Explore Havana Old Town in a 1950s classic car, learn how to salsa with locals and embrace Caribbean bliss on Cayo Levisa island
ABOUT YOUR TRIP
In Cuba you’re pretty cut off from the outside world, so this won’t be your average Flash Pack adventure. But isn’t that the most exciting part?
From 1950s Cadillacs and rickety old tractors to crumbling colonial mansions and retro political billboards, Cuba feels suspended in time. You’ll need to be open-minded – even the best-made plans can go awry here – but for the chance to witness the magic of a country reinventing itself before your eyes? Cuba’s unpredictability becomes part of its charm.
Over eight days with Flash Pack you’ll cruise the Malecón of Havana in a classic convertible. You’ll take a salsa lesson – an essential Cuban skill – then hit the lively clubs alongside your dance teachers, now Cuban friends. There’ll be a stint on Caribbean isle Cayo Levisa for beach barbecues and snorkelling, and you’ll meet extraordinary characters at every turn. Like the Cuban Masters cycling athletes, who’ll take you on a backstreet tour of the capital, and hombre habanero Hector Luis, whose tobacco is turned into the finest Cuban cigars.
A world of its own that seems to follow no rules; if you’re willing to embrace the unexpected, this adventure is yours. Because there’s nowhere quite like Cuba.
- Accommodation in twin rooms
- Max 14 travellers per group
- Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
- Arrival transfer included
- 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
- All activities mentioned in the itinerary
- Experienced Pack Leader with your throughout the trip
- Private minibus
- Boat to Cayo Levisa
Flashpackers are required to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination 30 days before departure OR proof of a negative test within 72 hours of their adventure starting. Flashpackers must also provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.
Day 01 Hello, Havana
Welcome to Cuba. Your adventure begins in the nation’s charismatic capital, where a private transfer will be waiting to escort you to central Havana. You’ll be staying in a casa particular – Cuba’s answer to a boutique hotel – full of local flavour. Once notorious for its Mafia connections, this part of town is now heralded as a lively hub for bars, cafes and nightlife. You’ll meet your group for a welcome cocktail (mojitos, naturally) at the hotel before heading to the atmospheric Old Town for a delicious family-style feast. Buen provecho!
Day 02 cycling & salsa
Start your day with a two-wheeled tour of Havana, led by a group of cycling athletes called the Cuban Masters. These colourful characters know the city inside out, and will lead you expertly through the wooded valley of Almendares, through the Plaza de la Revolución and into the Centro Habana district, with its grand plazas, ornate palaces and 19th-century churches. Here, you’ll dismount at the edge of the Old Town, ready to venture into its labyrinthine streets on foot. Pause for lunch in a charming cafe, before spending an entertaining afternoon mastering the steps of salsa – an essential part of Cuban culture. Your energetic Cuban dance partners will accompany you to a paladar (local restaurant) for dinner, before escorting you to one of Havana’s lively salsa clubs where you can show off your new skills alongside the locals.
Day 03 Limestone hills & Cuban cigars
After breakfast, you’ll be heading west to the flat lands of San Juan y Martínez –a hotspot for puros (cigar purists). You’ll stop off to visit hombre habanero Hector Luis at his vega (farm) to learn what makes Cuban tobacco so special. You’ll discover how painstakingly the crop is grown, picked, dried and sorted all by hand before being sent to one of Havana’s famous cigar factories where leaves are rolled by hand into prestigious Montecristo, Partagas and Romeo & Juliet cigars. After a hearty lunch at the farm – finished off with strong, sweet Cuban coffee – you’ll continue to Viñales through a spectacular landscape of steep-sided limestone mogotes rising out of the red earth and lush fields ploughed by oxen. You’ll stop off at a viewpoint overlooking the city, then the rest of the day is yours to explore the local bars and restaurants.
Day 04 Zipline across a tropical valley
Begin your day with a trek through the Viñales valley, stopping for a cafecito and a tour of a local plantation. Here you’ll witness first hand the traditional agricultural techniques and can try your hand at rolling cigars, under the guidance of a local expert. The ancient trail continues up into the hills to a tunnel through one of the mogotes. Emerge on the other side for stunning views before returning to Viñales to refuel at a stand-out vegetarian paladar. This afternoon, you’ll get your adrenaline pumping on a thrilling zipline tour. Hang on tight as you soar through the trees with the forest beneath your feet. Heart still racing, you’ll head off for dinner at Finca de Wilfredo organic farm on the other side of the valley. Here, you’ll be served an organic feast, complete with sunset views over the Cuban hills.
