Live in the heart of Old Havana, learn Spanish, dance & see Cuba!
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Group Size: Max 30
Trip code: CUCD
Duration: 2 or 4 weeks
Enjoy a unique cultural experience in colourful Cuba. Spend 2 or 4 weeks in this unique country. Live like the locals in the heart of atmospheric Old Havana, where classic cars and vintage shop fronts leave you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to the 50s! Learn to speak Spanish, go on cultural walks and learn some sizzling salsa dance moves! This trip also includes weekend trips to paradise beaches and, for 4-week travellers, 7 days in the gorgeous Viñales Valley with horse-riding and tobacco plantation tours. Go now, before Cuba changes forever!
- Live in a family-run guesthouse in the centre of Old Havana
- Explore the ‘frozen in time’ streets of the capital with weekly cultural walks
- Enjoy daily Spanish lessons with a local teacher
- Explore the stunning scenery and tobacco plantations of the Viñales Valley by horseback
- Bliss out on Cuba’s beautiful beaches
- Learn to salsa, rumba and mambo, then dance the night away at Havana’s best nightspots
Choose from 2 or 4-weeks in charming Cuba. Travellers taking the 2-week option will spend the entire duration of their stay in Old Havana. If you choose the 4 week option, you’ll spend weeks 1, 2 and 4 in Havana, and week 3 in the beautiful Viñales Valley.
Havana (weeks 1, 2 and 4)
Live alongside the locals in this lively city famed for its music, dance and vintage vibes. You’ll be staying with your group in a guesthouse run by a friendly Cuban family. It’s in a great central location, only a few minutes’ walk from museums, restaurants, and bars. On your first day you’ll be taken on a short tour to familiarise you with your new surroundings.
- Spanish lessons : You’ll enjoy inclusive Spanish lessons every weekday morning, with around 3 hours learning a day in small groups with a local teacher. There’s plenty of time in the afternoon to get out into the local area and practice too.
- Cultural walks: Three times a week, we’ll run optional cultural walks round Havana. Soak up the rich cultural mix, classic American cars and live music on every street.
- Beach time: You can’t come to Cuba without spending some time on the beach right? Spend two weekends on the beautiful beaches east of Havana.
- Dance classes: Cuba is famous for its rhythms. Learn to salsa, mambo and more, at two optional dance classes per week while you’re in Havana.
Viñales (week 3)
Viñales is the perfect contrast to the lively capital. This jaw-dropping valley is one of the most spectacular natural settings in Cuba. Viñales itself is a picturesque agricultural town surrounded by tobacco plantations. You’ll be staying in a centrally located family guesthouse, with similar facilities to your Havana accommodation. You’ll continue your Spanish lessons on weekday mornings, but in the afternoons we’ve got an adventure activity lined up for every day, including horseback riding, a sunrise trek, a bicycle tour and a visit to a traditional tobacco drying house!
If you’d like to see some more of Cuba’s best bits, why not add in our awesome 1- week Cuba Experience tour before or after your Spanish programme?
Please note- If you are travelling in 2019, you'll follow a slightly different itinerary, if doing the 4 week trip. Rather than spending week 3 in Vinales, you'll instead have an extra week in Havana, and head to Vinales on a weekend excursion.
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There are no activities planned for day 1 of the trip apart from a welcome meeting in the late afternoon / early evening. You should arrange your arrival into Havana airport on the morning of day 1 or the night before, so you have time to settle in and acclimatise beforehand. An arrival transfer is included and you’ll be met by a driver from a local taxi firm, who will be holding a sign with your name on it. Transfer time is approximately 40 minutes and you’ll be taken directly to your family-run guesthouse accommodation, where you will be met and welcomed by your hosts. At your welcome meeting you’ll be given useful safety advice, information about your trip, emergency numbers and advice about money exchange, phone cards and other useful tips for getting by in Cuba.
