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Cuba

A Look at Life in Havana

Program No. 23508RJ
Immerse yourself in the culture of Havana through meaningful interactions with locals, and learn about how the complicated history has impacted this remarkable city.
Length
5 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,949

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 2 - Mar 6, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Mar 9 - Mar 13, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Mar 23 - Mar 27, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Apr 6 - Apr 10, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Apr 20 - Apr 24, 2023
Starting at
1,949
May 11 - May 15, 2023
Starting at
1,949
May 18 - May 22, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Oct 5 - Oct 9, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Oct 19 - Oct 23, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Nov 2 - Nov 6, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Nov 16 - Nov 20, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Dec 7 - Dec 11, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Dec 14 - Dec 18, 2023
Starting at
1,949
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 2 - Mar 6, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Mar 9 - Mar 13, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Mar 23 - Mar 27, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Apr 6 - Apr 10, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Apr 20 - Apr 24, 2023
Starting at
2,169
May 11 - May 15, 2023
Starting at
2,169
May 18 - May 22, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Oct 5 - Oct 9, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Oct 19 - Oct 23, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Nov 2 - Nov 6, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Nov 16 - Nov 20, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Dec 7 - Dec 11, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Dec 14 - Dec 18, 2023
Starting at
2,169

At a Glance

Embark on an extraordinary urban adventure as you get to know Cuba’s people, culture and history through its capital city. Discover the plazas of Old Havana with your Cuban host and venture to the outskirts of the city for a taste of rural life. Enjoy interacting with local artists, domino players, community organizers, business owners and farmers while learning about this city by supporting the amazing people that call it home. Support freedom of expression for Cuban artists, engage with owners of private enterprises by exclusively using their businesses, and promote the emergence of Civil Society by openly and freely sharing your own ideas and insights.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles a day on a combination of cobblestone streets and dirt paths. Getting on and off of a motorcoach. Navigating high curbs, uneven steps and stairs without railings. Travel in a tropical climate.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Gain an intimate understanding about life in Cuba – politically and culturally – as you meet local artists, musicians, dancers and farmers.
  • Learn about the New Cuban Constitution.
  • Engage in authentic Cuban passions as you learn to play dominoes with a local club and enjoy traditional dance from a private dance company.

