You will not be traveling to Cuba as a tourist. You will have a full schedule of activities that will bring you into close contact with ordinary Cubans.
While you will see some of the country’s important historical and cultural landmarks, the purpose of the trip is to engage with the Cuban people – to tell them what life is like in United States and hear about their experiences in Cuba.
You’ll learn about Cuba through the eyes of ordinary people, everyone from bus drivers and journalists to scholars and athletes.
Your trip to Cuba will be legal under U.S. law, which requires that travelers to Cuba have a full schedule of educational activities aimed at enhancing contact with the Cuban people.
Tentative schedule (download PDF)
Day 1 Monday June 26:
Your trip begins at the Orlando International Airport where you’ll board a plane for Havana. After landing at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, you’ll take a 20-minute ride to our hotel. We’ll have an orientation meeting after checking in.
Day 2 Tuesday June 27:
In the morning, you’ll visit Morro Castle, which was built in 1589 to guard the Havana harbor, then you’ll climb into a van and ride to the Museum of the Revolution, where you’ll hear a guide’s explanation of the 1959 revolution.
After lunch at Sloppy Joe’s in Old Havana, you’ll visit El Capitolio, or National Capitol Building, the former seat of government in Cuba. Then you’ll take a walking tour of Old Havana, including Calle Obispo, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas and San Francisco de Asis. You’ll hear an explanation of impact of mass tourism on Cuba. You’ll also listen to artists and craftsmen explain their experiences with private entrepreneurship in Cuba.
Day 3 Wednesday June 28:
In the morning, you’ll visit the Plaza de la Revolución. Then you’ll go to the headquarters of an online publication in Havana and discuss journalism in Cuba.
You’ll visit a market for homemade shoes, where you’ll hear private entrepreneurs explain how they make and sell shoes.
You will stop by Monte de Banderas, near the U.S. Embassy, and you’ll hear an explanation of the ongoing U.S.-Cuba propaganda wars. Then you’ll got to the Museum of the Interior, a lesser-known museum that chronicles such episodes as the CIA’s attempts to topple the Cuban government.
In the evening, you’ll go to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a trendy spot for music and culture, and you will meet with Cuban musicians.
Day 4 Thursday June 29:
You will visit an informal real estate market along Paseo del Prado, where buyers and sellers of homes gather to do business. Here you will hear an explanation of Cuba’s emerging real estate market.
Then you’ll tour neighborhoods west of Havana, home to the mansions of Miramar and Siboney. You’ll hear an explanation of ongoing U.S.-Cuba property disputes.
In the afternoon, you’ll meet with a Cuban television personality, a blogger and an expat who lives in Havana.
In the evening, you’ll have the option of checking out the dance and jazz clubs in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. The most famous of the clubs is La Zorra y el Cuervo, or the Fox and the Crow, a dark and smoky basement venue along La Rampa, a sloped section of 23rd Street.
Day 5 Friday June 30:
In the morning, you’ll depart for Soroa, southwest of Havana. A French coffee plantation owner, Jean-Pierre Soroa, created the park in the 1920s. It features beautiful tall trees and lush orchid gardens.
After lunch, you’ll leave for the town of San Diego de los Baños in Pinar del Río province. After a sulphur spring was discovered on the site, a spa was established there in the late 1890s. The spa attracted American tourists into the 1950s, but they stopped going there after the Cuban revolution. Today the sleepy town is poised for a revival, but for now, it’s a bit off-the-beaten path. You will talk to residents about economic and social conditions, migration and their hopes for the future.
- Travel time from Havana to Soroa: 1 hour, 7 minutes (52.3 miles)
- Travel time from Soroa to San Diego de los Baños: 39 minutes (33.6 miles)
Important: Estimated time for travel is according to Google Maps. These times do not include stops for gas, bathroom breaks, snacks or meals, and so actual travel times will be longer in many cases.
Day 6 Saturday July 1:
After breakfast, you will explore La Güira National Park and Cueva de los Portales, where the late Argentine rebel Che Guevara established a military headquarters during the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis. You’ll hear an explanation of the standoff that brought to world the brink of nuclear war, then you’ll head for Viñales. The lush valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known for its mogotes – tall, rounded hills that rise above the plain.
You will spend the night at a private home on the edge of Viñales.
- Travel time from San Diego de los Baños to La Güira: 4 minutes (2.6 miles)
- Duration of hike at La Güira: about 3 hours
- Travel time to from La Güira to Cueva de los Portales: 13 minutes (7.3 miles)
- Travel time from Cueva de los Portales to Viñales: 1 hours, 7 minutes (40 miles)
Day 7 Sunday July 2:
In the morning, you’ll take a hike among the mogotes and tobacco fields. You’ll will spend the rest of the day meeting with farmers and others who will talk about agriculture in Cuba. You will spend the night in Viñales.
Day 8 Monday July 3:
You’ll spend the morning in Viñales, then you’ll head back toward Havana, skirt around the city and travel to the Bay of Pigs. You’ll spend the night near Playa Larga.
- Travel time from Viñales to the Bay of Pigs: 4 hours, 36 minutes (243 miles)
Day 9 Tuesday July 4:
In the morning, you’ll travel to Playa Girón, the spot where CIA-backed Cubans invaded Cuba on April 17, 1961.
- Travel time from hotel near Playa Larga to Playa Girón: 23 minutes (18.9 miles)
You’ll visit the Bay of Pigs museum in Playa Girón, then you’ll travel to Topes de Collantes park in the Escambray Mountains. You will spend the night at a rustic mountain resort.
- Travel time from Playa Girón to Topes de Collantes: 2 hours, 28 minutes (92.8 miles)
Day 10 Wednesday July 5:
In the morning, you will hike through the park’s tropical forest and talk to residents in the area. You’ll hear an explanation of the historic importance of the Escambray Mountains, where anti-Castro activists hid out in the 1960s.
- Duration of hike: 4 hours.
In the afternoon, you’ll continue on to the colonial town of Trinidad, where you’ll spend the night in a private home.
- Travel time to Trinidad: 23 minutes (12.9 miles)
Day 11 Thursday July 6:
You’ll spend the day in Trinidad. You’ll hear an explanation of the impact of mass tourism on Trinidad. You will also visit a school and talk to residents.
In the afternoon, you’ll travel to Valle de los Ingenios, or Valley of the Sugar Mills. You will spend the night in Trinidad.
- Travel time from Trinidad to Havana: 3 hours, 51 minutes (196 miles)
Day 12 Friday July 7:
You’ll travel to Havana in the morning. We’ll check in to our hotel – a private B&B – and then in the afternoon we’ll go to Alamar, east of Havana. You will meet with rappers and hip-hop artists who will share their experiences.
You’ll travel to Cojímar, where Ernest Hemingway wrote “The Old Man and the Sea.”
In the early evening, you’ll get together with Cuban bloggers and writers and reflect on your experiences in Cuba. Ideally, we’ll meet with some of the same Cubans with whom you’ve been corresponding in the weeks and months prior to the trip. If at all possible, we’ll turn this last gathering into an old-fashioned pig roast. Location: TBA.
- Travel time from Trinidad to Havana: 3 hours, 51 minutes (196 miles)
Day 13 Saturday July 8:
You’ll leave for José Martí International Airport at 6 a.m. and catch a morning flight back to Orlando.
Note: This itinerary was last updated on Feb. 14, 2017. Some details are still being developed. Please check back for updates.