two weeks in cuba

Ultimate Cuba Itinerary: 2 Weeks in Cuba

Between historic Havana, white sand beaches, and lush rainforests, Cuba offers an array of travel experiences you can’t often find in one dreamy destination. Travelers who spend time exploring beyond the most obvious highlights are always amazed to discover all the incredible things Cuba has to offer.

Sick of only dreaming and ready to plan your own Cuba itinerary? This is our ultimate guide to the best itinerary for Cuba travel in two weeks. With two weeks in Cuba, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy both Havana and the best of the island without feeling too rushed to enjoy the experience; for most travelers, this is the dream.

havana cuba

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Cuba Itinerary

Step aside Havana and Varadero! There is much more to see and plenty of things to do in Cuba beyond just the traditional tourist-favorite attractions. So much, in fact, that it can be quite a challenge to add it all to just one Cuba itinerary.

Generally, we recommend that travelers stick to the western side of the island if they have less than 10 days to spend in Cuba. Why? Cuba is surprisingly quite large, and traveling overland is time-consuming, with trips between popular tourist destinations sometimes taking a number of hours.

Once you’re able to devote two weeks or more to your trip to Cuba, it becomes more feasible to cross greater stretches of land on the island without feeling like you’re sacrificing too much time to transit. With a trip longer than two weeks, you can plan to visit both sides of the island.

Looking for a quick overview of our ideal Cuba itinerary for two weeks in Cuba? Here’s a basic sketch, though we plunge into the details and logistics below.

  • Day 1: Havana
  • Day Two: Havana
  • Day Three: Havana
  • Day Four: Varadero
  • Day Five: Varadero
  • Day Six: Viñales
  • Day Seven: Viñales
  • Day Eight: Cayo Jutias or Cayo Levisa
  • Day Nine: Trinidad
  • Day Ten: Trinidad
  • Day Eleven: Trinidad
  • Day Twelve: Baracoa
  • Day Thirteen: Baracoa
  • Day Fourteen: Santiago de Cuba

Keep in mind that in Cuba, transportation can be hard to predict. While Viazul regional and interprovincial buses are generally great and mostly on time, they’re not as plentiful as similar buses in other countries. Flights between cities in Cuba can also sometimes be unpredictable.

It’s best to keep as flexible a schedule as you can! However you spend you’re two weeks in Cuba, you’re in for a big treat as you live your Cuba itinerary.

How Many Days Do You Need in Cuba?

Most travelers plan at least a week or a week and a half for their Cuba itinerary. This gives travelers a good amount of time to explore different types of places in Cuba, including cities like Havana, the beaches, and beyond.

Others prefer a stay at a resort in Cuba, nothing more, or a quick city break in Havana, both of which are unique and memorable ways to experience Cuba.

Generally, to see Cuba to a more significant extent, three weeks or even a month to get a more complete picture of the country. To visit a variety of beaches and explore many sides of the island, while feeling unhurried in your Cuba itinerary, you’ll want more than two weeks.

Is Two Weeks Enough for Cuba?

Two weeks is enough to see much of Cuba – not everything, but a lot of this beautiful country. Spending two weeks in Cuba is even enough to explore different sides of the island, as you’ll see in this Cuba itinerary.

However, Cuba is quite a large country, especially compared it its Caribbean island neighbors. Two weeks won’t let you see everything in Cuba – you’ll need closer to three weeks to a month for that.

cuba havana

Two Weeks in Cuba

Day One: Havana

Take the Lanchita de Regla

Welcome to Havana, Cuba! One of my favorite ways to welcome visitors to Havana is by giving them a great view of the city to get their bearings. Head out from Old Havana on the Lanchita de Regla, a tiny ferry that shuttles people from one side of the Havana harbor to the other, to visit one of our favorite viewpoints of Havana: the base of the Cristo de la Habana (the Christ of Havana monument) overlooking the harbor.

