The intriguing Caribbean island of Cuba is well-known for its historic colonial towns, white sand beaches, tobacco fields, and revolutionary figures like Che Guevara. It’s a place where you can pass the day sipping daiquiris, watching dolphins, hiking through rain forests, touring historical museums, or salsa dancing with the Cuban people.
Cuba truly offers something for every type of traveler!
Getting to Cuba
From the main airport hubs of Canada, you can easily find non-stop flights to gorgeous and popular Cuban destinations like Varadero, Cayo Coco, Santa Clara and Holguin. Travelers can easily get to Havana with a layover.
Entry Requirements to Cuba for Canadians
No visa is required for entry into Cuba for Canadian citizens with valid passports or permanent residency cards. They can travel with their valid passports or PR cards and the tourist card that is part of the vacation package (provided on board or at the airline counter at airports in Canada at the time of check-in). The Canadian passport needs to be valid for at least a week after the return date, which is vital for you to know.
For traveling in Cuba, it is required for travelers to have travel insurance for all forms of medical emergencies, including covid. So, in the event of a medical emergency, tourists won’t be responsible for covering medical-related expenses in an emergency situation.
All passengers arriving in Cuba from a direct flight from Canada do not need to present a vaccination passport.
The Cuban Peso is the local currency (CUP). Cuba does not accept US money, however, a lot of places do accept Canadian dollars. Only Canadian bank debit/visa cards or visa credit cards are accepted for payment in tourist zones, which include hotels, restaurants, and retail centers. CUP is available in bills of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000. It’s helpful to always have a lower denomination of bills for small expenses like street food, taxi fare, tips and souvenirs.
Getting Around Cuba
The most convenient way to get around Cuba is by shared cab. These are similar to regular taxis with the exception that you will likely share one with strangers.
You can also reserve a cab in advance, but it will probably be pretty obvious that you’re a tourist, so you will undoubtedly receive offers for rides from taxi drivers around the touristy areas of the cities you’re visiting.
Public transport like buses are also available but they don’t cost much less than a taxi and it takes longer, so taxis might still be your best option.
Best Time to Travel to Cuba
The months of October through April are the ideal times to visit Cuba. The island enjoys a fantastic Caribbean climate with a significant period of pleasantness where days are warm and sunny and little rain falls, especially in Havana and along the coast. The nicest weather on the island is found along the beaches along Cuba’s south coast!
How Long to Visit
If you want to experience the culture, nature, and relaxation on the beaches of Cuba, it is ideal to spend at least 10 days in Cuba.
Where to Stay in Cuba
The lovely Melia Varadero Resort is one of the most popular beach resorts in Cuba for a reason. This elegant, five-star all-inclusive resort is minutes away from the area’s major attractions and things to do and has direct access to a lovely stretch of sand beach on the well-known Varadero peninsula. Golfers particularly like it because it’s located conveniently to play a few rounds at the well-known Varadero Golf Club. The resort is also located close to the Plaza América Convention Center.
This resort definitely makes the most of its picturesque setting. The grounds are lovely to explore or simply unwind in because they were created to blend in with the lush, tropical surroundings. In reality, relaxing in the areas, such as the dome-topped lobby, the gardens, or at the poolside is a highlight of staying here.
The accommodations are luxurious as well. For a little more indulgence, travelers can upgrade to one of the bigger premium suites, which are clean and comfy with enlarged terrace or balcony areas and breathtaking sea views, and lots of space for families.
Iberostar Selection Holguin
The 5-star Iberostar Selection is a popular choice for anyone looking for a fantastic luxury all-inclusive beach holiday in Holguin. Families and couples looking for a romantic getaway are both welcome in Holguin. There are several restaurants, several swimming pools, and a water park among other outstanding amenities.
Children will enjoy having their own club to hang out in with planned activities, entertainment, and activities and adventures that are tailored just for them. For adults who are visiting without children, the resort’s Star Prestige services guarantee plenty of quiet time for you to spend as you like. Highlights include catamaran sailing excursions, diving adventures near the coral reefs, and simply relaxing by the adults-only pool.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana
In Havana, Cuba, there is a posh hotel called Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana. Enjoy many dining options, drink your favorite cocktail or relax in the inviting tobacco lounge while smoking a cigar and sipping rum. Take in the spectacular view from the rooftop and indulge in the Spa.
The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski provides you with the chance to enjoy the first luxury hotel in Cuba. It is perfectly situated in the center of Old Havana and is surrounded by the most significant UNESCO World Heritage structures in this bustling city.
Iberostar Heritage Grand Trinidad
Iberostar Legacy Grand Trinidad offers unparalleled cultural history in the heart of one of Cuba’s most spectacular cities. The relaxed façades of the historic district’s buildings and the lively, warm, and joyful attitudes of its citizens will pull you in, listen to their music and learn about the culture of the nation! At the Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad, feeling and eating go hand in hand. a good array of beverages and a remarkable diversity in cuisine.
After your personalized check-in, get accompanied to your room and receive a cool beverage. After that, hotel staff will pamper you like royalty for the duration of your stay, complete with a pillow menu and turndown service. Every day, the details of your lodging will amaze you.
