Arrive Havana, Cuba
Arrive at José Martí International Airport, where you complete immigration and customs formalities and transfer to your hotel. Meet your Program Director and fellow guests during a special welcome reception and dinner at a local paladar (family-run restaurant).
Havana | Cuba’s Capital
After breakfast at your hotel, visit the 18th-century Morro Castle, a hilltop fortress guarding the entrance to Havana Bay. Explore the fascinating Habana Vieja (Old Havana) neighborhood — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — strolling its narrow streets alongside a local architect. Visit the city’s four significant squares; learn of the buildings’ pasts; and discuss the challenges and successes of present-day restoration projects. Next, visit the San Jose Craft Market, interacting with residents as you peruse its wares. After lunch, visit Ernest Hemingway’s former home — Finca La Vigia (“lookout house”) — situated in Havana’s San Francisco de Paula neighborhood. As a specialist shares immersive insight, picture the author’s life during the more than 20 years he lived there. Continue with a panoramic tour of Havana, seeing the Vedado business district, home to the University of Havana, the oldest in Cuba. Then, drive along the malecón (seawall promenade). Stop at Revolution Square to take pictures and learn the history of this political epicenter. Tour historic Hotel Nacional with a local guide, who brings this timepiece of Cuban history to life. Return to your hotel. Tonight, enjoy an authentic dinner at a paladar.
Havana | Stunning Countryside
Travel through the Cuban countryside to Vinales in Pinar del Rio, pausing en route at Los Jazmines Hotel for panoramic vistas of the Viñales Valley. Upon arriving at Benito Camejo’s tobacco farm, its farmer shares firsthand knowledge of the production and drying process. Afterward, farmers reveal how tobacco leaves are fermented and selected, a stage completed only by local women. Proceed to organic farm El Paraiso, where you sit down to a country lunch overlooking the Viñales Valle del Silencio. As you sample home-cooked Cuban cuisine, gain insight into daily life and organic farming practices from its owners and farmers. Return to Havana, where you have dinner at leisure.
Havana | Immersed in Cuban Culture
Begin today in the Jaimanitas district and visit a neighborhood known as Fusterlandia, where artist Jose Fuster has transformed entire city blocks with his colorful sculptures and mosaics. Pay a guided visit to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, where a local expert guides you through its renowned Cuban art collection. Then, a local baseball expert joins you for lunch at a paladar to share how this historic pastime — and sports as a whole — plays a key role in Cuban society. Continue to the picturesque fishing village of Cojimar, where Hemingway docked his boat, ‘El Pilar.’ Not only was the town his fishing base, it’s where he penned The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Return to your hotel for some time at leisure. This evening, gather with fellow guests and travel by “Yank tank” (vintage car) to attend a private concert by the Cuban Institute of Music at the Fine Arts Museum followed by an authentic Cuban dinner at a local paladar.
Cienfuegos/Trinidad | “Pearl of the South”
Travel to Cienfuegos, the aptly named “Pearl of the South.” Upon arrival, take an informative, guided walking tour of the scenic town, perhaps seeing a Cuban CUC store and pharmacy en route. Following lunch at a paladar, continue to Trinidad, where you check in to your hotel and sip a refreshing welcome drink. Take some time to unwind before gathering for a canchánchara cocktail-making demonstration — a classic libation born in colonial Trinidad. Then, sit down to dinner with fellow guests.
Trinidad | Arts & Crafts
Take a guided walking tour of historic Trinidad, a 19th-century colonial gem and UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s all-but frozen in time. Stroll the cobblestone streets, seeing the soaring cathedral and elegant Plaza Mayor. Next, meet a local artist at her workshop and gallery, learning about the enriching community projects she is involved in. Then, discover the local marketplace at leisure, seeing intricate, hand-sewn table cloths, colorful papier-mâché models and local handicrafts. Next, attend an enriching Afro-Cuban performance at the Palenque de los Congos Reales, meeting afterward with its musicians and dancers. Drive to the “valley of the sugar mills,” pausing at Mirador del Valle de los Ingenios for panoramas of the valley. Then, visit the small village of Manaca and see the Iznaga tower, once a sentry post to keep watch over slaves working in the sugar plantation and mill. Return to your hotel and have dinner at leisure.
Trinidad/Cienfuegos | Exploring the Arts
Depart Trinidad and return to Cienfuegos, where you meet with teachers and students at the Benny Moré Art School, named in honor of the famous Cuban musician. Then, attend a Cuban choir performance, getting to know the musicians and singers afterward. At Cienfuegos Graphic Workshop, meet young experts who are skilled in the arts of serigraphy and screen-printing before continuing to lunch at a local paladar. Continue to your hotel for check in. After some time to unwind, enjoy a cocktail reception followed by a performance by the chamber orchestra. Later this evening, reflect on your journey with fellow guests at a farewell dinner.
Depart Santa Clara
After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Santa Clara Airport in Santa Clara, where you board your homebound flight.
SPECIAL PROGRAM NOTES: PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE
Please note that this special, people-to-people program will be different from other programs on which you may have previously participated. Abercrombie & Kent USA, LLC operates the people-to-people program to Cuba under a general license issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control and, as dictated by U.S. law, all participants are required to adhere to a full-time schedule of activities designed to inform, educate and promote meaningful interaction with the people of Cuba. Deviation from this itinerary, even in part, is not permitted. Per the general license requirements, this is a full-time program with many inclusions and there will be little to no free time on most days of the program.