Tour introduction and overview of activities

Havana Jazz Festival Tour JazzCuba.com

Music knows no borders. It unites people across nations, languages, and ideologies. Cubans can’t wait to meet their American cousins at the 2020 Havana Jazz Festival.

Cuba’s a music machine pumping out wall-to-wall sound that fuels the global music scene. We invite you to travel to Havana Cuba with us. Jump into its audio inferno of Afrocuban beats, Latin jazz and swirling salsa, and dizzying son and rumba.

Our guests have the option to stay at the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, or the NH Hotel Capri. Both hotels rank high on TripAdvisor. Each is set near the Malecón seawall with stunning views of the ocean and city, in the heart of Havana’s entertainment district. Countless international personalities from history, culture, science, sport, and politics have stayed at these hotels.

During your Just the Jazz Festival tour, you’ll relish seven days of art, culture and music, and five nights of world-class jazz. Your all-access Jazz pass gives you VIP credentials to visit all the performance venues night and day.

What is remarkable about this trip is the amount of time you have to get to know the island’s capital while partaking in rare musical encounters. Our guided rumps around Havana’s most inspiring sights and activities will leave you feeling like a local.

It’s the ideal junket for friends, families, and co-workers. If you want a taste of Cuba at a leisurely pace that won’t break your budget, this is the best introduction to Cuba available.

Tour map

Cuba’s big! Its land mass is 42,426 square miles – about 80 percent the size of Alabama. Cuba is nearly as large as Louisiana, and larger than Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio or Indiana. Altogether it’s bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Full tour itinerary

Day 1 – Tuesday :: Say hello to the city of music

  • Arrivals at Havana’s José Martí International Airport
  • Collect your luggage and proceed through Cuban customs to the arrivals lobby
  • Consider purchasing Cuban Convertible Pesos at the airport exchange bureau (CADECA), or later at your hotel
  • Our airport concierge or your tour guide will arrange tour bus or private taxi transfers from the airport to your hotel located in El Vedado, the heart of Havana's cultural district. Your hotel check-in is pre-arranged, you simply present your passport
  • Time at hotel to settle in and freshen up
  • Dinner is served at your hotel’s restaurant
  • Time to explore Havana’s vibrant nightlife, and make new Cuban friends. We’ll keep you posted on evening entertainment options

Day 2 – Wednesday :: Old Havana, HAVANA JAZZ FESTIVAL OPENING GALA

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel
  • Followed by a private walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll visit four historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. Together they contain the largest collection of remaining Spanish colonial-era architecture in the world
  • Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture, Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana was built by the Jesuit order
  • Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
  • Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City
  • Palacio del Segundo Cabo [Palace of the Second Lieutenant] dates from 1770
  • We continue onto San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture
  • On to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings. The plaza is surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences
  • Welcome lunch at the private restaurant Mojito-Mojito. Ideally situated in Plaza Vieja, its friendly atmosphere, and delicious food makes it rank high on TripAdvisor. The restaurant's slogan: "A single mojito is not enough.".
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up
  • Dinner at the private restaurant Los Naranjos. Located in the heart of Vedado in an expansive 1930s mansion, its Chef Ernesto specializes in fusion style dishes combining Cuban, Italian and Spanish influences. Los Naranjos’ ambiance is fun and light, its food wonderful, authentic and fresh, and staff upbeat and attentive. Its a favorite among TripAdvisor reviewers.
  • Havana Jazz Festival OPENING GALA (transportation INCLUDED)

Day 3 – Thursday :: Cuban dance, HAVANA JAZZ FESTIVAL PERFORMANCES

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel
  • Morning visit to one of several Cuban dance companies. We’ll visit and meet the troupe during their practice performances
  • Lunch at Atelier Cocina de Autor la Habana. It is ranked tops by TripAdvisor and the London Guardian. Reviewers describe it as a “best meal in Cuba,” with “excellent service and atmosphere.” Its entrées are so fresh the menu is handwritten daily. Set in an elegant mansion in Vedado, its chef’s specialize in Cuban dishes with a modern flair.
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up
  • Dinner not included in tour cost. An occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island's distinctive cuisines. We’ll provide suggestions for restaurants most popular with Cubans and our travelers
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances, chose among events taking place at several different venues (transportation NOT INCLUDED)

Day 4 – Friday :: Rum, shopping, HAVANA JAZZ FESTIVAL PERFORMANCES

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel
  • Visit the Museum of Rum
  • Visit Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Depósito San José. This marvelous restoration of an old dock warehouse has resulted in a gigantic market fair exhibiting the wares of hundreds of Cuban artists and crafts workers. It’s an amazing shopping opportunity for memorable Cuban gifts and souvenirs
  • Lunch will be served today at the paladar La Moneda Cubana, a private rooftop eatery in Cathedral Square with a gorgeous view of Old Havana. Its name means Cuban coins. It serves up Cuban cuisine adhering to traditional recipes using seasonal vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and seafood
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up. Explore the city with your tourmates and new Cuban friends
  • Dinner not included in tour cost. An occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island's distinctive cuisines. We’ll provide suggestions for restaurants most popular with Cubans and our travelers
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances, chose among events taking place at several different venues (transportation NOT INCLUDED)