This inexpensive ferry departs every few minutes and costs just a few pesos, giving you a mini harbor tour as part of the experience. It’s a fun and cheap way to travel!

Read More: Currency in Cuba: Ultimate Traveler Guide

Take in the View from Cristo de la Habana and Visit El Morro

The Cristo de la Habana is just uphill from where the ferry will leave you, but it’s worth the steps. The view here is gorgeous, showing off all the highlights of Old Havana, the Malecón sea wall, and expanses of the ocean beyond. Some days you’d almost swear you can see all the way to Florida (almost).

After taking in the view, head west along the harbor to visit El Morro. You’ll pass by the La Cabaña fortress on the way there – but save your visit for later in the evening (I explain why below).

El Morro is a historic fortress with a lighthouse on the point of the harbor was built by the Spanish to ward off pirates and invaders. While I prefer the viewpoint from the Cristo de la Havana monument, El Morro has some pretty serious city views of its own.

Vintage Car Tour

Head back across the harbor to embark on an absolute must while in Havana – a tour of the city in a vintage American car. The rides in Cuba are mostly vintage American Fords, Pontiacs, and Chevys, with the very best antique, restored vehicles making the cut for tours.

You’ll also see a number of Soviet-era vehicles and even some newer cars In Cuba, though you won’t find any electric vehicles and there are certainly no hotels with EV charging in Cuba!

Make sure you go on a vintage car tour in Havana at the beginning of your time in Havana, as it will help you get a feel for the layout of the city while visiting some of its biggest attractions: it’s a tour and experience all in one.

I recommend that travelers book ahead for this experience (though Civitatis, online) – it’s less cash to bring to Cuba and you can avoid the sometimes annoying haggling process with drivers. On the tour, you’ll see spots like the Plaza de la Revolution, Havana’s Chinatown, the Vedado neighborhood, and of course, take a nice long drive down the Malecón. It’s a must.

Dinner at Jibaro’s

There are a ton of great places to eat in Havana so it’s hard to narrow it down to just one recommendation for this Cuba itinerary. However, we have yet to find something on the menu at Jibaro’s that we haven’t loved, making it an easy favorite.

Jibaro’s is located in Old Havana and has a great array of food, including some great vegetarian options, seafood options, and great mixed drinks. You’ll love it – it’s one of our favorite restaurants in Havana.

See the Cañonazo

Head back across the harbor to the fortress of La Cabaña, the one I recommend you skip over early in the day. It’s always best to visit La Cabaña in the evening, as the 9 PM “cañonazo” cannon shot is a Havana tradition that I consider among the best things to do in Havana for visitors.

Once indicating the closure of the Havana harbor and the gates of the city centuries ago, now the cannon shot and the corresponding changing-of-the-guard style ceremony with guards dressed in historic garb is just pure fun.

Another plus? You’ll get a stunning view of Havana illuminated with evening lights. This might be even more impressive than the ceremony.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling to Cuba without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, especially in Cuba. 

Day Two: Havana

Breakfast at El Café

Start your day with breakfast and coffee at El Café in Old Havana – it’s hands-down our favorite cafe in the entire city. Nestled on a relatively quiet sidestreet but near the neighborhood’s big attractions, El Café is located in a gorgeous historic building that is sure to get you excited about the upcoming day of exploring the most beautiful part of the city.

El Café offers a great range of coffee, with everything from traditional café cubano to iced coffee. Plus, its breakfast options are great, including vegetarian-friendly options. I always recommend getting something with their homemade sourdough bread like a breakfast sandwich – it’s a personal favorite.

Read More: Best Cafes in Havana + Best Brunch Spots in Havana

Explore Old Havana

Spend a good portion of your day in Havana exploring the most famous part of the city: the beautiful if complex neighborhood of Old Havana. With its gorgeous architecture, great shops and restaurants, and plenty of museums and attractions, there is enough to keep you busy here for most of the day.

