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Lavish Spanish colonial architecture and intriguing cities contrast with pristine coastlines and verdant plantations on this enthralling eight day tour of Cuba. The largest and most diverse of the Caribbean Islands, Cuba's turbulent history weaves a fascinating tale mirrored in the vibrant culture, arts and music.
Depart London on your scheduled flight to Havana where, on arrival, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel.
Today begin your first exploration of Cuba with a full day city tour of the fabulous capital city of Havana. Starting at one of the city's top cigar factories, witness local craftsmen at work, 'rolling', 'bunching' and 'binding' to produce a wide range of entirely hand-crafted cigars. Then continue with a walk around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana to visit the city's oldest square, Plaza de Armas. Laid out in the early 1500s, it has been a longstanding social hub in the city with shaded tropical gardens, surrounded by cafes and beautiful Baroque buildings. Meandering along the narrow streets, pass vintage cars, quaint cobbled squares and carefully restored architectural gems all sharing the stories that have shaped this grand city through history. Late morning, journey back to the origins of Cuba's most famous beverage during a visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum. The combination of world-famous sugar cane (first introduced by Christopher Columbus in 1493), a favourable Caribbean climate, and the unique skills and knowledge of the Cuban 'rum masters' has produced the country's famous Havana Club rum; a spirit that captures the heritage and unique atmosphere of the country's capital. Venturing out to the suburbs of the city, a trip to Ernest Hemingway's former home allows you to wander around the grounds and take a peek through the open windows and doors to gain a fascinating insight into the life of one of America's most famous authors. Following lunch at the nearby seaside village of Cojimar, you will return to Havana, to the 16th century fortress of El Morro Castle, built atop a rocky out-crop at the entrance of the harbour by the Spanish to protect the city. From here, soak up the breakthtaking views across the city skyline and see the famous Malecon, Havana's evocative eight kilometre-long sea drive. This evening after dinner, experience an unforgettable night of live music performed by the famous Buena Vista Social Club's Saga at La Taberna Benny More.
This morning a short visit to the modern portion of the city awaits to visit the famous Revolution Square with its magnificent Jose Marti Memorial before delving into one of the most naturally beautiful corners of Cuba. Located a couple of hours' drive south-west of Havana, take in the wonderfully traditional views amongst thick tropical vegetation and tall royal palm trees with their distinctive white trunks. Stopping at the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Las Terrazas, you will learn about the reforestation project that started here in the 1960s and how the pioneering eco-community has since developed. Visit the ruins of the French coffee plantation and then enjoy lunch and a Cuban coffee at a nearby restaurant. In the afternoon, you will have some free time to swim in the natural lagoon formed from the San Juan River surrounded with lush verdant landscapes before returning to Havana.
Bidding farewell to Havana, you will journey south to the elegant coastal city of Cienfuegos, situated around Cuba's most spectacular natural bay. Arriving in the afternoon, enjoy some lunch before starting a short city tour taking in the most popular cultural sights of the UNESCO World Heritage Site including the ornate Palacio de Valle and Paseo del Prado, Cuba's longest boulevard lined with neo-classical buildings and colourful colonial houses. Continuing along the coastline, early evening you will enter the island's historic heart, Trinidad, and enjoy the evening at leisure to relax at your hotel.
After breakfast, a tour of this beautiful UNESCO listed town will commence. The charming Trinidad is the best preserved historical centre in all the Americas and boasts a plethora of historical buildings and cobbled streets, making it one of the nation's true gems. Full of the history of colonial Cuba, cars are not allowed in the city centre so you will explore on foot visiting Santa Ana church and the Main Square surrounded by beautiful buildings before sampling a speciality cocktail 'canchanchara' made from honey, lime juice and rum at a local bar.
Journeying out to the surrounding countryside of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, a morning tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site awaits. Here the valley landscapes are scattered with the ruins of the once prosperous sugar industry. Stopping at a view point you will be able to see the baroque-style tower of Manaca Iznaga which overlooks a plantation once owned by one of the region's wealthiest families to learn about the industry. This afternoon will be at leisure for you to relax at your accommodation or explore the area further at your own pace.
