Imagine yourself on a rooftop terrace in Old Havana with an inquisitive and adventurous group of Atlas Obscura friends, enjoying your new surroundings, listening to jazz and rumba, and reflecting on Cuba's remarkable history and fascinating future.
Building off our successful debut Cuba trips in 2016, we have curated a unique spring itinerary highlighting some of Havana's most intriguing and wondrous destinations and experiences. Our licensed, people-oriented program offers unusual access to historic and cultural destinations and immersive experiences with Cuban entrepreneurs, religious practitioners, and artists.
The itinerary features many of the best suggestions submitted by Atlas Obscura readers who have previously explored Havana. We look forward to welcoming you to Cuba to delve into immersive history, religious traditions, music and dancing, artist interactions, and curiosities galore.
- Immersive History: We'll explore hidden local spots and World Heritage sites, learning about Cuba’s jigsaw history and anomalous architecture.
- Artist interactions: Joining artists in their studios, we'll discover Cuba's impressive and evolving art and subcultures.
- Music and Dancing: We'll learn about uniquely Cuban musical styles, from son to rumba and jazz, through both performances and dance lessons.
- Religion: We'll spend time with practitioners of Cuba’s Santeria religion, learning about its African origins, its unique iconography, and its rituals.
- People-to-People Exchanges: Most importantly, we'll spend time with local Cubans who find the U.S. as curious as Americans find Cuba!
A $250 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot as we have a very limited capacity, and we expect the trip to fill extremely quickly. This trip caps off at between 30 and 35 travelers. The trip will cost $2,795—the $250 deposit plus $2,545 final payment (or $3,094 with the extension)—and will cover all fixed costs including a hotel and chartered flight from Miami/Fort Lauderdale, accommodations in Havana, all meals, your Cuban visa, and all the activities listed below.
Travel Day: Meet Atlas Obscura in Miami
- Check in at your leisure at the group's hotel.
- Begin getting to know your fellow Atlas Obscura travelers at a welcome reception for your upcoming journey. There are several restaurants in the hotel complex, and also some local Cuban restaurants within walking distance, if you want to get your taste buds ready for the island (Latin Cafe 2000, more casual, and La Rosa, a bit more formal, are both a few blocks away).
- After the orientation, rest overnight for tomorrow's action-packed day.
Hit the Ground and Explore Havana
- Meet for breakfast in the hotel. We'll be joined in the morning by some local Cuban Americans to hear about their experiences and perspectives.
- Take a bus from the hotel to the Fort Lauderdale Airport for our 11:45am group flight.
- Touch down in Havana at José Martí International Airport. Once through customs, you will meet our private Atlas Obscura guide and climb aboard our tour bus, which we will use for the entire program.
- From the airport, we'll head straight to lunch at the restaurant La Torre, perched on one of the capital’s tallest buildings with a great panorama view of the entire city.
- We'll then check in at our Atlas Obscura casas, local bed and breakfasts run by families in the heart of Havana. Meet your local hosts and settle into your Cuban homes.
- From our casas, we'll go straight to Old Havana for a three-hour walking tour ending at the restaurant Tres Monedas. Enjoy a private tour around old Havana highlighting the main historic plazas: the Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco and Plaza Vieja. During your tour of the old town, we’ll visit a local graphic arts center, Taller Gráfica, and speak with some of Cuba’s top artists, who are creating some of the island's most intriguing new works while preserving traditional printmaking techniques.
- Enjoy a briefing on life in Cuba with a local anthropologist during a welcome dinner at Las Tres Monedas, with a beautiful view over the city.
- Head to Parque Central to enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop of the Inglaterra Hotel, one of the finest hotels along the central park of Havana, and a beautiful place to pick up some new dance moves. Learn Cuban salsa with a live band and celebrate the end of your first day in Cuba with a group of professional dancers who love to have a good time.
- Return to your individual casas for a good night’s rest.
Art, Architecture, and Cigars
- Enjoy breakfast at your casa.
- Depart to visit the La Corona Cigar Factory. Here, we’ll meet with professional cigar rollers who will demonstrate the process of making their world-famous exports. There will also be time to visit an official government shop that sells cigars, coffee, and rum.
- Drive to the hilltop village of San Francisco de Paula for a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigía—the eclectic house where he lived for 20 years—now a museum displaying his library, manuscripts, and personal effects. You'll hear about some eccentric stories surrounding the writer on the bus over, and then have some time to meander on your own around the property.
- Wander a local grocery store with our guide to learn about the country’s traditional “racion” system, making sure to pick up anything you've never tried before. We'll take our novelty snacks along with some delicious Cuban sandwiches and picnic in the city's Parque Central. Bustling during the day, this park is one of the few places with constant public wifi; we'll have the chance to learn about all the smartphone apps that locals use, especially to make phone calls and keep in touch with family.
- Exclusively for Atlas Obscura, we'll take a private visit to the art studios of several famous Cuban painters and artists, learning about their influence both at home and abroad.
- Witness Havana’s myriad architectural styles, borrowed over four centuries of history, on a walking tour starting at the Art Nouveau-inspired National Capitol Building. Accompanied by an international art dealer and professor, we’ll then go by the Art Deco Maxfield Parrish reliefs at the Bacardi Building and the neo-classical Museo de la Revolución, once the presidential palace and decorated by Tiffany & Co. of New York.
- Freshen up at your casa before our night out in Havana.
- Tonight, we'll enjoy a fun and casual neighborhood dinner, family style, with some of our Cuban hosts and their friends.
- After dinner, those who still have energy to spare can take an evening adventure to Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a power plant recently converted into a warehouse of art and live music, now one of the most popular and eclectic nightlife spots in Havana.
Santeria, Rituals, and Mortality
- Enjoy breakfast at your casa.
