CUBA IN ONE WEEK: Top Things And Places To See On Your Holidays!

In BLOG, CUBA, LATIN AMERICA, USEFUL GUIDES by Clelia Mattana67 Comments


It’s your first time in Cuba and you want to see everything, as much and as interesting as possible in a short time? The perfect one-week itinerary in Cuba has to be a mix of culture, nature, cities and, of course, beautiful paradise beaches!



Cuba-holidays_one_week_itinerary_Habana Vieja bar


Start in Havana and take your time exploring this city. The Habana Vieja (the old town) is a UNESCO site that has a totally unique atmosphere with its colorful architecture and old cars squeezing past the little bars in every street. The Vedado district is less famous but also worth a look. This is where all the wealthiest people live in huge houses standing in rows like in an American soap opera!


Havana is a coastal town, and the Malecon is the perfect way to enjoy the sea. This promenade runs along the seafront and is the life center of Havana. You can walk at any time of day or night and see local life happening all around you.


Of course, a visit to Havana would not be complete without some music, which you can find pretty much anywhere. Just walk around the streets and stop when you hear something you like!



Say goodbye for a little while to the hectic life in Havana and take the road to the beautiful and enchanting part of Cuba: Rural Viñales.

This valley has a very different atmosphere. Everything is calm, sunny and relaxing.

You can hike around the countryside and explore the different kind of things growing in there, mostly sugar cane, orange, and tobacco. You will find little houses called Casas de Tabac used to dry tobacco leaves scattered everywhere, giving your holiday a truly authentic vibe!

The Viñales Valley is also renowned for its weird and fascinating landscape. Most of the valley is made of flat fields, but here and there miniature rocky mountains (called mogotes) are standing in the middle of the plantations!


In Vinales I recommend to try a more authentic experience and stay with a local at their home! One of the best websites I have tried when I want to immerse myself in the local culture is with Homestay, they are very reliable and have more than 100 options in the Vinales area! 



Just a short drive away from Viñales, Pinar del Río is a lively, artistic town. Take the morning to explore those streets before getting back on the road to Cienfuegos. This is the longest stretch of driving. If you don’t feel like doing it all in one day, you can make a stop halfway at San José de Las Lajas. Buses also have direct lines from Pinar del Río to Cienfuegos.


One you’ve made it to Cienfuegos, relax! The cultural part of the trip is just beginning. Cienfuegos’ old town is also a UNESCO protected site, and there are several buildings there that are well worth a visit: the theater, the Palace, and a couple of cemeteries listed as National Monuments. At night, go to a Cabaret show to get a good dip into the Cuban culture and have some fun!


After carefully researching the accommodation options near Cienfuegos, the best deals so far can be found at, check out the properties and find what best suits your budget!




Near Cienfuegos, there are several opportunities for nature or animal lovers, in particular at the El Nicho Waterfall and Laguna Guanaroca. Take the morning to enjoy a bit of fresh air outdoors, then take the car to drive to Trinidad.


Map with the route from Cienfuegos to Trinidad

Trinidad is a little charming town that, seemingly, got stuck in time somewhere during the 17th century. It’s going to be a joy to explore those old streets and houses! At night, Trinidad wakes up with its musical scene, you’ll find it hard to spend a night in Trinidad without finding yourself singing or dancing at some point!


In Trinidad, there are a few convenient places I have found at a reasonable price (starting from less than 40$ per night in the center, including breakfast) check it out!




Drive to Santa Clara to explore this young and vibrating town. For history fans, this is also where you’ll find the most references to the Che himself. The Plaza de la Revolución and the Tren Blindado (armored train) are two big landmarks from this era.


Map from Trinidad to Santa Clara and Cayo Santa Maria

After Santa Clara, take back the car to rejoin the east coast and the wonderful beaches of Cayo Santa Maria Island for some well-deserved rest!


In Cayo Santa Maria I’d recommend spoiling yourself a bit and get comfortable in one of the resorts in front of the beautiful turquoise seas! Welcome to paradise!




Varadero beach

Now you’ll face a terrible dilemma: Stay in Cayo Santa Maria or drive up the east coast to find other sunny pieces of white sand to lay your towel on.

Cayo Santa Maria is pretty perfect, but you can also try for a dip at Varadero. This beach has some of the clearest water in the world!

Just in case you have more than 7 days in Cuba and you want to enjoy both Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria, here is the map with the route and distances in between these paradises!

Wherever you end up on this dreamy coast, make sure you wear sunscreen and try some diving and snorkeling, as the reefs around Cuba are hosting a good variety of marine life you don’t want to miss!


One of the most famous beaches in Cuba, so you need to check out the best deals to fully enjoy this paradise without spending too much!



Havana By night

Drive back to Havana! If you have time before your plane, keep some more time to explore the town. There are always new things to do and see: hidden bars, a new exhibit at the gallery, some concert happening, or just the never ending show of the vibrating Cuban life!


To travel around Cuba, the easiest way, but not the cheapest, is to rent a local car. Otherwise, you can also follow a tour to Cuba to make things easier. There’s a good bus network between the major cities that can also speed you on your way, but you can’t go everywhere on this itinerary by only using buses, you’ll have to book some day tours at some point if you want to explore all that Cuba has to offer!

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  1. Cuba is on my bucket list for a while now! Streets look clean and people hospitable! They also have a fascinating history!

  2. Such a great calmy place. I have no idea what Cuba can offer until I read this post. You really outdone yourself on making this one. Great distribution of information day by day. I’m so pumped up and excited to go to this paradise. Thank you!