General Notes

Road Scholar offers opportunities to travel legally to Cuba under the new OFAC Regulations published June 5, 2019. Following the General License category “Support for the Cuban People,” Road Scholar programs include activities intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. Each day's program promotes independence for the Cuban people and results in meaningful interactions with the Cuban people. Questions about traveling to Cuba? Road Scholar has your answers. Learn more: www.roadscholar.org/cubafaqs.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Carlos Alzugaray Treto
Dr. Carlos Alzugaray Treto is a Cuban diplomat, educator and writer. Between 1961 and 1996 he was a diplomat with the Cuban Foreign Service, then served as a regular lecturer on current international affairs, Cuban Foreign Policy and on European political developments at the University of Havana and other Cuban higher learning institutions. He has published four books and has received the Cuban equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. At present he is a member of the Cuban Union of Writers and other civil society organizations.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Carlos Alzugaray Treto
Carlos Alzugaray Treto View biography
Dr. Carlos Alzugaray Treto is a Cuban diplomat, educator and writer. Between 1961 and 1996 he was a diplomat with the Cuban Foreign Service, then served as a regular lecturer on current international affairs, Cuban Foreign Policy and on European political developments at the University of Havana and other Cuban higher learning institutions. He has published four books and has received the Cuban equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. At present he is a member of the Cuban Union of Writers and other civil society organizations.
Profile Image of Miguel Coyula
Miguel Coyula View biography
Miguel Coyla is an architect, planner and international lecturer. With an architecture degree from the Higher Polytechnic Institute in Havana, he worked for the Cuban Ministry of Construction and Secretary for Agricultural and Industrial Development. He spent 22 years working for the leading government think tank for that advises the Havana government on issues of urban development. Since retiring in 2012, Miguel has lectured at universities across the world and served as a consultant to a leading renewable energy NGO.
Profile Image of Lian Villanueva
Lian Villanueva View biography
Lian Villanueva is one of the many amazing bi-lingual Cuban leaders who works with and has been trained by Road Scholar in addition to being trained and scheduled by Havanatur, the government-run operator in Cuba. She is a Cuban expert, responsible for relaying local knowledge as well as both cultural and historical information for the sites we visit throughout the program. Karina will answer questions pertaining to Cuba and the Cuban people.
Profile Image of Karina Sanchez
Karina Sanchez View biography
Karina Sanchez is one of the many amazing bi-lingual Cuban leaders who works with and has been trained by Road Scholar in addition to being trained and scheduled by Havanatur, the government-run operator in Cuba. She is a Cuban expert, responsible for relaying local knowledge as well as both cultural and historical information for the sites we visit throughout the program. Karina will answer questions pertaining to Cuba and the Cuban people.
Profile Image of Alejandro Anido
Alejandro Anido View biography
Alejandro Anido is one of the many amazing Cuban leaders, who works with and has been trained by Road Scholar in addition to being trained and scheduled by Havanatur, the government-run operator in Cuba. He is a Cuban expert, and is responsible for relaying local knowledge, and both cultural and historical information for the places we visit throughout the program. He will answer questions pertaining to Cuba and the Cuban people.
Profile Image of Guillermo Mena
Guillermo Mena View biography
Guillermo Mena is one of the many amazing Cuban leaders who works with and has been trained by Road Scholar in addition to being trained and scheduled by Havanatur, the government-run operator in Cuba. She is the Cuban expert and is responsible for relaying local knowledge, and both cultural and historical information for the places we visit throughout the program. She will answer questions pertaining to Cuba and the Cuban people.
Profile Image of Marta Núñez Sarmiento
Marta Núñez Sarmiento View biography
Marta Núñez Sarmiento is a retired professor at the University of Havana where she taught methodology and gender studies. Her research has concentrated on women and employment in Cuba, gender studies in Cuba, images of women in Cuban mass media, and transition projects for Cuba proposed by Cuban American and U.S. scholars. She holds a master’s in sociology and a PhD in economics. She has been a visiting professor at universities around the world and a consultant on gender for the UN and other NGOs.
Profile Image of Alberto Faya
Alberto Faya View biography
Alberto Faya is a Cuban singer, researcher, composer, and professor of music. He has a degree from the University of Havana, is a professor of musical culture there, and gives lectures relating to Cuban history, culture, and music. During the 1970s, he worked to better incorporate African and Afro-Cuban music in Cuban society, striving to air Afro-Cuban rumba music on radio stations. Faya is a believer in the ongoing melding of different cultures and considers culture as the means by which personal identity is derived.
Profile Image of Viviana Rives
Viviana Rives View biography
Viviana Rives is one of the many amazing bi-lingual Cuban leaders who work with and has been trained by Road Scholar in addition to being trained and scheduled by Havanatur, the government-run operator in Cuba. She is a Cuban expert, responsible for relaying local knowledge as well as cultural and historical information for the study sites we visit throughout the program. Viviana will answer questions pertaining to Cuba and the Cuban people.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Pride of Havana
by Roberto G Echevarria
Professor Gonzalez Echevarria expertly traces the arc of baseball in Cuba, intertwining its heroes and their stories with the politics, music, dance, and literature of the Cuban people.
Moon Cuba
by Christopher P. Baker
A practical guide in the Moon series, packed not only with travel necessities (hotels, restaurants, sights), but also with a good overview of history and destinations throughout Cuba.
New Art of Cuba
by Luis Camnitzer
A survey of Cuban art since 1981, all by young artists who have come-of-age since the revolution, and revised to reflect more recent developments. Twenty-four new color plates augment the 200 black and white illustrations.
The Distant Marvels
by Chantel Acevedo
A life-affirming tale of love set during a hurricane in 1960s, post-revolutionary Cuba. To keep hope alive amongst the evacuees, Maria Sirena tells the incredible story of her childhood during Cuba's Third War of Independence.
A Simple Habana Melody, From When the World Was Good
by Oscar Hijuelos
An unlikely love story and lyrical tribute to Latin music by the author of Mambo Kings.
Culture Smart! Cuba
by Mandy Macdonald
A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
Cuba and Its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo
by Ned Sublette
A thorough and entertaining history of Cuba and its music by the popular radio producer, music historian and cofounder of Cuban record label QbaDisc.
Havana & Cuba West Map
by ITMB
A full-color map to the city center of Havana, at a scale of 1:10,000. Plus, on the reverse, a regional map of Cuba at a scale of 1:600,000.
Cuba, What Everyone Needs to Know
by Julia Sweig
Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Julia Sweig traces the geography, history and identity of Cuba in this admirably succinct portrait of the island nation and its role in world affairs.
Cuba Journeys
by Rowland Scherman (Editor), Charles Fields
Fields presents Cuba in his newest collection, featuring 120 color and 30 black-and-white photographs that illustrate the island's diverse landscapes. He captures the Matanzas coastlands, Vinales Valley tobacco fields and Havana metropolis, which serves as a backdrop to a series highlighting classic American cars. Includes cultural and historical commentary written in English and Spanish.
Our Man in Havana
by Graham Greene
The classic story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who gets accidentally drawn into Cold War espionage with disastrous results.
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway's brief story of a fisherman who, after 84 days with no luck, finally makes a big catch. It’s an affectionate portrait of life in Cuba and winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Trading with the Enemy
by Tom Miller
Miller captures the openness, sensuality and pride of Cuba and the Cubans in this eloquent account of entertaining travels in Fidel's Cuba.
Cuba
by Pierre Hausherr (Photographer), Francois Missen
With full-page photographs, introductory essays on history, architecture, music, food and more, this oversized, illustrated paperback by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Francois Missen and photographer Pierre Hausherr captures the spirit of Cuba, its people, nature and culture.
Cuba, A History in Art
by Gary R. Libby
This slim, yet comprehensive survey of Cuban art between 1725 and 1959 explains the development of artists’ styles and how developments in Cuba (and especially Havana) changed their work.
The Spaces Between, Contemporary Art in Havana
by Antonio Eligio Fernandez
This study of shared, communal spaces for Havana artists examines the context of contemporary Cuban art. Including major contemporary figures, the work discusses artists’ techniques, their major themes and the environments in which they create.
Passage to Cuba
by Cynthia Carris Alonso
An wonderful coffee-table book that takes readers through the crumbling, baroque splendor of Havana. Subtitled "An Up-Close Look at the World's Most Colorful Culture."
Havana, A Cultural and Literary Companion
by Claudia Lightfoot
An illuminating guide to the city, its history and geography, as the inspiration for writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals.
Cuba, This Moment, Exactly So
by Lorne Resnick
This deluxe coffee-table book organizes 250 black-and-white photographs around micro-stories that immerse readers in the heat and culture of the "Pearl of the Antilles." Includes a foreword by great travel writer Pico Iyer.
Havana, History and Architecture of a Romantic City
by Maria Luisa Lobo Montalvo, Hugh Thomas (Introduction)
This magnificent history of Havana, featuring 480 color illustrations, shows the city and its growth from its founding as a Spanish colony to independence.
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5 days
4 nights
9 meals
4 B 2 L 3 D
DAY
1
In Transit, Arrive Havana, Check-in, Welcome Dinner
Havana
D
Hotel Grand Aston La Habana

