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Saturday, Sunday, Monday : Havana
After a 9 hours flight, arrival in Jose Marti airport in Havana. Immigration and customs are very
The first visit on Sunday is for Habana Vieja, the old city, with a lot of ancient monuments and
houses around the Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza de Armas. The next days was for Vedado and
Miramar, the modern Havana.
First and second night in Hotel Seville, which was booked from Europe. Hotel Sevilla is a
very beautiful hotel, quite expensive if not booked from abroad (129 $ double). A good choice
is Hotel Deauville, 52 $ with breakfast buffet, with a beautiful view on Havana and the
Malecon, swimming pool.
Tuesday : we leave Havana and take a highway leading to Piņar del Rio. The highway is quite empty,
except some trucks, bicycles and tourist car ( that are easily recognized with their special plate). The
valley of Viņales is worth the visit, it is possible to spend there some days relaxing, hiking among the
"mogotes", strange karstic peaks looking like those of China or South East Asia. There are beautiful
hotels, two with a view, the other one in the tropical forest, with birds songs at dawn. The pueblo of
Viņales gives an idea of the rural life.
We were in Rancho de San Vicente vorhanden : 40 $ ( breakfast included ) as La Ermita and
Jazmisnes were full. There is a restaurant in the village and paladares.
The next day, hiking in the countryside, where all the bohios (rural houses) have thatched roofs. For
lunch, we made a 15 km drive to the sea, in Puerto Esperanza, and had a fish meal in a paladar.
Puerto Esperanza is a remote place, without easy transportation, the end of the road. It is possible to
stay in private homes (very basic, but far from the busy world).
We follow the northern coast, little villages among banana plantations, with blue sea at glance.
After some hours drive, we turn south to the Sierra del Rosario. We intended to stay in Soroa and
hike in the neighbouring mountains, but the only hotel was full. The reception booked us in Hotel
Guama, some 250 kms from there, it was 4 p.m, we managed it without hurry. At Guama, a boat
waited for us to drive us to Hotel Villa Guama, a group of bungalows over a lake in the forest, 15
minutes by boat from the shore. The place is quite strange, in the middle of nowhere, but birds song
at dawn are very pleasant. Crocodile meal is an experience, it's not so bad.
Hotel : 38 $ for 2, boat 20$ return, croco meal 12$ each.
From Boca de Guama, we drive to the sea, swim at Playa Giron and continue to Cienfuegos, a
little city founded in 19th by French immigrants from Bordeaux. Some New Orleans style houses in
Punta Gorda and a nostalgic house with piano music and a terrace over the sea to sip a mojito at
private home accommodation for 20$ with breakfast for 2
Saturday : Cienfuegos-Trinidad.
Some rest on a beautiful beach, Playa Ancon. The beach is pleasant and the water warm. We
noticed there an interesting slogan : "200 millions childs are homeless in the world, none is cuban".
Hotel Costa Sur, on the beach, 50 $
Saturday and Sunday : visit of Trinidad.
We move from the beach to a private home in a colonial
house in the city center. It is however possible to visit Trinidad from Ancon beach (only 15 kms, but
very dangerous at night, as cyclists have no lights). Trinidad is a well preserved colonial city, it is
possible to stroll endless along its cobbled streets, especially at night, when all tourists are off and
when the casa de la trova is open : after 10 pm, you can visit that place to hear popular cuban music,
drink a daiquiri or a mojito and dance. The entrance fee is only 1$
private home accommodation, 20 $
a good restaurant, sol y son, 15 $ for two
Tuesday : Trinidad-Tope de Collantes (Sierra de Escambay)- Santa Clara-Remedios.
Remedios, in the north, only one hotel, on the plaza mayor, the impression of a remote city where
time has stopped in 19th century. We chat with people, enter a house and rest in the rocking chairs,
speaking with people who in the past had traveled in Europe.
Hotel Mascotte, completely refurbished, 30 $
we spend the day on one of the best beaches we have seen, but the location is a
secret ;-) The are no signposts on the road, the road is still in construction, it is a 50 kms long road
jumping from cayos to cayos, like in the Florida Keys. You will be able to locate it on a precise
map. But hurry up, a huge building project is in work, with thousand of hotel rooms proposed and an
We drive to Varadero. The beach is good, the water is a little bit colder as in Ancon. It is not
what we expected or feared. There are few people, the hotels are scattered on a 20 kms seashore,
there is not much people out of the hotels at night.
Hotel Herradura, on the beach, 52 $
Varadero to Havana is only a two hours drive, so we spend the morning at Varadero and
drive after to Havana.
The last day is for Havana Vieja, There is no shopping to do, except for some cuban music CDs,
only the pleasure of drinking a mojito on Plaza de la catedral before reaching the airport to fly back
To sum up, Cuba is worth the visit. I laid apart all the political problems of the island and spoke
only from a tourist's point of view : the impressions would be quite different if I had to live there ;-)
Thanks to Jean for this trip report ...