Sign up for a free tour of Old Havana for an in-depth visit to the best of the city – it’s one of the best ways to get an intro to the city. The local guides do a great job and really show their passion for the city. Just make sure to leave a tip for the guide!

If you’re not into tours, it’s pretty easy to explore the area on your own. Trace a path between Havana’s four main plazas (Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza Vieja) to see a good portion of the neighborhood, making this a great base for a self-guided walking tour.

Make sure to check out our guide to Old Havana before you check out the neighborhood! We cover almost every attraction – big and small – in the neighborhood and give you a good outline of how to explore the neighborhood.

Visit Havana’s Museums

If you’re a museum person, or are just looking to get to know a little but more about the history and culture of Cuba, you’ll love Havana. There are truly dozens of museums just in Old Havana, to choose from.

If you’re looking for the highlights, choose between Havana’s premier fine arts museum, the Museo de Bellas Artes, or the Museo de la Revolución if you’re interested in learning more about Havana’s history. Choose the Museo de Bellas Artes – Arte Cubano for masterpieces by Cuba’s most famous artists.

I personally recommend that travelers add the Museo de la Revolución to their Cuba itinerary, as there’s really a lot to see here, all of which will give you a good background about the revolutionary history of Cuba. This will be infinitely useful to you as you continue to explore the country on your Cuba itinerary. Plus, this building used to be Cuba’s presidential palace!

Keep in mind that most exhibits are labeled in Spanish, so if you’re not proficient, I recommend downloading Google Translate and using the photo translation feature.

Read More: 10 Must-Have Apps for Travel in Cuba

Sunset Drinks at Kempinski

While Havana has a number of bars and restaurants with stunning views for a rooftop drink at the end of the day, we always love heading to the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, facing Old Havana’s Parque Central. It’s slightly fancy and has some of the most beautiful sunset views in Havana.

The rooftop bar at this famous hotel has absolutely incredible views overlooking the Gran Teatro, El Capitolio, and the Museo de Bellas Artes, giving visitors the chance to see the neighborhood from a whole different perspective. Interested in sticking around for more than just a drink? You can also get a day pass to enjoy the rooftop infinity pool.

Read More: Where to Stay in Havana + Best Havana Neighborhoods

Dinner at La Guarida

La Guarida is the indisputable favorite among restaurants in Havana, welcoming everyone from President Obama and Usher to Anthony Bourdain and the Kardashians. Despite its big-name fans, La Guarida feels cozy and intimate, with this historic building providing a romantic atmosphere it’s hard not to fall in love with.

While La Guarida is more expensive than most restaurants in Havana, mains are usually around $20 or $25, a steal when compared to eating back home for most travelers. Even if dinner at La Guarida is out of your budget, make sure to head up to the rooftop terrace for a drink.

The views from this gorgeous Centro Habana spot are unforgettable. On many Saturday evenings, you can find live jazz concerts on the rooftop, making an enchanting spot even more memorable.

Make sure to make a reservation – whether for dinner or drinks. You can ask your hotel or casa particular host to do so if need be!

Visit Fábrica de Arte Cubano

You haven’t been to Havana if you have yet to visit Fábrica de Arte Cubano! This mixed-use space has quickly become a cultural institution and Havana nightlife favorite in Cuba despite only being on the scene for about 10 years.

Built in a former cooking oil factory, this sprawling building is home to several fine arts galleries, stages for DJs and live music performances, and a number of bars and even a cafe sprinkled throughout the property. Every evening you’ll find a rotating itinerary of performances, with everything from dance classes and fashion shows to documentary film screenings and live music.

Don’t write off Fábrica de Arte Cubano if you don’t fancy yourself a nightlife person – this place is so much more than that. You’ll find drinks and dancing, but you’ll also find beautiful art exhibits, handicrafts from local artists, and some of the most forward-thinking artists and thought leaders in Cuba.

cuba itinerary

Day Three: Havana

Explore Vedado

Spend another day in Havana exploring the city’s other favorite neighborhood: El Vedado. Vedado means closed-off or forbidden, as in colonial times this entire area used to be a military buffer zone. However, by the mid-1800s, wealthy Havana families began moving here and building impressive mansions, which give the neighborhood its storied beauty today.

