Tour introduction and overview of activities

Travel the path of the Cuban Revolution from Fidel Castro’s birthplace in eastern Cuba to the capital of Havana where strongman Fulgencio Batista was toppled and fled the island

Cuba’s big! Its land mass is 42,426 square miles – about 80 percent the size of Alabama. Cuba is nearly as large as Louisiana, and larger than Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio or Indiana. Altogether it’s bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Day 1 - Thursday :: Arrival Cuba, Fidel's birthplace and welcome dinner

  • Depart to Holguin, Cuba, via your arranged flights.
  • Arrival at Holguin (HOG) Airport. Proceed through Immigration, collect your bags and go through Customs, giving them your blue customs form. Participant’s arrival times will vary throughout the day. Airport transfers will be arranged for each flight of arriving participants.
  • Holguin (HOG) Airport arrival hall does have bathrooms. They may not have seats and they may not have tissue so you may wish to bring packets of tissues. It is suggested to use the restroom on the flight before landing.
  • Give your ‘Health’ forms to the nurses in white uniforms after you go through immigration & screening. The important question they will ask is if you have been in Africa and exposed to Ebola.
  • You will be welcomed at the airport exterior lobby by your guide. Look for signage of “Cuba Explorer”. They will have your flight number and arrival time and will be waiting for you.
  • Depart Holguin to Biran.
  • Visit Fidel’s childhood home outside of the small village of Biran on the Castro family 25,000 acre plantation. It is the birth place of Ramon Castro in 1924, Fidel Castro in 1926, and Raul Castro in 1931. (Included)
  • Depart Biran to Santiago de Cuba.
  • Check-in at Casa Grand Hotel, the century old, newly renovated hotel facing the famous Parque Cespedes.
  • View Ayuntamiento (City Hall). Fidel Castro gave his Revolution victory speech from its balcony on January 1, 1959, on the same Plaza as your hotel.
  • This evening you will enjoy a welcome dinner at Zunzun Restaurant outside of city center. (Included)
  • Later evening open: Visit Casa de La Trova to enjoy Son bands, cover charge. (Not included, optional)
  • Evening is free to explore Santiago de Cuba.
  • Overnight Casa Grand Hotel.

Day 2 - Friday :: Cuban Revolution and Spanish-American war

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Visit Santa Ifigenia Cemetery and see Fidel’s tomb and the final resting place of Jose Marti. You will see the changing of the guard. (Included)
  • Visit San Juan Hill. (Included)
    The Battle of San Juan Hill (1 July 1898), also known as the battle for the San Juan Heights, was a decisive battle of the Spanish–American War. The San Juan heights was a north-south running elevation about 2,200 yards east of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The names San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill were given to the location by the Americans. This fight for the heights was the bloodiest and most famous battle of the war. It was also the location of the greatest victory for the Rough Riders, as claimed by the press and its new commander, Theodore Roosevelt, who was to eventually become first vice-president and then president, and who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba. (Text from Wikipedia)
  • Lunch at El Morro restaurant; cliffside on the sea and adjacent to El Morro fortress. Paul McCartney enjoyed eating here. (Included)
  • Visit the Moncada Barracks where on July 26, 1953 Fidel Castro led an armed attack which failed and he was captured. (Included)
    The Moncada Barracks was a military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, named after a hero of the Cuban War of Independence. On July 26, 1953, the barracks was the site of an armed attack by a small group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro and became widely accepted as the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. The date, 26 July, was adopted by Castro as the name for his revolutionary movement which eventually toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
  • Afternoon Group Discussion on the importance of Santiago de Cuba in the Revolution. (Included)
  • Return to hotel.
  • Dinner not included. This is a perfect evening to explore Cuba’s famed paladares or visit one of the many cafes within easy walking distance of your hotel.
  • Overnight Casa Grand Hotel.

