary is subject to change based on day of week and availability, but a complete people-to people itinerary will always be maintained.

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Reviews
5
48
4.9 average
Unique Experience
by 8th time traveler 

This trip was life-expanding to me. After learning about the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis in high school, I always had an interest in visiting Cuba. Although 90 miles from the U.S., it was a place that was off limits and almost impossible to visit. That's why, when the Obama Administrati...

Read more +
Fabulous Cuba
by 7th time traveler 

Tis Cuban tour was fantastic. It is a cultural one and very informative. Our Tour Directors, Stevyn and Jose were the best. Even our bus driver, Coco was great. Stevyn went over and beyond what was expected. Jose was very knowledgable about his jcountry and spoke ery good English. I definitel...

Highly recommend the Cultural Cuba tour
by 40th time traveler 

First of all our US Tour Director, Stevyn, was outstanding. I intend to sign up for some of his other tours with GAT. Our local guide, Jose, was very good. While the tour looks expensive....it is all inclusive. The itinerary was filled with music, art, history....and wonderful food. All but one...

Eye Opening Trip
by 5th time traveler 

Thorough enjoyed this trip. It was well organized with the best of guides, Manny. We had a variety of cultural experiences, visited a several sites in and around Havana, saw the countryside as we traveled to other towns, observed how people live and deal with the limitations of their government.

by 2nd time traveler 

Fascinating tour with lots of opportunity to interact with local artists, musicians, dancers, and restaurant owners. We had both a Cuban Tour Guide and a Go Ahead Tour Guide. They worked very well together to give us insights and keep everyone happy. It was great to see all of the old cars, and t...

Our reviews are authentic and unedited.
Hotels, flights, & FAQ

Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.

Hotels

We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.

Springhill Suites MIA Airport South

This contemporary hotel is located near the Miami International Airport. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and on-site laundry. Nearby, you'l...

H10 Habana Panorama

This contemporary hotel is located in Miramar. Guests enjoy an outdoor pool, sauna, an Internet center. Nearby, you'll find Parque Almendares, the Cap...

Flights

Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.