Day 05 Sea, sand & a beach barbecue
It’s time to hit the beach, and this morning will see you transfer to the jetty for the ferry to Cayo Levisa. There are no roads on this unspoilt Caribbean island. In fact, the beach bungalow-style hotel and restaurant are the only buildings on Cayo Levisa, and its guests are the island’s only inhabitants. Spend the rest of the day taking it easy with your group, a mojito in hand and toes in the idyllic white sand. Or perhaps you might like to go scuba diving or snorkelling in the clear sapphire water to discover tropical fish and ancient shipwrecks. As dusk sets in, you’ll be treated to a beach barbecue before bedding down in wooden beach bungalows, the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep.
Day 06 Modern music & cultured clubbing
After breakfast overlooking the sea, you’ll leave Cayo Levisa behind as you catch a ferry to the mainland. On the way back into Havana, you’ll pause to visit Fusterlandia, where fascinating local artist José Fuster has turned his whole neighbourhood into a surreal, street-art wonderland of vibrant tiles and kaleidoscopic colours. There’s more creativity in store today, as you’ll visit a recording studio in the city and meet some of Cuba’s contemporary musicians. Learn all about Havana’s buzzing modern-day music scene, before heading to one of Havana’s best venues: the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). A unique nightclub art gallery warehouse, you can expect anything from fashion shows and improvised theatre to jazz ensembles and live DJ sets. No two nights are the same.
Day 07 Classic cars & star-lit cocktails
Your last full day in Havana will begin with a visit to Beyond Roots – an organisation that offers a fascinating insight into the Afro-Cuban cultural heritage. Here, you’ll find out about the local Santeria religion, which is practised by many Cubans. The afternoon is yours to explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town, with its beautiful ruins and historical atmosphere. Then, it’s time for one last Flash Pack experience. Early evening, you’ll gather with your group of new friends to embark on a tour of greater Havana. But naturally, you’ll be doing it in style, in a fleet of 1950s convertible cars, for which the city is famous. Cruising along the sweeping waterfront as the sun sets over the ocean is an unforgettable experience. End the night with dinner and cocktails at an upscale paladar, toasting your new amigos beneath the starry Caribbean sky.
Day 08 Hasta luego, Cuba
Today, you’ll be saying goodbye and making your way to the airport – your Pack Leader can assist you in arranging a transfer. While your adventure in Cuba comes to an end, another adventure begins – perhaps in Costa Rica? Take a look at our itineraries and see how you can extend your escape.
OUR FAVOURITE HOTELS
Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.
Hotel Boutique 25 Y G, Havana
Set in a beautiful colonial-style mansion in the heart of leafy Vedado, this intimate 8-room casa features a tasteful mix of modern and vintage furniture, and vibrant Cuban artwork. Head up to the top-floor solarium for sundowners – and amazing views over the city and sea.
Hotel La Ermita, Viñales
With its large landscaped gardens, spacious terrace and huge outdoor pool, red-roofed Hotel La Emita fits harmoniously into its verdant natural surrounds. It’s a good base for local activities, but the main draw? Sweeping vistas over the Viñales Valley, with rolling hills stretching as far as the eye can see.
Hotel Cayo Levisa
A little slice of paradise off Cuba’s northern coast, this beach bungalow-style hotel is the only accommodation on the island. There’s not much to do but wander along the powdery white sand, swim in the turquoise water or enjoy an indulgent massage underneath a swaying palm. Sound tough? We’re sure you’ll cope!
- Which airport do I need to fly into? Plus airport code
Fly into and out of Havana José Martí International Airport (HAV).
- What time should my flight arrive? (to arrive in time for the welcome meeting)
Before 4pm ideally. The welcome meeting and dinner will be from 7pm onwards starting at the hotel, which is located approximately 30 minutes away from the airport.
- Are airport transfers included?
Your arrival transfer is included and is private to Flash Pack. Transfers will be in a group depending on flight times.
We don’t include departure transfers, but your Pack Leader can help book your transfers the night before if needed. The airport is approximately 30 minutes away from the airport and a taxi costs around 40 EUR for two people. If you and some fellow Flashpackers are getting the same flight, we recommend splitting the taxi journey.
- What time should my flight depart on the last day?
There are no activities planned for the last day, so leave any time you wish.
- What standard of accommodation should I expect?
The accommodation choices in Cuba are plusher than your average Cuban dwelling, but not quite up to Flash Pack’s usual high standards. However, we are staying in some of the best places in each location. Casas particulares (privately owned properties) are some of the most charming places to stay in Cuba but room sizes vary. Cayo Levisa Hotel is the only hotel on the island – rooms are fairly basic but you’ll be right on the beach.