  3. Loved the place, Watching pictures from your post makes me wonder how beautiful it really would be.
    Definitely in my bucket list 😉

    1. Author

      Cuba is truly beautiful I hope it doesn’t get ruined too much by mass tourism!!

  4. my friend and I are planning to go to Cuba soon, and we would like to know if it’s possible to rent a car for a small budget. and how much cost the gas over there?

    1. Author

      Hi naas
      I will try to reply to you as soon as I’m back from Australia in 3 weeks, now Im suffering a massive jet lag and I barely remember my name 🙂 Thanks for your patience!

  5. Just one more tip while you’re in Havana there are the nicest sandy beaches just 45 min of taxi ride away. They are called Playas d’Este.

  6. Thank you. How does one apply for a travel visa as an individual? Is it necessary to travel with a group? Sounds like you were on your own.

    1. Author

      Hi Robin, as for any visa, it really depends on the agreement between your country and the hosting one. I suggest you take a look at this article to see what situation applies to you! Cheers

  7. Superb post with stunning pictures! These are actually the most beautiful places to visit in Cuba.

    1. Author

      Have a great time! I will be in Cuba, just passing by, in less than a month! 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing this guide about Cuba trip, Dance is very important in Cuba, the birthplace of classic dance styles like the Bolero, Mambo and Cha Cha. This is really very helpful information for those who think to visit Cuba, Great post keep sharing.

    1. Author

      Ciao bella! As I said in other comments, I still haven’t visited Cuba (this article is written by a friend who went there so that I could link it to the massive guide Claudia wrote for me a few years back) but if I know myself well enough, and listening to all the friends who talked about it, I think Varadero would be my top choice!

    1. Author

      Indeed! After they opened it to the US, so many people are planning their holidays to Cuba!

      1. Your article is so thorough, I linked to it in my newsletter (no photos used).

        1. Author

          Thanks Vanessa, as long as you mention the original source, it should be ok!

    1. Author

      Thanks Pooja! I hope you’ll have a great time in Cuba!

  9. Thank you for this information! Where did you rent a car from and approximately how much was it for a week?

    Many thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Kelsey! you should check out the advice of another travel blogger’s article who went there before (you should read it too as it gives a lot of info about driving in Cuba!). The cost for one week was I think around 650 euros (not super cheap but splitting in two is OK)

      Have a great time in Cuba!

  10. In fact a great post about Cuba. We can plan to travel to Cuba for the holidays. Thank you for sharing this information. This is a really good post.

    1. Author

      Cuba is an awesome place indeed, can’t wait to visit it!

    1. Author

      What’s unusual about the sand being very white an clean? 🙂

  11. Hello

    Fantastic tour information about Cuba. I like photos with hotel information and Map. You will add about food, culture of Cuba. you will try to visit some places which are famous in Cuba like
    Morro Castle sea fortress, National Museum of Fine Arts etc.

    1. Author

      Hey, Thanks for stopping by, I have another massive article about Cuba written by a fabulous blogger who knows the place super well, and it includes basically everything you need to know “Cuba the definite guide


  12. Ciao,

    VARADERO BEACH is so beautiful, color of the sea is magical.

    I’ve read your comment on Quora and decided visit your blog 🙂

    1. Author

      Hey Andrew, yes Varadero looks incredible! Thanks for stopping by (I love Quora by the way, so many useful info over there!)

  13. Thank you for the great suggestions of what to see in Cuba. I’m thinking of about going later this year and this is quite helpful. Besides being expensive, were there any issues while driving through the country? If one is going solo, would driving be a good recommendation or stay with the buses?

    1. Author

      Hey April, apparently driving in Cuba is not a big issue, it all depends on your personal taste I guess. Here is a blog post about it, with some useful info for you, so that you can decide what’s best! Driving in Cuba


      1. Thanks so much for the article! It was a great and informative read. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to Cuba this year. Thank you again!

    1. Author

      Thanks Nisha!I hope you will be able to visit Cuba one day 🙂

  14. Beautiful photographs! The maps are helpful. I’m heading to Cuba soon and this sorts out a lot of questions I had!

    1. Author

      Glad I could help Jade! Have a fabulous trip to Cuba!

  15. That should be a month at least. The #1 best reason why I love my trips to Cuba is the Cuban people. I’m not rich. I scrimp and save to break up the long winter. With only a week time is short. I do feel welcome and never get hassled! Other countries getting hassled is an hourly thing. Proud Cuba!

    1. Author

      Hey Brent, as I have already explained in another comment, I know this itinerary for Cuba might be super tight for many people so it is only to be taken as a guideline for the places to see in Cuba and you can tweak it depending on your interests, cutting some sights to just relax on the beach or explore a specific area of interest for more days. Also thanks for sharing your positive experience with the locals 🙂

  16. Wow you’ve fit a lot into 7 days. We spent 10 days in Cuba and only did Havana, Vinales and Trinidad. We took local buses and spent 2-3 days in each stop. It was an amazing trip! Great pictures!

    1. Author

      Hey Peggy, I know! I should put a disclaimer at the beginning of the post as some people (from my experience with Sardinian Itineraries) would be crazy enough to ask me to squeeze even more locations for 4 days on the Island! Others like to take things easy. This is just a guide of the places to see in Cuba, of course people can tweak the itinerary by skipping a location or two and spend more time wherever they like 🙂

  17. Great Read and thanks for wonderful information about Cuba. It will be great to check out and explore this place with family or friends.

    1. Author

      Indeed, I am planning my own trip when I’m back from Europe again. Cuba is truly fascinating!

  18. Pingback: Cuba On A Budget: The Ultimate Guide On How To Visit The "Revolucion" Island. - KEEP CALM AND TRAVEL

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