Are you more of a city sleek, preferring to keep to the infamous Havana on your Cuba holiday, but would also like to get a sneak peek at what is on outside of the city limits?
Day trips from (or in) Havana are the answer!
I have taken both tours to Vinales for the day, tours in Havana city, and the two-day tour to Trinidad and Cienfuegos; all are really great, with value and adventure for the buck!
Don’t worry; there are numerous day trips from Havana you can embark on without losing any of the sizzling Havana nights; here is how to do it!
Easy To Navigate Map Of Cuba!
Day Trips In Havana And Surroundings
If you prefer to stay close to the city and don’t really want a lot of transport time, there still are tons of interesting things to explore within Havana Province.
When you have walked the streets and taken in the ambiance of Old Havana, make sure you know all the available things you should experience outside the city walls!
25 minutes outside Havana, you find Playas del Este, a string of beaches stretching along the shores a bit east of Havana. Here is where Cubans go to enjoy the Caribbean surf, and there are not too many tourists here.
Also, there are not a lot of beach bars, restaurants, and amenities, so for a day out here, you are smart to bring all the food, drinks, and sunscreen you need and be self-sufficient!
You can catch the bus to Playas del Este from Parque Central at the edge of Old Havana.
Or you can book an organized tour to the beach and ride in style in a Classic Old American Car!
In the organized beach day version, you can also choose a day trip to Varadero instead.
Check the tour guidelines following the link!
Just outside Havana city is the Finca Vigia, the house where Hemingway spent decades of his life!
Finca Vigia is located in the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula around 15 miles outside of Havana, and Hemingway bought this incredible house in 1940 for just over $ 12,000!
From the patio, there is an uninterrupted view of Havana, which Hemingway got to enjoy until his death in 1961 when the Cuban government took over the property.
You can also rent a bike to get around Havana on your own!
The Finca Vigia is a museum today, and you can get to see it for $5. To get there, you can get the guagua, the local bus, to Cojimar, which is super cheap and takes around 40-45 minutes.
The Cuban transport system is not great though, so prepare for a lot of waiting and queues.
The easier option is to get a taxi to take you there and back, which will be 10-15 minutes. Or join an organized tour that picks you up and drops you off – and will tell you all the stories and anecdotes on the way!
3. Marina Hemingway West Of Havana
The Marina Hemingway to the west of Havana has long channels and docks for visiting boats, and the marina is home to several international events.
Like the Ernest Hemingway International Needle Fishing Tournament, which has happened every year in May since it started in 1950!
Even without embarking on competitions, you can go deep-sea fishing from the marina and do catamaran day trips, scuba diving, and snorkeling trips along the beautiful Cuban coastline.
The marina also rents out equipment like kayaks and kites for surfing, and if this is all new to you, you can book an instructor to go with it.
There are also a variety of restaurants where you can explore Creole cuisine, so your day at Marina Hemingway will not lack anything!
You can also rent a bike to get around Havana on your own!
Best Longer Day Trips From Havana
Havana is located on the northwestern part of the Cuban main island, and from here, you can easily explore Havana province, as well as Vinales and Varadero, which both are a couple of hours away.
If you don’t mind getting up really early, you can also reach famous places like Santa Clara, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos
Also, visit the Bay of Pigs (you know, the US invasion gone horribly wrong in the 60ies) on a day trip from Havana.
Cuba excursions from Havana range from short day trips to multi-day trips if you prefer to have everything organized.
This might be a good idea in Cuba, as organizing details like transport and tickets might not be available online.
Getting a day trip from Havana to Vinales is super easy, and a great way to see the highlights of the UNESCO-protected valley!
Also read: Create Awesome Solo Holidays In Cuba!
You can also choose an organized day trip from Havana to Vinales, that will show you the highlights of the valley, and you will be back in the city for a night out!
This will include visiting a tobacco farm, testing Cuban cigars and rum, and the Cueva del Indio (spectacular!).
Go see the Mural de la Prehistoria (mural painted in the 60ies), as well as lunch and stories and anecdotes from your tour guide.
Organize Your Vinales Tour Yourself
If you want to get a taxi, you can book one for only you (and your friends), which is called a taxi privado in Cuba.
This is opposed to a taxi collectivo, a taxi you share with other people. This might be your group of friends or other travelers heading for the same destination as you.
