On this top-rated and popular tour, feel the entrancing rhythms of Old Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad on our unique people-to-people cultural exchange, where you'll learn about the history, culture, and contemporary issues of this fascinating island nation.

Starting at: $6,590 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Historic building with vintage automobiles, Havana  Musician in Havana  Cathedral Square in the evening, Havana  Typical scene in Havana. Credit: Giancarlo Bisone  Musician in Havana  Santeria procession. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Street in Old Havana  Shades of blue in the bustling streets of Havana. Credit: Galli Levy  Shop owner. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Rumba dancer at Guanabacoa Museum. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Traditional bar. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Fishing along Havana's Malecón. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Students in classroom, Cienfuegos. Credit: Jia Han Dong  One of many musical performances. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Malecón, called "lover's boulevard" by the locals, stretching for four miles along Havana's north coast. Credit: Jia Han Dong  Square in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Discover Cuba: Its People and Culture

Featuring Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad

7 days from $6,590

On this top-rated and popular tour, feel the entrancing rhythms of Old Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad on our unique people-to-people cultural exchange, where you'll learn about the history, culture, and contemporary issues of this fascinating island nation.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details


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The idea of a ‘people to people cultural exchange’ extended to the dynamics of our group. We were fairly diverse economically, geographically, and politically, yet were able to find common ground at some point during the trip and shared a beautiful communal experience. 

- Brent S.

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

I have been on a lot of very good tours but nothing compares with this Smithsonian experience. 

- Mary-Jeanne M.


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To view a section, please click on an option below.

A Q&A with Expert Emilio Cueto

Q. What expectations should Smithsonian Journeys travelers have about travel to Cuba?

A. Travelers should expect the unexpected. Cuba is rapidly changing in many ways, and the average Cuban resident now has more opportunities than ever during the preceding five decades to travel abroad, to buy and sell personal and real property, to receive unlimited remittances from abroad, to open small businesses (mostly services), to be employed by foreign firms, to practice religion with more freedom, to be exposed to more visitors (particularly Americans and Cubans living abroad), to access the internet. Travelers will be able to witness, understand, and measure the multiple signs of this emerging new Cuba, including the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. They should also understand that Cuba is a developing country and some inconveniences and hardships cannot be totally excluded from their travel experience. Finally, travelers should expect to be questioned about their unique, exciting experience by friends upon their return to the U.S.

Q.  What excites you about travel to Cuba?

A. The people. Cuba’s population is the result of contributions from pre-Columbian settlers, Spanish immigrants (Spain itself being a multi-regional mosaic), African slaves (coming from different areas within the Continent's Atlantic coast), French planters, Chinese indentured servants, Yucatan serfs, Jamaican and Haitian sugar laborers, Arab arrivals, Jewish refugees, Latin American political asylum seekers, and Eastern European socialist advisors. During the last five centuries, each of these groups has had to adapt in the pursuit of the elusive goal of living as equals and in harmony. From these various sources, the Cuban people slowly emerged, reflecting in its literature, visual arts, music, dance, customs, and character the multifaceted influences offered by the various ethnic groups.

Q. What kinds of insights do you hope to bring to our travelers?

A. I was born in Cuba and lived there until high school. I have returned to the island dozens of times during the last 39 years, and I have traveled extensively throughout all provinces, including the Island of Youth. Not only have I devoted many years to the study of Cuba’s history and culture, but having family and friends in Cuba I have learned many lessons about everyday life in the island. Given my background, I believe I can share with our travelers a sense of trajectory and movement, as opposed to a still picture, in the discussion of Cuba’s many realities. Last, but certainly not least, I can also bring the perspective of exile, without which no understating of the island can ever be complete.

Q. What do you enjoy most about accompanying Smithsonian Journeys travelers?

A. The questions they pose. Having been born in Cuba and traveling so often to the island while living abroad, I instinctively look at Cuba through my own peculiar experience, which is to be expected. Smithsonian Journeys travelers, however, necessarily bring new perspectives into the equation, and I am challenged to see Cuba through their inquisitive eyes. This, in turn, prompts me to reflect and craft more complex and nuanced answers in an attempt to provide such depth and context as will allow the foreign traveler to better understand Cuba’s condition. As a result, I have developed a richer understanding about my own country of origin.

Activity Level

Activity Level 3: Advanced

Expectations: Most trips will feature long touring days, many full-day excursions, and a full and active itinerary with a faster pace and longer distances. Some tours may have activities with higher intensity and more active choices/options. Excursions require standing and walking for extended periods of time over more difficult terrain (cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, limited or no access to elevators, muddy/slippery walking/hiking trails), and walking to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Specific itineraries may feature hiking, use of local transportation, extended overnight train travel, extensive use of Zodiac crafts or other smaller ship conveyances, or multiple internal plane rides. Some itineraries may require early morning departures and later evening returns. Travelers may be in remote and/or rugged regions, and may be touring at higher altitudes with steep ascents/descents. Leisure time may be limited (sometimes only in the later evenings). Certain tours feature more active excursions (such as moderate hiking, swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, bicycling, rafting, or kayaking), though another choice may be offered for an alternate skill level. Walking/hiking tours may feature up to six-mile walks/hikes.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Top Five Reasons to Travel to Cuba with Smithsonian Journeys

1. We Know Where to Take You

Smithsonian Journeys was one of the first tour providers to receive a license to operate People-to-People programs from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury. We have operated successful tours in Cuba since 2012, and our travelers benefit from our experience, excellent guides, and contacts in the region. Indeed, for many decades, Cuban cultural institutions and the Smithsonian have collaborated on diverse scientific and artistic projects, including hosting Cuban participants at the 1989 Folklife Festival, in various Smithsonian exhibits, and with scholars researching indigenous Cuban culture.

