Cuba is an affordable all-inclusive destination with a dazzling history. It is the ideal place for a multi-centre holiday incorporating beaches and a proud, vivid culture.
In partnership with the brilliant team at Western & Oriental we have created two very different ways – by road or by sea - of exploring this Caribbean jewel.
Self-drive is ideal for island exploration, starting in the capital, Havana. Step back in time with streets full of unique glamour, and a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage 'Old Quarter' that dates back to 1515.
A walking tour gets you up close to Plaza Vieja, once the home of bullfights and executions, now gloriously restored. The baroque Plaza de la Catedral, constructed mainly from coral, is nearby and demands attention.
The Museo de la Revolución is a vast museum detailing the struggles of the Cuban Revolution. You will find the tank that Fidel Castro used in the 1961 invasion of the Bay of Pigs, and the Granma yacht that transported fighters.
A daiquiri at The Floridita lets you step in the shoes of Ernest Hemingway, while the Malecon at sunset lets you melt into a crowd of local lovers and classic cars.
Heading away from the city, Vinales is in the western province of Pinar del Rio, famous for limestone mountains and tobacco plantations, a great place learn how tobacco is grown and produced. There are also a number of cave networks that you can visit, hot springs and lots of hiking and bird watching opportunities.
Progress from there to Las Terrazas, a community built on the idea of sustainability. The Hotel la Moka is a great base from which to walk to the waterfalls, take the zip line, go horse riding, fishing and more. The Orchid Garden in Soroa is nearby, and it is a great place for meeting the locals.
We also recommend Cienfuegos, a charming sea port where the Star Flyer cruise departs from December - March. The city was settled by French immigrants and their legacy remains in the architecture. There is a wonderful botanical garden and the city is home to many of Cuba's artists and musicians.
Trinidad is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring some great paladares (non-state owned and usually family-run restaurants) offering local dishes, and a number of music houses where you can sit and listen, dance and sample the local rum.
Good accommodation is sparse here and the excellent Iberostar can be sold out months in advance if booked independently.
A casa particulare, in which you stay in a room connected to someone's home, is a unique Cuban experience as an alternative.
Please note basic Spanish language skills will be very useful throughout your Cuban experience, and this is not a country for those seeking gourmet food adventures.
Prices start at £2050 per person based on May 2015 departure. This includes direct flights from London to Havana with Virgin Atlantic, private arrival transfer and 10 days car hire (additional insurance payable locally) plus:
3 nights B&B at Hotel Saratoga, Havana, in a Patio Deluxe Room
2 nights B&B at either La Ermita or Los Jazmines, Vinales
2 nights B&B at La Moka, Las Terrazas
1 night B&B at Hotel La Unión, Cienfuegos
2 nights B&B at Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad
4 nights all-inclusive at Paradisus Princesa del Mar, Varadero
Gratuities, lunch and dinner (except in Varadero), car insurance, security bond and one way rental fee, Cuban visitor visa, Havana airport departure tax.
Star Flyer: Tall Ship Cruising
The Star Flyer is a true clipper ship, a vessel of rare and special elegance.
At a length of 360 feet, it accommodates 170 guests in rooms furnished with double or twin beds, a marble bathroom, safe, television, DVD player, telephone and hair dryer.
The ship boasts two swimming pools, an open dining area, dining room, indoor-outdoor tropical bar and piano bar together with an Edwardian-style library.
Enjoy a wide breakfast menu including Parisian croissants and cooked to order omelettes. Lunch comprises of a buffet of seafood, salads and grilled cuisine or a barbeque if you are on shore. Dinner can be enjoyed at your leisure in a relaxed setting (casual elegance is the dress code).
The Star Flyer offers an informal holiday experience with no strict schedules and a friendly daily briefing by the captain.
Our suggested cruise combines 4 nights in Havana with 7 nights sailing along Cuba's south coast, visiting soft sand beaches and the islands of Little and Grand Cayman.
Prices start at £2709 per person price including flights from the UK to Havana, 3 nights at Iberostar Parque Central on arrival and 1 night at Iberostar Parque Central post cruise, private transfers in Cuba, 7 night cruise on full board in a standard inside cabin.
These are just two of many ways to experience Cuba. You may be interested in the unspoilt beaches of island like Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco or Cayo Santa Maria.
We can recommend several alternative hotels as we enjoy a special relationship with the Melia Group, giving us access to exclusive discounts for hotels such as for Paradisus Princesa del Mar, Paradisus Varadero and Paradisus Rio de Oro.
We will also be happy to create a tailor-made itinerary for you. Please contact us for details.