There’s a lot to see and do here, including visiting some of Havana’s best restaurants, bars, and cafes, which seem to be multiplying in this neighborhood every day. One of my favorite spots in Vedado is Cuba Libro, which is the city’s only English-language bookstore and one of the best cafes in Havana. Make sure you stop by and try their delicious hibiscus tea and a pastry in their shady patio!

If you’re looking for something unique to do here, visit the Cementerio Cristobal Colón, Havana’s historic cemetery. Like La Recoleta in Buenos Aires and Pere Lachaise in Paris, it’s filled with incredible statues and ornate mausoleums, which make it like an outdoor gallery.

Read More: 10 Best Places To Stay in Vedado, Havana

Eat Ice Cream at Coppelia and Visit Yara

A must on your Cuba itinerary is a visit to the island’s most famous ice cream parlor – Coppelia. Opened in the 1960s at the behest of Fidel Castro himself, the ice cream parlor has impressive modernist architecture fit for a historic Havana favorite landmark.

Don’t be deterred by the lines wrapping around the block at all hours of the day; if you approach the entrance, guards will likely wave you to tables on the sides of the park where you can skip most of the line (if you look sufficiently like a tourist).

If you’re a film buff, take in a movie at the Cine Yara, Havana’s most famous movie theater, facing Coppelia. Be on the lookout for film festivals at the Yara while you’re in town – they often have incredible festivals with super-low ticket prices and even celebrity visitors. Even if you don’t stay for a movie, check out the vintage film posters in the lobby.

Depart for Varadero

If you’re traveling by car, consider departing Havana for Varadero in the evening if you can. The drive is just about two hours, and arriving in the evening will let you enjoy a perfect, full day at the beach in Varadero the next day.

Opting to take the bus to Varadero, or taking the super-cheap “local” way to get to the beach (see our Havana to Varadero for more on that)? It’s much easier to depart for Varadero in the mornings, so enjoy a last evening in Havana before getting to the next part of your Cuba itinerary.

best things to do in varadero cuba
aksenovko / Depositphotos

Day Four: Varadero

Arrive in Varadero

Traveling from Havana to Varadero is easy, which makes Varadero a must on any Cuba itinerary. If you don’t travel from Havana to Varadero in the evening, wake bright and early to get to Cuba’s favorite beach resort town in the morning. Buses are currently departing from Havana’s bus terminal at 8:30 AM every morning, or opt for a private or shared taxi which leave more frequently.

Read More: Havana to Varadero: 5 Easy Travel Options

Enjoy a Day at the Beach

While there are more great things to do in Varadero than just visiting the beach, the miles-long stretch of white sand is the number one attraction in Varadero, and the first place I’m going when I get to town!

The beach in Varadero is public and has plenty of access points, meaning you don’t need to stay at a fancy resort in Varadero if you’re looking for a great beach experience here. Just walk along the beachfront road, Varadero’s main thoroughfare, and you’ll find a beach access point every few blocks.

No need to search out a specific part of the beach; it’s all beautiful – truly! Choose the closest beach entrance to your hotel or casa particular, or go for a spot near cafes and restaurants for easy access to food and drinks during the day.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Casas Particulares in Cuba

Dinner at La Rampa

There are plenty of great places to eat in Varadero, and while some places are better value than others, you really can’t go wrong – especially if you’re looking for seafood. We love La Rampa, which is a laid-back spot with the best seafood in town. Definitely go for the lobster here – it’s legendary!

Day Five: Varadero

Choose an Activity in Varadero… Or Hit the Beach (Again!)

