Discover Cuba: Its People and Culture
Feel the entrancing rhythms of Old Havana on our unique people-to-people cultural exchange, where you'll learn about the history, culture, and contemporary issues of this fascinating island nation.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
I have been on a lot of very good tours but nothing compares with this Smithsonian experience.”
Discover Cuba was an intensely educational program that opened my eyes to this Caribbean country, its people, and its culture that for so long have been off limits to me.”
Previous Journeys Traveler
Cuba should be experienced NOW!”
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With Cuba going through dramatic change, this enigmatic and frozen-in-time nation is a compelling place to visit now. With Smithsonian Journeys, you will have a historic opportunity to enjoy the traditional Cuban culture of today. During our specially designed People-to-People program, explore Old Havana, charming Trinidad, and more. You’ll learn through firsthand contact with Cuban artists, musicians, students, teachers, environmentalists, and others who are eager to exchange views with you.
- Preservation: Explore World Heritage sites and learn about preservation efforts from Cubans who are passionate about their architectural heritage.
- Art Traditions: Discover Cuba’s sophisticated art traditions during visits with artists in their studios.
- Religion: Learn about the African origins of Cuba’s Santeria religion as you engage with practitioners at a local museum.
- Music: Hear the complex rhythms of Cuban music, from son to rumba and jazz, and learn about these uniquely Cuban music styles.
- Unique to our program! Attend a special panel discussion with a diverse group of experts, which takes place in Miami prior to your departure for Cuba.
Our November 10-19, 2016 departure runs on a 10-day schedule. Click here to view this itinerary.
Smithsonian Journeys People-to-People programs in Cuba are operated under a general license authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Day 1 — Miami
Arrive in Miami and check into the Pullman Miami Airport hotel. This evening, begin your People-To-People program in Miami with a welcome reception and lively, thought-provoking panel discussion on the most vital issues facing Cuba today. Your Smithsonian Journeys expert joins two other Cuba experts to share insights into the Cuban economy, political structure, and culture. A lively question and answer session concludes the panel, preparing you for the week ahead. This valuable meeting with a range of Cuba scholars is an exclusive feature of Smithsonian Journeys’ Cuba programs. (D)
Day 2 — Miami to Havana
Depart Miami this morning on a charter flight to Havana. After clearing customs and claiming your luggage, visit Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemmingway’s home for 20 years. With an expert, explore the 12 acre property and house that contains original furniture, artwork and personal memorabilia. Then continue on to lunch at a local restaurant that sources ingredients from their organiponico, or urban garden. After lunch, take an orientation bus tour of the city, including Revolutionary Square and Morro Castle. This evening, enjoy a welcome reception, introductory talk by your Smithsonian Journeys expert, and dinner at one of the city’s paladars, a privately owned restaurant. (L,D)
Day 3 — Havana
Begin the day with an historical overview of the city of Havana with an architectural historian. Hear about the city’s history, urban layout and architecture, as well as the success and challenges of Havana’s preservation efforts before embarking on a walking tour of Habana Vieja to see the city’s Colonial architecture and plazas firsthand. Along the way, meet with artists at a local graphics art workshop. Later, visit a children’s community project utilizing circus performance for social development (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Havana
This morning, meet with a representative from the U.S. Embassy in Havana to learn about the recent developments in normalizing the relationship between the two countries. Next, visit the National Arts Schools. Accompanied by a faculty member, tour the campus learning of its unique architecture and meet with students. After lunch, visit to the National Museum of Fine Arts to explore the museum’s Cuban collection to learn how the country’s history and diverse cultures have influenced its art. (B,L)
Day 5 — Havana to Cienfuegos
Depart for Cienfuegos and after lunch, explore the French-influenced city center of Cienfuegos, a World Heritage site. Walk down the Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian-only boulevard lined with various stores, to Parque Martí. Some of Cienfuegos’ prominent architecture frames this central square. This afternoon, enjoy a performance by the Choir of Cienfuegos, a local acapella group that has received international acclaim. After dinner tonight, mingle with local residents at a community block party. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Trinidad
En route to Trinidad, a World Heritage site, stop at the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens, the largest of its kind in Cuba, and learn of their efforts to maintain their rich biodiversity and extraordinary plant life. Afterwards, visit a former sugar mill town and with a historian, tour the town and meet the modern day inhabitants. Continue to Trinidad and discover its pastel-colored Colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, and beautiful plazas. Meet with a representative of the City’s Historian Office to discuss the achievements and the challenges of preserving this 16th-century city. During your exploration of Trinidad, meet with shopkeepers, owners of Casas Particulares, or privately owned Bed and Breakfasts, and other members of the community. (B,L)
Day 7 — Cienfuegos to Havana
This morning, return to Havana and en route, stop at the Bay of Pigs and visit the nearby Playa Giron Museum. Stop in the outskirts of Havana at the community of Guanabacoa to learn of the continent’s influence on Cuba and the Afro-Caribbean religion, Santeria. Enjoy a musical performance dedicated to the various deities of the religion. Take the opportunity to discuss the importance of the arts with the performers. (B,L)
Day 8 — Havana
Begin the morning with a visit to the Felix Varela Cultural Center to hear about the fascinating programs offered to Cuban citizens including the Cuba Emprende Project, a training and advisory center for Havana’s future entrepreneurs. Next, visit the University of Havana and enjoy a guided tour of the historic campus with students and school representatives. After lunch, engage in a Q&A session with a panel of Cuban experts from different fields to discuss such topics as economics, women’s rights and the future outlook of their country. This evening, gather for a farewell reception and dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 9 — Depart for the U.S.
Bid farewell to Cuba and transfer to the Havana Airport today for your return charter flight to Miami. (B)