2. In-Depth Panel Discussion

Enjoy an overnight stay in Miami with a reception and a special panel discussion featuring a diverse group of experts, a unique feature of Smithsonian Journeys' Cuba programs. Learn about the Cuban economy, political structure, and culture, then engage in a lively Q&A session with our experts.

3. Bring Your Destination To Life

When you travel to Cuba with Smithsonian Journeys, you'll explore alongside an expert who has a deep understanding of the country's culture and history. Our knowledgeable and charismatic Smithsonian Journeys Expert and dedicated tour staff will enrich your people-to-people experience in a unique and personal way.

4. Travel with New Friends

You'll forge lasting friendships with travelers who share your passion for learning and exploration. Our small groups allow for a rewarding cultural exchange.

5. Discover Real Value

Once you add up the extras that are included—experts, enrichment, meals, excursions, and on-tour emergency insurance—you'll know you're getting more than you pay for. That's what we call real value!


* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Pullman Miami Airport

Miami, United States

Conveniently located near the Miami International Airport, the hotel is tastefully decorated in Art Deco style overlooking a peaceful blue lagoon. Modern rooms feature the Pullman's luxurious feather top and duvet sleep system. Airport Shuttle service is available and there are two restaurants on site.

Number of nights: 1

Hotel Parque Central

Havana, Cuba

The Hotel Parque Central is located in the center of Old Havana and within walking distance to Plaza de la Catedral, the Capitolio, the Gran Teatro de La Habana, and the Havana Harbor. There are beautiful views of Havana from the rooftop pool. The hotel amenities include a business center, pool, and two restaurants, as well as wireless Internet in the lobby. All hotel rooms feature air-conditioning, satellite television, telephone, hair dryer, and safety deposit box. Travelers on 2016 departures will stay in the Parque Central on the evenings of days 2-4, 7, and 8.

Number of nights: 3

Meliá Cohiba Hotel

Havana, Cuba

The 22-story Meliá Cohiba is located in the modern Vedado district of Havana and faces the Havana coastline with its renowned Malecón ocean drive. Just a 10-minute cab ride from Old Havana, the hotel has comfortable rooms, a spacious and elegant lobby with fountains, classical furnishings, and panoramic windows. A wireless Internet connection is available in the lobby, and several restaurants, bars, and cafes are nearby.

Number of nights: 3

Hotel Jagua

Punta Gorda, Cuba

The Hotel Jagua is located in the well-known area of Punta Gorda, overlooking the Cienfuegos Bay and just a few minutes south of the city center. The modern rooms are spacious, comfortable, cool, and bright, with a large sliding-glass door to let in light, white tile floors, and plenty of amenities.

Number of nights: 2

Hotel La Unión or Similar

Cienfuegos, Cuba

The Hotel Union is located in the center of the historic district of Cienfuegos across the street from the Parque Marti. The building was originally built in 1869 by a wealthy merchant and renovated in 2000. The hotel amenities include a business center, pool, and a restaurant. All hotel rooms feature air-conditioning, satellite television, telephone, hair dryer, and safety deposit box.

Number of nights: 2



The idea of a ‘people to people cultural exchange’ extended to the dynamics of our group. We were fairly diverse economically, geographically, and politically, yet were able to find common ground at some point during the trip and shared a beautiful communal experience. 

- Brent S.

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

I have been on a lot of very good tours but nothing compares with this Smithsonian experience. 

- Mary-Jeanne M.
Reading List

Enrich your travels with reading! Click here for a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan through Travel Guard with the price of your tour. This travel insurance plan includes on-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance. You will receive details on this included insurance with your Tour Confirmation and Tour Bulletins after you book a tour (U.S. Residents only).

In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connections, lost luggage, and cancelled plans. There are many plans you can consider. For your convenience, you may visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1.800.208.6142 to learn more.

Terms and conditions

Our Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engages travelers in the wide-ranging mission of the Smithsonian. Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world around them. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Cuban visa
  • Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour management throughout the tour.
  • All accommodations (based on double occupancy).
  • Meals as indicated on the tour page, including special welcome and farewell dinners (B-breakfast; L-lunch; R-reception; D-dinner).
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary.
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list.
  • Baggage handling for one bag plus one carry-on bag per person.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted.
  • On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only).