Add our airfare package and you'll get:
  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights
FAQ
Passport & visa requirements
  • In order to enter Cuba, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
  • We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps.
  • Go Ahead Tours will provide U.S. citizens with a visa and all other documentation needed to enter Cuba. It is important to note that we will take care of all aspects of your Cuba visa application.
  • As part of federal requirements, you should keep a copy of your Cuban travel itinerary and airline ticket receipt on file for five years.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must contact your country’s consulate for specific entry requirements.
  • The Cuban government does not recognize the dual nationality of those who are Cuban-born or the children of Cuban parents.
  • Cuban-born citizens and the children of Cuban nationals may be required to hold a Cuban passport and/or HE-11 visa, and will be responsible for any additional costs incurred. If you were born in Cuba or are the child of Cuban nationals, please contact our Customer Experience Team at your earliest convenience.
Documents & paperwork
  • You will receive a Travel Affidavit/Visa Form in the mail. This form is necessary for travel to Cuba and must be completely filled out and returned to Go Ahead Tours at least 45 days prior to your departure date in order to participate on this tour. This form will need to be filled out correctly and cannot be lost. Should you need a new Travel Affidavit/Visa Form, a charge of $150USD will be assessed on tour. Additionally, you will be required to provide Go Ahead Tours with a copy of your passport.
  • You will receive a finalized copy of your visa at your hotel in Miami where a briefing will be conducted in the afternoon prior to your departure to Havana.
Tour pace
  • You will walk for about 3 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including cobblestones and unpaved paths, with few hills or stairs.
  • Travelers should be in reasonable health to take our included walks.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at all times.
  • Please note that the summers can get very hot and this is a very full itinerary.
  • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special, individual mobility assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group as a whole enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing, individualized assistance to any one traveler.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team so that we can review all necessary information with you.
Transportation & arrival information
  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in and depart from Miami, Florida. A representative from Go Ahead Tours will meet you at the airport and escort you to the shared shuttle service, which will bring you to your first hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the shuttle at the time of your arrival.
  • Your flight to Cuba will depart from Miami, Floridaand arrive in Havana,Cuba, and your return flight will depart from Santa Clara, Cuba and arrive in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.Flight schedules to and from Cuba will be booked on regularly scheduled commercial airlines and are subject to change.
  • Once you arrive in Cuba, all included transportation is by private motor coach.
  • Taxis are the best way to get around on your own. However, if you choose to take a taxi, please note that drivers will most likely speak only Spanish. You should make a point to agree on the cost of the fare before getting into the cab. Additionally, cab fare may be paid in USD.
  • Please note: If you are making your own flight reservations, you will need to be in Miami no later than 3pm and should plan to depart from Miami no earlier than 8:30pm.
Baggage allowance
  • Commercial flights to and from Miami:
  • Please note that our travelers are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
  • Contact your airline(s) for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flights, which may include on-tour flights in addition to your round-trip flights to and from tour. Please note that your included on-tour flights may have more restrictive baggage limits.
  • Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage or exceed baggage size and weight restrictions. Be advised that you are responsible for any baggage fees incurred on all flights.
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication, and documents in your carry-on bag.
  • Flights to and from Cuba:
  • We recommend traveling with one suitcase and one small carry-on bag (such as purse or small backpack) per person.
  • Each passenger is allowed up to 44 total pounds of checked baggage. A fee of $2USD per additional pound will be charged for any baggage that exceeds this limit. Your small carry-on (a personal item or purse) will not count toward total baggage weight.
Clothing & packing tips
  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.
  • In addition, we recommend packing insect repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, a bathing suit, a sun hat, and hand sanitizer, as well as washcloths as most hotels do not provide them. You may also want to bring your own toilet tissue for use in public restrooms.
  • Please note that it is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs or shoulders (entrance may be denied on this basis).
Health
  • Emergency medical insurance is included for those traveling from the U.S. to Cuba through our flight service.
  • Coverage is limited to $25,000 medical and $500 dental. If you wish to increase your coverage, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
  • There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Cuba.
  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at [cdc.gov](https://www.cdc.gov).
  • We strongly recommend speaking with your doctor prior to your departure to review any medical concerns.
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • Bring a small first aid kit that includes antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, and any other medications you regularly need.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead Tours at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.