Some travelers are perfectly happy just sitting on the white sand beaches of Varadero and soaking up the sun, but others are looking for a more active adventure. If you’re one of those travelers that just can’t sit still, there are plenty of great things to do in Varadero for you!

One of my favorite options to recommend to travelers is an excursion to the caves that surround Varadero. There are a number of wet and drive caves within a short drive of the coast, including Cueva de Ambrosio, Cueva de Saturno, and the Cuevas de Bellmar, which is a popular destination for cave tours.

Alternatively, choose a scuba diving or snorkeling expedition near Varadero! You’ll find a number of options in Varadero, but we always recommend ScubaLibre as we’ve had a lot of great experiences in the past. They have excursions to several impressive sites within just minutes of Varadero, making it easy to enjoy one of the best things to do in Cuba.

Return to Havana

Most transportation between Varadero and Havana returns to the city in the evening, but make sure to plan your return plan in advance. Book a private car in advance, plan on getting a Viazul bus to Havana, or grab a seat in a shared taxi, which provides a more comfortable way to travel without the expense of a private car.

To head to Viñales the next day, it’s easiest to make this stop in Havana overnight if you’ll be using the bus from the city. However, if you’re looking for a private car, you’ll be able to find direct options between Varadero to Viñales!

Read More: Varadero to Havana: 5 Easy Travel Options

Travel Insurance

Cuba requires that all travelers have proof of a comprehensive travel insurance policy in order to enter the country. Check out our guide to travel insurance for Cuba for more details. We recommend these brands for Cuba travel insurance:

  • Visitors Coverage: Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries, though not currently available to residents of New York and Maryland in the United States.
  • Insubuy: Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries and states of the United States.
vinales valley

Day Six: Vinales

Arrive in Viñales

Viñales Valley is one of the most stunning regions of Cuba – it truly can’t be missed! Just over two hours west of Havana, many visitors on a shorter Cuba itinerary visit as a Havana to Viñales day trip. However, there’s a lot to see and plenty of things to do in Viñales, making it a much better choice for at least one overnight while in Cuba.

Viñales is a small town, so while it’s popular with travelers, you won’t find an abundance of transportation options. It’s easiest to visit from Havana, with Viazul bus options or options for private and shared taxis. If you don’t want to spend an evening in Viñales you can always book a day trip, though I always recommend staying at least one night of your Cuba itinerary.

Read More: Viñales, Cuba: Ultimate Travel Guide

Explore the Valley (and its Caves!)

One of the best things to do in Viñales involves not just basking in the beauty of its famous mogotos (limestone karsts that look like mountains jutting out from otherwise flat ground), but exploring what is beneath them. Make sure to explore the extensive cave systems in Viñales – you’ll love this part of your visit!

Travelers can opt for a guided excursion by car to a number of the most impressive caves in the area, or even take a guided hike through the valley that includes visits to some of the lesser-visited caves in the area.

Since the area is a national park, you can also hike through the area on your own. This is a great way to see the valley on your own time, though I recommend downloading AllTrails before you leave for the trek to help you guide your way through the valley – paths generally aren’t well marked. This will be one of the best travel apps for Cuba you’ll have if you plan to do any hiking while here.

Stay in Casa Particular

Viñales doesn’t have a lot of true hotels other than a few smaller boutique places with local owners, so this is a perfect spot to stay in a casa particular room or apartment for rent, especially if you haven’t yet. You’ll find a number of great places to stay in town, and the best spots even have rooftop terraces with gorgeous views of the valley.

Best Places To Stay in Viñales

Day Seven: Vinales

Visit a Tobacco Plantation

In addition to having incredible landscapes, Viñales is home to Cuba’s best tobacco farms. This is where those world-famous Cuban cigars come from, so one of the best things to do in Viñales is visit a tobacco plantation.

Many of the excursions you’ll find to more remote tobacco farms include horseback riding through some of the most beautiful areas of the valley. It’s the perfect way to see the best of the valley.

