Ultimate Drive Cuba: Self-Drive Tour
See almost the entire country in 15 adventure filled days! Discover the green tobacco fields in the west, the enchanting Humboldt National Park in the east, and everything in between!
- Nightly accommodation primarily in casas particulares
- Information Meeting
- Different Rental Car Options
- Flexible Itinerary
Ultimate Drive Cuba is our longest and most extensive self-drive adventure. With this trip you'll start in the west and cross the entire island. Your adventure starts in sunny Havana and finishes in tranquil Holguin; in between you'll discover the green province of Pinar de Rio, the lively colonial city of Trinidad, and the remote sugarcane plains of the Camagüey province, and Santiago de Cuba, city of the revolution.
Cuba has something for everyone! History buffs will love Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba. Nature lovers will surely appreciate Viñales and Baracoa. Havana and Trinidad have spectacular architecture, and Camagüey and Cienfuegos will let you experience what everyday life is like in typical Cuban provincial towns. The only thing missing is a few days on the beach. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a bit more leisure you can add on our beach extension in Guardalavaca, about 70 km from Holguin
Ultimate Drive Cuba Tour Itinerary
Unlike most of our other self-drive tours, this tour includes several destinations in Cuba’s far-east. This region is especially scenic thanks to its many stunning natural spaces. Driving in Cuba’s eastern provinces can be a bit more exciting than the rest of the country since the well-developed highway system ends in the middle of the island. Construction of the highway was started before the Cuban revolution. It was meant to connect the entire country, but this vision was never realized. In Ciego de Avila the one-lane "Carretera Central" replaces the highway.
Below you’ll find the day-by-day breakdown for our Ultimate Drive Cuba tour.
Welcome to Cuba! Today you'll arrive at the Havana airport. We can pick you up and bring you to the hotel or you can arrange your own transportation (optional transfer). Check-in and relax at the hotel or get out and start exploring the city. The Hotel Comodoro is right on the coast and has a large pool.
In the morning you'll have an information meeting with one of our English-speaking staff. At this meeting you'll get your detailed route information package and you'll have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. You can also pick up your vehicle today. You may decide to take the guided walking tour of Old Havana – La Habana Vieja – afterwards. As excited as you must be to get behind the wheel, the old town is not accessible by car.
Hotel Comodoro Breakfast
Today it’s time to leave Havana behind you. Hop on the Autopista A4 and start your scenic drive. If you get an early start you'll have plenty of time to visit one of the many spectacular national parks en-route. In the evening you'll surely find live Cuban music in the charming town of Viñales. Celebrate your first day on the road with a night of Salsa and Cuba libre! You have all of tomorrow to recover.
Casa Particular Breakfast
Today you can sleep in and then decide what you want to do. There are plenty of options to choose from including hiking, horseback riding, swimming, or sightseeing. We recommend visiting the famous limestone cliffs called 'Mogotes' and exploring some of the many caves in the area. The Cueva Tomas is particularly worth the trip. We also recommend the "Coco Solo" hike if you plan on going on a trek. This relatively easy 3 hour route takes you through lush tobacco plantations and past the impressive Mogotes.
You have one of your longer drives ahead of you today so we recommend getting an early start. 90% of the route is highway, but the Havana bypass can be a bit of a challenge, so leave yourself a bit of extra time. Santa Clara is a great place to stop as this is the location of the monumental Che Guevara mausoleum. There's also a lovely downtown area worth exploring.
Cienfuegos, the so called "Pearl of the South" is only a short distance away. Here you'll find many wonderful attractions including the famous botanical gardens, the city beach Playa Lunam, and lots of lovely French-colonial architecture. The Tomas Terry Theatre is a particularly unique neoclassical structure that remains in excellent condition. During the day you can book a tour of the Cuban National Ballet.
Continue along the picturesque coastal road to Trinidad. If you leave in the morning you'll arrive in this spectacular colonial city by the early afternoon. Go for a stroll through the town and enjoy the view of the sunset from the town beach. However, the evening is when Trinidad really comes alive. The famous "Casa de la Trova" has live music and the "Las Cuevas" disco plays Techno.
Culture, swimming, hiking, or sightseeing – with our flexible self-drive tours the choice is yours! In the colonial period many wealthy sugar barons made their homes in Trinidad and quite a few of their palatial residences are now used as museums and art galleries. There's also a stunning natural beach just around the corner and a mountain resort and national park just a 30 minute drive away.
