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My Complete 7-Day Cuba Itinerary

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Over the last few years traveling, nothing has sparked more interest from followers and friends than my trip to Cuba. How to get there. What to do. Where to stay. So without further ado, here’s my ideal 7-day itinerary including a detailed Google Map with notes that should keep you busy and happy on your trip!

HAVANA

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

As the capital of Cuba, Havana (also known as “La Habana”) is the largest city and most popular tourist destination in close proximity to the international airport. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th Century, the city is now divided into three main sections: Old Havana (“Habana Vieja”), the area from which you’ll see most photographs of Cuba, Vedado (more of the urban business district), and then the more affluent area of the city which includes neighborhoods like Miramar.

It’s common for people to book accommodation upon arrival in Cuba if staying at casas (translation: local people’s homes), but if you want to book ahead, there are plenty of reviewed listings here.

Day 1:

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Obispo Street

Head straight to Obispo Street in Old Havana to experience the most exciting part of town — and also the area you’ve likely seen in all of the photos. Take in the colors, architecture, live music inevitably being played in the streets, and enjoy some churros or fruit from a cart to keep your energy levels high.

Lunch at El Chanchullero

Make your way over to this 3-level restaurant that serves up yummy versions of classic Cuban dishes. Depending on where you’re sitting, you’ll be in perfect positioning for a bird’s eye view of the comings and goings of the local crowd below.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Stroll the Plaza de Armas

Stroll around the Plaza de Armas for some souvenir and book shopping. If you want a little bit of Cuban film history, scope out one of the guys selling film poster/prints and prompt them with a few questions — just be warned, you may not get a swift exit from the conversation!

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Mojito Break at NOA

Move towards the Malecon to NOA Bar Paladar for some mid-day mojitos — because those are required in Cuba! This spot is set in a cute little alleyway close to a wifi source with an ocean breeze, so you can cool down with a drink and check-in with life back home (although, when you’re in Cuba why would you want to)?

Rooftop Views From Hotel Ambos Mundos

Just before sunset, make a visit to Hotel Ambos Mundos, a pink hotel in the center of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) which has stellar rooftop views overlooking the entire city.

Important: Cuba is an incredible destination, but it’s best to protect yourself in case anything goes wrong. I use World Nomads for travel insurance to give myself peace of mind while on the road, and they’ve reimbursed me over $1,000 to date from travel mishaps.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Dinner at Habana 61

For dinner, Habana 61 is a great modern option for fresh and healthy food (some of the best we had during our stay in Cuba).

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Drinks at Ernest Hemingway’s Watering Hole

End the night at El Floridita, a must-do for Ernest Hemingway fans as the writer frequented this now 100-year-old bar.

Day 2:

Start the morning with breakfast and coffee at your casa (most casas provide this, so make sure to ask if this is included in the price when booking).

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

The Oldest Hotel in Havana

Pop over to the Hotel Inglaterra, which is the oldest hotel in Havana and a fun spot for pictures if you enjoy retro signage! Across the street is an easy stop for the Habana Bus Tour which will take you all around the city.

See The Sights Via the Habana Bus Tour

Ok, let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m not one to normally suggest doing the tourist bus, BUT I particularly enjoyed this one for a few reasons. First off, it’s a super cheap way to cover a lot of ground around the city in a place where public transport is not readily accessible. Also, after a day on foot walking all around Old Havana, we enjoyed resting our legs and getting a different perspective from above. As a photographer, I especially loved this because there are so many cool buildings with intricate details to shoot from a higher vantage point. You can hop on and off the bus whenever you please and they don’t talk over the loud speaker the entire trip, so it’s quite relaxing especially on a nice sunny day — wear a hat or sunscreen!

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Stop for Pictures at Revolution Square

Along the Habana Bus Tour, make sure to hop off at Plaza de la Revolucion where the famous Che Guevara mural is located.

Coffee Break at Cuba Libro

At the Colon Cemetery stop, hop off for pictures and walk five minutes to Cuba Libro, my favorite coffee shop and bookstore in Cuba with hippie vibes and a great selection of English books and magazines.

Dine at One of the Privately Owned Paladares

Paladares are the non-government run restaurants in Cuba and typically have better food than the latter option. Take the bus back into town and hop off to make your way to Atelier for dinner, a beautiful restaurant in the newer part of Havana which is consistently listed as one of the top paladares in the city.