Leaving Trinidad, a stop is made at the nearby Santa Clara, capital of the Villa Clara province and synonymous with the famous revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. Here you will take a tour of the city's main sights including the armoured train which Che and his contemporaries derailed during the Cuban Revolution's Battle of Santa Clara. Concluding with a trip to the Che Guevara Monument and Mausoleum, you will depart Santa Clara and continue on to Varadero. Located along the Hicacos peninsula, Varadero is the largest tourism resort in the Caribbean and with its uninterrupted 20 kilometre-long stretch of white sandy beaches it is easy to see why. Arriving early afternoon you will have the chance to relax in the beautiful surroundings for your last night of the tour.
This morning will be at leisure before your afternoon transfer to Havana in time to catch your evening flight back to the UK.
All nationals currently need a tourist visa to enter Cuba and this comes in the form of a 30-day tourist card. Entry is granted on arrival when you show your passport (must be valid for at least six months from the date you are due to leave Cuba), your return flight ticket and completed tourist card. We will send you a tourist card before you travel which you will need to complete and take with you. The tourist card will be stamped on arrival and this must be kept in your passport for the duration of your stay as you will need to show this on departure.
Visa, arrival and departure requirements are subject to change and obtaining a visa is the responsibility of the traveller and not Mercury Holidays. We recommend you check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy prior to departure for the most up to date guidelines regarding these.
You must obtain suitable travel insurance prior to departure. Mercury Holidays is partnered with Holiday Extras which offer insurance at the following prices:
|Age in Years||Up to 64||65 - 74||75 - 85|
|Up to 10 days cover (including USA)||£45||£90||£158|
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight is to Havana Airport with Virgin Atlantic (VS), departing from London Gatwick South Terminal. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage plus one item of hand luggage not exceeding 23cm x 36cm x 56cm in size and 10kg in weight. Weight restrictions will be finalized on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay an additional fee for this at check-in. Gatwick Airport advises that you should arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to your flight time for international departures.
Please note that all flight times and numbers given at the time of booking are provided for guidance only and are subject to change. Final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot and includes some hiking, trekking, climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches. Please note that this tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travelers in your group will be eight and the maximum will be 40. In the unlikely event that there are less than 10 people booked on your tour date, you may be asked to change to a different date. The choice to switch to any of our other tours, or cancel with a full refund will also be available to you should an alternative date not be suitable.
This is an escorted tour, meaning you will be met on arrival at Havana airport and will have a guide with you for the duration of your tour, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge and assistance at all times.
There is currently a two currency monetary system in Cuba; the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The most used of these by tourists is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). Cuban currency is not traded internationally so you cannot buy it in advance before you travel. You will be able to buy local currency when you arrive in Cuba.
We recommend you avoid taking US dollars to exchange in Cuba as they are subject to an additional 10% tax. The best currency to take is either Euros or Sterling (in small denominations) since these are the most common major currencies and the exchange rates are generally quite reasonable. The notes should not be damaged as some places will refuse them if they are not in perfect condition.
There will also be cash machines available throughout the tour in major cities where you will be able to withdraw money in the local currency. However, it is not recommended to rely on them as your sole source of funds as cash machines do not always work and may not be available in the more remote locations.
You will need to take money with you to cover any personal purchases such as souvenirs, laundry, any meals not included in the itinerary as well as drinks and any additional snacks. We recommend you bring along a minimum of GBP £200 per person to change in to local currency. It is a good idea to try and maintain a supply of small notes and change in the local currency for tipping or small purchases.
|Depart UK||Arrive UK||Price||Book Now|
|23 Jan 2017||30 Jan 2017||£1869pp||Book Now|
|13 Feb 2017||20 Feb 2017||£1925pp||Book Now|
|13 Mar 2017||20 Mar 2017||£1925pp||Book Now|
|03 Apr 2017||10 Apr 2017||£1869pp||Book Now|
|15 May 2017||22 May 2017||£1809pp||Book Now|
|05 Jun 2017||12 Jun 2017||£1809pp||Book Now|
|04 Sep 2017||11 Sep 2017||£1709pp||Book Now|
|18 Sep 2017||25 Sep 2017||£1699pp||Book Now|
|16 Oct 2017||23 Oct 2017||£1809pp||Book Now|
Unfortunately, we do not have any places with no single supplements on this tour. However, if you are happy to share with another passenger of the same gender, then let us know at the time of booking and we will endeavour to find you a travelling partner. Alternatively, please ask about our single supplement prices in order to book your own room.
If the group departure dates are not suitable for you and you would prefer a more personal and flexible experience then you can choose to book a private guide for your tour at a reasonable supplement.
Weather can vary quite considerably throughout the year, so please familiarise yourself with the climate charts below.
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