Three jazz musicians on Havana malecón.
Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón
Tour
days

Seven dreamy days of hot pulsating Latin jazz in Havana

Just the jazz festival tour

Swoon over world’s best jazz artists
VIP all-access jazz festival pass
Foodies delight at best restaurants
Discover ancient historical Havana
Watch Cuban dancers practice
Explore the secrets of making rum
Groove to Rumba at Hamel’s Alley
See Cuba’s elegant National Capitol
Visit Bellas Artes museum of art
Downtime to explore on your own

Just the jazz festival tour overview

Cuba’s a music machine pumping out wall-to-wall sound that fuels the global music scene. We invite you to travel to Havana Cuba with us. Jump into its audio inferno of Afrocuban beats, Latin jazz and swirling salsa, and dizzying son and rumba.

American actor and musician Will Smith.
Jazz has been the voice of freedom for millions of people of all ages, ethnicities and creeds, because it reaches the soul and connects with the spirit of all mankind. American actor and musician Will Smith, speaking in Havana.

Our guests have the option to stay at the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, or the NH Hotel Capri. Both hotels rank high on TripAdvisor. Each is set near the Malecón seawall with stunning views of the ocean and city, in the heart of Havana’s entertainment district. Countless international personalities from history, culture, science, sport, and politics have stayed at these hotels.

During your Just the Jazz Festival tour, you’ll relish seven days of art, culture and music, and six nights of world-class jazz. Your all-access Jazz pass gives you VIP credentials to visit all the performance venues night and day.

What is remarkable about this trip is the amount of time you have to get to know the island’s capital while partaking in rare musical encounters. Our guided romps around Havana’s most inspiring sights and activities will leave you feeling like a local.

It’s the ideal junket for friends, families, and co-workers. If you want a taste of Cuba at a leisurely pace that won’t break your budget, this is the best introduction to Cuba available.

Just the jazz festival tour map

On this tour you’ll visit
Cuba is big. It’s larger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Day 1 • Tuesday • Say hello to the city of music

Cuban woman at Havana Jazz Festival.
The Havana International Jazz Festival: A series of small epiphanies make for a monumental experience in the Pearl of the Caribbean. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Arrive at Havana’s José Martí International airport (HAV).
  • Enroute to your boutique accommodations savor the sights and sounds of one of the oldest and most stunning cities in the New World.
  • At your lodging, enjoy a welcome cocktail, freshen up, and get comfortable.
  • Group arrival dinner with your guide and tourmates at your lodging.
  • Evening entertainment options: Groove to live jazz, relax in a lounge, or revel in a dicey dance show – all within walking distance of your lodging.

Day 2 • Wednesday • Old Havana + Festival Opening Gala

Castillo de la Real Fuerza in Havana.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza next to Plaza de Armas was built in 1562 to fend off attacks by pirates. It is the oldest stone fort in the Americas and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Havana and its Fortifications. Atop the watchtower (shown here) sits the statue La Giradilla, a symbol of love and longing, and the logo of Havana Club. Today the fort houses a maritime museum. Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Fall in love with Old Havana. “In terms of beauty, only Venice and Paris surpassed Havana,” penned Ernest Hemingway. He was alluding to Havana’s incredible architecture, arts, and, of course, the joie de vivre of the city’s engaging people. Old Havana’s four ancient plazas are full of color and personality, with a mix of palatial buildings, monuments, museums, galleries, churches, lively entertainment, restaurants, and bars. Together, they contain the most extensive collection of Spanish colonial-era architecture in the western hemisphere. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, restoration and care of Old Havana’s wonders is assigned to the Office of the Historian of Havana – Cuba Explorer’s island sponsor. We’ll visit Cathedral Square, the Square of Arms, San Francisco Square, and Plaza Vieja.
  • Group welcome lunch at the private restaurant Mojito-Mojito. Ideally situated in Plaza Vieja, its friendly staff, quaint atmosphere, and delicious food makes it rank high on TripAdvisor. The restaurant’s slogan, “A single mojito is not enough.” We agree.
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Group welcome dinner at the private restaurant Los Naranjos. Located in the heart of Vedado in an expansive 1930s mansion, its Chef Ernesto specializes in fusion style dishes combining Cuban, Italian and Spanish influences. Los Naranjos’ ambiance is fun and light, its food wonderful, authentic and fresh, and staff upbeat and attentive. It’s a favorite among TripAdvisor diners.
  • Havana Jazz Festival Opening Gala. Transportation included.