San Cristobal is also a famous locale (make reservations ahead). It didn’t blow us out of the water, but the history behind this place (the Obamas made it famous) and atmosphere alone is worth checking out.

Socialize at the Fabrica de Arte

Don’t miss Fabrica de Arte open 8 pm – 3 am Thursday to Sunday each week. We sadly missed this because it was closed while we were in town, but I’ve heard so many great things about this hip cultural center which showcases art, photography, music and more.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

The Parisien Cabaret at Hotel Nacional

End the night at the Hotel Nacional for the Parisien Cabaret show, one of the highlights of my trip. Many people decide to see the pricier show at the Copacabana as it’s more reputable, but my friend and I decided to go with this show instead and I’m so glad we did. It was entertaining, hilarious, impressive and cheesy all at once. Loved every minute.

TRINIDAD

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Trinidad is a colonial town about four hours South East from Havana. It’s a beautiful, colorful town with a more slow-paced way of life and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.

Day 3:

First thing in the morning, pack up and get a car to Trinidad (about a 4 hour car ride) with a stop for lunch in Cienfuegos, a small seaside town along the way.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Find a Casa with Rooftop Views

In Trinidad, it’s easy to arrive and ask around for accommodation on the spot (such is the way in Cuba). We stayed at Casa Amparo (see map for details), which is a spacious home in central Trinidad run by two very sweet ladies (they don’t speak much English but are extremely accommodating) and it has gorgeous rooftop views.

If you prefer to book accommodation ahead, check out Booking.com’s listings of over 500 properties in Trinidad

My Top Travel Moments of 2016

Take a Salsa Lesson

Salsa dancing is a must while in Cuba. Call your casa ahead (if possible) to have them book a salsa lesson for you on the roof on the afternoon of your arrival.

Dinner at La Botija

Satisfy your hunger at La Botija for dinner, which is open 24 hours but commands quite a line around dinner time, so make sure to arrive before starvation sets in. They have quite a large selection of tapas style food — definitely one of the better meals we ate while in Cuba.

Salsa Dancing in the Square

After dinner, head to the Plaza Mayor to watch the salsa dancing commence. It costs about 1 CUC to get a seat inside the square. If you’re a lady, be forewarned that you will probably be asked to dance — so this is the perfect opportunity to put your new salsa skills to good use!

End the Night at Rincon de la Salsa

If you still haven’t had enough salsa, walk down the street to Rincon de la Salsa to get your groove on with the locals.

Day 4:

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Explore the Streets of Trinidad

After breakfast at your casa, spend an hour or two wandering around the colorful streets of Trinidad (we spent most of our time wandering between the Plaza Mayor and Plaza Carillo).

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Beach Bum it at Playa Maria Aguilar

Pack up a beach bag and grab a taxi to Playa Maria Aguilar which is only about 20 minutes by car for a couple hours of sunbathing and cooling off in the turquoise water. Just note: the food at the restaurants here is not great and there are no bathrooms, so just be aware going into it, but the beach is worth it!

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Horseback Riding Tour Through the Trinidad Countryside

Head back into Trinidad in time for an afternoon horseback riding adventure that the casa can book for you. We did a tour for about four hours that took us through the gorgeous countryside to a waterfall, however, it started storming heavily and we turned right back around soaked without ever going into the falls. Make sure to check the weather for the best outcome! 2-3 pm is a good time to set off on this excursion.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Dinner at La Raddicion

Get back into town for dinner at La Raddicion, which has great lobster and vegetarian options as well. Their service can be slow (an expectation in Cuba), so make sure you’re not on a tight schedule before dining here.

Dance the Night Away in a Cave

End the night at the Disco Ayala, a semi-cheesy but have-to-see-once kind of nightclub, inside a cave. Check with locals about the best night to go because sometimes they do a show earlier in the night as well.

VINALES

Visiting Viñales feels like seeing the real Cuba. It’s still a tourist town (and depends quite heavily on visitors), but with a local population of only about 10,000 Cubans, you get the feeling that it’s the kind of place where everyone knows each other’s names. Located in the Pinar del Rio region on the West side of the island, Viñales is the best place to experience the natural beauty of Cuba.

Day 5:

This will be the longest travel day, so strap in and get ready to nap during the 7-8 hour car ride — at least you won’t be driving! Cars are easy to hire around town in Trinidad. Your casa can either set this up for you or you can ask locals where to schedule a car and you’ll undoubtedly get steered in the right direction.