Day 3 - Saturday :: Hemingway's Nobel Prize and travel west

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Depart Santiago de Cuba to Camaguey, via Bayamo and Las Tunas.
  • Visit Basilica de Nuestra del Cobre. This is the country’s most sacred pilgrimage site since the Virgin of Charity is the patron Saint of Cuba. In the Afro-Cuban religion she is associated with Ochun, the Yoruba goddess of love. This is the home for Ernest Hemingway’s Nobel Prize medal for literature. (Included)
  • Rest stop in Bayamo, a city predating both Havana and Santiago. It is known as the city of horse carts for nearly half the population use horses for daily travel.
  • Lunch in Bayamo. (Not included)
  • Depart Bayamo to Las Tunas.
  • Rest stop in Las Tunas, a sleepy agriculture town and provincial capital.
  • Arrive in Camaguey, Cuba’s third largest city with the colonial center declared a World Heritage site.
  • Check in at Hotel Santa Maria in Camaguey, a boutique hotel on the historic Plaza del Gallo.
  • Dinner at La Isabela, a small Italian Restaurant. (Included)
  • Evening Tour by bicitaxis. (Optional)
  • Overnight Hotel Santa Maria.

Day 4 - Sunday :: CDR, Ciego de Avila y Santa Clara

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Group discussion with your guide about the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (Included), a network of neighborhood committees across Cuba.
    The organizations, described as the "eyes and ears of the Revolution," exist to promote social welfare and report on counter-revolutionary activity. As of 2010, 8.4 million Cubans of the national population of 11.2 million were registered as CDR members.
  • Depart Camaguey to Santa Clara, via Ciego de Avila.
    Che Guevera’s liberation of Santa Clara in1958 marked the end of the Batista regime.
  • Depart Camaguey to Ciego de Avila.
  • Lunch in Ciego de Avila, a central Cuba city about 290 miles east of Havana and 70 miles west of Camagüey, at Rancho Rio Azul with it’s thatched roof and Cuban cuisine. (Included)
  • Depart Ciego de Avila to Santa Clara.
  • Check in Hotel Central Santa Clara, newly renovated vintage hotel on plaza.
  • Walking tour of the plaza and central Santa Clara.
  • Dinner at the Hotel Central Santa Clara. (Included)
  • Overnight Hotel Central Santa Clara.

Day 5 – Monday :: Che and Cigar factory

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Visit the monument, mausoleum and museum of Revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara in Santa Clara. (Included)
    The memorial in Che Guevara Square houses the remains of the revolutionary hero and twenty-nine of his fellow combatants killed in 1957 during an attempted armed uprising in Bolivia after Che left Cuba. There is a 22-foot bronze statue of Guevara
  • Visit the Armored Train Monument, a memento to one of the most relevant events near the end of the Cuban insurrection against the Batista dictatorship and see the American made Caterpillar bulldozer used to rip-up the railroad tracks in Santa Clara. (Included)
    This is a unique site for those interested in Cuba’s Revolution history. In 1958, troops led by Guevara, struck a hard blow to Batista’s tyranny by derailing an armored train carrying reinforcement soldiers to fight the Rebel Army in the eastern area of the island. The monument consists of four original train cars, the Caterpillar bulldozer used to rip out the railway and a steamroller. Inside the cars are photographs of the events and weapons similar to those taken from the enemy.
  • Lunch in Santa Clara Finca de TA, outside of the city in a residential area and is farm to table. (Included)
  • Visit Cigar Factory (Fabrico de Tabaco Costantino Perez Carrodegua), one of Cuba's best, that makes Montecristos, Partagás and Romeo y Julieta cigars. (Included)
  • Visit Statue of Che holding a child. (Included)
    A life-size model of Che with finds hidden symbols all over. Sculptors took their time to create intricate details. You will find small models of 38 men who were killed with Guevara in Bolivia hidden in his belt buckle, a girl looking out through the window on his left rib, a small boy riding a goat on his right shoulder and a man riding a horse on his shirt pocket. All are symbolic references acknowledging different parts in Che’s life.
  • Dinner Complejo Gastronomico Cultural Santa Rosalia (Santa Rosalia Cultural Gourmet Complex) near the Plaza & walking distance from your hotel. (Included)
  • Overnight Hotel Central Santa Clara.

