joancDecember 9, 2016 at 9:03 amPost count: 0
My family of four will fly to Havana on 12/23 and leave from Havana on 1/1. We would like to visit Havana, Valle del Vinales, Cienfuegos/Trinidad, Santa Clara. I’ve come up the following itinerary. What do you think?
- 12/23 Arrive at Havana airport at 12 noon. Taxi to casa particulare in Old Havana for three nights.
- 12/24 Havana (Christmas Eve)
- 12/25 Havana
- 12/26 Havana -> Valle del Vinales, either by bus or private taxi
- 12/27 Valle del Vinales (horse riding or biking, tobacco plantation, cave etc)
- 12/28 Valle del Vinales -> Trinidad via Cienfuegos
- 12/29 Trinidad
- 12/30 Back to Havana, with a few hours stop in Santa Clara
- 12/31 Havana (New year’s eve)
- 1/1 Half day in Havana. Fly out of Havana at 4:55pm.
So far I have only booked a casa for the first three nights in Havana, staying in Old Havana.
Should I book casa for the other towns (Vinales, Trinidad) in advance, or can I just ask my landlord in Havana to book the casa at the next stop, or just find one upon arrival?
Should I pre-book the last two nights in Havana in advance? Since we will spend New Year Eve in Havana, where would you recommend staying in specific area in Havana for any special activities (e.g Vedado)? – One reason I have not booked a casa in Havana for the last two days is because I want to keep the plan flexible and open, so that we can make changes on the way.
Should I pre-book bus tickets between towns (Havana -> Vinales, Vinales -> Trinidad, Trinidad -> Havana) or can I easily arrange a private or collectual taxi on the spot? I guess I am a little bit concerned about the high season and shortage of transportation choices.
Thank you for help!
JoanMarioKeymasterDecember 9, 2016 at 12:49 pmPost count: 182
Hi, the itinerary is good. The only things that I dont think you will be able to do are the stops in Cienfuegos and Santa Clara. From Trinidad to Havana, the bus might not pass by Santa Clara. You would have to take a taxi and it will be a waste of time and money. You can do it in theory, but there is not much in Santa Clara.
Cienfuegos is OK, but on the way to Trinidad the bus will only stop in Cienfuegos for 10 minutes. You won’t even have time to get off the bus. If you take a taxi, the driver can stop for longer but you have to pay him. And the more time you spend in Cienfuegos the less time you have in Trinidad. Under certain circumstances (depending what time it is) drivers will not stop in Cienfuegos, since they will want to get to Trinidad as early as possible in order to find new passengers and then return to Havana all in the same day.
I say skip both towns.
Now, very important. You are traveling during the highest season. And this year tourism will be the highest in cuba that it has ever been in history. Last year in vinales (check it on google) tourists had to sleep on park benches in vinales during the holiday because there were no rooms left in town. My advice is definitely make all your accommodation arrangements ahead of time. And even if you have all your arrangements, know that in cuba things can quickly go wrong and you might have to make last minute changes to keep up with the situations. Honestly, I think if you do not already have reservations for your trip, it might be already too late. So start looking.
Transportation will be hard too. The major bus routes are serviced by like 4 buses per day. 80 people per bus. Basically they can move about 320 people per day from Havana to Trinidad. And there will be probably 3000 people wanting to take that bus… Go on Viazul.com and try to prebook your seat. As I said, even if you have a prebooking things can go wrong and it can get changed but at least it gives you a chance. Taxis are harder to book in advance during the holidays. And prices shoot up a lot. If all other options fail, you will have to ask your landlord to try to organize a taxi ride for you. It might be expensive, but at least it gets you to where you want to go.
Sorry for the sombre outlook. Start working on finding casas and maybe you get lucky and the trip works out as you would like. I hope it does.
MariojoancDecember 10, 2016 at 6:35 amPost count: 0
Thank you, Mario for the advices.
Is it better to visit Cienfuegos as a day trip from Trinidad?
Do you have recommendations for how to spend the new year’s eve? Is there public celebration in town?
One last question. My children are 13 and 15. Will they be allowed admission to Club Tropicana?
JoanMarioKeymasterDecember 10, 2016 at 4:27 pmPost count: 182
Cienfuegos can be arranged as a day trip. You simply ask any taxi driver in Trinidad to take you there. I think the price is about 40cuc for a standard, modern taxi. You can use a communal taxi and it will be cheaper. The communal taxis can be found near the Viazul bus stop in Trinidad. But there will be lots of taxis everywhere. Just ask the price and negotiate until you are happy.
But if you only have 2 nights in Trinidad, I don’t think you will want to spend much time in Cienfuegos. Anyway, you can decide when you get there.
For New Years Eve there are no public celebrations. There will be private parties and some restaurants will offer 20cuc or 30cuc meals which included drinks and dancing etc, until midnight, but mostly there are just family gatherings. Some nightclubs will have small shows and events. But there is nothing major.
Honestly, Cuba does not celebrate the major holidays at all. Maybe your casa landlord will invite your family to their little family party. Or you can simply relax on the Malecon and enjoy some rum and beer. That’s the way it is in Havana. There will be other people just relaxing outside. Lots of young people just chatting along the waterfront. Playing some music and maybe dancing a bit. It’s fun. It’s simple. It’s Cuba.
As for the kids getting into Tropicana – It’s a nightclub and cabaret. Kids are not permitted. The legal drinking age in Cuba is 16. As one of your kids is 15, it is possible that the doorman will not notice and might let him/her inside. But there is a good chance that the doorman will not allow the 13 year old inside. There is a dress code too. Perhaps if the kids look mature and are dressed up and look older than 16 there will be no issue. But in all my experience, the door man has stopped all children from entering the Tropicana.
Last year there was a family from Italy. They tried to bring in a little boy. The door man would not allow it. They argued… They tried to offer him money. But he would not allow the kid in. Because it is a nightclub and cabaret, and the door man would lose his job if he allowed the kid inside, since it is illegal to allow a minor into a drinking establishment. Maybe you have different luck, but that is the rule, and it seems to be applied.
I hope this info helps,
MariojoancDecember 11, 2016 at 8:27 amPost count: 0
Thank you so much, Mario. You have been very helpful!joancDecember 11, 2016 at 8:36 amPost count: 0
Hello Mario, you are so right that I might a bit late on finding casa particulars on my travel dates. Right now I’m trying to find acommodation in Havana on 12/30,31 (two nights), preferably in Vedado/Central Havana area. Can you recommend a place that actually has vacancy? We are four people and probably need two rooms.
JoanMarioKeymasterDecember 12, 2016 at 4:58 pmPost count: 182
Hi, I’m sorry. We checked everywhere. We contacted everybody that we know. We could not find any availability in Havana, or even in the Havana area. The city is really full. You should try airbnb or any other website that you can find online. I am sorry we cannot help you with this. It’s just that everything is full.joancDecember 12, 2016 at 11:20 pmPost count: 0
Thank you so much for your help! Much appreciated.
Help with 9 nights itinerary 2016-12-09T09:03:37+00:00
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