Check in to Your Casa

Arrive in Viñales around 5 pm, and check into Villa Farner’s, a modest little casa run by Lisette and Jimmy that sits in convenient proximity to the main drag in town (see map for details). Plus, the breakfast and rooftop views are to die for.

If you prefer to book accommodation ahead, Booking.com has over 300 properties in Viñales to choose from.

Grab Dinner in Town

Dinner. Be warned, there’s not much (if anything) in the way of good food in the main center of town in Viñales, so expect very basic and you may be pleasantly surprised.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Take in the Views of Viñales

Head to the rooftop of your casa (many in the area have them) for a sunset viewing overlooking the Viñales Valley. We spent a memorable night drinking wine and chatting it up with our casa hosts on the roof while each sampling our very first Cuban cigar — not a regular thing for me, but when in Cuba!

Dancing in the Square

Walk a few minutes to the main square of town for salsa dancing in the square and to mingle with locals.

Day 6:

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Viewpoint at Hotel Jazmine

Start the morning off by hopping onto the local Viñales bus which has multiple stops at tobacco houses, the Hotel Jazmine (great views overlooking the Viñales Valley, but terrible food) and other local tourist attractions. It’s the most convenient way to get around and often cheaper than taking a taxi, so if you’re looking to explore the area outside the main square this is the way to go. You’ll find the bus stop right in front of the main square.

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Lunch at Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to the best lunch in town at Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso, which is a family-run organic farm with incredible food. The views are unreal overlooking the Viñales Valley, but it can be quite the tourist destination as it’s the #1 rated restaurant in the area on TripAdvisor and surpasses everything else by a long-shot. Try to go when the tourist buses are gone for a more enjoyable meal. Also, word to the wise — these are the largest portions I’ve ever encountered in my life (seriously, ever) and they won’t wrap them up in takeout boxes for you unless you bring your own. Bring tupperware — you’ll seriously get three extra meals out of it!

Drinks at Palenque de los Cimarrones

For drinks and dancing, finish your night at Palenque de los Cimarrones which is another Cuban cave club (I preferred this one over the Disco Ayala in Trinidad). This club also comes with a history lesson, as the caves were a main escape for slaves. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Saturday night, you’ll witness a weekly performance here and chances are if you’ve met any locals around town, you’ll run into them here for a dance session!

Day 7:

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Explore Cuba’s Largest Cave

Rise early for a cave spelunking tour at the Cuevos de Santo Tomas, Cuba’s largest cave system. We enjoyed a 90-minute tour with a small group as this location is not overrun with tourists. It was a nice respite from the heat to duck into the cool interior of the cave while learning about the stalactites and other geological formations. My favorite part, however, was the local pup who joined us on our tour — quite impressive as we climbed stairs and ladders to get there!

Pack Your Bags for Havana

Pack up and hire a share car back to Havana (about a two hour drive) to catch your flight out of town!

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Hire a Vintage Convertible for Your Airport Transfer

For your final few hours, give yourself plenty of time before your flight and hire a 1950s convertible (the drivers act as tour guides as well) to take you to any spots you may have missed during your previous time in Havana. This is the perfect way to go out in style and also saves you money on an airport transfer!

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Try The “Best” Pina Colada in Havana

Our driver took us through Miramar and more residential sides of Cuba to get a different feel for the local way of life. My favorite stop was to the Anfiteatro Parque Almendares, a park where our driver brought us to a spot where he claimed they made the best pina coladas in the city. As you can see, they came with an unlimited bottle of rum!

7 Day Cuba Itinerary

Make your way to the airport and say goodbye to this beautiful and lively country that I loved so much this year. Hope you get to enjoy a fabulous trip to Cuba soon!

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Read More

Cuba Photo Diary and Initial Thoughts

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Planning a trip right now? These are all the websites and services I love for booking everything from flights, tours, accommodation and more:

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7 Day Cuba Itinerary | Trinidad, Cuba | Vinales, Cuba | Havana, Cuba | Cuba travel tips | What to do in Cuba | How to spend a week in Cuba | 1 Week Cuba itinerary | Cuba travel guide

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  • mayandtravel January 20, 2017 at 3:17 am

    wow your 7-dat Cuba itinerary is amazing! beautiful pictures and so many amazing places. useful tips! thanks for sharing! save your blog for my future trip to Havana! always love the idea of riding a vintage convertible around Havana!