Horizontes Los Jazmines
Horizontes Los Jazmines has one of the best viewpoints in the Viñales Valley. There are cultural attractions close to where the hotel is located. This prime location is recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Travelers who love nature will love staying at this hotel. The hotel includes Many comfortable rooms, including Junior Suite rooms with the highest standard and a special view of the Viales Valley, Standard rooms with a view of the Valley, and Tropical rooms with the greatest view of the Valley. The pool and free breakfast will also help to make your stay even more special.
Best Things To See and Do in Cuba
Cuba’s capital city is Havana. Since it reopened its doors to tourists in the 1990s, the city is now among the most well-known tourist destinations in the Caribbean. There are traces of African and Caribbean influences throughout. This city, which is frequently called the Rome of the Caribbean, has charming European-style architecture, vintage American cars, and a tropical environment.
Havana is worth a visit for its culture, music, cuisine, festivals, and stunning scenery. Even just taking a stroll through the streets of the Cuban capital is amazing.
Old Havana, also known as Habana Vieja, is a well-preserved section of Cuban history and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is easy to picture life in Cuba 200 years ago as one strolls through the cobblestoned streets.
Some of the major attractions in this area are:
- Look up at the magnificent Baroque and Neoclassical structures
- Explore the famous café (one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hangouts) Bodeguita del Medio
- The military bastion Castillo de la Real Fuerza
- The Cuban Baroque Catedral de San Cristobal, found in The Plaza de la Catedral
- One of the best spots to visit in Old Town Havana is Plaza Vieja
- Casa del Conde Jaruco has stunning stained-glass windows
- The nearby Camera Obscura tower provides breathtaking vistas
The Malecon, Havana
Take a walk along the ocean on the Malecon, Havana’s renowned oceanfront promenade. This popular Havana attraction provides a journey through the city’s history. A variety of well-preserved 20th-century structures, including examples of Art Deco and Neo-Moroccan architecture, can be found along the route. The houses, which are painted in soft pinks and yellows, are a photographer’s dream, especially in the golden glow of night. Here, people-watching is a popular pastime. Young couples stroll hand in hand, neighborhood fishermen cast their lines, and kids play on the sea wall.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
If you’re an art enthusiast you won’t want to miss Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts), which has a sizable and excellent collection of both foreign and Cuban art.
Parque Historico Militar, Havana
The Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro, also known as El Morro, and the Fortaleza of San Carlos de la Cabana are two of Havana’s well-known fortresses that are included in the Parque Historico Militar. Here you can learn about the history of Cuba and take in amazing views of the city and ocean, and attend the cannon-firing event at 9 o’clock at night (the most popular time to come).
Plaza de la Revolucion (Jose Marti Memorial), Havana
The Plaza de la Revolucion merits at least a quick pause due to its significant role in Havana’s history if only to reflect on the events that took place here. In this large square, Castro gave speeches that occasionally drew over a million people.
A huge white marble monument of Jose Marti is located at the base of a 109-meter grey tower that stands in honor of Cuba’s national hero at the Plaza de la Revolucion. The Jose Marti Memorial’s interior houses a museum on Marti, make sure to climb the tower for breathtaking vistas of Havana.
Travelers feel like they’re traveling back in time when exploring explore Trinidad, Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city center has a charming colonial vibe thanks to its nicely restored buildings and cobblestone streets. Apart from Havana, Trinidad is currently one of the nicest cities in Cuba to visit.
Some of the top things to see in Trinidad are:
- The central Plaza Mayor, made of cobblestones, is where you can experience the bustling atmosphere of the city
- The Neoclassical Church of the Holy Trinity towers over the square
- The Museum of Colonial Architecture
- The Casa de Aldeman Ortiz’s art gallery
- The Saint Francis Church and Monastery, with its distinctive bell tower
- The Palacio Brunet, a grand house constructed in 1812 that still has its original frescoes and marble floors
- Visit Topes de Collantes National Park
Some of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean may be found in Varadero, one of Cuba’s most well-known resort destinations. This well-known palm-lined strip is lined with more than 50 resorts and hotels. Travelers from all over the world come here to enjoy the stunning white-sand beaches and the beautiful calm ocean!
Highlights of traveling to Varadero include:
- Ecological Park Varahicacos (Varadero Ecological Park)
- Rich flower gardens, a café, a swimming pool, and a small lake where people can row boats can all be found at Parque Josone.
- Many options for all-inclusive resorts
- Snorkeling and diving
- Go deep sea fishing
- Tee off at local golf courses
- Go skydiving
- Go swimming in the ocean
- Enjoy a relaxing boat ride
- Take a dip in cenotes
- Find souvenirs at the Varadero Street Market
Valle de Viñales
The Parque Nacional Viales is a stunning, lush valley in the Sierra de los Organos, north of Pinar del Rio, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Viales is a great place to visit in Cuba to show off the beautiful countryside landscapes. The Viales National Park will leave you speechless! It is doable to travel there in one day from Havana. There’s so much to do in Vinales!