Your host or hotel will be happy to help you make a booking with either if you don’t want to find one and negotiate a price for yourself (which can be a challenge for a non-Cuban)!
If you go by yourself, you are free to choose the most interesting things to do in Vinales, like hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, zipline, or caving just to mention a few!
Also read: Sensational 7 Days In Cuba Itinerary!
Distance From Havana To Vinales
Vinales is 93 miles away from Havana, and the roads between the two cities are quite good.
Getting up a bit early in the morning and returning late at night will get you the highlights of Vinales on a day trip.
If you chose the organized tour, you can always opt for jumping the tour at the end of the day and staying over!
Then get the Viazul bus back to Havana the next day or whenever you are ready.
Also read: How To Get A Tourist Card For Cuba!
Want To Stay Over In Vinales?
Paradisiacal peninsula Varadero lies a couple of hours to the east of Havana, famous for its all-inclusive resort, prize-awarded Varadero beach, and brilliant Caribbean ambiance.
Apart from heading into the resort bubble, Varadero also has a variety of activities and sights to offer!
You can go caving, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, take a classic car tour, get on the hop-on hop-off bus, or walk the streets of Varadero Town.
You can also catch the Viazul bus at 8:30 for $12, leaving from the Omnibus Station in Havana.
Also read: 19 Best Things To Do In Varadero Cuba!
Among the Caribbean-inspired activities to do in Varadero to whisk you away is of course spending the day on the beach.
These organized activities get a lot of good reviews from other travelers. Still, make sure you check the reviews listed for each one before you do your booking!
Or you can just enjoy Varadero town with markets and restaurants (which is only about 60 seconds from the famous and award-winning Varadero beach!).
Want To Stay Over?
Day Trips To Havana From Varadero
If you prefer to spend the majority of your holiday close to the beach and pools, you can also opt for a day trip from Varadero to Havana.
I do though, recommend you don’t skip visiting Havana completely during your Cuba holiday!
Also Read: How To Easily Travel To Cuba From The US!
The current bus schedule is not great for the day tour option (unless you stay a night or two), so a taxi or an organized tour to Havana would probably be smart in this case.
Your hotel or host can help you book a private taxi for the day, which gives you the freedom to go wherever and see whatever you want in Havana.
Or opt for an organized tour, which will be a mixture of planned activities and free time to explore on your own!
Need a place to stay in Havana?
6. Cienfuegos Cuba Tours
Cienfuegos, La Perla del Sud, is one of the few cities in Cuba that has more French influence than Spanish, as the city was inhabited by Frenchmen for a long period of time.
Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 by a French emigrant, don Luis D’Clouet, and its architecture mirrors this with the many classical facades and columns providing an atmosphere you would find in 19th-century France!
The city was an important trade port back in the day, and today you can still enjoy the wide avenues, shops, and restaurants, and the location right on the southern coast of Cuba with beaches and palms
Also read: Why Solo Female Travel To Cuba Is Very Safe!
Travel from Havana to Cienfuegos is a 230 kilometers trip that takes about three hours in a car or taxi, but almost seven by bus!
So if you want to visit Cienfuegos from Havana for one day only, the best option would be to book a taxi for the day.
Want To Stay Over?
7. The World Famous Bay Of Pigs!
While in Cienfuegos you are well advised to make your taxista take a the small detour to see the Bay of Pigs or Playa Giron.
This was the center point of the failed US-backed invasion by Cuban exiles that went horribly wrong in 1962.
Today this is a sleepy little town next to a tranquil beach, but the remnants of the invasion are still there.
Also read: Internet In Cuba | Is There Wifi In Cuba?
A small museum presenting the dramatic events from the Cuban perspective is an interesting place to stop by, and the scenic route drive along the southern coast is also an extra perk!
Stop wherever for a quick swim in the glass-clear waters of Cuba!
8. Journey To The Revolution | Santa Clara Cuba
Infamous revolutionary Che Guevara and companion Emilo Cienfuegos spent December 1958 in Santa Clara fighting the soldiers of President Batista.
Santa Clara is full of memorabilia, signs, and symbols of this particular event, and is also the home of a spectacular mausoleum where Che Guevara is laid to rest.
On New Year’s Eve, their final victory over Batista forces was the single most important incident that led to the Cuban revolution, and 60 years of socialist rule under Castro in Cuba.