Day 6 – Tuesday :: Bay of Pigs, Resistance and Hotel Nacional

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included) Plan for a long day of travel.
  • Depart Santa Clara to Havana, via Playa Giron and Australia.
  • Depart Santa Clara to the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), Play Giron.
  • Visit the Bay of Pigs and the Museum ‘Playa Giron’, devoted to the Cuban victory against the invasion, orchestrated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency on April17, 1961. In all, 200 attackers were killed, 1197 captured and 11 planes were shot down. A lasting legacy is that the entire Bay of Pigs is off limits to cruising boats. (Included)
  • Lunch at Punta Perdiz restaurant, open air, beach front, built in the prow of a boat. (Included)
  • Depart Playa Giron to Australia.
    Along the road leading to Bay of Pigs there are the commemorative monuments to Cuban soldiers who died during the invasion.
  • Visit the small village of Australia, north of Playa Giron, and the Museum where Fidel personally staged his operations in response to the Bay of Pigs invasion. Tour the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces) Command Museum. (Included)
    The former office of the Sugar Mill Australia is the Museum which tells the story of the heroic deeds by the Cubans in April 1961, the mercenary invasion through Bay of Pigs.
  • Depart Australia to Havana.
    No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful. How it does it is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the swashbuckling history still almost perceptible in atmospheric colonial streets; the survivalist spirit of a populace scarred by two independence wars, a revolution and a US trade embargo; or the indefatigable salsa energy that ricochets off walls and emanates most emphatically from the people. Don’t come here with a long list of questions. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare for a long, slow seduction. (Text from Lonely Planet)
  • Private check-in Hotel Nacional with assistance from our guide. Relaxing time to visit the garden, walk the site depicted in the Godfather Part II movie, enjoy a cigar, a mojito or have a rest on the veranda where some of the world’s most interesting personalities’ have taken a break while the winds from the Straits of Florida breeze by.
  • Enjoy a welcome cocktail (Included) after your private check-in with assistance from your Guide.
  • Free time to settle in and get oriented with your historic hotel.
  • Dinner at Mojito Mojito, great for seafood and just off of Plaza Vieja. (Included)
  • Your guide can help arrange tickets to the Tropicana, Buena Vista Social Club or the Jazz Café if you like. We suggest informing your guide soon on arrival to ensure tickets. (Optional)
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of Havana.
  • Overnight at Hotel Nacional.

Day 7 – Wednesday :: Fishing village, Hemingway's home and Old Havana

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • On the grounds of the Hotel Nacional, stroll by cannons of battles from the 1800’s and visit the bunkers used during the Cuban Missle Crisis, built overlooking the Malecon and the Straits of Florida to Key West. For 13 days in October 1962 the world hinged on the brink of a nuclear war. The epicenter of the conflict was on the island you will be standing. Diplomatic understandings were formulated, treaties were contemplated, blockades occurred, embargoes were strengthened and international legal precedent was challenged. (Included)
  • Depart Havana to Cojimar.
  • Travel to Cojímar, a small fishing Village outside of Havana and Ernest Hemingway’s favorite fishing port in Cuba. It is approximately 7 miles east of Havana. See the harbor where his boat Pilar was moored and where Papa and Gregorio (the bases for Old Man and the Sea) would depart to marlin fish or hunt German Submarines. Tour the small town, see Hemingway’s bust made from metal donated by the local fishermen and get photos in front of the 17th century Spanish Lookout Fort. (Included)
  • Specialty program arranged by Josh & Dan.
  • Lunch at paladar (private restaurant) El Ajiaco which is known for its robust servings of traditional Cuban-style fare. Humble, but visited by a number of celebrities and food networks. (Included)
  • Brief stop at La Terraza.
  • Visit Finca La Vigía (home and farm of Ernest Hemingway). This unique National Museum also includes his boat Pilar (in part made famous from his book Old Man and the Sea), the graves of some of his dogs, and the fully furnished home which you will be able to see inside. (Included)
  • Return to Havana.
  • Visit Plaza de la Revolucion where Fidel delivered fiery speeches and Pope Francis delivered Mass.
  • Walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will visit the historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. This is a private tour led by your Cuba Education Tours guide. (Optional)
  • Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana was built by the Jesuit order.
  • Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
    Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City.
    Palacio del Segundo Cabo (Palace of the Second Lieutenant) dates from 1770. Today it houses the Center for the Interpretation of Cultural Relations Cuba-Europe.
  • You will continue on to San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture.
  • As you stroll through the historic cobblestone streets you will also see the area Ernest Hemingway would walk when he stayed in the city.
  • Then on to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings, and is in contrast surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences.
  • In Havana, tour the Revolution Museum that was once former dictator Fulgencio Batista’s Presidential palace. Behind the Palace and a part of the grounds is the newly refurbished glass enclosure which houses Granma, the boat which took Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara and their revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba for the Revolution. There is a surface-to-air missile of the type that shot down a U.S. Lockheed U-2 spy plane during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the engine of the American U-2 airplane itself. It is an amazing look at history through the eyes of Cuban Revolutionaries. (Optional)
  • Dinner not included. With all the great food you have experienced this week it is your last chance to re-visit one of your favorite restaurants or check out a paladar you may have heard about. Your Cuban Guide and GRTC Team will be glad to help. Plan ahead if you want reservations.
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of Havana. It is your last night in the Republic of Cuba. Enjoy!
  • Your guide can help arrange tickets to the Tropicana, Buena Vista Social Club or the Jazz Café if you like. We suggest informing your guide soon on arrival to ensure tickets. (Optional)
  • Overnight Hotel Nacional.