Here are just a few things you can do:
- Hiking and horseback riding through the hills
- Tour a cigar farm
- Explore caves, the most popular are Cueva del Indio, El Palenque de Los Cimarrones and Santo Tomas
- Enjoy the nightlife in lively restaurants and bars
- Visit the incredible Mural de la Prehistoria
- Rent to bike to ride around town
- Visit a Coffee Plantation
- Go on a zip-lining canopy tour for an adrenaline rush
10-Day Cuba Travel Itinerary
Arrive in Havana
The largest international airport in Cuba is in Havana, making it more convenient and less expensive for you to fly there. Since Havana is both the country’s capital and one of its most picturesque cities, it makes sense to start your journey there. Utilize your first day in Havana by touring Havana Vieja and the city center, depending on what time you arrive. You can easily tour all the main attractions of Havana by staying for two to three days.
Tour the city in style!
A vintage vehicle tour of the city is a great way to start your visit to Havana. Even though they are quite touristic, vintage cars will allow you to view all the city’s attractions in a little over an hour and will help you decide what you want to return to and explore in further detail. And how can you pass up traveling through the city in such a stunning classic car? Depending on how effectively you can haggle, prices can vary. A classic car tour is also a great way to see the city if you don’t want to drive yourself.
Make sure to visit the renowned Museo de la Revolucion, a museum that is focused on the Cuban Revolution.
Wander Habana Vieja (Old Havana).
Simply strolling around the narrow side alleys in this area of Havana is a wonderful experience, and the architecture is very lovely. If you like, you can also visit the church in Havana. Given that Havana Vieja is so close to the ocean, take a stroll along the Malecón, Havana’s beachfront promenade.
On day four head to Viñales.
A private taxi to get there will cost you about 30 to 40 CUP. It takes about an hour and a half to drive there from Havana. It’s possible to head here early in the day and leave in the evening to make it a day trip. If you choose to just make this a day trip you can have more time in Havana or spend a few days in a Varadero resort if you want some relaxing beach time. But in this itinerary, we will plan to stay in Viñales for 3 nights and 2 full days!
Depending on when you arrive, you can explore Viales’ streets and the town center for the remainder of the day.
Visit the Viales tobacco plantations.
The tobacco farms in the Viales Valley, which is also a National Park, are what make Viales most well-known. The tobacco used in the renowned Cuban cigars is produced here by local farmers year-round. You can take a walking or horseback excursion to see the Viales Valley. The local farmers will explain the method for cultivating tobacco and rolling cigars as they take you on a tour of the nearby tobacco plantations. This is a highly intriguing experience, and depending on your tour guide’s consent, it might also come with a free cigar for you to sample. They will take you to view some of the other plantations they cultivate in the valley, including coffee, after you have visited the tobacco plantations.
Explore the Viales Valley.
You have a variety of options for your second day in Viales. Since the beaches on this coast of Cuba are allegedly stunning and far less crowded than those in the resort-heavy Varadero, you could spend a day at the beach, the most popular beach in the area is Cayo Jutías.
If the weather isn’t good for the beach, there are other amazing things to experience like the Indios Cave, the Murales de la Prehistoria, and enjoying the Jazmines Hotel viewpoint.
Visit the main square if you find yourself in Viales on a Saturday. Speakers are set up in the main plaza, and a large crowd of locals and visitors of all ages congregate there to dance!
Viñales to Trinidad.
You have a long day of travel ahead of you, so buckle up. Viales to Trinidad by automobile will take at least six hours. Getting a private car costs about 200 CUP.
Trinidad is a charming colonial town with charming cobblestone streets, brightly painted homes, and bustling street markets. You can also climb to the top of the bell tower on your first day there for stunning views of Trinidad and the surrounding area.
Enjoy a beach day in Trinidad
Playa Ancon is a stunning beach with miles of white sand and blue sea that is only a 15-minute drive from Trinidad. Although there isn’t much aquatic life in this region, locals may provide snorkeling and excursions to the coral reef. This beach is ideal for sunbathing on the sand and swimming in the water.
Take a taxi there for around 10 CUP. There are only two major resorts along the beach, so the taxi will probably drop you off at a resort.
Go horseback riding in the Topes de Collantes National Park
Trinidad is renowned for being near the stunning Topes de Collantes National Park. Waterfalls and lovely green scenery can be seen here. Arrange a horseback riding tour that will take you to a stunning, remote waterfall where you can go swimming.
Head back home.
Sadly, your 10-day vacation in Cuba is drawing to an end and it’s time to return to Havana. It will take 4 to 5 hours to get from Trinidad to Havana, book a private car or taxi to take you to the airport.
It will be a good idea to book an evening flight home and leave Trinidad early in the morning to make sure you get back to Havana in time taking into account possible roadblocks, traffic, etc. But if you get back to Havana with time to spare you can spend your last few hours enjoying the city where your adventure started.
Cuba is one of the safest and friendliest destinations in the Caribbean!
Cuba is much more than just sand and surf; there is a lot to see and do outside of the resorts in Varadero like in the tiny villages all throughout the island. The culture, music, and history of the island are all important aspects to really experiencing Cuba. Many travelers come to Cuba again and again because they can’t get enough of this amazing destination.
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