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YOUR 8-DAY CUBAN FOOD TOUR ITINERARY

 

DAY 1: Our Cuba Food Tours Begin When you Land in Havana

Welcome to Cuba! After you pass through immigration and customs, you will step outside into Havana’s tropical breeze, where a driver will be waiting for you. Climb into a vintage 1957 Chevy, your ride for the week and one of the highlights of our Cuba food tours, and head to your upscale guesthouse where you will check in and relax until dinner.

Tonight’s welcome dinner is at one of our favorite restaurants in Havana, Atelier. Consistently written up as one of the top paladares (privately owned restaurants) in Havana, it offers eclectic modern Cuban cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Don’t miss the seafood salad, with feta cheese, chickpeas and hints of cumin.

Meals included: Dinner

DAY 2: Art, Cocktails, and Dancing with Local Experts

This morning it’s time to get to know Havana and the Cuban people. Starting with a walking tour of Havana Vieja (Old Havana), we will explore the two of the four main squares: Plaza de la Catedral, dominated by the stunning 18th century Catedral de San Cristóbal & Plaza San Francisco de Asis, near Havana’s harbor.

We will then head to one of Havana’s oldest and most renowned paladares for a delicious lunch prepared especially for us, and served in a beautiful garden setting. But first, we will have a fun mojito cocktail class at the paladar’s stunning bar! Bring your mojito along as we are invited into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration to learn the executive chef’s secrets to preparing traditional Cuban fare (think paella or ropa vieja) with a modern twist.  

After lunch, we will wander through the street art gallery of muralist and painter Salvador Gonzales. Heavily influenced by the traditions of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, Salvador’s street art uses everything from bathtubs to car parts. We will peruse Salvador’s gallery and meet with the artist or curator who are happy to answer any questions about Santeria or the artist’s interesting work.

Next up is a salsa class at the home of Johan, one of our fabulous dance instructors. Whether or not you choose to dance, visiting his home will be an eye-opening experience. Climbing two stories on a rickety spiral staircase (the main staircase is continuously under repair), you will get a sense of how Cubans make do with the status quo, while maintaining their passion and optimism. Once upstairs, the dance troupe’s infectious smiles and joie de vivre will have you dancing in no time!

This evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music can attend an optional jazz performance at the Jazz Café in Vedado or a cabaret show at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 3: Explore Havana’s Markets & Happy Hour Tapas in a Local’s Home 

Learning how food is purchased in Cuba is an important part of our Cuba food tours as it gives you an understanding of how communism and an embargo impact the lives of everyday Cubans. Our first top this morning is a trip to a mercado agropecuario (produce market) where you’ll see what fruits and vegetables are available to local Cubans and chat with the friendly vendors. Then we’ll head next door to a ration store where you will observe how basic staples are procured in very specific quantities. Our last market stop is a supermarket, where you will get a stark sense of what is, and is not, available to ordinary Cubans.

Next we will explore the Museum of the City and Plaza de Armas. We will then enjoy lunch at the famous La Guarida. This paladar is renowned for its innovative cuisine and of course, its part in the movie “Fresa y Chocolate”.

Credit: Adrian York

After lunch, we will head to Plaza Vieja, which dates back to 1559 and whose buildings have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Here we will stroll through the plaza- visit art galleries, a coffee roastery, and even take a short break at a chocolate cafe, where you might like to sip a cup of hot or cold chocolate and taste their delectable chocolate treats. And, if you still have room, perhaps try some refreshing coconut ice cream from an ice cream street cart.

Our last stop of the day is a real treat and definitely highlight of our Cuba food tours, as our guide and his wife invite you to their home in Centro Havana for happy hour tapas. Joining us will be a celebrated mixologist, one of the main barmen at El Floridita for 39 years. Recently retired, he will show you his secrets for mixing the perfect daiquiri – feel free to try your hand at the second round! Enjoy home-cooked tapas for dinner, along with great conversation and more than a few laughs with our hosts.

Later in the evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music might enjoy the Buena Vista Social Club show (touristy, but fun) at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, (Happy Hour) Dinner

DAY 4: Day Trip to Viñales Valley & Las Terrazas

We’ll get a very early start this morning with a drive to the lush, green, and peaceful Viñales Valley. Surrounded by limestone karsts, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the origin of some of the finest tobacco in the world.

Our first stop is an organic tobacco farm where we’ll meet with a third generation tobacco farmer. He will teach us how the cigars are made, explain the difference between Cohiba and Montecristo, and give you an opportunity to try a cigar dipped in honey. The cigars are very mellow and reasonably priced, should you decide to purchase them, but there is no pressure.

Next we’ll head to a lovely family-run paladar, with delicious farm-to-table Cuban food served family-style, and breathtaking, panoramic views across the entire Viñales Valley. Before we sit down to our feast, we will walk around the organic gardens that provide produce for the restaurant.

