Do you want a life-altering experience that will completely change the way you look at the world? A road trip into the Cuban geography will do just that. This Caribbean island lost in time is a gem to be discovered. Enjoy my Cuba travel guide!
Cuba Travel Guide
“Being a traveler is a transformative process, it changes you physically, emotionally and spiritually – it is the surest way to become the best version of yourself“.
A quote from one of the many airplane magazines that I have read during this trip and we could not agree more. This trip has changed and inspired us, broadened our perspectives. So many amazing places, all with their own specific character and gems to be discovered. Still, some places touch you on a deeper level than others…
Our days in the Cuban countryside will stay in our hearts for a long time. A journey in time, such an authentic experience filled with beautiful nature, wonderful discussions, music, laughter, joy and personal meetings! Explore this Cuba travel guide to experience it for yourself.
Get a glimpse of our days in Cuba in the video below!
Vinales – The Countryside
On the first day of this Cuba travel guide, we were picked up early in the morning by our guide Yosbel from Discover Vinales, a small newly established travel agency. I must admit that I first was a bit shocked by the old Geely car we were supposed to travel in but soon realized that in Cuba this is a “modern” car as promised in the trip itinerary.
As soon as we reached the highway we found ourselves in another world, another time; the whole theme of any Cuba travel guide. The highway was shared by numerous horse and ox carriages, bicycles, tractors and of course American cars like Chevrolet from the 50s mixed by Russian Ladas, all in bright colors!
Vinales has a lot to offer and it’s the shining star of this Cuba travel guide. Breathtaking views over the UNESCO protected Vinales valley, beautiful botanical gardens, huge caves with spectacular formations, in which you can walk or go by boat for hours, famous Mogotes paintings, in the middle of nowhere, just to mention a few highlights!
Things to do in Vinales – Cuba Travel Guide
And if you are a more adventurous person you will love this section of my Cuba travel guide…
When booking a trip like this it is easy to lose track of all the details and when our guide told us it was time for the Zip Line, it was a surprise to us both. But off we went and it is always nice to swing yourself among the trees with a great view, even though this was a totally different story than the Costa Rican one in terms of height, length and speed!
Any Cuba travel guide will tell you that local cuisine is rich in choices, especially if you like vegetables. The stop at the organic local farm Caza de Confianza was a very appreciated one after an active day. The food was delicious with numerous organic vegetable dishes, all from the farm. There was the best Pina Colada we have ever had and a spectacular view!
When in Cuba you need to try Cuban Cigars, or at least learn all about the process of making them. Visiting a local farmer we learned all about the thorough two years process and got a glance of the real life of the tobacco farmers, their traditions and customs..
Yet another trip in time for this Cuba travel guide. Everything is done manually by hands or by the help of the power of oxes or horses. Still, the proudness and passion of these people are amazing to witness. Everywhere you go you are met by a smile, a friendly face and by people that do their utmost to give you the best experience.
We did not smoke any cigars but at least I got myself a picture of my own Mr. Machan!
Vinales – The People
The best part of these days was the personal meetings, the discussions with our guide Yosbel and the stay with Antonio and Blanquita.
Casa Particular is a well-established concept in Cuba, where you instead of staying at a hotel, stay with a Cuban family in their home. We arrived in the pretty and colorful village of Vinales in the afternoon and was greeted by a smiling Blanquita that showed us to our room in their greenhouse. Fredrik was a bit skeptic to this concept but we were both positively surprised by our cosy and clean room decorated in true Cuban colorful style as well as the amazing hospitality of Antonio and Blanquita.
Our street, lined with colorful houses, was filled with people, busses and cars passed by followed by horse and ox carriages, stopping for a delivery or a short break. Once the sun had disappeared behind the mountains, people moved to their small front patios or into their living rooms. All doors are still fully open for neighbors and friends to come and go as they pleased. A life fully displayed to the neighbors and people passing by, a gem of this Cuba travel guide.
We felt blessed to have been invited into this friendly and caring community – every Cuba travel guide will tell you how sweet locals are!
Unique Cuban Perspectives
During a two day private tour you get to know your guide and with Yosbel we found a strong connection! So many interesting discussions and reflections, truly the heart of this Cuba travel guide. We were miles apart in some aspects due to the different development phases of our countries. However, we found a very strong common ground in the more spiritual topics, the big topics about life. And one of his questions is still stuck in my head…
Linda, is it true that people in the west work so much so they do not have time for their families and friends? How can that be when you have a house, food and everything else you need for a happy life?
There and then, all my answers I have told myself so many times when having these thoughts felt totally wrong. So I just nodded…
As any Cuba travel guide will show you, we in the West might be years ahead in terms of development. However, what always strikes you when traveling to less developed countries, is that in our eagerness to develop we sometimes lose our focus on the most important things in life – family, friends, and love!
Varadero – A totally different world
After a five hours drive, we reached our next destination – Varadero – the most famous beach destination of any Cuba travel guide. Coming here after our days in Vinales was almost a shock, a bit absurd experience.
A shock of this Cuba travel guide: in Varadero, the time has not stopped. You are met by huge resorts, all built for the tourist to enjoy the beautiful Varadero beach. A totally different world, another time more akin to the present!
Big resorts are not our cup of tea but small boutique hotels do not exist in Varadero. Having said this, our resort – Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort – was a great resort. Built in Cuban style in bright colors and with canals and bridges, all to keep the small cosy feeling.
The Varadero beach is very beautiful with Caribbean crystal clear turquoise water. The wide beach with soft bright sand invites you for long walks. Despite the huge resorts, it was very quiet. Luckily it was easy to find sweet spots to enjoy the sun. Time to charge our batteries for the upcoming days in Havanna!
During the last night, Varadero offered us a spectacle: a magnificent sunset to finish off this Cuba travel guide!
Would you like to stay at Royalton Hicacos. THEN BOOK IT HERE!
Seven days in the Cuban countryside were not enough and I could write many a Cuba travel guide to discuss this island. We fell in love with this country, its people and its culture. Cuba will for sure be put on the list of countries for a second visit!
More from Travel with a Silver Lining
- If you loved this journey across Cuba, find out more about how you can make it happen by reading my Cuba Road Trip!
- Check out all my posts from this amazing island in the Cuba section of the blog!
- For more adventurous times in Latin America, why not read about my time in Costa Rica?
- See my top 3 posts: 18 Instagram Spots in Lisbon, My Amalfi Coast Photography Guide and the Top 10 Hipster Restaurants in Moscow!
Booking Support & Input
- Book your dream Cuban vacation through Momondo! The site is the perfect place to find the best deals on flights to this Caribbean gem. Download the app HERE!
- Booking.com offers incredible lodgings throughout Cuba. Check out their search pages for Havana, Vinales and Varadero!
- Forget about waiting at the airport and book a transfer to your hotel in advance. Here’s a great one from Havana airport!
- Get Your Guide offers incredible tours and experiences from everywhere in the world, curated by real people. Find out more about their Havana tours through the widget below!
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