Cuba As You Like It
5 days with Alexander+Roberts Rating:
Day 1 – A Warm Welcome to Havana, Cuba
Your personalized arrival services begin as soon as you step off the plane in Havana. You’ll be met and escorted through immigration to beat the sometimes lengthy lines. Enjoy a soft drink or Cuba Libre while you wait for your luggage.
Once through Customs in Cuba, your driver will be waiting for you in a vintage American car. As you make your way into the heart of Havana, you’ll get to know your Cuban guide, an engaging professional who will enrich your stay with their wealth of experience. Our guides are chosen for their excellent English and unique educational backgrounds including architecture, history, literature and the arts.
Arriving in the heart of town, you’ll check in to your choice of hotel. Situated in the upscale Vedado district, where classic, mid-century Havana chic has been seemingly frozen in time, La Reserva is a charming boutique hotel with stylish guestrooms set in a splendidly restored, Colonial villa. Or you can opt for a deluxe property like the Hotel Saratoga; this restored 19th-century landmark in Old Havana has long been a favorite with distinguished travelers to Cuba. Both the tropical garden at La Reserva and the Saratoga’s inner courtyard offer the perfect place to sit down with our Cuban Concierge and put the finishing touches on your itinerary – including what you might do this evening!
For your first night in Cuba, we recommend you sample both a new comer and an old favorite. Starting with drinks at O’Reilly 304, this new see-and-be-seen tapas bar is popular with residents and in-the-know expats for its fine cocktails and fish tacos. Then you might hop aboard a 3-wheeled Bici Taxi for the 15-minute ride through the lively streets of Central Havana to La Guarida. Opened in 1996 by Enrique and Odeisys Nuñez, this pioneering privately-owned paladar is still a Havana legend, famed for its Bohemian chic décor and innovative preparation of traditional Cuban dishes. After dinner, a vintage automobile will take you back to your hotel.
Day 2 – Classic Havana
This morning, you might choose to visit the historic cigar factory where world-famous Montecristo and Cohiba cigars are made using the finest tobacco - grown and dried in the western provinces of Cuba. Even if you’re not a cigar smoker, it’s fascinating to watch as they’re deftly hand-rolled, trimmed, banded and boxed with techniques that have changed little over the generations.
A guided walking tour through Old Havana would also be good for your first day in Cuba; enriched by the keen insights, honest views and unique knowledge of your guide, you’ll be immersed in the rhythms of city life as you learn about its Baroque and Neoclassical monuments. Stroll along the centuries-old cobblestone streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, mingling with local residents as you make your way through the city’s four principle town squares - from the charming Plaza de San Francisco and impressive Plaza de la Catedral to Plaza Vieja and the lively vendor-filled Plaza de Armas near the waterfront.
In the afternoon, why not visit Finca Vigia? Built in 1886, Ernest Hemingway purchased this hilltop residence in 1940 and lived here for nearly 20 years. It was here that Hemingway wrote two of his most famous works – For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Peering through its large open windows, you’ll see hundreds of the author’s personal belongings almost exactly as he left them when he departed Cuba for the last time in 1960.
Then continue to Cojimar, the picturesque fishing village that inspired The Old Man and the Sea. A great place to cap off your private sightseeing would be at El Morro. Dating back to 1589, this impressive seafront fortress offers some of the most spectacular views of Havana!
You’ll have time to refresh at your hotel before heading out to sample more of Cuba’s cuisine and nightlife. Chauffeured transportation in a vintage convertible is again included – but the evening is yours to dine where you like. One place to consider is Tierra, one of the city’s newest restaurants. It’s located inside La Fabrica del Arte Cubano, so after dinner you might explore this contemporary cultural center. Set inside an old factory and now filled with multiple galleries and performance spaces, it’s a trend-setting place where you can experience the cutting edge of Cuba’s vibrant cultural scene – from photography and painting to cinema and performance art. (B)
Day 3 – Cuisine + Culture of Cuba
For this morning, we could arrange for you to join a Cuban chef in one of Havana’s colorful markets. While this specially arranged experience would be designed to immerse you in the city’s daily life and Cuba’s culinary ways, it’s also a chance to learn about the island’s dual-currency system firsthand. Take in the variety of locally-sourced organic produce for sale, help to select some items, and then head over to a private home for a hands-on cooking lesson. Depending on the day’s market offerings and your purchases, you’d learn recipes and techniques for preparing favorite Cuban dishes – like grilled seafood or chicken accompanied by black beans and rice or other side dishes featuring plantain, potato or cassava. Over lunch, congenial conversation with your host and chef might range across a variety of topics like the roots of Cuban cooking and modern culinary influences from around the world.
