Havana Elegance

Our Havana Elegance experience offers a comprehensive look at both the famed Cuban capital as well as the surrounding countryside and nearby towns each with its own charms.  Our journey begins in Old Havana where you can view the old colonial buildings and streets that represent a city 500 years in the making.  From there you have an opportunity to experience Hemingway’s Cuba, as well as sample different walks of life with visits to the countryside towns of Viñales and Hicacos.  Upon your return, you will get a glance at Havana’s burgeoning arts scene, where you can see and buy some terrific works of art, often at bargain prices.

Morning Arrival:

Upon arrival, your private guide will meet you at the airport for a trouble-free beginning to your adventure.

While your luggage is being delivered to your room, your first stop will be the Plaza de la Revolución, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.  Here you will learn about the historical significance of this square as a key political stage not only for Cuban leaders such as Fidel Castro, but foreign dignitaries as well, such as Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.

Following your visit to the plaza, Chateau Blanc welcomes you with a classic Cuban cocktail as you check in and get settled for your next tour stop.

A short ride into town takes you to Habana Vieja (Colonial Havana), where the city was born recently celebrated the 500th anniversary of its founding.  Painted in the pastel colors typical of the region but with the feel of a continental European capital, you’ll walk down quaint cobblestone streets lined with shops, eateries, music halls and other attractions and explore the four main plazas in the area: San Francisco Square, Old Square, Main Square and Cathedral Square. 

A delicious authentic Cuban welcome dinner awaits you at the hotel.  Afterwards, you will take a short ride to the Fortress San Carlos de le Cabaña, also known as el Canoñazo, to watch the nightly firing of the cannon, signaling the traditional closing of the gates to the city.  The loud bursts can be heard throughout the city for miles.

Included in your itinerary:

  • transfer from airport
  • transportation
  • entrance fees
  • lunch and dinner

Afternoon Arrival:

  • Plaza de la Revolución
  • Check in
  • Welcome Dinner only (no lunch)
  • Canoñazo

Following breakfast, we’ll visit the Museo de la Revolución, one of the marquee museums in the city. The museum features a chronicle of Cuba’s history since the revolution, including documents relating to the foundation of the Communist party as well as photographs and objects relating to important events such as the landing of the Granma at Girón, the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

We’ll walk through the renovated areas of the city and visit some of the incredible hotels where a long list of famous (and infamous) guests, such as Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney, Marlon Brando as well as Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano stayed.                

After lunch, we’ll take a trip back in time and tour the city in classic 1950’s era cars, including Chevys, Fords, and Cadillacs.  We’ll drive along the famous Malecón, the seawall that runs along the northern edge of Central Havana.  Lined with monuments, restaurants, and the recently opened American Embassy, this is the perfect place to take a leisurely walk, jog along the coast, or sit, relax and meet up with friends.

Next, we’ll go on shopping spree at Almacenes de San José, a mile-long local craft market in Havana, where you’ll find booths filled to the rim with locally produced pottery, jewelry, musical instruments and paintings.  You are encouraged to speak directly to the artists, ask questions while giving them a welcomed chance to practice their English.

The remainder of the day is yours to relax or take in the city, so please consult your guide on where to go.

Included in your itinerary:

  • continental breakfast 
  • transportation
  • lunch
  • dinner

Following breakfast, we’ll travel the countryside to Las Terrazas and enjoy a morning at the beach, try out zip lining, take a hike along the gorgeous trails, or take amazing pictures by a waterfall.

We then heading out to the town of Viñales, a pastoral town that sits in the center of a valley surrounded by remarkable green flat topped formations known as mogotes; These steep-sided hills that can rise as high as 985 feet and were formed by eons of erosion.

Once you’re settled in, take an opportunity to try some of the outdoor activities such as horseback riding or biking tours along a picturesque landscape, or relaxing boat rides through an underground, crystalline cave called la Cueva del Indio.

In the evening, we’ll dine in the quaint downtown area where after 9pm you might find yourself in the middle of an impromptu dance party!

Included in your itinerary:

  • continental breakfast
  • transportation
  • lunch
  • dinner

We then head out to the town of Viñales, a pastoral town that sits in the center of a valley surrounded by remarkable green flat topped formations known as mogotes These steep-sided hills that can rise as high as 985 feet and were formed by eons of erosion.

Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet a tobacco grower (veguero) at his farm (vega) and see how the tobacco for the world renowned Cuban cigars is grown and rolled.

