As a Discova tour guide I feel honoured and privileged to show visiting guests around my native country and show them all aspects of Cuba’s vibrant culture, its myriad of ethnic traditions, its varied art forms and its turbulent, yet fascinating, history.
With this intuitive destination guide, I invite you to explore all that Cuba has to offer. Inspire your travellers and create the itinerary of their dreams!
Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Batabano
San Jose de las Lajas
Cuba’s overall climate is tropical or temperate, making it a pleasantly warm destination in many of its regions even in winter months (although the north-western region isn’t immune to a bit of cold in January and February). The average minimum temperature is 21°C (70°F), and the average maximum is 27°C (81°F). The country’s rainy season lasts from May to October, with July and August being the hottest (and sometimes uncomfortable) months.
Ocean waters never get particularly cold, so your travellers can enjoy refreshing dips here throughout the year.
Straits of Florida Trinidad
Approx. 11 million
Havana UTC -5
The official language of Cuba is Spanish, and most Cubans speak it or what is rather known as ‘Cuban Spanish’, a form of Caribbean Spanish. Haitian Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba, and is spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants.
Cuban Peso (CUP). Money can only be exchanged in Cuba itself. In Cuba, there is no difference in the exchange rates at different locations (hotels, airports, banks, exchange booths in the street), but we recommend your travellers do so at hotels. If they are not staying in a hotel for the first stay (part) of their trip, our representative in Havana as well as our guides are advised to take them to a hotel so that they can exchange their foreign currency.
All tourists visiting Cuba will need to obtain a tourist visa for entry. If in Europe or Latin America, there can be purchased from the airline. It costs 25 USD to 75 USD Some airlines, like Canadian ones, already include the Visa card in the airfare and it is provided to all passengers during the flight. For US travelers (and other international travelers flying to Cuba from a US airport), it is already included in your package with DISCOVA, and will be sent to the travelers days or even weeks before their trip, or hand-delivered at the airport if flying out of MIA (Miami International Airport). The tourist visa is valid for 30 days, and can be extended for a second 30-day period.
Born out of an impromptu concert in 1978, the Jazz Plaza Festival is one of the largest and most anticipated jazz gatherings in the world. It usually draws some of the most popular and important established and up-and-coming artists from Cuba and around the world.
The Havana’s Ballet Festival is a celebration of dance. It’s long history dates to the 1960s and since then, it gathers the best dance acts, performers, and companies from around the world every two years. It’s an honour and a privilege to be showcased at the Grand Theatre of Havana, where world-class performances and world premieres are featured.
With vibrant costumes and enthusiastic participants from all over the world, the Fiesta del Fuego is officially known as the Festival del Caribe. Set in Santiago de Cuba, this is a yearly celebration, taking place in the first weeks of July. Performances, workshops, exhibitions, and street celebrations fill the city of Santiago de Cuba during this festival.
Cuba is in a unique world of its own league (we had to sneak in a baseball reference). Brimming with a lusty energy, warm people and eclectic culture, leave behind everything you think you know about Cuba and get ready to discover the country with an open mind. Invite your travellers to explore this alluring destination with the following itinerary inspirations.
Cruz del Sur
Punta de Maisi
the heart and centre of Cuba, Havana is just too beautiful to be overlooked, too contradictory to be explained, and too bold not to jazz with. Havana is like love at first sight, it does not need to be understood, it simply needs to be vibrated with. Havana is music and colours. One of the Havana’s biggest attractions is its people, resilient and flavourful. When you come to Havana, prepare your senses to the unique experience of this seductive city.
The world-famous show, Tropicana, has been operating in Havana since 1939. Renowned the world over for showcasing the best of Cuban entertainment, music, dancing, singing and costume, it’s a true must-see for your travellers.
Introducing the music of the Buena Vista Social Club and a first-class dinner, in one evening, in one location. Here your travellers will experience the No.1 Night Club in Havana de Cuba, with a special club concert and dinner. For one whole evening, they can listen to the remaining musicians of the “Buena Vista Social Club”. The club concert is supported by the “Afro Cuban Allstars” and other great Cuban musicians.
What better way to see all the highlights of Havana, like the Jose Marti Memorial, the Maleon, Plaza de la Revolucion, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de las Armas, and more, than from inside one of the classic vintage cars that Cuba is famous for.
Havana is home to two famous watering holes of the famed late Ernest Hemingway, and in central Havana visitors can enjoy his favourite tipples – a mojito in La Bodequita del Medio, and then a daquiri in El Floridita. It’s here that, to this day, there is a bronze statue of Ernest drinking at the end of the bar.
