Outdoor jazz performance in Cuba.
Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón
Tour
days

The ultimate Latin music event and Cuban dream tour

Havana jazz fest plus tour

Swing to world’s best jazz talents
VIP all-access jazz festival pass
Tour Las Terrazas eco-community
Discover ancient historical Havana
Foodies delight at best restaurants
Visit Bellas Artes museum of art
See where Ernest Hemingway lived
Witness urban organic farm life
Zipline in across tropical jungles
Groove to Rumba at Hamel’s Alley
Downtime to explore on your own
Trip around psychedelic Fusterlandia

Havana jazz fest plus tour overview

Havana jazz fest plus tour is designed for participants to get an overview of island culture, history, and nature. In addition to many Havana excursions, you’ll witness jaw-dropping eco-community of Las Terrazas in the western province of Artemisa. Supernatural Las Terrazas is a mountain village that is self-sustaining and totally organic.
American musician Herbie Hancock.
Havana became one of the most inspiring cities on the planet, full of life and dynamic. American musician Herbie Hancock, speaking in Havana.

Sensuous Cuba is a nation of intense rhythms, colors, emotions, aromas, and flavors. What travelers remember most is its ubiquitous pulsating music – and the passionate, friendly islanders who make and revel in it.

2020 is our 14th year helping Americans experience the world’s best jazz in the exotic Caribbean metropolis of Havana, Cuba. During the 35th edition of this globally renowned jazz celebration, you’ll rub shoulders with jazz greats from scores of nations.

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. Hotel Nacional de Cuba or the NH Hotel Capri is the best digs from which to enjoy hot, throbbing, live Latin rhythms morning, noon and night on the ultimate Latin jazz and Cuban dream tour.

You’ll enjoy the best seats at all jazz festival performances and venues with your VIP all-access festival pass. You’re an honored guest when traveling with Cuba Explorer.

Havana jazz fest plus 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 • Sunday • Say hello to the nation of music

Cuba jazz bass violin player.
Street musicians are found on nearly every corner in Old Havana. Photo René Silveira Toledo.
  • 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 • Monday • Old Havana, architecture, history and art

Havana’s Cathedral of Christopher Columbus.
Old Havana harbors the most extensive collection of Spanish colonial buildings in the western hemisphere. 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.
  • Now we explore Havana’s famed arts and crafts mall know 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!
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Hidden gastronomical gem. Group welcome dinner featuring an open menu at Paladar Café Laurent. This sophisticated private restaurant serves Caribbean, Latin, seafood, Cuban, and fusion delights on starched white tablecloths, with polished glasses, and sparkling cutlery. The bright modernist 1950s interior promises an excellent meal and great views of Havana.
  • Behold a most dramatic ceremony – El Cañonazo – the Firing of the 9 PM Cannon at the magnificent Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. Its construction began in the 16th-century. Later, Ché Guevara established his headquarters in its vaults after the 1959 Revolution. El Cañonazo is an enchanting reenactment dating back to 1519 when the city of Havana was enclosed by a tall, thick rock wall to ward off attacks from pirates and the English. The firing of the 9 PM cannon signaled the closing of the city gates each evening. If you were outside at the time, you were in “vedado” or the forbidden zone. Today Vedado is the cultural hub of upper-crust modern Havana.
  • Time to explore Havana’s vibrant nightlife and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options.

Day 3 • Tuesday • Nature trip to stunning Las Terrazas

Cuban boy learns to ride a horse.
Cuban boy learns to ride a horse. In the Cuban countryside, many people ride horses or ride in horse-drawn carts. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Day excursion to the amazing Las Terrazas just one hour to the west of Havana in Artemisa province. Once mired in poverty and wholly deforested after centuries of charcoal production for coffee processing and cooking, Las Terrazas today is a vibrant, self-sustaining eco-community.
  • On arrival to the rural village Rancho Curujey you’ll enjoy a welcome cocktail while learning about the community’s successes in reforestation, historical preservation, environmental balance, and a good life. Later we’ll walk the incredible ruins of a French Coffee Plantation built in 1801 worked by African slaves.
  • Optional thrill for the young at heart: Zipline through a forest and across a lake!
  • Enjoy lunch at an open-air restaurant specializing in traditional country cuisine – La Casa del Campesino – ever popular with tour participants and locals alike. The eatery is located on the shore of the Río San Juan, making the surroundings a lush tropical paradise. Your local guide will explain the restoration of the jungles and forests of Las Terrazas and learn the principles and practices that support the region.
  • Return to your boutique accommodations and freshen up.
  • Dinner not included – an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines.
  • Time to explore Havana’s vibrant nightlife and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options.