  • Sue January 27, 2017 at 12:50 am

    How do you get the tourist visa and travel insurance?

    • Michelle Halpern February 16, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Sue,
      Thanks for reading! I flew to Cuba through Mexico and the airline will give you a tourist visa when you check in. I think it cost about $15-$20. As far as travel insurance, I always use World Nomads as it’s reliable and easy to purchase for short periods of time. Hope this helps!

  • Ceruleanblueskies March 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    What a beautiful and thorough post. The next time I travel I want you as my tour guide!

  • Jillian M Di Filippo April 1, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Great post – very helpful! What would you have added if you had 2 extra days? Would you have stayed somewhere longer, or tried to make an extra stop in a different town?

    • Michelle Halpern April 2, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Jillian! Good question. I think I would have added in 2 beach days somewhere – there are some great beaches within driving of Havana and Cayo Jutias is in between Vinales and Havana which you could choose to stop over at. While Cuba is a Caribbean island, it doesn’t often feel like that in Havana, Trinidad and Vinales because there is so much to do other than the beach. So would definitely add in some sun time! Look up Varadero which didn’t sound like my cup of tea because it’s very resort oriented, but I’ve heard it’s great for relaxation and beach time. Hope this helps xx

  • Deeann April 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Michelle Halpern April 5, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Deeann,
      Are the images not showing up at all for you or are they just slow to load? Also what internet browser/version are you on?

  • Katrina April 11, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Hi! How much would you say you spent during the 7 days? Trying to budget for this and a longer trip after.

    Thanks!

    • Michelle Halpern April 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Katrina, thanks for reading! I spent about $73 a day in Cuba, and that includes accommodation, all food, transport, nights out, entertainment, etc. Literally everything except for flights. I was spending about $13 a day on my accommodation, so depending on if you are staying in nicer hotels you should account for that. Hope this helps 🙂

      • selena lopez May 12, 2017 at 4:21 am

        Hi there! great blog, can you please tell me the name of the place in Cuba where you stayed? $13 per night sounds really good. Thanks!

        • Michelle June 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm

          Hi Selena,
          This was the price shared with a friend with it would have been about $26 per night total. I don’t unfortunately remember the name of the place but there are tons of cheap casas if you just walk around upon arrival and inquire about open rooms. I don’t know that this casa had a website or could be booked in advance, so you just have to shop around!

  • Google June 11, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Google

    Usually posts some quite intriguing stuff like this. If you’re new to this site.

  • Deys June 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Hi! My husband and I are heading to Cuba in a couple weeks, and it’s our first trip since having twins over two years ago. I stumbled across your itinerary while doing some research and it looks awesome. Thanks so much for posting this as it’s been immensely helpful. My only concern is the travel between Vinales and Trinidad. Do you think it was too much in the end? Do you think one day in Vinales is sufficient? I thought that maybe there’s a bit more to see around Trinidad so added the extra day there. Currently, I have our itinerary as:
    Havana (Mon)
    Havana (Tues)
    Vinales (Wed overnight)
    Trinidad via Cienfuegos (Thu)
    Trinidad (Fri)
    Trinidad (Sat)
    Havana via Santa Clara (Sun)

    Do you have any recs on switching things up?

    Thanks so much!!!

    • Michelle June 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Hi Deys,
      I’m so glad you found this itinerary helpful! Thank you for reading 🙂 I spent several days in Vinales which made the long transfer from Trinidad worth it. I don’t know if it would be worth it honestly for just one day since it will take half of a day just to get there. But it depends what you’re looking for. Trinidad and Havana are more city/town vibes and Vinales is very nature focused and laidback. If you’re interested in witnessing the tobacco making process Vinales is the place to do it. But you could do something like a horseback ride in Trinidad through the countryside instead of Vinales and get that experience there instead. Hope this helps! xx

  • Marissa Leigh June 20, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Hello! I see a few references to a google map with notes, but I don’t see it on here. Is there a way to access it? Your itinerary is awesome!!! So incredibly helpful!

