Image by Falkenpost from Pixabay

My Cuba Itinerary

posted in: Cuba 2020, Plans | 1

Just a week from tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Cuba!

On my first trip to Europe in 1989 I went to Hungary, which was still behind the Iron Curtain.

This trip feels like that.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to blog while I’m there. Though the hotels are supposed to have WiFi, I don’t know how reliable it will be. I may even decide not to bring my laptop, so possibly I will post on Facebook while I’m there and not keep a real-time blog. I will see how packing goes and then decide.

But if you want to follow along, the least I can do is provide my itinerary.

This comes from Charter Club, the local tour operator here in Ajijic.

Day 1. Sunday February 2. 

Travel Guadalajara/Havana

• Flight from Guadalajara to Mexico City
• AeroMexico Flight AM 205, departure 6:50 a.m.
• 8:15 a.m. arrives in Mexico City airport.
• Flight from Mexico City to Havana
• AeroMexico Flight AM 451, departure 10:10 a.m.
• 2:05 p.m. arrives in Havana City airport.
• After arrival, transfer to the Hotel Nacional and check in.
• Hotel Tour This afternoon we will have a historic tour of the Hotel Nacional. We will discover all its secrets.

Sunday Nights at the Hotel Gardens

You can enjoy a wonderful Cuban night, starting at 9:00 pm in the gardens of the Hotel, every Sunday.

Day 2. Monday February 3. 

Colonial Havana walking tour

• 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at the hotel (included)
• 9:00 a.m. We will board the bus that will take us to Colonial Havana
In 1982 Havana Colonial or Old Havana was declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. The historian of the municipality of Havana, Eusebio Leal Spengler, received the opportunity of the Cuban government to establish the company Habaguanex which has as prime goal the protection, restoration and use of the historical buildings classified by UNESCO. Since then many buildings have been restored in Old Havana and are used as museums, social services to the local population, administrative areas but also many are small hotels, restaurants and music bars. All this makes of the Colonial Havana streets an experience of going back into the 18th and 19th century colonial times but in a very accessible and genuine way for the visitors and inhabitants alike. Nowhere else in Cuba you feel the Cuban history and present-day life in such an invigorating way.

Today we will walk through its streets like the famous Obispo Street, visit its plazas such as Plaza Vieja, Plaza San Francisco de Asis, and learn about some of its beautiful buildings as San Cristobal Cathedral. We will have lunch in a local restaurant (included) after lunch we will walk through the beautiful Paseo del Prado. In colonial times, this promenade received several names, including Nuevo Prado, Alameda de Extramuros, Paseo de Isabel II and Paseo del Prado, and with Cuba’s independence it became Paseo de Mar. However, people keep calling it simply “El Prado.”
• Return to the hotel
• Free afternoon

Image by SweetMellowChill from Pixabay

Day 3. Tuesday February 4. 

Capitol, Royal Force Castle, General Captains Museum, El Templete

• 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at the hotel (included)
• 9:00 a.m. We will board the bus that will take us on our tour today
• Today we will visit el Templete building erected where the first Mass took place and which honors this event, continued with the Castle of the Royal Force, one of the first 3 fortress that was made in the beginning of the big boom of the city with the intention of protecting the bay of “The Key of the New World” as from that time is known San Cristobal de la Habana (original name of the city), this castle is itself a symbol of the city but contains in itself one of the best known symbols of the city: “La Giraldilla de
La Habana”. In addition will be seen also the Palace of the General Captains (rank of the governors of the island in the first years of the Colony), the Palace of the Second Cape and the old house of the Counts of Santovenia and the incomparable Capitolio Nacional, which is Havana’s most ambitious and grandiose building, constructed after the post-WWI boom (‘Dance of the Millions’) gifted the Cuban government a seemingly bottomless vault of sugar money. Similar to the Capitol in Washington, DC, but actually modeled on the Panthéon in Paris, the building was initiated by Cuba’s US-backed dictator Gerardo Machado in 1926 and took 5000 workers three years, two months and 20 days to construct, at a cost of US $17 million.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Tropicana Cabaret Show

• 8:30 p.m. We will board the bus to go to The Tropicana, a world famous cabaret show that is an important part of Cuba’s national heritage. Showgirls in skimpy sequins outfits and feather headdresses may be a Las Vegas cliche, but few people know that the tradition was actually born at Havana’s Tropicana Club. The cabaret dates back to 1939 and served as the center of Cuba’s jet-set nightlife during the 1940s and 1950s, when it was also a casino (with extensive ties to the American mob; pop culture enthusiasts may know it primarily for a scene in “Godfather II”).
• Return to the hotel

Day 4. Wednesday February 5. 