Day 4 • Wednesday • Cuban art + Festival Opening Gala

Cubans ride to work in old American car.
A much abused 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline returns from retirement to shuttle Havana residents between home and work. The cost of a one-way trip is 42 cents. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • 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 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 Opening Gala. Transportation included.

Day 5 • Thursday • Fusterlandia + Festival Events

Cuban woman jazz singer at Fábrica de Arte.
Havana’s uber-hip dance-art-performance venue Fábrica de Arte is listed by Time Magazine in 100 of the most important cultural experiences in the world for the year 2019. Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • This morning is for you to explore the city on your own with your tourmates and new Cuban friends.
  • Arts and dining tour highlight. We’ll feast on a delicious lunch hosted by José Fúster, one of Cuba’s most important ceramists and painters, at his whimsical home studio in Jaimanitas, just outside of Havana. Fúster is known as the Picasso of the Caribbean, and his work is acclaimed internationally. His artistic mission is the rehabilitation and decoration of the village of Jaimanitas where he lives. Fúster, together with local youth, has mosaiced over 80 houses with ornate murals to suit the personality of each neighbor. Nowadays, Fúster’s art is a cherished part of Cuban culture. His masterpieces join the ranks of Gaudi in Barcelona and Brancusi in the Romanian city of Targu Jiu. Fúster funds his community project through the sale of his paintings and ceramics.
  • We’ll visit Havana’s most famous jazz club: La Zorra y el Cuervo. This venue offers an intimate environment in its basement, notably marked by a red English telephone box at its entrance. Here you will enjoy a Latin jazz discussion by a renowned Cuban expert, and live music played by top talent Cuban jazz musicians.
  • 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 • Friday • Urban farm, Hemingway + Festival Events

Young Cuban farm worker.
A Cuban youth readies for work on an organic farm. Agricultural chores are mainly performed by human and animal labor due to an embargo on farm equipment by Washington. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • We’ll visit the UBPC Vivero Organopónico Alamar, 9 miles east of Havana. It’s one of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba raising ornamental plants, medicinal herbs, and sprouting millions of seedlings for neighboring private and collective farms. Established in the early 1990s by a dozen people, the Alamar cooperative now has over 400 members who together supply a vast range of healthy, organic vegetables to nearby communities.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • 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 7 • Saturday • Havana discovery day + Festival Events

Habana Compas Dance troupe.
Members of the Habana Compas Dance troupe perform chair drumming. Internationally recognized for combining dance and percussion, they describe their art as the essence of Spanish dance merged with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Photo Ana Lorena.
  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast at your boutique accommodations.
  • Morning and afternoon: Explore the city with your tourmates and new Cuban friends.
  • Lunch not included – an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines.
  • 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 8 • Sunday • Afrocuban rhythms + Festival Closing Finale

Cuban santería musician in Havana.
Young Cuban performs rumba dance in Callejón de Hamel. He is part of the Santería religion – a mixture of African Yoruba and Catholic beliefs. Santería is one of the largest religions in Cuba. 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.
  • Return to your boutique accommodations to freshen up.
  • Lunch not included – an occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island’s distinctive cuisines.
  • Afternoon exploration time. Wander the city with your tourmates and new Cuban friends.
  • Farewell group dinner. 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.
  • Havana Jazz Festival Closing Finale. Transportation included.

Day 9 • Monday • Say goodbye to Cuba – for now

Cuban boy and homemade skateboard.
Cuban kids, like their parents, are fun-loving and friendly despite economic hardships suffered as a result of the US economic blockade of the island. Cubans think of regular Americans as their long lost cousins. 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
  • 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