You’ll get a chance to see the fields, the houses where tobacco leaves dry, and learn from farmers all about the process of growing and harvesting tobacco. You’re also going to get a chance to learn how to roll Cuban cigars, and of course, try some for yourself! It’s a must when in Viñales, even if you’re not a cigar smoker.

Take in the View at Balcón del Valle

While many travelers rave about the views over Viñales Valley from the pool deck of Hotel Jazmines (one of the most well-known places to stay in Viñales), head instead to the small, local restaurant Balcón del Valle. Just down the street, Balcón del Valle boasts the very best view of the mogotes, perfect for lunch or even a sunset drink.

While Balcón del Valle is relatively close to town, it’s kind of on a hill, so it’s best to take a taxi from the center of town unless you’re feeling particularly ambitious.

Read More: Havana to Viñales Day Trip Guide

What to Pack for Cuba

Check out our Ultimate Cuba Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Cuba and what we never travel without.

Day Eight: Cayo Jutias or Cayo Levisa

Take a Day Trip from Viñales

Located off Cuba’s northern coast, Cayo Jutias and Cayo Levisa are some of the most beautiful white-sand cays in Cuba. While some travelers spend days soaking in the rays and enjoying the clear water at these paradise islands, most visitors enjoy them on a day trip from Viñales.

What Varadero lacks due to built-up conveniences these beach destinations have in spades. If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path beach experience in Cuba after experiencing the island’s most famous resort town, you’ll love Cayo Jutias and Cayo Levisa.

Cayo Levisa is a white sand mostly undeveloped cay off the island’s northern coast. To get here, you’ll need to get to the tiny town of Palma Rubia and catch a ferry. Despite it being somewhat difficult to reach due to the ferry, there is a tiny hotel and dive shop on the island, along with some of the most gorgeous white sand beaches on the island.

Cayo Jutias is a mostly undeveloped beach with pure white sands, considered one of the best beaches in Cuba. While you won’t find much here, it’s undeniably gorgeous. Connected to the mainland by a bridge it’s a lot easier to get to than Cayo Levisa – it’s also slightly closer to Viñales.

The easiest way to experience these gorgeous spots is as part of a day trip from Vinales that includes transportation. You can pre-book these excursions to make the experience even more hassle-free. While these excursions are popular, they’re not so common that you’ll find an abundance of options for travelers, so I definitely recommend booking in advance.

trinidad cuba

Day Nine: Trinidad

Arrive in Trinidad

Buses depart from Viñales to Trinidad bright an early at 6:45 AM. Or, connect with other travelers headed in the same direction to split a taxi to Trinidad to save some money. If these options don’t sound like something you’re interested in, you can always head back to Havana the previous evening and take a bus or taxi from Havana

Explore Historic Trinidad

As soon as you arrive in Trinidad, you’ll see what all the fuss is about – this historic town is among the best preserved colonial centers in the Caribbean per its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation! No matter how early in the morning or afternoon you make it to Trinidad, you’ll easily be able to fill a day just exploring the town’s center.

Consider taking a free walking tour of historic Trinidad – despite being free, these tours are incredibly well done, with local guides who really know their stuff. Or, just explore on your own! The town is compact enough that you can get lost with no problem.

An absolute highlight of a visit to historic Trinidad is climbing the bell tower of the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asis for a gorgeous view of the city with its red-tiled rooftops. Skip through the museum exhibits in the lower level of the building and head right for the rooftops.

Read More: 10 Best Things To Do in Trinidad, Cuba

Live Music in Trinidad

You’ll have no trouble finding live music and even a little dancing in Trinidad come nightfall. Head to the Casa de la Música in the Plaza Mayor, or just explore the historic center of town and you’re bound to stumble across bars and restaurants featuring live music.