Departure day is Sunday. A return transfer to the airport is not included but your hosts can help you arrange this for an approximate extra cost of USD35.
All your accommodation is included during your stay in Cuba.
In Havana (weeks 1, 2 and 4), you’ll stay in a traditional family run guesthouse in the heart of the Old city which offers a slice of the real, authentic Cuba. The guesthouse covers three floors of a tall, typically Cuban building and the family will welcome you and soon make you feel at home. The family speak English although once you’ve learnt some Spanish you’ll soon be practising your new skills! It’s the ideal way to get immersed in the Cuban way of life, get to know your host family and live among the locals.
The guesthouse sleeps a maximum of 22 people and you’ll be staying together with your Gap 360 group, as well as living alongside other travellers. All rooms have air-con and windows. You’ll be staying in a single-sex shared bedroom (dorm-style, sleeping 6 people per room) with shared bathrooms. Rooms have fans and hot water is available, although may be limited. The rooms are clean but more basic than you might be used to at home. Bedding is provided. If you’re travelling as a couple please contact a travel advisor about other rooming options.
You’ll have use of a communal living room with a balcony with a view of the lively Havana streets, plus private study areas and dining rooms. There’s also a large terrace where you can seek out the sun and do your Spanish homework (however, be aware that you can’t strip down to your bikini here as it’s overlooked by the neighbours and this may cause offence).
For week 3 in the Viñales Valley (4-week option only), you’ll be staying in a centrally located family guesthouse, with similar facilities to your Havana accommodation. Viñales is a picturesque agricultural town surrounded by UNESCO heritage limestone mountains, tobacco plantations and tobacco drying houses. It’s a perfect contrast to your time spent in the lively urban setting of Havana.
Please note: At busy times of year we may also use other local family-run guesthouses, which offer the same facilities. If you wish to book any extra nights’ accommodation in Havana before or after your programme, these can be added in for a cost of £18 per night. Please ask for more details.
Breakfasts and lunches are included 7 days a week as part of this programme. Evening meals are not included on this trip, but there are plenty of tasty local options to choose from.
You will eat your inclusive meals together with the host family and the other guests. Breakfasts are served between 7.30-8.30a.m in the dining room and consist of fresh fruit (typically guava, papaya and pineapple), a cheese toastie and eggs (cooked to your preference). Coffee and a range of teas are provided. Water is provided but we recommend you buy bottled water locally (around 70p per bottle).
Lunch is served between 12.30-1.30p.m., after your Spanish lessons are over. Lunch consists daily of rice, beans and salad served with meat (often pork). Please note that your inclusive meals will be the same or similar meals every day as there is not a wide variety of choice available in Cuba, so you may find the cuisine a bit repetitive! However, as evening meals are not included, you can seek out some different options in local restaurants.
Vegetarians can be catered for although be aware that meat is mainly substituted with eggs in Cuban meals. There is no halal or kosher food available in Cuba and pork is the main meat on offer. Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions about your specific dietary requirements.
There are plenty of local cafes and restaurants close by which offer affordable and delicious food for your dinner options. An average meal out will cost around £5-£6, although if you want to splash out on a really special meal, allow around £10. You should allow around 70p to buy a drink of water, or around £1.50-£2 per alcoholic drink, and there are plenty of local bars to choose from!
The minimum age to join this trip is 18.
A "Tourist Card", valid for 30 days, is required for most nationalities to travel to Cuba, for a cost of around £20. Many airlines to Cuba include the cost of this card in the flight cost and distribute the card during the flight. Some airlines do not provide this card, so it is best to call your airline and ask about it prior to travel. Tourist cards are also available from a Cuban consulate or embassy. If you wish to extend your stay in Cuba, the team there can help you to extend your tourist card for a further 30 days for a cost of around £30.
Upon arrival to Cuba, keep your Tourist Card in a safe place, as it is necessary to show at all homestays and also upon departure from the country.