Newly ADDED!*Miami pre-night hotel stay with private reception and panel discussion included in price!Overview
Travel to Cuba with Smithsonian Journeys and take part in an immersive People-to-People experience. During our specially designed nine-day program, you’ll learn about this enigmatic island nation’s fascinating culture through firsthand contact with Cuban artists, musicians, students, teachers, environmentalists, and others who are eager to exchange views with you on Cuban contemporary life. Explore the World Heritage site of Old Havana
, where you’ll learn about the ongoing preservation of the city’s architecture. Meet artists and writers and experience Ernest Hemingway’s legacy as well as authentic Cuban rumba rhythms. You’ll meet with Afro-Cuban spiritual leaders, park rangers at a bio-reserve, and traditional farmers. 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.Don't forget to check out our photo slide show to glimpse the excitement of this special program!View photos by clicking "Next Photo" at top of page!
Many thanks to Eric Dong for sharing his outstanding photos, reflecting the fascinating experience found on the Smithsonian's November immersive People-to-People program in Cuba.
Day 1 — Miami, US
Arrive in Miami. Enjoy an opening reception and a lively panel discussion with Cuba experts on a wide range of topics to prepare you for your cultural exchange program. Overnight at the Sofitel Miami airport hotel. (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. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to our hotel. This evening, enjoy a welcome reception, introductory talk by your study leader, 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. In the Flores district enjoy a special visit to Casa-Estudio de Fuster, the studio and home of José Fuster, a world-renowned painter and ceramist commonly called the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” Discuss contemporary art trends with Fuster and his colleagues. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Havana
This morning, travel to Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Cuba’s most important reforestation project . Land that was once used as coffee plantations is now home to an eco-community. Interact with some of the members of this community, including artists, musicians and craftsmen. After returning to Havana, meet with a representative from the U.S. Interest Section and learn of the role they play in Cuba. Afterwards, enjoy Cuban specialties at a paladar, a privately owned restaurant that Cubans have been able to set up in their homes as one of the first opportunities for private enterprise allowed. Our hosts, the proprietors, will speak with us to discuss the impact these ventures have made in the local communities. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Havana, Varadero
Today, visit the University of Havana, one of the oldest in the Americas. Meet with professors and students for a forum discussion. Then visit the Casa de Africa, 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 Varadero Beach and check into your hotel. After dinner tonight, visit Santa Marta and mingle with local residents at a community block party. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Matanzas
Explore Matanzas’ old town. Begin at the Plaza de la Libertad for a visit the Pharmaceutical Museum, once a 19th-century French-run pharmacy located in an exquisite building. See the original herbs, potions, and a lab complete with copper tools and utensils. Visit Ediciones Vigia, an independent art book publisher which produces limited editions of magnificent handmade books. Speak with administrators about the organization’s mission, tour the workshops, and exchanges views with book artists. Continue to the “Pearl of the South,” Cienfuegos, and check into your hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - 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, or privately owned Bed and Breakfasts, and other members of the community. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Cienfuegos
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. Afterward, explore the French-influenced city center of Cienfuegos. 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. This afternoon, return to Havana and check into your hotel. (B,L)
Day 9 — La Finca Vigía and Cojimar
Discover Ernest Hemingway’s La Finca Vigía, the hilltop estate where he lived and worked for over twenty years, now kept as a museum containing original furniture, artwork, and personal memorabilia that was collected by the author. Meet with a curator to discuss the author’s enduring legacy in Cuba. Explore the fishing village of Cojimar, the inspiration for Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Walk along the malecón and witness local village life. Tonight, celebrate your journey at a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Depart for the U.S.
Transfer to the 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.