This is easily the best way to enjoy an evening in Trinidad!

things to do in trinidad cuba
edb3_16 / Depositphotos

Day Ten: Trinidad

Visit Playa Ancón

You can’t visit Trinidad without spending at least one glorious beach day at Playa Ancón! Considered one of the best beaches in Cuba and the number one beach on the island’s southern coast, it’s a beautiful spot with white sand and few to no waves.

Just 15-20 minutes from the center of Trinidad, Playa Ancón easily accessible from the city by taxi and bus, making it the ultimate day trip destination, even if you only have a few hours to spend here

Rent some beach chairs and an umbrella or choose from different water sports and excursions at the beach for a more active day. Catamarans take visitors out to the almost-deserted white-sand island of Playa Blanca, a favorite excursion, or head to nearby Playa La Batea for incredible scuba diving in an off-the-beaten-path spot.

Day Eleven: Trinidad

Explore Topes de Collantes

Topes de Collantes (Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes) is a stunning nature reserve nestled among the Escambray Mountains just a short drive outside of Trinidad. With lush jungle trails, gorgeous wildlife, and plunging waterfalls, it’s easy to see why this is a must-visit destination on your Cuba itinerary.

Topes de Collantes is actually composed of five distinct parks, though they are all part of this beautiful natural reserve park. If you just have a short time to spend here, Parque El Cubano is usually your best bet – this is the park closest to Trinidad.

You can find plenty of organized excursions that depart from Trinidad to different areas of Topes de Collantes – it’s definitely worth it traveling with a guide who can take you through the park!

With more time to spend in Topes de Collantes, visit other parts of the park, especially the stunning waterfalls of Salto de Caburní and Santo Vegas Grandes. The hikes to these waterfalls and their respective swimming holes are relatively easy and mostly shaded, making them a perfect escape from the hot Cuban sun.

Return to Havana

Upon returning from your day of adventure, get a bus or split a taxi back to Havana. You’ll have a long day of travel ahead before heading on to Baracoa, so it’s best to make it to Havana in the evening before spending part of the next day in transit.

If you’re organizing private transport to return to Havana, it may make sense to depart directly from Topes de Collantes. Since this is on the way back to Havana, you might be able to work out an agreement with a driver who would be willing to hang out for a few hours there while you explore the park before continuing on to Havana.

Best Places To Stay in Havana


Day Twelve: Baracoa

Arrive in Baracoa

Notoriously challenging to get to – only accessible to the rest of Cuba by boat until the 1960s – Baracoa is a charming and historic town on the eastern side of Cuba worth the time on your Cuba itinerary. As the first city founded by the Spanish in Cuba, it oozes history while also boasting nice beaches and gorgeous natural surroundings.

The easiest way to get to Baracoa is to fly from Havana to Santiago de Cuba or Holguin and take the Viazul bus from there. If you’re not into flying, the alternative is to take a bus directly from Havana, which takes around 18 hours – it’s a doozy.

Traveling to Baracoa might not be right for you if the bus ride sounds daunting or you can’t find a convenient flight – interprovincial flights in Cuba are less frequent than you might expect. If not, consider heading to the pristine beaches of Cuba’s northern cays instead. Either a beach resort stay or a casa particular is a great way to enjoy some of Cuba’s best beaches.

Alternatively, exploring Cienfuegos and Santa Clara in the interior of the country will be a great experience. These historic places to visit in Cuba also have plenty to offer!

Explore Historic Baracoa

Once you arrive in Baracoa, you’ll see how small yet charming this historic city is and why it’s worth the travel time to get here! Spend an afternoon exploring the downtown center, strolling through plazas, and popping into the city’s historic landmarks.

One must-see spot in town is the imposing Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. This cathedral is home to La Cruz de la Parra. La Cruz de la Parra was one of 29 wooden crosses hand-crafted by Christopher Columbus himself and scattered around the islands that he visited on his journeys to the Americas.

This is the only one that remains, making it one of the most important Columbus artifacts in existence today.

