There is a great deal to recommend a visit to the beautiful island of Cuba at present, political changes inciting the dawn of a new era in a country where the crumbling legacy of the heady pre-Revolution days still remains. Additionally, flying with Virgin Atlantic allows for a full 14 nights’ exploration of Western Cuba’s most important cities and stunning landscapes. However, early booking is advised due to the expected influx of tourists from Cuba’s largest neighbour once US restrictions are eased. Much of Cuba’s infrastructure was built to cater for the American elite in the heady pre-revolutionary days before Castro, and the island is still redolent with imagery of the 1940s and 50s, whether it be Hemingway’s old haunts, museums to the exploits of the revolutionaries, the Tropicana Night Club, which still somehow echoes to the sound of Nat King Cole, the hotels run by ‘Long Legs Diamond’ and the events of the Bay of Pigs.
However, Cuba is not just about tourist clichés since there is much to see not only in UNESCO World Heritage site Havana, with its baroque cathedral, many forts and Old Town, but also the provincial cities and towns. Port city Cienfuegos, known as the ‘Pearl of the South’ was built around a stunning bay and its pastel-coloured buildings are a striking example of Spanish colonial architecture; UNESCO World Heritage site Trinidad is sometimes referred to as a living museum, with its preserved squares, and San Juan de los Remedios, officially recognised as the oldest city in Cuba, is home to beautifully restored colonial mansions surrounding the main square.
An island of contrasts, outside of the main cities, Cuba’s countryside is surprisingly varied. Pinar del Rio province’s Viñales Valley, home to a unique flora and fauna and over 17 endemic species, has been declared a National Natural Monument for its remarkable landscapes. Large limestone formations dating from the Jurassic period contrast with the lush greenery of the valley where the world’s finest tobacco is grown.
- Flight Dublin to London (Times vary)
- Overnight accommodation in Gatwick Airport Hotel
- Flight London to Havana with Virgin Atlantic
- Airport transfer to your hotel 15 nights accommodation (see Itinerary)
- Meals : breakfast daily, all inclusive in Cayo Santa Maria, half board elsewhere, 1 lunch
- All tours outlined in the itinerary
- Return transfer from your hotel to airport
- Flight Havana to London Gatwick (Overnight)
- Onward flight to Dublin
- Services of guide and local representatives
- Taxes and charges €251
- 15kg check-in bag and 10kg hand luggage
Fly from Dublin to Gatwick. Overnight in an airport hotel.
Fly from London Gatwick to Havana. Transfer to the 5-star Parque Central Hotel for three nights. (D)
A city tour exploring both old and modern Havana. (B, D)
Visit the local botanical gardens before continuing to Hemingway’s House at San Francisco de Paula where Hemingway wrote ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. (B, D)
Travel to Viñales in Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s most westerly province, 178kms from Havana and crossed by two spectacular mountain ranges. En route, visit the rural community of Las Terrazas. Spend two nights at the 3-star Los Jazmines or similar. (B, L, D)
Visit the unique area of Viñales Valley, with its pincushion shaped hills and Indian’s Cave. Also visit Veguero House, a drying house for tobacco leaves. (B, D)
City tour of Pinar del Rio followed by visits to a cigar and rum factory. Continue to Soroa to view the botanical gardens, home to over 700 different types of orchids, and the waterfall. Return to Havana for two nights at the 5-star Hotel Parque Central, located in old Havana. (B, D)
Day at leisure. (B, D)
Travel to Cienfuegos (4 hrs) for a city tour including the old town, Palacio de Valle and a boat trip around the bay (weather permitting). Continue to Trinidad for three nights at the 5-star Iberostar Grand Hotel. (B, D)
An orientation tour of Trinidad. Admire its beautiful colonial architecture, many squares and cobbled streets. Visit the city’s museum and La Canchanchara Bar, named after a local rum drink made with water and honey. Later, visit the local sugar plantation at Manaca Iznaga. (B, D)
Hotel Parque Central – Havana
A 5-star hotel situated in the Old Town of Havana, just a short distance from the Capitol building. Restaurants, bars, rooftop pools, jacuzzi, WiFi (chargeable) and stunning city views. 427 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV. Accommodation is in the main building or the new Torre section.
Los Jazmines – Vinales Valley
Located in peaceful surroundings with fantastic views of the Viñales Valley. A 3-star hotel with restaurants, bar, pool and 78 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe and satellite TV.
Iberostar Grand Hotel – Trinidad
Located in the heart of the city, this boutique 5-star hotel offers Trinidad’s most sought-after accommodation. The colonial building houses a restaurant, lobby bar, WiFi (free) and 40 spacious air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
Iberostar Ensenachos – Cayo Santa Maria
This 5-star all-inclusive resort is positioned on a remote key, boasting some of Cuba’s best beaches, with a wide choice of restaurants, bars, pools, spa, tennis, water sports and WiFi (chargeable). 506 air-conditioned rooms divided into three distinct areas with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, satellite TV and balcony/terrace.
- Inclusive of taxes and service charges as indicated
- Single supplement £565 (May-Oct £525)
- Virgin Premium Economy from £545
- Virgin Upper Class from £1845
- Non-refundable or transferable booking deposit 10% per person
- Full payment due 12 weeks before travel
- 2% surcharge if balance is paid by credit or charge card
- Optional Insurance €48 (conditions apply)
- Taxes, charges or compulsory charges introduced after publication are not included in the above price.
- Irish Nationals require a tourist card to enter Cuba. Cost €30, arranged through Travel Escapes