Many things come to mind when you hear the name Cuba, but synonymous with the country are undoubtedly its famous cigars and rum. Travellers can explore the local factories and workshops where these famous Cuban products are made, try their hand at rolling a cigar, and sample rum straight from the barrel.
Havana is home to many artists, and on this curated art tour visitors can experience the real essence of Cuba and the passion of its many creatives.
Old Havana is uniquely charming, with its majestic Baroque and neoclassical architecture, cobbled historical streets, colours, and lively music. Whilst walking through Old Havana, travellers can soak up the spirit of the Cuban people and enjoy its many plazas and history.
Whether you are a natural or not, when in Cuba, learning the basic steps of Cuban salsa dancing is a must. Salsa’s rhythm is not the binary one that many are used to, and it takes some practice to learn its 3/2 pattern. Visitors can enjoy a private or shared workshop and then put their new-found skills into practice in one of Havana’s salsa bars.
Napper emerges as a tribute to those artists who enrich Cuba’s cultural life and offers guests the unique experience of staying in a Cuban Art Gallery. This typical house of Vedado, built in the early 20th century, has four rooms with only its guests’ comfort in mind: breakfast in the garden, bar available around the clock, and a young and passionate staff.
Just two streets from the world famous Malecon Habanero, this oasis will allow guests to discover the most beautiful capital of the Caribbean in all its dimensions. The historic centre, the World Heritage Site of Old Havana, is just five minutes away and will surprise guests with its beauty and cultural life. The best restaurants, clubs, shopping centres, banks, museums and theatres are conveniently close to its location.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana offers guests a choice of 246 luxury rooms and suites. Extra high ceilings and French windows, which open out onto the old city, create a sense of old-style grandeur and European luxury.
A romantic jewel nestled among the tree-lined streets, art galleries, art deco buildings and modern skyscrapers of Vedado, in the economic and cultural heart of La Havana. Paseo 206 offers a chic architectural experience in a Cuban boutique hotel.
Casa del Mar is truly the American concept of a vacation home, with the flavours and views of the salty and musical Havana. It’s what any traveller would expect from a home away from home. Ample space, minimal furnishings, decorative fixtures, and incomparable views of the open Caribbean waters await.
The history of this boutique hotel is intimately connected with the capital’s Vedado neighbourhood; its spirit reflects the Cuban soul. Visitors will enjoy the sober and refined atmosphere of a 5-star boutique hotel.
On the western side of the island lies Viñales, the land of greens and browns. As you drive up the winding road to the quaint town, a unique scenery takes your breath away: tobacco fields and mogotes merged into a picture-perfect background. Life in the countryside unveils before your eyes, as a farmer tills the ground, rolls an unassuming top-dollar cigar, plunges into the local ponds, and races a horse through endless fields only to disappear into a limestone cave. Simply said, this is Viñales.
The Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria is the work of the former Director of Mapping at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Leovigildo González Morillo. An expert in neo-caveman artistry, Morillo undertook the massive project of portraying world history up until the age of humans on a rock wall in the Viñales Valley.
A visit to the Indian Cave is steeped in Taino history. The small cave network has walking paths and a subterranean river, and before colonial times served as a home for the indigenous inhabitants of the area. Visitors learn the story of the caves and its inhabitants on a relaxing boat ride through the caves’ waters.
A UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Viñales Valley is encircled by mountains and is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops. Here, traditional techniques are still in use for agricultural production, particularly of tobacco. The quality of this cultural landscape is enhanced by the vernacular architecture of its farms and villages, where a rich multiethnic society survives, illustrating the cultural development of the islands of the Caribbean, and of Cuba.
What better way to soak up this spectacular location than riding your own horse through the valley. Travellers learn about the history of the area and the stories of the local farms and villages, as they are guided by horse through the aweinspiring scenery.
Located 1 kilometre from the centre of the village, on top of a hill, the “Balcon del Ermitaño” offers breath taking landscapes and a homey setting, creating the perfect stay for your guests. Ideal starting point for numerous excursions, the house offers a privileged view on the surrounding mogotes and tobacco fields. With an immense garden, a ranchon and its barbecue, it’s the perfect place to rest between adventures.