Stay in a Casa Particular

No big hotels or chain resorts in Baracoa! Just smaller boutique hotels owned by locals and casa particular rooms or apartments for rent. Despite Baracoa’s small size, you’ll find a number of options to choose from.

Make sure to check with your host about their local favorites for meals and beaches – you’ll get some great advice to help you enjoy your time here even more.

Read More: Baracoa, Cuba: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

Best Places to Stay in Baracoa

Day Thirteen: Baracoa

Hike El Yunque

One of the highlights of a trip to Baracoa is visiting the lush jungle that surrounds the city, once so dense and impenetrable that the city was only accessible from the rest of the island by boat. Most visitors couple the experience with hiking El Yunque, the instantly-identifiable tabletop mountain just outside of Baracoa.

Looking for a fun fact about Cuba related to El Yunque? Christopher Columbus wrote about this unique, flat mountain in his journals on his first trip to the Americas, a detail that helped historians identify that Cuba was among the first places he visited in 1492.

You can find plenty of guides in Baracoa for a last-minute tour, or book ahead on Civitatis if you’re already excited about this adventure. It’s considered one of the best destinations for hiking in Cuba!

While the hike through the forest is mostly flat, shaded, and relatively easy, the final portion of the journey – getting up the side of the mountain – is quite challenging and only recommended for those of at least moderate fitness. If this doesn’t appeal to you, consider striking it from your excursions and just enjoy the easier hiking areas – they’re just as impressive.

Read More: 5 Best Hiking Destinations in Cuba

Alternative: Visit Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

If you’re not up for hiking El Yunque, consider taking a day trip to the nearby Alejandro de Humboldt National Park instead. This is by no means a lesser choice; the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of natural importance.

In its UNESCO designation, Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is identified as “one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on earth.” It’s a great addition to any Cuba itinerary.

Plan for a guided excursion to the park (you can even book ahead on Civitatis) for the most complete experience with a reliable guide. Excursions usually include walking through the park and opportunities for swimming and photography. They also include a trip to Playa Maguana, perfect for a quick trip to this stunning beach as well.

santiago cuba

Day Fourteen: Santiago de Cuba

Arrive in Santiago de Cuba

Return to Santiago de Cuba and enjoy the city before departing for home after your 2 weeks in Cuba. If you’re able to fly home out of Santiago de Cuba rather than having to take a bus back to Havana, you’ll save yourself a long day of travel. Alternatively, check flights home from smaller Holguin.

In Baracoa, you’ll find regular buses connecting these cities, as well as the option for connecting with other travelers to share a taxi. Of course, private taxis will be happy to take you as well.

Explore Santiago de Cuba

If you have time at the end of your Cuba itinerary, make sure to explore Santiago de Cuba. While the historic center of the city isn’t as charming as Old Havana, it’s still lovely. Make sure to visit the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca as well; this historic Spanish colonial fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visiting is one of the best things to do in Cuba.

If you want to add another day or two to your 2 weeks in Cuba, spending more time exploring Santiago de Cuba will give you a better picture of Cuba’s “eastern capital.” It’s a great city and has much more to offer than many travelers realize.

Venture out to visit the Basílica de La Virgen de La Caridad del Cobre, a basilica just outside of Santiago de Cuba that is home to Cuba’s patron saint. Even if you’re not religious, it’s an impressive site that has welcomed popes and dignitaries the world over.

Read More: 10+ Best Things To Do in Santiago de Cuba

Best Places to Stay in Santiago de Cuba

Head Home

Reflect on a perfect 2 weeks in Cuba as you bring your ideal Cuba itinerary to a close! While Santiago de Cuba’s international airport is well-served, you may have to connect through Havana to head home. However, more flights are being added frequently at this major airport, so you might just be in luck.

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Home to Havana and Explorers Away. She is a serial expat and traveler, having visited 40+ countries and counting. Carley has written for publications like Travel + Leisure, MSN, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Wealth of Geeks, and more. Find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.