Cuba 7-Day Itinerary: Amazing Things to Do in a Week
Cuba is a country with a complex political history, which has kept many tourists from visiting this gem of the Caribbean.
Yet, with unspoiled white sandy beaches, spectacular colonial architecture, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere, the allure of this incredible island is irresistible.
If you are planning a trip to Cuba, there is a range of things to see and do on your visit. To help you make the most of your trip, here is our Cuba guide for 1 week.
How to Get There
The stunning capital of Cuba, Havana, is the largest and most vibrant city on the island. Jose Marti International Airport is located less than 13 miles from Havana’s city center.
There is no airport shuttle, but there are two city buses available to travelers with minimal luggage. You will need to trek around one mile from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, then make your way to the Avenue de Rancho Boyeros to catch either the P12 or P13 bus, which stops at the Plaza de la Revolucion. The fare is only 0.40 pesos, but as they only accept cash, you will need to make sure you have the exact change ready.
If you aren’t on a tight budget, taking a taxi is a better option than the bus. Directly outside the arrival terminal is a taxicab stand where you can easily find a driver to take you to the city in less than 30 minutes.
Avoid accepting rides from drivers inside the airport because they may not be from an official taxi company. The average cost to get from the airport to the city is around 25 Cuban Convertible Pesos or CUCs. One CUC is equal to one United States dollar.
Renting a car is an excellent option for people who plan to visit outside the city during their stay. There are a few rental companies around the airport but book your car before you arrive as there is a high demand for rental cars.
The average cost for car rental is 60 – 100 CUC during peak tourist season. Budget for additional expenses such as fuel and insurance.
Learn about the places to visit in Belize on a budget.
Where to Stay
Most of the rooms you will find through Airbnb range from 25 CUC to 70 CUC per night, depending on which area of the city you wish to stay. Most Airbnb rooms are located just outside the city center close to the harbor.
However, some magnificent Spanish colonial buildings offer rooms through Airbnb, so if you want to soak up as much Cuban culture and architecture as possible, I recommend staying in the heart of Havana.
If you don’t have an account on Airbnb, use this link to get a $30 discount off your first booking.
If you are traveling on a budget, there are plenty of hostels that offer comfortable accommodations.
1. Enzo’s Backpackers
Enzo’s Backpackers offers the best value for hostels in Cuba. Located on Avenue 20 de Mayo, it is only a short walk from Old Havana. Rooms are clean, light, and airy and cost between 9 and 21 CUC per night.
2. Hostel Mango Habana Vieja
About half a mile away from Havana Central train station, you will find Hostel Mango, a vibrant little hostel that radiates the carefree Cuban lifestyle. Rooms are shared and cost approximately 18 CUC per night with breakfast included.
3. Hostal Peregrino
You’ll find Hostal Peregrino right in the center of the museum district of Havana, and close to the port. Situated amongst gorgeous colonial buildings and decorated with a quirky style, the hostel offers shared and private rooms from 30 CUC per night.
1. El Candil Boutique Hotel
Located in the cultural heart of the city just a block from the Plaza de la Revolución, the El Candil Boutique Hotel is a truly unique experience. With elegant classic colonial architecture and rich textiles adorning every room, it offers luxury at an affordable price.
2. Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Staying at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba is like staying in a self-contained city. There are department stores, shows, and even a nightclub, all within the hotel. The hotel offers all the amenities you could ask for without an outrageous price tag. Best of all, it is located within walking distance of all Havana’s amazing attractions and boasts stunning ocean views.
3. Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel
The Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel offers mid-century modern perfection. With one of the best up-market dining experiences available in Havana, this is luxury accommodation at its best.
Tips for Traveling to Cuba
Cuba is not a regular country to travel to. There are some things you need to know before visiting the country. Read the sections below to get prepared for your trip to Cuba.
While the CUC is equal to the U.S. dollar, you can still get excellent value for your money when you visit Cuba. Bring cash with you, because Wi-Fi and internet connections are still minimal in the country, and many vendors don’t accept cards.
Banking kiosks and ATMs are not always dependable. Businesses that do accept cards usually take VISA. Get your currency exchanged before you leave the States to get the best rates.