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • $600 airfare is additional and must be purchased with your tour.
  • Transfers to and from your home to the program site and transfers to and from the airports, unless specifically noted
  • Passport fees, visa photos as required and any additional expenses incurred for travel to and from the program site.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Personal items such as wines, liquors, a-la-carte orders, meals other than specified.
  • Room service and valet/laundry service.
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operators in making individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour.
  • Other items not specifically mentioned as included.  
  • Optional Travelers’ Protection Plan: Unexpected events before or during a trip may leave you with cancelled plans, lost luggage, or unforeseen medical expenses. This optional plan offers an affordable package of benefits and services that can provide coverage and assistance for the unexpected. Visit TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys to learn more.

Space is reserved in the order of receipt of phone or web reservations.

To submit a request for a reservation, please order using our secure online process, or call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Reservations Specialist, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified of your status when your request has been received and processed. Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of most tours. 

To complete your request, the following is necessary:

Required Information

For all international departures, passport information including the following, in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program as well as by our international travel partners: your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, and gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov). In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, or if you use a different passport than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.


Deposit of $500 per person, per tour, payable by check to the tour operator or by major credit card, is required to reserve a space on a tour program. Deposits are applied to payment of the program price.

Balance due upon invoicing at least 90 days prior to the program. If payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration

Any registration received within 90 days of departure is considered a “late registration” and must be subject to special confirmation. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card or by check and sent by overnight mail to the tour operator before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full.

Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the program within the designated late registration period for that program.

For additional information, please call a Reservations Specialist at 855-330-1542, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) or visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org/Contact.

A Note About Costs

Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. Should actual enrollments fall significantly below minimum numbers, a surcharge may be added. Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.). Details and costs will be advised prior to departure. 

Wait List 

If the program(s) of your choice are fully subscribed, you will be placed on a wait list. If you choose to withdraw from the wait list, please notify us.

Please note that we are unable to keep you apprised of your status on the wait list. We will call you only if a space becomes available, but you are welcome to call us at your convenience to inquire about your status at 855-330-1542.

Cancellation and Refund Policy: Per person cancellation fees are based on date of notice to Smithsonian Journeys.

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking (if not within final payment date): full refund.
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking: $500 retained (entire deposit).
  • Final payment due: 90 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations made less than 90 days prior to departure: no refund.
  • Cancellation by the Smithsonian: full refund.
  • No refund for unused portions of the tour, including but not limited to, missed meals, hotel nights, and sightseeing.

Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Air Service

For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request. Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.

Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes.

Neither Smithsonian Journeys nor the tour operator has any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in international gateways, travel dates, or airline schedule changes. If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense. For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, we will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignment on your international flight is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Individual Arrivals and Group Transfers
A designated group flight is not included on most tours. However, transportation from the arrival airport to the ship/hotel is included in your tour cost if you arrive in time to meet the scheduled group transfer. Your first tour bulletin will thoroughly explain the details of the options available for your individual flights.

Air Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour
We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Tours also can be canceled due to low enrollments. Neither Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan, through Travel Guard, with the price of your tour. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.

Travel Documents

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours in this catalog. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation. You are responsible for obtaining these documents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

Physical and Medical Considerations

Please note that these tours require that participants be in good physical condition. You must be capable, without assistance, of walking a minimum of two miles over uneven terrain and of climbing stairs that may not have handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of travelers on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Some tours have additional notes regarding physical and medical considerations, which are noted on the Tour Information link

Itinerary or Program Modifications

Smithsonian strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. Every effort will be made to carry out the program as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary is sent. Please note that weather conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise programs. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.


Smithsonian chooses hotels based on a combination of their location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and programs in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used. In most cases, hotels have elevators and meeting rooms for Smithsonian lectures. Program prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates
Hotel rooms are always reserved for single travelers; however the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will apply for a single room. If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room. When a roommate cannot be found, the single supplement will be charged. 


All tours, except family programs, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for older children. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, and a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements
Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel. Please note that the tour operator can assist you in making post-tour arrangements only. We regret that we are unable to help with pre-tour arrangements.

Participants on tour may be photographed for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution. Photographs may be printed in publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys. Travelers who prefer that their image not be used must advise the tour manager at the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy
For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

Preparing for Your Journey

Prior to departure, you will receive Tour Bulletins containing both general and tour specific information to help you prepare for your travel experience. These bulletins will include:

  • Passport and visa instructions
  • Flight information
  • Weather, clothing, and packing suggestions
  • A suggested reading list
  • General information about the countries you will visit, e.g. the food, customs, medical precautions, and currency.
  • Information about your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour staff
  • Baggage tag(s) and name badge(s)
  • Final itinerary
  • Participant list  


Read Carefully: Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer
Smithsonian Journeys are managed by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer its members a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time, when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant, subject only to the requirement that the recoverable portion of the total amount paid that corresponds to the cost of unused services and accommodations be refunded, if any. If your tour does not include airfare, your Tour Bulletins will provide information about when participants are recommended to purchase airline tickets. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator accept no liability for the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets to/from the tour departure city if a tour is canceled or otherwise modified subsequent to the participant’s purchase of those tickets. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the participant.

Dates, schedules, program details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication of the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.


The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour brochure(s), and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour brochure(s). The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour.

By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.