After lunch we will drive to the town of Las Terrazas, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We will stop for a quick pick-me-up cup of coffee at a local cafe and then explore the ruins of one of the oldest coffee plantations in Cuba, built in the 18th century. Next up is a stroll through the picturesque whitewashed village, enjoying views of the lake and native birds, and then a visit to the home and art studio of a local artist.

After a long, fun day exploring Cuba’s countryside, we will drive back to Havana in time for a late dinner.

Drive time: Approximately 6 hours round-trip
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: Fuster Gallery & Farm Tour

We’ll start the day with a visit to the Fuster Gallery, where we will see José Fuster’s incredibly colorful mosaic sculptures that have spread throughout his neighborhood.

Then we will take a 40-minute drive to an organic farm just outside the city of Havana. This farm is a new venture started by a young entrepreneur with a PhD. in agricultural engineering. He will show us around, telling us about the herbs and vegetables that are produced, and talk about the sustainable farming methods he develops and shares with farmers in his community and across Cuba. We will also learn about honey production, as they have several swarms of bees. After a delicious farm-to-table lunch cooked by his lovely wife, we’ll drive through Revolution Square on our way back into Havana.

Once we arrive back in the city, the late afternoon is yours to explore Old Havana on your own or your guide will bring you back to your casa to relax. You could also continue on to the (touristy, but fun) El Floridita, for a Hemingway approved daiquiri!

This evening is our last in Havana. For those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music, tonight is another opportunity to enjoy an optional jazz performance or a cabaret show. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6: Discover Trinidad

After the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s time to relax and soak it all in. So, today we bid farewell to Havana and drive five hours south to Trinidad, a small colonial town on the southern coast of Cuba, where you may just forget it’s the 21st century. Please be aware that this drive involves several hours in our vintage cars. If you do not wish to do the 9-hour round trip drive to Trinidad (over the course of two separate days), you may choose to book just the Havana portion of the tour. Please contact us for more information.

Once we arrive in Trinidad don’t be surprised if you see more horse carriages and bicycles than cars! We will check into our simple, but clean, guesthouse, and enjoy a late afternoon walk around town to orient yourself to the area. Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the main plaza, or Plaza Mayor, has stunning colonial architecture and museums galore, and as we walk the cobblestone streets we’ll enjoy the sound of Cuban street musicians.

After dinner, you may want to visit the Casa de la Musica, an outdoor music venue that congregates on the enormous staircase behind the main church, just behind Plaza Mayor.

Drive time: Approximately 5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast

DAY 7: Valle de los Ingenios & Seafood Lunch with Local Chef

Credit: Adrian York

Today is the last full day of our Cuba Culinary Tour and it’s going to be great! In the early morning, we’ll head to Playa La Boca to greet fishermen as they return with their catch (if the fish are on). We will see first-hand how local fisherman make a living, learn about fish selection, and meander around this typical Cuban fishing village.

Then we’ll take a 20-minute drive to the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) to wander among the old colonial plantation house and barracks that flourished in the late 18th century. We’ll also have an opportunity to see this beautiful valley from the top of La Torre Iznaga, a 150-ft tower. The view is well worth the climb!

Speaking of views, next we will head to the stunning Playa Ancon followed by a delicious seafood lunch with a former fisherman turned chef. This is a fun and easy going lunch and the restaurant has an open kitchen – perfect for chatting with the chef while he prepares the fish we brought him from the fishermen. The afternoon is yours to relax and wander through town, perhaps pick up some souvenirs or rum.

This evening we’ll have a lovely farewell dinner at Trinidad’s most popular paladar. It’s hard to say goodbye, but if we have to, at least it should be over fabulous food and drinks!

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: Drive Back to Havana & Cuba Tour Ends

Alas, it is time to head home. We will drive approximately 5 hours to the airport in Havana for your evening departure where your guide and driver will see that you are checked in for your flight. Goodbyes may be tough, because at this point they are far more than just your guide and driver – they are your new Cuban friends.

Drive time: Approximately 5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast

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Please note: This trip involves a lengthy 10-hour round-trip drive to the colonial town of Trinidad. While the drive is beautiful, please be aware that there will be two separate days with approximately 5-hours of driving. If you prefer not to do the journey to Trinidad, this trip can be shortened to just the Havana portion for 5 or 6 days. Please contact info@accesstrips.com if you are interested in a shorter tour.

In order to maintain our license for travel to Cuba, Access Culinary Trips provides a full schedule of activities during each day of our Cuba food tours, and our guests must participate in those activities with the group. This will not only give you the opportunity to explore Cuba through its cuisine, but also to see some of Cuba’s iconic sights that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Please also be aware that Cuba is an adventurous destination where things do not always go as planned. We urge you to bring a flexible attitude and a sense of humor. The above itinerary reflects our best planning, but there may be times when we have to substitute different activities and accommodations on our Cuba food tours. That is la aventura Cubana – the Cuban adventure!