Panoramic Tour

• 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at the hotel (included)
• 9:00 a.m. We will board the bus to go on a panoramic and cultural tour around the city. We will drive through many beautiful landmarks in Havana, and stop in the most important of them while our guide explains the splendor of Havana. The so called modern, or new Havana, is the part of the city that began to emerge after the Cuban Republic was established in 1902. The Republican time in Cuba was deeply marked by the influence of the United States, something that can be appreciated in the city street arrangements, their names, and the distributions of the suburbs. Something that cannot be missed in our visit to Modern Havana is the view of the Malecón (Sea Front), a huge wall that covers most of the Cuban capital for over 8 kilometers. The Malecón, for Cubans, is the “Love Mecca.” A place always full of music, romance and fun that certainly dazzles all visitors. Another place that the travelers cannot miss is Vedado. This was the first borough founded by Havanan aristocracy. Nowadays it is the heart of the cultural life of the city. It has the major concentration of cinema, art galleries, cultural projects headquarters, etc. Once in Vedado you will be able to see the FOCSA, the tallest building of reinforced concrete in the city that happens to be one of Cuban 7 Wonders of Civil Engineering. Other places that we will see in our tour of modern Havana, are the Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square), the center of the political life of the country, the Cristopher Columbus Cemetery, National Monument of Cuba, El Bosque (Havana Forest), center of Afro-Cuban Religious Ceremonies, and the elegant borough of Miramar. We will also visit the memorial dedicated to Martí. Located next to the famous Revolution Square is an 18-meter-high (59-foot) sculpture of José Martí, made up of 52 blocks of marble. The obelisk behind the statue is Havana’s highest point at over 112 meters (367.8 feet). At the base of the monument is the José Martí Memorial, where 79 of his quotes decorate the walls, and some of his books and personal objects are on display.
• Return to the hotel after tour
• Lunch on your own

Plaza de la Revolución, image by Andy Leung from Pixabay

Cannon Shot Ceremony

• 6:30 p.m. Departure to the Cannon Shot Ceremony
Every night, exactly at 9:00 p.m. local time, the thunderous shot of a cannon is heard in Havana, Capital of Cuba. Residents know that the 9:00 cannon sounded and visitors wonder why. This tradition began in the 18th century. The shooting is made from San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress, popularly known as La Cabaña, located next to the Castle of Tres Reyes del Morro, just at Havana Bay entrance. It’s said that it’ s heard throughout the city: in the Central Park, located in Old Havana, 4.3 seconds after the cannon is fired; at 9.7s in the National Hotel and at 16s in the famous corner of 23 and 12, both places belonging to the populous neighborhood of El Vedado. Today it is one of the most popular and colorful public shows in Havana. Hundreds of visitors, both Cubans and foreigners, concentrate every night in La Cabaña, with their cell phones and Tablets on to avoid missing any details. Everything is recorded from the entrance of the soldiers with loops, hats and colonial costumes, (who are actually young artillery cadets) carrying lit torches and singing in full voice, with a peculiar rhythm, the word silence, and then announcing the beginning of the ritual, which ends with the firing of an 18th century cannon.
• Return to the hotel

Day 5. Thursday February 6. 

Viñales Valley

• 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at the hotel (included)
• 8:00 a.m. Board the bus to go on our tour
Today we will head to Pinar del Rio valley, the most northern province of Cuba known for its tobacco plantations and protected areas by UNESCO as a “biosphere reserve.” It is 180 km from Havana. Arriving in Viñales we will visit the area that was declared a UNESCO protected Biosphere Heritage with stop at the tobacco plantation “Veguero’s House”. Visit the panoramic point “Mirador de Los Jasmines” from which you can enjoy breathtaking views of the valley, palm trees, plantations and typical rock formations (mogotes) that arise as monoliths throughout the valley. We will visit by boat the Indio’s Cave with a karst formation with a river flowing inside. Lunch included with typical Creole cuisine in a local restaurant. Visit the Murales of Prehistory, a gigantic fresco painted on one of the Mogotes of the valley by the students of anthropology at the University of Havana.
• Late afternoon, return to our hotel in Havana.

Image by fab Wüst from Pixabay

Day 6. Friday February 7.

Free Day

• Breakfast at the hotel restaurant included

Day 7. Saturday February 8.

Havana — Varadero

• 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at the hotel (included)
• Hotel Check out
• 10:00 a.m. Departure to Varadero
• Hotel Check in at the Royalton Hicacos Hotel
Located in the province of Matanzas, Varadero is the most famous beach resort in Cuba, and one of the largest resorts in the Caribbean. Also known as “Blue Beach” because of its clear, calm waters, Varadero is fronted by a 20 km (12 miles) fine white sandy beach, which is bathed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

Day 8. Sunday February 9.


Enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean Cuba

Varadero sunset, image by Florent Trouvé from Pixabay

Day 9. Monday February 10. 

Varadero – Guadalajara

• 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at the hotel (included)
• 9:00 a.m. Transfer to the airport in Havana
• Flight from Havana to Mexico City
• AeroMexico Flight AM 452, departure 3:05 p.m.
• 5:20 p.m. arrives in Mexico City airport.
• Flight from Mexico City to Guadalajara
• AeroMexico Flight AM 256, departure 8:00 p.m.
• 9:30 p.m. arrives in Guadalajara airport.

  1. Mary

    Very busy itinerary with not much free time. Have a good trip, good meals, safe, healthy travel!

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