Havana street scene (Shutterstock: see full credit below)
List 22 March

Cuba: 7 trips to take before it's too late

Will the USA's new relationship with Cuba change the Caribbean country forever? We think so. Here's how to see a slice of original Cuba – before it's too late

1. Best short break

A Touch of Cuba, Peregrine (8 days)

If time is short, Peregrine's speedy Touch of Cuba is the perfect introduction to Cuba – and it encompasses all of Havana's must-see spots. You'll take to the streets of Havana on a walking tour to learn about the capital's colourful past, and get to know the hard-working tobacco farmers behind Cuba's famous cigars.

Kids in Trinidad, Cuba (Shutterstock)
Kids in Trinidad, Cuba (Shutterstock)

In rural Cuba, more adventure awaits. Discover the history of the Cuban Revolution in Santa Clara, marvel at the unique architecture of Palacio del Valle in Cienfuegos, and soak up the colours and smells of the plants in Soroa, the valley known as the 'Rainbow of Cuba'.

2. Best long trip

Grand Cuba, Intrepid Travel (22 days)

Cuba's rhythms may be fast, but the pace of life is deliciously slow – especially outside of the cities. Get to grips with the island on Intrepid's whopping 22-day Grand Cuba trip – it'll take you to all the main sights (think Havana, salsa in Santiago, hiking in Viñales), as well as plenty of unforgettable places well away from the beaten track.

Santiago De Cuba (Shutterstock)

Learn how to taste rum like a pro, immerse yourself in the myths and legends of Che Guevara, and even experience life on a rural farm. If you've got the time, this trip will show you a face of Cuba that few other travellers get to see.

Like this? Also try:
Cuba Encompassed, Audley (15 days)

3. Best active adventure

Cycle Cuba! Explore (15 days)

See Cuban life up-close, meet local people and burn off those rum cocktails on a Cycle Cuba! trip with Explore. You'll pedal through colonial towns, stay (and eat) in homestays, and have a guided tour of Havana, too.

Cycling in Cuba (Shutterstock)
Cycling in Cuba (Shutterstock)

There's plenty of opportunity to go off-road: save your energy for a thigh-burning jaunt through the Sierra Escambray Mountains, and the rolling tobacco plantations of Viñales.

Like this? Also try:
Cuban Highlights Ride, Exodus (7 days)


4. Best sailing holiday

Cuba Sailing Adventure, Intrepid Travel (9 days)

Sure, there's plenty to keep you entertained on land, but head to the high seas (or, rather, idyllic bays) around Cuba to get to grips with its idyllic islands. Aaaah, Intrepid's Cuba Sailing Adventure itinerary has got it all: Cayo Largo Turtle Sanctuary, snorkelling off Cayeria Los Majaes, visits to fishing villages for fresh seafood grills, lolling on countless paradise beaches... All from the comfort of your own private vessel.

Playa Larga beach, Bay of Pigs (Shutterstock)
Playa Larga beach, Bay of Pigs (Shutterstock)

Like this? Also try:
Sailing Cuba – Havana to Havana, G Adventures (8 days)

Star Flyer Cuba, 13 days, Audley

5. Best for music

Cuba New Year, Songlines Music Travel (12 days) 

Remember Buena Vista Social Club? They're just the very tip of Cuba's musical iceberg – the country's love of music runs deep. Songlines Music Travel's Cuba New Year trip is led by Philip Sweeney –  author of the Rough Guide to Cuban Music and a regular Songlines magazine contributor – who will lead you away from the groups of guitar-strumming soneros and towards Cuban music's African and Spanish roots.

Street band in Trinidad, Cuba (Shutterstock)
Street band in Trinidad, Cuba (Shutterstock)

You'll visit everywhere from dive bars to outdoor concerts, sampling everything from rumba to reggaeton – learning about the history and traditions of the country through its infectious rhythms.

Like this? Also try:
Cuba Rhythms, G Adventures (8 days)


6. Best for history and heritage

Revolutionary Trails in Cuba, Explore (15 days)

If you're keen to learn about Cuba's colourful past, Explore's Revolutionary Trails in Cuba is for you: accompanied by an expert guide, you'll explore the infamous Bay of Pigs, learn about Fidel Castro in his secret base in the Sierra Maestra mountains, and search for Che Guevara's haunts in Havana.

Peaceful view of the Vinales valley (Shutterstock)

There's also plenty of opportunity to soak up Cuba's natural beauty, too, with hiking in Topes de Collantes National Park, and climbing its highest peak, Pico Turquino.


7. Best for road trips

Self Drive Eastern Cuba, Journey Latin America (14 days)

Explore at your own pace on Journey Latin America's Self Drive Eastern Cuba trip – you'll have your own hire car and your own itinerary to tweak as you please. Hotels are booked in advance, so you'll always have somewhere comfy to rest your head, leaving you free to focus on sightseeing, hiking, hanging out at the beach – whatever tickles your fancy.

Driving in Havana (Shutterstock)
Driving in Havana (Shutterstock)

 

Main image: Havana street scene (Shutterstock)