The CUP is the Cuban National Peso, and this is for locals only. You may see items with different CUC and CUP pricing, but the CUC is what matters for your purposes.
You need travel insurance to enter Cuba, and you must have this documentation ready when you are checked through customs. Purchase travel insurance through an insurance company or a Cuban tour partner.
Documents and visas
Bring copies of all your documents, just in case you cannot access the internet or a printer during your stay.
You must be registered to travel under a “support the Cuban people” visa to visit Cuba from the United States, a change from the initial “people-to-people” visa that was legal during the Obama administration. Several tour companies offer itineraries that meet the burden of proof for a visa for these visits.
Cuba 1-week Itinerary
There are many things to do in Cuba for a week, and you will be hard-pressed to see them all. I suggest beginning your Cuba 7-day itinerary in Havana to take in the main attractions, then head out to the tobacco growing regions. Before finishing your trip visit Trinidad Beach, which is listed by UNESCO World Heritage.
On the first day of your Cuba itinerary, take a Classic American Car Tour of Havana and see the city in style, traveling in the back of a convertible 1950s classic with an English-speaking guide. Finish your tour with cocktails at the terrace bar of the Hotel de Nacional and watch the stunning sunset.
Soak up Cuban political history with a self-guided walking tour of Old Havana. Head down to the Museum de la Revolución on the Avenida de las Misiones y Zulueta to brush up on the history of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and the Cuban Revolution.
Then head over to El Capitolio, which is finally open to the public after extensive renovations. Enjoy a classic mojito at the Bodeguita del Medio, most famously patronized by Ernest Hemmingway, Nat King Cole, and Pablo Neruda.
Spend your last day in Havana wandering the streets of Vendado and taking in sights like the Plaza de la Revolución, Necropolis Cristobal Colon, and the Museo Napoleonico which houses one of the best collections on the Napoleonic wars in the world. Stop and have a sweet treat at Coppelia Ice Cream.
Don’t forget to explore some of Havana’s exciting nightlife with a stroll down the Malecon or catch a fun-filled traditional Cuban cabaret show like Tropicana.
Take a tour bus or organize for a car-and-driver through the state-operated tour agency, and head through the luscious tobacco country of Pinar del Rio in the Vuelta Abajo for a stop at Cuba’s most famous tobacco plantation, Finca Pinar San Luis. Try the varieties of tobacco they use to make some of the country’s most famous Cuban cigars.
Vegas Robaina are considered some of the best cigars in the world. They are sourced from the tobacco plants on this plantation. The tobacco leaves are also used to create Cohiba cigars, the ultimate symbol of the Cuban revolution, and Castro’s favorite smoke.
A couple of hours drive from Havana is the Bay of Pigs, most famously the location of the United States-sponsored invasion of April 1961. However, it is also the location of some of the best snorkeling and diving in the country.
You can rent snorkeling gear at one of the many roadside stalls. Stay at the resort at Playa Larga and explore the stunning natural flora and fauna. Stop and do some fishing at the Parque Nacional de Zapata.
Cienfuegos is just over an hour out of Havana and is the perfect place to indulge in Cuba’s favorite sporting pastime: baseball. Be sure to schedule your visit around a match at 5 de Septiembre stadium.
After the game, head down to the pristine sandy beaches of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed colonial city of Trinidad, then check out the cowboy culture and buzzing nightlife.
Santiago de Cuba is 370 miles (ca. 595 km) away from Trinidad, so you will need to spend the night, but it is definitely worth the trip through luscious farmland and forest mountains.
Santiago de Cuba is the second-largest city in Cuba and was the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution. Some must-see attractions include the Moncada barracks, San Juan Hill, and El Morro Castle.
Cuba is a stunning island with a rich history and vibrant culture. Though one week in Cuba is not enough to see the amazing attractions they have, you can still have a taste of what the island has to offer. Don’t forget to order Cuban cigars when you arrive home to help you reminisce about your trip to Cuba.
Daniel Stauffer is a blogger and devout cigar enthusiast who first developed a love for fine tobacco after receiving a box of cigars from a grateful client. He has continued to refine his palate and explore the art of cigar smoking, gaining valuable experience, which he enjoys sharing with other cigar lovers across the globe.