Day 3 • Thursday • Cuban dance + Festival Events

Couple dancing in Havana park.
Jazz aficionados boogie to Afrocuban tunes in a Havana park. Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Morning visit to one of several esteemed Cuban dance companies depending upon availability: Habana Compás Dance, Carlos Acosta Danza, or Danza Retazos. We’ll visit and meet the troupe during their practice performances.
  • Group lunch. In the heart of Vedado, set in an elegant mansion is one of Havana’s best restaurants, El Atelier. Its menu changes daily at the chef’s discretion based on the availability of fresh produce. Aside from El Atelier’s selection of to-die-for dishes, and excellent service, the atmosphere is worth the visit if only for a cocktail and the view. El Atelier has been among the city’s best eateries for years with Cubans and foreign guests. President Obama, First Lady Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha dined at El Atelier in 2016.
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Dinner not included – an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines.
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances. Choose among events taking place at several different venues. Transportation not included.

Day 4 • Friday • Rum, art, shopping + Festival Events

Cuban girls sample Havana Club rum.
The national elixir of Cuba is Habana Club. The legal drinking age is 16. No wonder Cuba was awarded the Cocktail Capital of Latin America in 2018. Cuban bartenders are on record for creating the world’s largest Cuba Libre (rum and Coke). One hundred guests quaffed the enormous 500-liter drinksie at the Pan-American Championship of Cocktails at Hotel Habana Libre. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Time flies when you’re having rum! Cuba’s golden elixir spans nearly five hundred years of brewing. You’ll learn the fascinating history and art of distillation of the island’s (and Hemingway’s) most popular spirit. The Havana Club Museum of Rum opened in the year 2000 within a grand private palace. It houses incredible artifacts used in the rum-making process, as well as an expansive Rum inventory, and a chance to sample this liquid ambrosia.
  • Now we explore Havana’s famed arts and crafts mall known as Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Depósito San José. This marvelous restoration of dilapidate dock warehouse has resulted in a gigantic market exhibiting the wares of hundreds of Cuban artists and craftspersons. An authentic Cuban shopping experience!
  • Lunch at La Moneda Cubana, a small private rooftop eatery located in the heart of Old Havana overlooking the Cathedral Square. It’s named after the original owner’s passion for old coins, moneda national [Cuban coins]. Its authentic cuisine adheres to traditional recipes prepared with seasonal vegetables, meat, fish and seafood.
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Dinner not included – an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances. Choose among events taking place at several different venues. Transportation not included.

Day 5 • Saturday • Afrocuba, Hemingway farm + Festival Events

Cuban Yoruba dancer in Callejón de Hamel.
Cuban Yoruba dancer in Havana’s Callejón de Hamel [Hamel’s Alley]. Locals transformed a once desolate two blocks long slum into a vibrant outdoor art gallery, rumba stage and community hub for Santería devotees. Santería is a combination of traditional Yoruba religion and Catholicism. Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Visit the Afrocuban influenced Callejón de Hamel, one of the shortest but most mesmerizing streets in Havana. See Afrocuban religion of Santería, a fusion of African belief systems (multiple saint worship) and Catholicism, portrayed in art, music, and dance. Vibrant murals adorn alley walls in tribute to the culture and religious beliefs of the neighborhood.
  • Hemingway’s haunt. We’re off to visit Finca Vigía [Lookout Farm] where North America’s literary titan Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. Hemingway’s house remains just as it was when he lived there. You’ll see his personal effects, thousands of books and photographs, as well as animal trophies, bagged on his numerous African safaris.
  • Lunch under the palms. El Ajiaco is considered one of the best private eateries in all of Cuba. Hands down it’s an island dining highlight. Ajiaco is noted for fantastic service, atmosphere, and scrumptilicious traditional Cuba cuisine. Nearby family gardens supply organic vegetables and spices, lending to each dish a delightfully fresh aromatic flavor you’ll always remember. All the top cookers at El Ajiaco were previously the best chefs at Cuban State-owned restaurants. They went their own way and elevated Cuba cuisine to world standards.
  • A brief visit to the village of Cojímar, a small fishing community of east Havana. Here local fishers cast bronze bust of Hemingway from old anchors, props, and tools. The inscription reads, “In loving memory of the people of Cojímar to the immortal author of Old Man and the Sea.” A plaque below the bust notes, “Sculpted with the contributions of the Fishermen Cooperative of Cojímar.”
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Dinner not included – an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines.
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances. Choose among events taking place at several different venues. Transportation not included.