One of the best-preserved colonial towns in the world, Trinidad is about form and colour. Cobble-stoned streets, ample verandas, high wooden doors and windows, plazas, churches, and bright colours are themes that describe Trinidad. The charming town offers a bit of everything: history, architecture, outdoor adventure, beach, culture, exceptional food and music, and friendly people.
Topes de Collantes is a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountains range in Cuba, close to Trinidad. Dense tropical jungle, cascading waterfalls, and great hiking trails make a visit to Topes de Collantes a must for those who love the rugged outdoors.
Travellers can take an easy 14-kilometre route from Trinidad to Playa Ancon, on a path that hugs the Caribbean coastline with beautiful bays and beaches to enjoy along the way. Playa Ancon will greet cyclists with paradisical waters and soft white sands.
This haunting historical sugarcane plantation has a dark history entwined in the slave trade and the sugar trade. The ruined sugar plantation is one of several located in the Valley of the Sugar Mills and was established in the mid-1700s, and was once infamous for slave trafficking.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, Trinidad perfectly captures the essence of Cuba. Colourful buildings, cobbled streets, old cars and towering churches – walking the streets of Trinidad brings a sense of calm and a joy, something that is reflected in the faces of the youthful locals too.
At La Casona, visitors can see a colossal spectacle of different birds, wonderful vegetation and thoroughbred horses, all surrounded by valleys and mountains. Comfortable rooms guarantee a refreshing and safe rest in an unforgettable, peaceful, ecological experience of natural relaxation.
At Casa Barmarin guests are welcomed by artisans and historians into a home full of story and tradition. Originating from the 18th century and restored in 2017, the house is located in the heart of the historic centre, in a pedestrian street of the local arts and craft market.
on a beautiful bay, Cienfuegos is unassumingly charming. One of the best laid-out cities in Cuba, it displays magnificent turn of the 20th century architecture, owed to its birth during the Enlightenment Period. Cienfuegos is an important cultural centre, boasting a world-class chorus and its own ballet troupe. Undoubtedly, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that visitors are not to miss.
Steam trains have played an important part in the history of Cuba, from helping to grow industry, to supporting the Revolution. During a visit to the local Railway Museum, travellers learn about the connection between Cuba’s historical sugarcane industry and the museum’s fleet of locomotives.
The theatre boasts stunning architecture both externally and internally. The front façade of the theatre features gold-leafed mosaics that leave all visitors in awe.
Named after the Venezuelan industrialist, Tomas Terry, this venue is a prominent landmark in the city. The auditorium comfortably houses up to 950 people and is richly furnished with exotic wood and ethereal ceiling frescoes. Here, travellers can watch a fantastic live show.
Palacio de Valle is a sprawling, magnificent mansion and is one of the most iconic buildings in the region. The mansion’s architecture reflects different styles and inspirations – the ground floor of the mansion has a Gothic-inspired hall and a Mudejar-inspired dining room, amongst other influences. Guests can explore and admire its age-old wonders and enjoy a drink on the terrace, which offers a splendid view of the bay.
Baseball is without doubt the national sport of Cuba. Cinco de Septiembre (or 5th of September) Stadium is the home stadium of the local team, the Cienfuegos Camaroneros. It’s used as a venue for different games and events, with a sitting capacity of 15,600. Here, travellers can watch an exciting game of baseball and enjoy the lively stadium atmosphere.
Experience the essence of the Caribbean in this symbolic hotel, an icon in the city of Cienfuegos. An elegant century-old building with beautiful interior patios, a magical atmosphere and a privileged location in the heart of the city’s historical centre.
Villa Lagarto, a private holiday home, rises from the serene and blue waters of the Bay of Cienfuegos, offering visitors 3 spacious and bright rooms as well as beautiful views from all areas of the villa.
Originally built in 1921 by the architect Alfredo Fontana, Palacio Azul used to be the private residence of a wealthy tobacco manufacturer. In 2004, the neo-classical mansion, with water views, featuring Moorish-styled tower, was refurbished, and turned it into a charming colonial-style boutique hotel.
Covering the entirety of the narrow Hicacos Peninsula, Varadero is Cuba’s most acclaimed beach resort town. Formerly a vacation strip for the rich and the famous, Varadero is now a string of all-inclusive resorts lined up along the white sandy shoreline, bathed by the warm waters of the North Atlantic. A trip to Cuba is only complete once travellers have spent at least a few hours in the tropical waters of Varadero.
Santa Marta Airport (VRO)
If you want picture perfect Caribbean beaches with white sand and warm, turquoise waters, then Varadero beach is the place to go. The beach stretches on for 25 kilometres, making it ideal for long strolls and catching the Caribbean sunshine.
