Discover Cuba: Its People and Culture
Feel the entrancing rhythms of Old Havana on our unique people-to-people cultural exchange, where you'll meet with Cubans from many backgrounds and 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.”
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Special Pre-Tour Night!
*Miami pre-night hotel stay with private reception and panel discussion is included in price!
Travel to Cuba with Smithsonian Journeys and take part in an immersive People-to-People experience. During our specially designed eight-day program, you’ll learn about this enigmatic island nation’s fascinating culture through first-hand contact with Cuban artists, musicians, students, teachers, environmentalists, and others who are eager to exchange views with you on Cuban contemporary life. Explore Old Havana and charming Trinidad, both World Heritage sites, and learn about preservation efforts from Cubans who are passionate about their architectural heritage. Discover Cuba's sophisticated art traditions during visits with artists in their studios. Learn about the African origins of Cuba's Santeria religions as you engage with practitioners at a local museum. Hear the complex rhythms of Cuban music, from son to rumba and jazz, and learn about these uniquely Cuban music styles. Plus, unique to our program! You'll attend a special panel discussion with a diverse group of experts, which takes place in Miami prior to your departure for Cuba. A Smithsonian Journeys expert then accompanies you throughout your program.
This People-to-People Cultural Exchange is permitted by a license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Day 1 — Miami, U.S.
Arrive in Miami and check into the Sofitel 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. (R)
Day 2 — U.S., Havana, Cuba
Depart Miami this morning on a charter flight to Havana. Take a short orientation bus tour of the city, including Revolutionary Square and Morro Castle and explore the National Museum of Fine Arts with an expert. After lunch at a local restaurant, meet with future entrepreneurs and instructors at a training and advisory center for those looking to expand into the private sector, before transferring to our hotel. This evening, enjoy a welcome reception, introductory talk by your Smithsonian Journeys expert, and dinner. (L, R, D)
Day 3 — Havana
Enjoy a walking tour of Old Havana (a World Heritage site) with an architectural expert and discover the four main plazas of the 18th-century grid. Visit the restoration workshops and converse with artisans as you learn how the skills necessary to restore Old Havana are taught. Visit an organipónico (urban organic garden) and speak with farmers about the importance of expanding Cuba’s agricultural sector. (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Havana
This morning, meet with a representative from the U.S. Interests Section to learn the role they play in Cuba. Then discover Ernest Hemingway’s La Finca Vigía, the hilltop estate where he lived and worked for over twenty years. It is now kept as a museum containing original furniture, artwork, and personal memorabilia of the author. Meet with a curator to discuss the author’s enduring legacy in Cuba. Afterwards, meet with an Economics professor from the University of Havana to discuss Cuban policy and the government’s plans for the future. End the day with a visit to an independent art collective and meet with the founders to discuss their concepts in designing space for art and the economics of the art industry. (B, L)
Day 5 — Havana, Cienfuegos
Today, head to 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. Continue to 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’ most prominent architecture frames this central square. Then visit an art school and meet with some of the region’s finest artists and performers. 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. 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 (privately owned bed and breakfasts) and other members of the community. (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Cienfuegos, Havana
This morning, visit a community art project showcasing contemporary Afro-Cuban art. Meet with the director and several artists to learn of their work and how they are spreading contemporary art to small communities. This afternoon, return to Havana and en route, stop at the Bay of Pigs and visit the nearby Playa Giron Museum. After returning to Havana, check into your hotel. Tonight, celebrate your journey at a farewell dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 8 — Depart for the U.S.
Bid farewell to Cuba and transfer to the Havana Airport today for your return charter flight to Miami. (B)
Note: Due to the nature of travel in Cuba, our itinerary is subject to change. An updated schedule will be sent prior to departure but participants will need to be highly flexible and willing to accept modifications to the program.