    • Michelle June 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Marissa! Thanks so much for reading. The Google Map is at the very bottom of the post. Is it not showing up for you? You should be able to zoom in/out on it and check out my notes on each item highlighted. If you still don’t see it, please let me know what browser you’re on so I can try to fix it! 🙂

  • Maddy Kuhl November 2, 2017 at 3:36 am

    Hi! loved the post,
    just wondering what currency you used?
    and was it easy to travel between places?
    thanks maddy

    • Michelle November 3, 2017 at 1:41 am

      Hi Maddy,
      As a tourist you’ll most likely be using CUC which is their tourist currency and is 1 for 1 to the US dollar. We exchanged our money for CUC right at the airport when we got there, but I would recommend bringing in Euro or Mexican pesos to exchange into CUC rather than USD. Traveling in between places isn’t difficult, you just either have to take the bus or hire a driver. Some of the distances can be long, but it’s not difficult to coordinate. Hope this helps!

  • Michelle Weigold January 4, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Hi Michelle- Would we need to pre-plan or pre-book share taxis getting from city to city before we get to Cuba- or is that something you just do once you’re there? I speak Spanish if that helps. Also any idea approximately what it costs to take the long one from Viñales to Havana?

    Finally.. are you a US citizen by chance? Were worried about the feasibility of getting in if we fly from Miami

    • Michelle Halpern January 4, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Michelle, thanks for reading! We booked all of our taxis in Cuba which was quite easy. Your accommodation whether it’s a homestay or hotel should be able to help arrange that for you, or it’s pretty easy to approach people on the street to ask for your help. You’ll see plenty of those 1950s taxis around with whom you can inquire as well and if they don’t do the trip, chances are they will know someone who does! I paid about $15 from Vinales to Cuba but we actually got ripped off because we thought this was the price each for 2 of us in the car — there turned out to be 8 people crammed into the car! Always ask how many people you’ll be sharing with before you agree.

      I am a US citizen, but I visited in 2016 and flew in through Mexico, so things may be a bit different for you, especially as Trump has recently made some changes. This article by Expert Vagabond has some great updated guidelines that should be helpful. https://expertvagabond.com/travel-to-cuba-for-americans/#01

    • Michelle January 4, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for reading! We booked all of our taxis in Cuba which was quite easy. Your accommodation whether it’s a homestay or hotel should be able to help arrange that for you, or it’s pretty easy to approach people on the street to ask for your help. You’ll see plenty of those 1950s taxis around with whom you can inquire as well and if they don’t do the trip, chances are they will know someone who does! I paid about $15 from Vinales to Cuba but we actually got ripped off because we thought this was the price each for 2 of us in the car — there turned out to be 8 people crammed into the car! Always ask how many people you’ll be sharing with before you agree.

      I am a US citizen, but I visited in 2016 and flew in through Mexico, so things may be a bit different for you, especially as Trump has recently made some changes. This article by Expert Vagabond has some great updated guidelines that should be helpful. https://expertvagabond.com/travel-to-cuba-for-americans/#01

  • Noor January 26, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Hello!
    My husband and I just returned from a week in Cuba and want to say your itinerary was fantastic! We pretty much followed it the majority of the time due to lack of wifi etc. every place was accurately described and all the things you recommended were on point! Thanks again!
    Noo

    • Michelle January 30, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Noor, this comment literally makes my day! Thank you so much for following along and using my itinerary. I’m so glad you loved it and had a great time! xx Michelle

  • Bridget Burke March 4, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Great post! My friend and I want to use your itinerary. Do you remember how much it cost you to drive from Havana to Trinidad and from Trinidad to Vinales?

    • Michelle March 17, 2018 at 3:36 am

      I think it was about $35 per person or at least for each of us based on the # of people we had in the car. Hope that helps!

  • Mlyn Pe March 21, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Hey! Again… I love your posts!

    Thinking of going to Cuba for 5 days.

    Which place would you skip considering the facte we have less time?

    Where did you stay in Havana and Vinales? Did you book in advance?

    Thanks!

    • Michelle March 23, 2018 at 2:03 am

      It kind of depends what you want. Vinales is the most different from Havana and Trinidad with more tobacco growing regions and mountainous terrain. It’s very small and you only really need 2 days there, if that. Trinidad is super colorful and closer to beautiful beaches but further away from Havana than Vinales. Such a tough one, but I think you should just research both spots and see what appeals to you more. If you want to save time though, go to Vinales as it’s closer! We stayed in local home stays that we just booked upon arrival 🙂