From there, we’ll visit a coffee plantation tour where you will learn the rich history, production and distribution of the famous café cubano (Cuban coffee) which is typically prepared as a highly concentrated espresso and sweetened with sugar.

Before we say goodbye to the countryside, we will make a stop at the Mural de la Prehistoria (pre-history mural) a 120m by 180m mural on a rock face displaying a depiction of the evolution on the island from mollusk to man. This impressive site was commissioned by Fidel Castro in the early 1960’s and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Right outside Havana, we will visit the town of Soroa, home of over 700 types of orchids and other plant life on a stunning 7.5 acre garden.  Soroa Orchid Botanical Garden is a registered UNESCO biosphere where the beautiful array of plant life is a must see!

A quick stop to the Castillo en las Nubes (Castle in the clouds ) for a drink and a few minutes to take in the breathtaking  panoramic views.

Following our return enjoy dinner at a local hidden restaurant gem where only the locals go, before heading back to the hotel.

Our evening ends with live music and dance at one of the city’s local hotspots.
 

Included in your itinerary:

  • continental breakfast 
  • transportation
  • lunch
  • dinner

Following a continental breakfast at Chateau Blanc,  you will retrace Hemingway’s footsteps as you visit Finca Vigía or the “Lookout House”, where he penned some of his most important works including For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.  The house remains exactly the way he left it on July 25, 1960, and artifacts from his life there are on display.

Following our visit to Finca Vigía, we move on to the town of Cojimar, the fishing community that was the inspiration for Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.  Lunch will be served at Ajiaco Cafe, known to many as the best restaurant in the area.

After lunch, we return to Habana Vieja to visit some of Hemingway’s other “hangouts” and then head onto El Palacio de Artesania. Here you can take part in El Maridaje, a Cuban ritual that pairs food and drink where you can also smoke a cigar, drink coffee or rum, do some shopping or listen to Cuban music.

Finally, we’ll visit the Museo del Ron Havana Club, where you’ll go on an educational journey to learn the origins and history of sugar cane on the island and its transformation into the spirit that embodies the essence of Cuba.  Additionally, you’ll get an opportunity to sample the raw (molasses) and finished products (aged rum) along the way.

The rest of the day is open for your own use.  We will have some suggested restaurants and nighttime festivities to try such as the Fabrica de Arte (F.A.C) where the locals go for art, dancing and to meet up with friends for a drink.  In fact, F.A.C was just listed on Time magazine’s Top 100 Greatest Places to Visit.  Or perhaps a visit to Rosalia de Castro, where you can hear authentic live Cuban music and salsa.

Included in your itinerary:

  • continental breakfast 
  • transportation
  • entrance fees
  • lunch

Our next journey takes us on a picturesque drive to the town of Hiacos.  Along the way, we will stop for one of Cuba’s most famous piña coladas and a spectacular view of the surrounding valley.

Here we’ll spend the day taking in the sun and sand at one of Cuba’s world renowned beaches.

Included in your itinerary:

  • continental breakfast 
  • transportation
  • lunch

After breakfast, we will stroll through the whimsical, mosaic-filled neighborhood known as Fusterlandia created by the “Picasso of the Caribbean”, José Rodríguez Fuster.  This art installation, which encompasses the entire block, includes the artist’s home where you might bump into the Fuster himself and pick up a memento or two at his gallery.

Explore Muraleando Community Project (//www.muraleando.org/) where the streets are filled with murals and art installations made by local artists.   Originally a series of art workshops for locals conducted by local artists Manuel Diaz Baldrich and Ernesto Quirch Paz, Muraleando (mural-making) has evolved into its own subculture,  transforming the neighborhood into an art gallery with murals, sculptures and other art forms depicting everyday life in Cuba. 

A visit to the Colón Cemetery (formally Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, or Christopher Columbus Cemetery) gives you an opportunity to see some of the notable architecture in what is known as the most important cemetery in Latin America.  Among the buried include famous Cuban baseball players, firefighters, and even British and Canadian servicemen and officers.

On the way to our farewell dinner, we’ll ride through El Bosque de La Habana, a serene wooded area where the hanging green curtains of the giant jaguey trees dazzle and where the banks are host to some fascinating Santeria rituals,  

Included in your itinerary:

  • continental breakfast 
  • transportation
  • lunch
  • dinner

Enjoy one final breakfast at Casablanca before taking your private transfer to José Martí International Airport for your return home.  We hope you have enjoyed your stay and invite you to return to see more of this magical island.