- Depart to visit Fusterlandia, the private studio of Cuban muralist and ceramist José Fúster, described as the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” Discuss the artist’s public art revitalization project and stroll down streets decorated with mosaics, pausing to interact with the locals whose neighborhood has been transformed by the project.
- Stop by the Plaza de la Revolución to see the grand monuments honoring Cuba’s immortalized national heroes and discuss the political realities and reforms happening in the country today.
- Visit the national monument of Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón, a cemetery once described as an “exercise in pious excesses.” Renowned for its striking religious iconography and elaborate statues, these 56 hallowed hectares provide an educational stroll through the annals of Cuban history.
- Lunch at Paladar Versus, in the Vedado neighborhood.
- Explore Callejón de Hamel, a narrow two-block-long alleyway between Aramburu and Hospital streets in Centro Habana. Over the years, it has become a shrine to Afro-Cuban religions through the art created by Salvador González. The buildings are lined with brightly colored paintings, murals, sculptures, and objects depicting rituals and deities. Learn about Santeria from local practitioners as well as the complicated layering and transference between Catholicism and African traditions.
- Return to your casa to prepare for our last evening out in Havana. For those who would like, take a short walk along the water, one of the most popular places for locals to hang out.
- Take a sunset cruise in old classic convertibles down the Malecón, the longest promenade on the island and an emblematic social scene for Cubans.
- See the sun setting over Havana at the Christ Statue lookout, learning about the history of this monument and Che’s nearby hangout.
- Begin your final night in Cuba with a bang at El Cañonazo, the canon firing ceremony kept from colonial times. There, at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, we'll discuss the military tradition with the keepers of the fort.
- Reflect on your journey over a farewell dinner featuring local delicacies and traditional foods at the El Cañonazo paladar.
- After dinner, we will stop by a local bar on the way home for a few last mojitos, and you can choose to stay out longer or head home to your casa.
Optional Extension: Cuban Countryside
- Enjoy breakfast at your casa.
- Drive out of Havana and into Cuba’s scenic countryside to Las Terrazas, the pioneering eco-village that is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
- Discuss the reserve and the local community with a sustainability expert.
- Learn about and dive into different Cuban coffees with the resident growers.
- Swim in the clean, cascading waters that fall into a series of pools at the Baños del San Juan, a popular spot among locals in the area.
- Enjoy lunch en el campo with farm-fresh ingredients at the oldest dedicated vegetarian restaurant in Cuba, and have a discussion on food in Cuba.
- Visit the home and studio of a local artist who takes the recycled paper from the community and generates stationary, cards, and art.
- Wander through one of the country’s oldest coffee plantations, with stunning views of the lush green valley and the Caribbean sea in the distance.
- Return to our casas to freshen up.
- Enjoy dinner at Al Carbon, a beautiful art house and one of the most elegant restaurants in old Havana.
- Enjoy a local club with live music and dancing during our final evening in Havana.
DAY 5 or DAY 6: Departure
Sunday/Monday, Depending on Extension
- Enjoy breakfast at your casa. Say goodbye to your hosts and check out of your Cuban home.
- Ride together to Havana’s José Martí International Airport for your group flight.
- Arrive at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, and transfer to home destinations either directly, or after a bus transfer to Miami International Airport.
YOUR TRIP INCLUDES
- Chartered flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana.
- Cuban visa.
- Government-mandated health insurance while in Cuba.
- All lodging in double-accommodation rooms in Miami the night of our arrival and in private Cuban casas in Old Havana (Single supplement for a private room is available for $299, and an additional $99 for those taking the extension. Otherwise we'll work to place single travelers together.)
- Breakfast daily in your casa.
- All other meals in Havana.
- Some of the very best private guides in Havana, as well as private transportation throughout the trip.
- Admission to all proposed activities and events, including museums, the cigar factory, all nightspots, private dance lessons, and Hemingway’s estate.
- A full briefing packet for each explorer, including country information, final itinerary, logistical and contact information, recommended reading list, and packing list.
- A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura Society members, excited to explore all that Havana has to offer!
TRAVELERS RESPONSIBLE FOR
- Transportation and flights to and from Miami International Airport.
- Baggage charges.
- Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings.
Itineraries and pricing are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific Cuban individuals and artists in mind, whose schedules and availabilities may change without notice. While we do our best to adhere to the itinerary, traveling in Cuba requires significant flexibility. If any activity or person that is advertised is missed or not available, it will be replaced with an activity or person of equal interest and value.
In addition, itineraries can be affected by inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice: please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. Each day we will update you on the program and keep you informed throughout the trip.
As you can see we have a very ambitious itinerary, especially in Cuba where schedules commonly run late and nobody seems to be in a rush. As we attempt to see as much as possible in very little time, we’d like to reiterate the importance of punctuality during our journey. Please be respectful of your fellow travelers and be at the appropriate meet up points on time; otherwise the entire group will have to wait for you. We understand we may have some late nights and early mornings, but it is very difficult to meet up with the group at a later time in a place where cell phones and wifi are unreliable. As our itinerary has been approved by the Cuban government, we request that you stay with the group and participate in the full itinerary of scheduled events.
You will be charged a non-refundable $250 deposit to hold your space. The final payment will be due on March 5, 2017. The cost for the regular trip is $2,545; the single supplement for the regular trip is $299; the trip extension is an additional $549; and the single supplement with the extension is $398. You will be able to choose between these options when completing your final balance payment.
All reservations will be final after this date, and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the Terms & Conditions.
WHAT TRAVELERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS TRIP
"Intense and immersive."
"Inspiring and adventurous."
"Not a relaxing vacation, but one I will always remember! And incredible people."
"Long days, lots of walking, fabulous guide, so much info you couldn't begin to keep it in your head."
"Eye-opening and heart-opening."