This 10 day Cuba itinerary highlights a special country. The communism makes it different than most other holiday countries, because there is no McDonalds to head to, there aren’t many hotels in the smaller cities/villages and of course the old cars give the country a sudden vibe.
This itinerary shows the route we have taken when visiting Cuba. We only had 10 days, so we decided to focus on the western bit of Cuba. You can extend this itinerary by also visiting the eastern part. However, we felt that we could experience the different type of places as well by focussing on the west.
Within an itinerary, I think it is important to know how to get from one place to the other, where to stay and how long to stay. In Cuba this might be slightly different from what you’re used to. In Cuba, you’ll best stay in so called ‘Casa Particulares’. In most cases, you won’t be able to book them online and you’ll find them by just walking around and going in. We did some online research prior to the trip and had a short list of Casa Particulares to go to when arriving at a new place. Often, your previous place will be able to recommend a place to stay at your next destination.
When it comes to transport, we took the Viazul bus on the leg from Havana to Vinales. However, afterwards we figured out that there are also Taxi Particulares. These are shared taxis that often can be arranged on the street or through the casa you are staying. We paid almost the same price as for the bus, but you are quicker, you might be transported in an old car and it will definitely lead to better stories.
Let’s kick off this 10 day Cuba itinerary with Havana!
No need for more hassle. Heading to Cuba for a shorter time – around 10 days preferably? This is your perfect itinerary!
1. Havana (2 nights)
2. Vinales (2 nights)
3. Cienfuegos (2 nights)
4. Trinidad (2 nights)
5. La Boca (1 night)
6. Varadero (1 night)
We arrived at Varadero airport (cheaper flights), so we first had to take a bus to Havana, which we arranged at the airport after exchanging our money to CUC.
When we arrived in Havana, we went to the first guesthouse we booked. It actually just opened and I found it through Instagram and was called Casa Obispo 307.
We took 2 days to explore the capital in which we for example visited the National History Museum, walked along the famous Malecon, did a tour with an old car (normally, not really our cup of tea, but we didn’t want to miss this one). We mainly spend our time in the Havana Vieja (the old town) as it is prettiest.
For restaurant and bars to visit, definitely check out this link from Lonely Planet, as there is a lot more present than we visited (think of breweries!).
Vinales is famous for the tabacco fields and for a great salsa party. A horseback tour is one of the main activities in Vinales (around 20 CUC), where you will drive through the fields to enjoy the scenery.
We stayed at Casa Nenita, which had a great view over de valley. We had lunch at restaurant El Olivo and dinner at Tapasbar 3J, which I can both recommend. In the evening, definitely go to the main square for some entertainment. We really enjoyed our evening out at Polo Montanez, where the locals showed their best salsa moves.
With a taxi particular, we headed to Cienfuegos, which costed around 6 hours. We already decided that we would like to go to a casa that was located at the bay of Cienfuegos. A casa I would highly recommend is Los Delfines – the place where you’ll have breakfast is stunning. Unfortunately, this casa was occupied while we were there, however, we stayed in a small casa upstairs where you could make use of Los Delfines breakfast. The other night, we stayed at Villa Lagarto, where you could also enjoy a nice dinner.
Make sure to also visit the old town of Cienfuegos itself and visit for example the theater.
Off to the next destination, which was my personal favourite. Entering Trinidad, it feels like stepping back in time. We stayed at a random casa here, of which I can’t recall the name. In Trinidad, make sure to head to the stairs in the evening as that is where the locals gather. Also a not to miss experience: visit the salsa party in a cave bar (Club Ayala). A popular activity is taking a train from Trinidad to the sugar plantations, but I surely wouldn’t recommend this experience.
Do you want to see more pictures of Trinidad (in my opinion the best place in Cuba to shoot photos), definitely check out this photographic overview.
Closely located to Trinidad, you’ll find La Boca. A smaller village located at the water. We stayed in a very nice casa (Hostal La Caridad – located at Real 80) located at the water, with maybe the best food we’ve had whilst in Cuba!
During the day, you can rent a bike and bike towards Playa Ancon for a nice day at the beach. It is time tor relax a little.
The last night of our trip we spent in Varadero, the main tourist place in Cuba when it comes to beaches. We didn’t want to spend here too much time, but were curious about the atmosphere, beauty of the see and we had to fly back from Varadero the next day anyways.
Well, I wouldn’t recommend going here and would look for another beach (think of for example Playa Coco) in the North. The sea was bluer and the beaches whiter then on the south end, so keep that in mind. I expected more bars and touristy places because of all the resorts, but we were barely able to find a nice place for dinner.
Our casa though, was stunning as it was located ON the beach. It was recommended in the Lonely Planet and we were actually very lucky there still was a room available.
To me, this itinerary was the perfect 10 day Cuba Itinerary, as we’ve been able to see something from all the different aspects of the country.
Wish I could go back once to shoot even more great pictures, with a better camera this time.