Regardless of where you stay in Cuba, power cuts and breaks in hot water are sometimes unavoidable, but we’ll always make sure hotels or casas are clean and comfortable, with rooms that are truly unique. Sometimes hotels/casas cancel on us at the last minute, so with this in mind, we always have a backup hotel/casa of a similar standard.
- What is travelling in Cuba like?
Cuba is a country that is changing rapidly and travellers need to be prepared that things might not always go according to plan: basic itinerary changes will likely happen, along with the odd power cut. There is often baffling red tape and the simple luxuries that we take for granted – such as air conditioning and toilet seats – are often missing in this beautiful country. However, those who love the odd surprise and the charm of visiting places a little different to home will absolutely fall in love with Cuba.
- Is there WiFi in Cuba?
Roaming is non-existent in Cuba and WiFi is a luxury. Don’t expect to connect while moving around from A to B. It’s possible (but complicated) to get a local SIM once there, and internet is often available in the hotels or casas particulares but it can be painfully slow. If you need to be constantly connected to the internet, this trip may not be for you. However, it’s the perfect excuse for those who want to unplug and appreciate local culture.
- Will I need a visa?
You’ll need a visa to visit Cuba: check your country requirements and apply for a tourist visa before you travel.
There are two kinds of tourist card: PINK tourist card for anyone travelling directly from USA (even in transit), regardless of nationality. GREEN tourist card for anyone travelling from anywhere else.
US citizens should fly to Cuba via another country in order to obtain the green visa, which reduces bureaucracy and allows more tourism freedoms.
- What do I need to bring?
A full packing list will be sent to you upon booking, but here are a couple of things to know in advance:
- You need to bring everything – from medicine to toiletries – with you to Cuba as it will be hard, if not impossible, to get things like paracetamol or deodorant once there.
- Tap water in Cuba is not drinkable – we recommend bringing a water-filter bottle so you can always have a fresh supply of drinkable water, rather than having to source single-use plastics and/or rely on bottled mineral water always being available.
- If you’re vegan, you might want to consider bringing some nuts and nut butter to supplement your diet, as traditional Cuban meals often revolve around meat. Having said that, you’ll find plenty of veggie side dishes, such as beans, chickpeas, sweet potato and salad.
- Will this itinerary change?
Shortages and unforeseen circumstances are part and parcel of Cuban life. But one of the benefits of travelling with an organised tour company is that we can help you navigate bureaucracy and bumps along the road. All we ask, is that you arrive with a sense of adventure and an understanding that unlocking the richness of Cuban culture doesn’t always align with clear-cut comfort.
- What currency should I bring?
Euros, in small denominations, is the currency to bring. Everything will be priced in Cuban peso once there, but locals will happily let you pay in euros and give you change in local currency. Dollars are no longer king, due to their chequered past in Cuba. If you’re keen to get hold of Cuban pesos once there, use a local CADECA or ‘casa de cambio’ money exchange (there are a few ATMs in Havana and Viñales but these shouldn’t be relied on for cash). Avoid the airport ones and wait until you get to Havana for these.
- What sort of insurance do I need?
Everyone who travels with Flash Pack must have travel insurance for their total travel time. This needs to start from the moment you set off on your adventure, to when you arrive back home. It’s a legal requirement to have medical insurance for entry into Cuba. For most Europeans, this will be included as part of your travel insurance. US citizens can buy health insurance on arrival at Jose Marti International Airport. Your Pack Leader will be on hand to help.
- What level of fitness do I need for this trip?
So long as you are reasonably fit and healthy, you’ll be fine on this trip. The most challenging activity is the Day 2 cycling tour of Havana. However, we know you’ll be jetlagged and recovering from the flight so we take it easy and don’t cycle too far.
- What are the drive times like?
The longest drive on this trip is from Havana to Viñales, which takes about 3 hours and includes a stop at a tobacco ranch. The drive from Cayo Levisa (Palma Rubia) to Havana is about 2.5 hours.
"Very well organized, our itinerary was planned out well. Even when an experience couldn’t be accommodated, our tour guide always found another thoughtful experience to replace it."
"What Flash Pack put together was brilliant - incorporated a bit of everything so that we got that real Cuban experience! The trip delivered exactly what it promised which is so important! "
"This is my second trip with the Flash Pack and as before all the planning and organisation was handled very well by the team, all I had to do was turn up!"
"Incredible experience in Cuba. They made sure the guide was exceptional, the accommodation, the activities, everything. Best holiday I have been on."
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