Day 5 – Saturday :: Afrocuba, Hemingway, HAVANA JAZZ FESTIVAL BANDS

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel
  • Visit to Callejón de Hamel, a magical section of Old Havana filled with Afrocuban murals and art
  • We’re off to visit Finca la Vigía [Lookout Farm] where North America’s literary titan Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years adding to the building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as a native son, it was Hemingway himself who declared Cuba to be his true home. His house has been preserved just as it was when he lived in it. You’ll see his eclectic personal objects, thousands of books, manuscripts and photographs, as well as some animal trophies he bagged on his safaris to deepest Africa
  • Tour highlight. We have a special lunch arranged for you by our friends at Ajiaco paladar [private restaurant]. It’s considered the best in Cuba. It’s a mandatory dining stop located off the beaten path in the romantic coastal fishing village of Cojímar. Ajiaco is noted for fantastic service, atmosphere and scrumptilicious country Cuban cuisine. All their ingredients are fresh and organic, supplied by nearby private gardens to give every dish a delightfully aromatic flavor you’ll never forget
  • We’ll visit the village of Cojímar, the setting for Ernest Hemingway’s "The Old Man and the Sea.” Here adoring local fishers cast a bronze bust from old anchors, props and tools. They had no money for new materials. Its inscription reads, "In loving memory of the people of Cojímar to the immortal author of Old Man and the Sea." A plaque below the bust reads: Sculpted with the contributions of the Fishermen Cooperative of Cojímar
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up
  • Dinner not included in tour cost. An occasion to sample Havana’s stellar private eateries and taste the diversity of the island's distinctive cuisines. We’ll provide suggestions for restaurants most popular with Cubans and our travelers
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances, chose among events taking place at several different venues (transportation NOT INCLUDED)

Day 6 – Sunday :: Art, history and HAVANA JAZZ FESTIVAL CLOSING FINALE

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel.
  • We'll visit Cuba's National Capitol Building, a Latin American architectural treasure. Its size and appearance are similar to Washington's Capitol Building, but the Pantheon in Paris inspired its opulent neoclassical form and art nouveau flourishes. Cuban architects Raúl Otero and Eugenio Rayneri Piedra designed the colossus in 1925, and construction began in 1926 by the U.S. firm Purdy and Henderson. Completed in 1929, it served as the seat of Congress until 1959 when Fidel and fellow rebels chose less bourgeois digs to conduct revolutionary affairs. From 1959 until 2018 the edifice housed the Cuban Academy of Sciences. Over ensuing decades, the Capitolio fell into critical disrepair. In 2010, Eusebio Leal, president of the Office of the Historian began a mammoth and meticulous restoration project. Today the Capitol resumes its role as the legislative center, housing Cuba's National Assembly. Restoration will be complete in November 2019 to mark the 500th birthday of the city of Havana. Chocked full of grand statuary and breathtaking ornamental details, Cuba's Capitol is a "can't miss" visit.
  • Later on, we’ll examine Cuba's greatest visual masterpieces spanning three centuries at Havana’s world class museum of modern art – Palacio de Bellas Artes. It’s exhibits display the richness of the island's Spanish, French, Chinese, African and Aboriginal cultural influences. Notable works include those of René Portocarrero and Wilfredo Lam.
  • Lunch today: In the heart of Havana city, there’s a special paladar called Cuba 54, which is one of the Havana's newest private restaurants.
  • This afternoon is for you to explore the city on your own with your tourmates and new Cuban friends.
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up
  • Farewell group dinner at the acclaimed five star private Restaurante Mediterráneo Havana
  • Havana Jazz Festival CLOSING FINALE (transportation INCLUDED)

Day 7 – Monday :: Say goodbye to Cuba – for now

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel
  • Check-out of your Havana hotel
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport in Havana for flights home
  • We'll miss you and hope you will return soon. In Cuba we say: A true friend remembers the song in your heart when you have forgotten the lyrics
While in Cuba, our attentive island team ensures your trip is magical and memorable.

Costs, dates, book now

Tour cost based on double room occupancy (sharing a double room during tour).

Tour date Cost Comments Availability
Jan 14 to Jan 20, 2020 $ 2799 $ 2349
Hotel NH Capri
Book now
Jan 14 to Jan 20, 2020 $ 2899 $ 2549
Hotel Nacional
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Included in Cuba tour package cost

Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
Day1234567
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
  • VIP all-access jazz passes for Jazz Festival events
  • Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel ensuring compliance with US regulations
  • Flexible tour payment options, you decide payment schedule
  • Knowledgeable, fun, attentive Cuban guides from arrival to departure
  • Quality accommodations as listed in this itinerary
  • Air-conditioned transport, professional chauffeur, and bottled water daily
  • Airport-accommodation transfers on tour start and end days
  • All activities and fees listed unless noted as optional or suggested
  • Emergency telephone and internet access from Cuba to America
  • Cash advances for participants caught short of funds in Cuba
  • Ongoing support from our US and Cuban staff before, during and after travel
  • Participants become Club Cubano alumni and receive future tour discounts

Not included