Today you'll drive to the city of Camagüey, the capital of the province and the third largest city in Cuba. Even though it's a big city, Camagüey has few tourists. We recommend visiting the old town on foot because navigating Camagüey by car is relatively difficult. On the way you'll pass the slave tower of Trinidad. This watchtower was used by colonists to oversee slaves working in the fields. Nowadays you can climb the tower for a small fee and enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the now peaceful 'Valley of the Sugar Mills'.
Today you'll drive into the heart of the Sierra Maestra where you'll stay in the tranquil and secluded mountain Hotel El Salton. On the way you'll pass the foothills of Pico Turquino – at nearly 2000m this is the highest mountain in the country. If you arrive at your hotel early enough, you can explore this wonderful landscape on foot. There are numerous hiking trails and waterfalls nearby.
Hotel El Salton
Cuba’s so called ‘secret capital’ is just 70 km away so you can take your time getting there. The famous pilgrimage site, the Basilica Del Cobre, is on the way. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city in the country and it's known for its diverse musical styles and spirited nightlife!
Casa Particular Breakfast
In the morning you can take a tour of this beautiful and historic city. Visit Fidel’s 1953 Moncada Barracks, the former Vista Alegre residential area, the infamous San Juan Hill, and Revolution Square. We also recommend visiting the Bay of Santiago. Here you'll find the famous fortress El Morro, built in 1633 to defend the city from pirates. This is one of the best surviving examples of Spanish-American military architecture and includes drawbridges, labyrinthine tunnels, cannons, and more!
Today you have another long but very scenic drive ahead of you. You'll continue eastward to Baracoa, Cuba’s oldest city. On the way you'll pass Cuba’s highest mountain pass "La Farola". This road was built in 1964 and was one of the largest construction projects completed after the triumph of the revolution. Incidentally, the island’s first capital – Davor Baracoa – was only reachable by sea. After reaching Baracoa in the early afternoon we recommend taking some time to explore the old town.
The Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is not far from Baracoa. Explore this park on one of the many hiking trails or take a relaxing boat tour. The "Balcon Iberia" walk is especially nice; it lasts for about three hours and provides opportunities for swimming. Weather permitting, it's also possible to climb the 600m El Yunque Mountain. The best beach in the area is located in Maguana, just 20 km away.
Today you can choose to take either the direct route through the Humboldt National Park or go through Santiago de Cuba; your choice will depend on the weather. Although the latter option is a greater distance, it's usually the faster way. The road from Baracoa isn't in particularly good condition and sometimes it's blocked during hurricane season. In the afternoon you can drop your rental car off in Holguin. Spend tonight in Holguin or let us help you extend your vacation in coastal Guardalavaca! We can also drive you to the airport if you'd like (optional transfer).
Enjoy a fun and flexible vacation without having to worry about the mundane details. Decide the where, when and how of your adventure! Thanks to comfortable accommodation in casas particulares you'll also get the opportunity to learn about authentic Cuban culture and daily life in this tropical paradise.
We recommend that you read this information carefully before booking or departure. Here you will find important information about our Ultimate Drive Cuba tour. Be aware that you may need to get some vaccinations in advance. This trip includes several excursions, but there is also allocated time for optional activities. Let one of our friendly tour guides help you book any additional adventures.
- 2 nigths in hotels, 12 nights in Casas Particulares
- 2 breakfasts
- Information meeting
- Rental car
What's not included?
- International flight to/from Cuba
- Cuba Entry card (tourist visa): Available on request
- Optional Excursions
- Departure Tax
- Travel Insurance
- Transfer IN/OUT & extensions of tour
- Optional Services
Ultimate Drive Cuba Prices & Dates (per Person)
Car Category: Economy
Car Category: Medium
Double Room & Single Room
Mid-Large Sized Car**
Car Category: Medium-Large
Double Room & Single Room
*Prices include fully comprehensive compulsory insurance fees.
**Extra insurance prices shall be paid in CUC upon rental pick-up
Please refer to our rental car site for more information
High Season: 01.11.-15.12.2017, 04.01.-15.07.2018, 16.08.-31.10.2018
Peak Season: 16.12.2017-03.01.2018, 16.07.-15.08.2018
To book one of these tours, please fill out our booking form