Day 6 • Sunday • Art and the Capitol + Festival Closing Finale

Jazz fans in Havana street.
Warm tropical winter nights present the opportunity for street parties. Havana Jazz Festival activities take place across many venues – including spontaneous outbreaks of outdoor music and dance. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Can’t miss visit to the recently renovated Capitolio de La Habana, home to Cuba’s National Assembly. The imposing monument is reminiscent of the US Capitol but taller and less austere; chocked full of grand statuary, breathtaking ornamental details, and jaw-dropping art. The building supports the sixth-largest dome in the world – clad in 24 karat gold plated panels. Inside you’ll see the bronze Statue of the Republic based on a young Cuban woman. It’s the third-largest indoor statue in the world. You will learn all about this magnificent structure from staff who work at the Capitolio.
  • Art attack. Examine Cuba’s greatest visual masterpieces spanning three centuries at Havana’s museum of modern art – Palacio de Bellas Artes. Sections are devoted to landscape, religious subjects, and narrative scenes of Cuban life over 300 years. Together the exhibits account for the richness of the island’s Spanish, French, Chinese, African and Aboriginal cultural roots. Notable works include those of René Portocarrero and Wilfredo Lam. You’ll meet and chat with museum staff and perhaps local artists.
  • Lunch today in Old Havana at Restaurante Cuba 54. Great service, fresh and natural products, Mediterranean decor, and delicious meals have earned this eatery excellent ratings on TripAdvisor.
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Group farewell dinner with your guide and tourmates at the award-winning private five-star Restaurante Mediterráneo Havana. An open menu selection features southern European haute cuisine. All ingredients are fresh from the farm and sea.
  • Havana Jazz Festival Closing Finale. Transportation included.

Day 7 • Monday • Goodbye to Havana – missing Cuba already

Cuban kids give thumbs up to American visitors.
Not camera shy. Always eager to ham it up for photos, beguiling, effusive, and affectionate characterize Cuban kids. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Transfer to José Martí International airport (HAV) for flights home.
  • We’ll miss you and hope you will return soon. In Cuba, we say, "A true friend remembers the song in your heart when you have forgotten the lyrics."
  • Want to extend your Cuba stay? We’ll gladly assist. Learn how easy it is.
While in Cuba, our attentive island team ensures your trip is magical and memorable.

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Included in Cuba tour package cost

  • VIP all-access jazz passes for Jazz Festival events
  • Cuban Tourist Visa and delivery, up to a $100 value
  • Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel in compliance with US Cuba regulations
  • Knowledgeable, fun, attentive Cuban guides from arrival to departure
  • Quality accommodations as listed in this itinerary
  • Air-conditioned transport, professional chauffeur, and bottled water daily
  • Airport-accommodation transfers on tour start and end days
  • All activities and fees listed unless noted as optional or suggested
  • Emergency telephone and internet access from Cuba to America
  • Cash advances for participants caught short of funds in Cuba
  • Ongoing support from our US and Cuban staff before, during and after travel
  • Participants become Club Cubano alumni and receive future tour discounts

Tasty meals included each tour day

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Not included