Tour introduction and overview of activities

“Can’t wait to see you in January 2018 in Cuba for the 33rd edition of the Havana Jazz Festival.” – Jazz master and living legend Chucho Valdés, President of the Havana Jazz Plaza Organizing Committee that hosts the Havana Jazz Festival.

“Can’t wait to see you in January 2018 for the 33rd edition of the Havana Jazz Festival.” – Jazz master and living legend Chucho Valdés, President of the Havana Jazz Festival organizing committee.

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

You choose between a stay in the historic five-star Hotel Nacional de Cuba or the fabulous NH Hotel Capri. Both hotels are near the famed Malécon seawall.

At a fraction of the price others offer our Just the Jazz Festival tour puts you in the heart of Havana’s entertainment district to relish seven days of art, culture and music, and five nights of world class jazz. Your all access Jazz pass, valued at $250, gives you VIP credentials to visit all the performance venues night and day.

What is remarkable about this trip is the amount of free time you have to explore on your own. Yet you’ll take part in guided rumps to the most inspiring sights and activities in happening Havana.

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.

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.

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 either Hotel Capri or Hotel Nacional de Cuba, both 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
  • Group arrival dinner with your guide and tourmates at hotel
  • Free 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, Jazz Fest 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 Restaurante El Templete. This bayside fish joint is on the Havana’s list of upscale eateries. It sits near its namesake temple that marks the spot where the city of La Habana was founded in 1519. Overlooking the harbor, it features two dining spaces: an outdoor alfresco area accommodated under a large awning, and a pleasant indoor dining room with starched tablecloths, fine wine glasses and cutlery
  • Return to hotel and freshen up
  • Dinner 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
  • Havana Jazz Festival OPENING GALA (transportation INCLUDED)

Day 3 – Thursday :: Cuban dance, Jazz Fest events

  • 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 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
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up
  • Dinner not included. This evening is free for you to explore Havana’s stellar private eateries. Your guide will provide a list of this month’s ten best restaurants
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances, chose among events taking place at several different venues (transportation NOT INCLUDED)

Day 4 – Friday :: Rum, shopping, Jazz Fest events

  • 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 at Antiguo Almacén de la Madera y el Tabaco. It’s a huge open-air affair with several barbecue grills, and a brewery on site! Everyone loves the food and especially the beer made on premises. There are three flavors: light amber lager, medium ale, and dark stout ale with a slightly smoking taste. The beer is served in giant 6-liter carafes. You dispense at much as you like right at your table
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up. Your afternoon is free to explore the city
  • Dinner not included. This evening is free for you to explore Havana’s stellar private eateries. Your guide will provide a list of this month’s ten best restaurants
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances, chose among events taking place at several different venues (transportation NOT INCLUDED)

Day 5 – Saturday :: Afrocuba, Hemingway, Jazz Fest events

  • 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. This evening is free for you to explore Havana’s stellar private eateries. Your guide will provide a list of this month’s ten best restaurants
  • Havana Jazz Festival Performances, chose among events taking place at several different venues (transportation NOT INCLUDED)

Day 6 – Sunday :: Art, history and Jazz Fest CLOSING FINALE

  • Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at your hotel
  • 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 Old Havana, just behind the Museum of the Revolution, there’s a special paladar called ChaChaChá Bar-Restaurante. It’s special because it offers three things many other restaurants cannot: Great food, great service, and great atmosphere. We agree with the hundreds of five-star reviews it receives on TripAdvisor, Yelp and Facebook. You will too
  • We’ll visit the astonishing Museo de la Revolución y Memorial Granma (Museum of the Revolution and Granma Memorial). It is the former presidential palace and was once home to US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. The magnificent building now exhibits items from colonial times to the present. It displays focus in particular on the period from 1953 to 1959 and the campaign of Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara to win independence for Cuba. Of note are artifacts from the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, and a turbine from a U-2 spy plane downed during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Return to your hotel and freshen up
  • Farewell dinner at 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
  • 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
Cuba travel is a challenge. Our staff and Cuban partners work super hard to make your tour unfold seamlessly despite Third World conditions on the island. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Flexible travelers understand this is part of their Cuban adventure.

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

Tour date Cost Comments Availability
Jan 16 to Jan 22, 2018 $ 3288 $ 2699
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Book now
Jan 16 to Jan 22, 2018 $ 2898 $ 2249
Hotel Capri
Book now
Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
Day1234567
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
  • Premium access jazz passes for all Jazz Festival events, a $250 value
  • Small group size: There will be more than 100 people joining this tour. Participants will be split into groups of 24 or fewer. As a result day-to-day activities will vary to avoid congestion at smaller venues and eateries
  • Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel in compliance with US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations (OFAC) section, 1 C.F.R. § 515.565(b)
  • Havana airport and hotel transfers on tour start and end days
  • Quality Cuban hotels
  • An expert English speaking guide and tour leader throughout the program
  • Modern air-conditioned bus and professional chauffeur
  • Bottled water on bus
  • All activities, entrance fees, services, speakers and meetings in tour itinerary
  • Flexible monthly tour payment options
  • Emergency telephone and internet access to America from Cuba
  • Cash advances for participants facing money problems while in Cuba
  • Participants become Club Cubano alumni and receive future tour discounts
  • Ongoing support from our US and Cuban staff before, during and after travel