Visit the Loma del Capiro hill, enjoy the spectacular view, and see where Che Guevara held a stance for a while before conquering the city and securing the revolution!
An hour and a half from Santa Clara you can also reach one of the famous Cuban keys, Cayo Santa Maria! A triplet of islands completely dedicated to all-inclusive hotels, beaches, and leisurely life.
Want To Stay Over?
9. Trips To Trinidad
Colonial snapshot and UNESCO-protected city Trinidad is a unique testament to colonial Cuba, as it has hardly changed for centuries!
As Cuba was priced out of the sugar trade, this all-sugar town lost its momentum, and became a quiet backwater in Cuba, sleeping while modernization continued in other places on the island.
Because of this, Trinidad today is like a rare screenshot of what the city looked like in its trade glory days.
You can visit museums, remnants of the sugar aristocracy, the dark history of the slave trade, as well as admire the unique architecture in the old city.
Ten fifteen minutes outside of the city is also the famous Playa Ancon beach, where, like everywhere else along the Cuban coast, you can lounge in a beach chair or lazily dip your toes in the Caribbean sea!
Traveling to Trinidad by car would take you around four hours, and is not the best option for a day trip – but it can be done if you start really early!
The only feasible option for that would be to book a taxi for the day and set off super early in the morning.
If you have the time, a better option would be to visit Trinidad on a 2-day trip. You can organize it yourself, with a combination of bus transport and taxis for parts of the distance if you want to curate your trip.
You can also join an organized tour that will take you to these three destinations over two days, where you don’t have to worry about bus schedules or haggling taxi prices or anything!
Want To Stay Over?
Las Terrazas is a village with a beautiful freshwater system in the hills in Pinar del Rio province, around a one-hour drive from Havana!
You can go here by doing an organized tour where you will be picked up in the morning from your hotel or casa, and head for this stunning oasis only an hour’s drive to the east!
You will find yourself in the heart of an idyllic area designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO for the whole day!
The trip includes a welcome cocktail and a tour of a coffee plantation, Las Terrazas town, Soroa orchid garden, and Soroa waterfalls where you can swim in these stunning clear green waters, and more!
11. Short Round Trips In Cuba
If you feel that the day trips from Havana just do not cut it, you might want to consider joining one of the shorter round trips in Cuba.
This way you can experience more of the island during your Havana holiday if you have the time!
Guided Round Trips In Cuba!
To avoid any hassle with organizing transport and planning the trip, you can also opt for organized shorter tours. Or combine this with your own adventures if you want to.
Best Way To Do Day Trips From Havana
You have several options for doing day trips from Havana, even if you don’t want to do an organized tour.
By yourself, you can get a Viazul bus (which takes a bit of time, and you are bound to the schedule).
Get a taxi collectivo (a bit pricier), or taxi privado (expensive), which both are faster options.
Your hotel or casa particular will help you book a seat in a taxi collectivo or privado, to pick you up where you are staying.
Getting Around Cuba!
Only setting aside a couple of days would do a lot, make you able to take the Viazul bus all or part of the distance, maybe in combination with a taxi.
To get around Cuba, you can book the Viazul bus securely online in advance, and there are also options to pre-book taxis for certain distances.
This way, you can tailor your own day trip or round trip from Havana, covering a lot of sights and distances if you don’t want to miss out within a short time frame!
Here are the various ways to get from Havana to Vinales Valley.
Sights In Havana!
You probably don’t want to miss checking out the Cuban capital! I really recommend you don’t skip visiting Havana completely during your Cuba holiday!
After all, Havana is one of the most famous places in the world!
You will have time to see the magnificent El Capotolio building (which looks like the white house but is inspired by the Pantheon in Paris).
Visit various museums, the Malecon boardwalk, and the modern parts of Havana; El Vedado with its avenues and parks.
Wrap-Up Wonderful Day Trips From Havana Cuba!
There is no other way to say it, exploring Cuba is simply not done in a day, or in a week for that matter. But if you are on a schedule, and still have decided to come, I certainly want to help you make the most of it!
Fear not, there are day trips from several beach havens to Havana if you don’t mind a bit of transport time and plan to make the most of it!
Who knows, maybe you even decide to come back some other time once you have had a taste of it? Let’s see what your options are here!
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