Day 8 – Thursday :: Havana and Home

  • Breakfast in hotel. (Included)
  • Check-out of hotel.
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport in Havana for flight home. (Included)
  • You need to be at your departure airport 3 hours before takeoff, please prepare accordingly. Your driver will meet you in the lobby of your Hotel.
  • After you clear Cuban Immigration you will be screened and your carry on will be scanned. In the departure hall there is a duty free shop, places to buy snacks and drinks, as well as souvenirs so you may want to have some Cuban Currency (CUC). There is a currency exchange in the departure hall (1) if it is open and (2) if they have USD $ to exchange for you. They do not take CUC coins. Regardless, if you have CUC and coins when you get home, mail it to Global Relations and we will buy it from you.
  • When arriving to your U.S. entry airport you will need to clear U.S. Immigration and U.S. Customs. If questioned by an Immigration Officer about your trip to Cuba, note that you were on a sanctioned “People to People” Educational trip. If asked what that is, tell the truth and explain it was an opportunity to directly engage with Cuban people, learn about their life and country. You were not on a vacation.
  • Memories of a wonderful visit to the Pearl of the Antilles: Cuba! (Included)

While in Cuba, our attentive island team ensures your trip is magical and memorable.
Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
  • Teleconference with your tour group and Global Relations Club (GRTC) leadership to go through the itinerary, answer questions and offer suggestions on opportunities not on the schedule.
  • A series of briefing emails, starting weeks before departure, to assist you in preparing for the trip.
  • All taxes, amounts are quoted in US dollars.
  • Airport transfers in Cuba: Your transfer at the Cuban airport is included. You will be met at the airport in Cuba and will be taken to your hotel upon arrival. On the last day of your Tour the transfer for departure to the Cuban airport is included.
  • Hotels in Cuba as listed in tour itinerary, or similar.
  • Welcome cocktail upon arrival.
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary.
  • All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included”.
  • Luxury air-conditioned coach transportation and a full-time Cuban professional driver, dedicated to your group. Cold bottled water on board.
  • An expert Cuban English-speaking guide whose background matches tour content and GRTC Team member from the U.S leading your tour.
  • Ongoing support from Global Relations staff before and after your stay.
  • Emergency collect call access to the United States while in Cuba.
  • Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel in compliance with US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) section 31 C.F.R. § 515.572(a)(1)
  • Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) lifetime membership: $29 is not included Membership is a requirement, by Rule, to participate in GRTC tours.
  • Airfare is not included; you select your commercial flights and book them to and from Havana. Flight reservations are the responsibility of the participant. GRTC Team will be of assistance.
  • As a GRTC member you will have expedited processing of the needed Cuban Visitor Visa at the standard price, not included, with no fee for shipping and handling when paid for at least two weeks prior to U.S. departure.
  • Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, coach/van driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc. for group activities are not included. You will be asked to participate in a ‘gratuity collective’ of $189.50 in which all gratuities for group activities will be collectively paid in Cuban Currency on your behalf. Details will be sent to you.
  • Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance. See