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Viva La Cuba! My Amazing Trip and Steal my Itinerary

Cuba is an interesting country with a history of self determination that I truly admire. Hence when the opportunity came to go to Cuba for a few days I jumped at the chance! I was staying in the Caribbean and decided to do a hop over to Cuba via Panama City. I flew from Piarco airport in Trinidad to Panama and I must say Panama’s airport was super! After a short layover I took the two and a half hour flight to Havana, Cuba at the Jose Marti International Airport.

I don’t remember much about the airport our transit through was frictionless. I did remember that at the time changing US dollars in Cuba was frowned upon but Pounds or Euros seemed OK. I would totally recommend anyone to put Cuba on the bucket list as a must see destination for all its unique charm and vibrant spirit.

light blue cuban cadillac parked outside a pink building

Casa Particulares connections

I stayed in a Casa Particulares, which is a basically a guest house or Bed and Breakfast in a residential area. The house had a colonial feel with wooden, dark varnished staircase to the rooms upstairs. The host, a friendly spanish lady and her husband resided in the house showed us to our room an ensuite double room with larger shutter windows. We were told what time is breakfast and how to get around Havana. Breakfast was cooked by the host every morning to your order.

The next day the first thing I did was to get a taxi to get a SIM card as external phone networks don’t work in Cuba. I needed to make sure family could reach me. It was a bit of a run around to find the right place but locals were very helpful. In walking around the government buildings had good upkeep but other buildings were falling apart it seemed.

Currency anomalies

It was in sorting my phone I realised there were two types of currency in Cuba at the time the Peso and the CUC which is what foreigners were made to use. This was 10 times the local currency and pegged to the US dollar. Meaning 1 CUC = 1 US dollar. I understand now that there is only one legal currency in Cuba, the Cuban Peso.

Interestingly in Cuba being a socialist country, everyone no matter the profession had the same wages so a doctor got the same as the bin man. Electricity was paid for for everyone as well as free education and healthcare. Everywhere I went in Cuba there were police officers on the streets in uniform. So it felt very safe. People had little but were very happy and content.

Getting around Cuba

I did eventually start to use public transport while in Cuba, the local bus, a 16 or 24 seater van had unique identities depending on the driver. The funniest trip was when I hopped on a bus from central Havana to the house I stayed in. It had a name ‘El Romantico’! I thought this could be interesting. the bus interior was decorated with tinsel and over the speaker Rick Astley song ‘Never gonna give you up’ was blarring on repeat for the whole journey! Everyone on the bus seemed unbothered by I was in stitches of laughter for the 20 min journey! I sat next to a lady who really challenged my spanish in conversation.

colourful cars on main road in Havana

I also took the famous colourful cadillac taxi the Cubans are known for. However, although the exterior looked nostalgic in the bright colours and shiny rims the interior what a completely different matter. In one such car, there was no interior panel on the doors so you saw the exposed metal and in another the car was so old you could see the road under the drivers feet as the car body rotted away in rust!

Ice Cream at Coppelia

A couple other highlights of Havana besides dancing salsa in the streets and drinking rum in the many bars included an ice cream emporium, Coppelia and the visit to the Yoruba (West African tribe) Orishas Museum. The Coppelia was free on the Sunday we were there and the interlined complex of buildings serving all flavours of ice creams was a delight.

picture of containers of 8 different flavours of ice cream

The places was bustling with so many people. No one gave us the memo when you order a flavour you got a fries basket full of that flavour and I ordered five!!! So imagine my eyes when five baskets of ice cream arrived way too much to eat. I was sat next to some locals who brought plastic bags and just scoped basket upon basket of ice cream in a bag to take home and refreeze! It was something to behold.

Spirit of Cuba

I have an interest in religion and spirituality and if this is your thing I would recommend visiting the Orishas museum where enslaved Africans held on to their spirituality by camouflaging their deities to resemble those of the Catholic religion so they can still practice their faith. It’s a simple museum with depictions of the different deities and the colours they represented. I found it fascinating!

people dancing on street in cuba

I sampled the rum, the nightlife and the cigars while in Cuba. I even did a trip to a market which I loved. I felt the people were very nice and welcoming in fact I was often mistaken for a local. I even had the pleasure to take in a live jazz band by accident, which was a treat.

Havana and Varadero, Cuba 7-Day Itinerary

I didn’t get to the coast as I was only there for 4 days which is enough for Havana. If I go again I would head out to the Varadero beach resort with over 12 miles of pristine white sandy beach to relax from the bustle of Havana for 3 or so days. So here is an itinerary you can steal if you get to Cuba before me.

Back of woman carrying basket of flowers with people around in the cobble streets

Day 1-3: Havana

Day 1:

  • Morning: Arrival in Havana. Check into your accommodation, preferably in Old Havana or Vedado, two of the most vibrant and historic neighborhoods.
  • Afternoon: Take a walking tour of Old Havana (Habana Vieja) to explore its cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and famous landmarks like Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas, and the Cathedral of Havana.
  • Evening: Enjoy a traditional Cuban dinner at a local paladar (family-run restaurant) followed by live music at one of Havana’s many bars or clubs.

Day 2:

  • Morning: Visit the Museum of the Revolution to learn about Cuba’s fascinating history, including its struggle for independence and the revolution led by Fidel Castro.
  • Afternoon: Take a classic car tour of Havana to see iconic sights like the Malecón, Revolution Square, and the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
  • Evening: Enjoy a sunset stroll along the Malecón, followed by dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the city.

Day 3:

  • Morning: Visit the Hemingway House (Finca Vigía) in the suburb of San Francisco de Paula to see where the famous author lived and wrote for many years.
  • Afternoon: Explore the artsy neighborhood of Vedado, home to the famous Coppelia ice cream parlor, the John Lennon Park, and the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
  • Evening: Experience the vibrant nightlife of Havana by visiting one of the city’s famous salsa clubs especially for true salsa lovers the Buena Vista Social Club or catching a live music performance at a local venue.

Day 4-7: Varadero

Beautiful sandy beach in Varadero Cuba

Day 4:

Day 5-6:

  • Full days: Spend the next couple of days indulging in water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, or catamaran cruises. You can also explore the nearby caves of Saturno or take a day trip to the nearby town of Matanzas.
  • Evenings: Enjoy the resort amenities, including poolside cocktails, beachfront BBQs, and evening entertainment.

Day 7:

  • Morning: Take a leisurely walk along the beach or enjoy a relaxing spa treatment at your resort.
  • Afternoon: Head into downtown Varadero to explore the local markets, shops, and restaurants. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs to remember your trip.
  • Evening: Enjoy a farewell dinner at a seaside restaurant, savoring delicious Cuban cuisine and toasting to your unforgettable trip.

Special thanks to the contributors of for the images used in this blog.