  • Drink bottled water. Aside from the hotels where you will be staying and the restaurants you will be visiting, where water is purified, it is not advisable to drink tap water.
Cuisine
  • As a result of Spain’s historical colonization of the country, Cuban cuisine is known for its Spanish influences.
  • African and Caribbean flavors also play an important part in traditional dishes. Common foods often include pork, chicken, yucca, plantains, beans, and rice. Cuban coffee is also popular and is known for being strongly brewed.
Currency
  • There are two currencies used in Cuba. The first is the Cuban Peso, which is used primarily by the locals for basic staple products. The second is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), mostly used by tourists. The currency you will be using for your tour is the CUC.
  • In Cuba, you can exchange USD or CAD for CUC at the Havana airport, hotels, exchange bureaus, and in some banks. Currently, there is a 13%-15% surcharge fee for exchanging USD to CUC.
  • When exchanging currency, your passport will be required at the time of transaction. It is also important to note that most places will not accept torn or marked bills when converting to CUC.
  • Credit cards, debit cards, and ATM cards issued by U.S. banks are currently unusable in Cuba. As such, purchases and payments for services must be made in local currency. You should plan on bringing enough cash with you for meals that are not included and anything else you may wish to purchase.
  • Although some small businesses and taxi drivers will accept USD, paying in CUC is strongly encouraged.
Electricity & air conditioning
  • Cuba generally operates on 220 volts. However, there may be both 220- and 110-volt outlets in some hotels. The outlets will work with Types A, B, C, or L plugs with two or three prongs. An adapter will be required.
  • The strength of the air conditioning in Cuban hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
Connectivity
  • Even with the purchase of an international service plan, U.S. cell phones will not currently work in Cuba.
  • If necessary, you may use the phone in your hotel room by arranging payment with the hotel front desk. However, placing a call to the U.S. can be expensive, sometimes costing more than 2.50CUC ($2.50USD) per minute. Connection charges may also apply.
  • While Cuba is a technologically developing country with Wi-Fi not readily available at all hotels, some hotels may have business centers where internet service is available. Charges for use may be up to 4.5CUC ($4.5USD) per hour.
Time zones
  • Cuba is on the equivalent of U.S. Eastern Time (ET).
  • When it’s noon in New York, it’s also noon in Cuba.
Guides
  • In addition to your Tour Director, you will be accompanied by a Cuban National Guide for the duration of your trip. Your Cuban National Guide is there to assist with any and all matters, including providing a local’s perspective and offering assistance with any issues or emergencies.
  • Tips for the Cuban National Guide have already been covered by Go Ahead Tours and additional tipping is not required.
Tipping
  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $7USD to $10USD per person per day for your Tour Director.
  • In Cuba, tipping is an important part of the local economy. Local salaries are extremely low and many Cubans depend on tips for their livelihood.
  • For your convenience, your Tour Director will collect tips in Miami for the following components of your tour in Cuba:
  • Local guides
  • Speakers
  • Community project staff
  • Musicians
  • Bus drivers
  • Please budget up to the equivalent of $134USD per person to cover these tips for this tour.
  • Tips can only be paid in cash.
Items to give or trade
  • If you’d like, it is okay to bring small items such as pens, markers, coloring books, or small toys to give out to local children.
  • It is very important to note: If you are asked at the Cuban customs area, these gifts are not to be called “donations.” A “donation” requires prior authorization and is usually given in large quantities and is not (and should not be) what you are bringing. Instead, you should refer to these items as “small gifts to hand out.”
U.S. Customs
  • Per U.S. regulations, you are allowed to bring back $400USD worth of goods for personal use.
  • Travelers returning from Cuba may be asked questions by Customs and Immigration officers. It is possible that you may need to provide a copy of the authorization letter provided to you and undergo additional screening in the Customs area.
Participation
  • As part of the people-to-people agreement, U.S. law requires that all travelers participate on all of the tour’s scheduled activities. Deviation from this itinerary, even in part, is not permitted.
  • Specific itinerary inclusions such as meetings with individuals and visits to organizations and homes are dependent on outside factors and may sometimes be substituted or changed while on tour.
  • It is important to go into this experience with a very open mind! Your guide will be good at swapping out activities for others when needed and your flexibility is appreciated. International travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable. We must therefore reserve the right to change this itinerary, without advance notice, to meet with local conditions at the time of travel. We appreciate your understanding. Please refer to our website for Terms & Conditions, dates, and prices.
Choose your dates to start a quote
11 Departures
Tour prices are per person, before flights from your departure city, and based on two travelers per hotel room. Tour prices include on-tour flights where applicable.
Oct 6–Oct 14, 2019
Call to book
$4,499$4,099
Feb 23–Mar 2, 2020
Call to book
$4,399$4,099
Mar 29–Apr 6, 2020
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$4,299$4,149
May 10–May 18, 2020
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$4,299$4,199
Jun 14–Jun 22, 2020
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$4,299$4,199
Jul 12–Jul 20, 2020
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$4,299$4,199
Aug 2–Aug 10, 2020
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$4,299$4,199
Sep 6–Sep 14, 2020
Call to book
$4,299$4,199
Oct 4–Oct 12, 2020
Call to book
$4,399$4,249
Feb 21–Mar 1, 2021
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$4,399
Mar 28–Apr 5, 2021
Call to book
$4,299
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