This afternoon, why not focus on the arts? We have close personal relationships within the local arts and design communities, so we could arrange two gallery visits geared to your personal interests – from painting and sculpture to photography and printmaking. And whether it’s the gallery of an established artist or the studio of a young up-and-comer, the opportunity for casual conversation promises a deep genuine look into the Cuban art scene.
Next, you might enjoy a private tour of the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes), highly regarded for its collection of Cuban art from the Colonial era to the 21st century. Or if you prefer, you could spend time at the Instituto Superior de Arte, first established in 1961 and still the leading art academy in Cuba. Now situated in an architecturally unique complex of domed brick buildings, you’ll have a chance to meet the talented students and see some of their work.
This evening, your chauffeured vintage automobile will take you to the restaurant of your choice. Tonight we recommend reservations at Doña Eutimia; with roots dating back to the early 1970’s, this culinary and cultural landmark is well known for its fine preparation and presentation of traditional Cuban cuisine. After dinner, you might enjoy a couple drinks at the Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro. Here in a charming 18th-century building in Old Havana, the club’s house band will entertain you with music inspired by Cuba’s renowned Buena Vista Social Club. (B,L)
Day 4 - Architecture + Dance of Cuba
After breakfast, your guide can take you on an architectural tour beyond the landmarks of Old Havana. Venture farther afield to learn about Cuba’s wealth of architectural diversity - from American-inspired mid-century modernism to the striking Constructivist style of the Russian Embassy.
This afternoon, you might join one of the city’s leading dance professionals - a key figure in preserving the legacy of Yoruba Andabo, the legendary Rumba troupe of musicians, percussionists and dancers. Equal parts history lesson and dance class, this intimate experience would be a highlight of your Cuba adventure!
Before returning to your hotel, you could spend time along Callejón de Hamel. Adorned with brightly colored murals, this narrow alley in Central Havana has emerged as a thriving social-community project devoted to Afro-Cuban music and dance – including Rumba. Beyond the street theater, the neighborhood is home to shops and cafes and you might cap off your stay with that most refreshing of Cuban cocktails – El Negron.
For your final dinner in Cuba, we suggest reservations at La Esperanza. Opened in 1995, this Havana legend is a chance to experience pre-revolutionary Cuba. With classic Cuban music adding to the ambience, you’ll savor farm-fresh cuisine in an intimate setting that’s been authentically furnished and decorated like a 1950’s Havana home. The experience is simply magical and getting there and back in your chauffeured vintage car just adds to the fun!
If you’re not too tired, you might take in the show at the Tropicana, the legendary cabaret that first opened its doors in 1931. Although it has become extremely popular with tourists, the show still features the extravagant costumes and choreography that have mesmerized club-goers from Nat King Cole to Jack Nicholson. Regardless of the dining and entertainment options you pursue this evening, we include chauffeured transportation in a vintage American car. (B)
Day 5 - A final chance to shop
Why not stop by Almacenes San Jose, the city’s largest open-air crafts market, on your way to the airport for your homeward flight. (B)
All This Included
Tailor this suggested 5-day program to fit your individual style with our choice of distinctive hotels in Havana. Then set out with your own chauffeured vintage car and expert Cuban guide for enriching people-to-people activities that we can personalize to your interests. Drawn from academia, the arts, natural sciences, sports and other fields, our engaging professional guides will draw you deeper into the life, stories and history of their native land.
These inclusions are for the suggested 5-day stay in Havana. Your Custom Touring itinerary to Cuba will feature hotels, meals, sightseeing, and people-to-people activities tailored to your personal style and interests.
Havana: La Reserva Vedado
Terms and Conditions
For Alexander+Roberts terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.