This beautiful spot is situated only a few kilometres from the city of Matanzas, and the River Canimar flows here between two hills. Canimar River Tourist Park is the perfect location to enjoy freshwater swimming when the water is tranquil, and visitors can also have fun cruising in speedboats along the river.
A wonderful nature reserve that comprises forest, hiking trails, lagoon, fossil, limestone caves, and incredible flora and fauna. Several ancient pictographs and one 500-year-old giant cactus tree are notable attractions.
Cayo Blanco is named after its nearuntouched white sands. This paradise island is three kilometres long and 800 metres wide, and is lined with lush palm trees and has the perfect waters for swimming and snorkelling. Guests enjoy a Catamaran cruise with the sounds of Cuban music as they make their way to this tropical gem.
This ultra all-inclusive, 5-star resort, designed exclusively for guests over 18 years of age, is situated in one of the finest parts of Varadero beach. Guests enjoy a charming setting with inviting landscapes and a romantic atmosphere.
Founded in 1515, Santiago de Cuba is the first capital and second largest city of Cuba. Known as the cradle of the Cuban Independence, Santiago’s cultural heritage and history are exceptionally rich. Afro-Cuban traditions, from festivities to religious practices, have a strong hold here. Santiago de Cuba dances to its own beat. Vibrant, tropical, and even sweltering at times, it is only in Santiago where the Caribbean essence of Cuba can be fully experienced.
Rumba is an Afro-Cuban music genre that originated in the 19th century. Although based in African music, it incorporates Spanish elements, and that is why it’s considered a typical Cuban music genre. During their time in Cuba, travellers can join a workshop and learn the fundamentals of Cuban rumba dancing, including forms like yambu and guaguanco, both danced in couple.
Havana has in recent years become a hotspot for contemporary art lovers, collectors and curators. Not only has the city produced dozens of internationally acclaimed artists, but galleries, including foreign ones, and alternative art spaces. Visitors can admire one of Havana’s eclectic art spaces and exhibits, or even the hottest artists’ studios, and meet some of Cuba’s most popular curators and gallerists.
Once Havana’s commercial centre, Centro Habana is today associated with urban ruins, and has been portrayed in numerous photo books and documentaries. Its vistas acquired worldwide fame with Wim Wenders’ film, ‘Buena Vista Social Club’. Travellers explore bustling Galiano street, the traditional Barrio Chino, and the famous Afro-Cuban neighbourhood of Cayo Hueso, which includes landmarks such as the Callejon de Hamel, home to Havana’s main rumba.
Treat yourself to not one but three of life’s greatest pleasures: a Cuban coffee, a well-aged rum, and a good cigar. There is an art to making Cuban coffee, with its exact level of thickness and foam, and a deep scent that will seduce your senses. Along with the coffee, visitors get to taste some of the best rums Cuba has to offer. Here too, an expert cigar roller turns extra-quality tobacco leaves into a cigar for enjoyment.
This fun activity introduces the basics of Cuban cooking to travellers, from the purchase of the raw ingredients to the use of the mortar to ground garlic and herbs and the elaboration of a perfect sofrito, to Cuban-styled lobster and flan (a delicious desert). Guests acquire hands-on experience and leave with a collection of Cuban recipes for their enjoyment back home.
Cuba is famous for its abundance in sugarcane plantations. That’s why a tasting of a cold glass of freshly cut and squeezed Guarapo, Cuba’s famous super-nutritious sugarcane juice, is a must. It has a noticeably light flavour and is extremely refreshing on a sweltering day.
For those already familiar with or fully fluent in Spanish, why not join a language class to learn some typical Cuban Spanish! Language enthusiasts learn Cuban greetings, expressions and slang used primarily in street talk in Havana today, along with the mannerisms that often accompany them. Moreover, they will learn words and forms of speech that cannot be found in a dictionary!
Catered to your travellers’ particular tastes in music, drinks, and crowds, this night tour will feel like they are going out with friends in a city that they know. During the outing they are taken to the most popular bars (at just the right time), are introduced to secret specialty cocktails, cut the queues, and may even meet a celebrity or two.
Invite your travellers for a unique visit to Mi Cayito, a gay beach a few miles east of Havana, and then to enjoy lunch or dinner at a gay-owned restaurant. During the experience, they can visit the studio of an artist focused on LGBTQIA+ issues, or simply dance the night away at a gay nightclub.