Activity note: This daily schedule is a representative guide. Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice, as are flight times. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously). Before the leaving the USA, if your flights are canceled or delayed, please call the Road Scholar Flights Emergency Number 802 254 7190

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel, take some time to freshen up. We will gather in the hotel lobby with our Group Leader before dinner. Your Group Leader for this program is also a highly experienced Cuban Guide.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead. A reminder: The regulations that govern our program and are set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice; therefore, the daily schedule is a representative guide. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Orientation, Lecture and Discussion: New Cuban Constitution
Havana
B,L
Hotel Grand Aston La Habana

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours. Standing on paved and unpaved paths with limited places to sit.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Orientation: 8:30 a.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Our accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that any potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment we will experience. Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it with you on the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “At leisure” offer opportunities to make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Next, we will have a presentation by an independent academic on the New Cuban Constitution and Openings to the Private Sector, followed by an open discussion. In the late morning we will visit several new, private enterprises.

Lunch: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll continue our exploration of Havana. Visits include a jewelry maker and a clothing designer. Our visits will support their private initiatives. We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be glad to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
The Arts
Havana
B,D
Hotel Grand Aston La Habana

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 45 minutes riding time. Walking up to 2 miles and standing, approximately 1.5 hours; mainly pedestrian-only streets, cobblestones, high curbs, sunny conditions, limited shade.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will have a lecture by a member of the Cuban Arts community who will explain the diversity of styles and underlying messaging prevalent in contemporary Cuban Art. We’ll then set out with our Group Leader on a walking field trip into two of Old Havana’s four plazas: Plaza de la Catedral that originated in 1592, with its main feature the ornate Catedral de San Cristóbal; and Plaza Vieja, laid out in 1559 when it was the “new” square, now surrounded by elegant, historic buildings. Along the way, we'll visit the studios of two contemporary painters to see how their works reveal a look at life in Cuba today. We will also visit an outsider art group "Art Brut".

Lunch: On your own to choose from the many independently owned paladares in Old Havana.

Afternoon: We'll see a rehearsal by a private dance company and meet with the dancers afterwards to discuss their career paths and how they have shaped their lives in Cuba.

Dinner: At a local private paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Community and Religious Organizations
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Grand Aston La Habana

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 5 miles, approximately 30 minutes riding time throughout the day. Walking up to 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours. Standing on cobblestone streets and navigating uneven sidewalks, high curbs and stairs without railings.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach for a short ride to begin exploring Old Havana’s two other plazas, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza de Armas, with our Group Leader. Across from the old port, the main feature in Plaza de San Francisco today is what was the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis, built from 1580-1591. The bell tower, nearly 140 feet (42 meters) high, was the tallest in Havana. The edifice now serves as a multipurpose concert hall. The Plaza de Armas was the old parade ground in colonial times, used for military drills and parades, concerts, and promenades. We will meet with members of the private, community improvement organization founded by a group of artists and then visit community projects at the Iglesia Milagrosa. In the late morning, we'll set out by motorcoach on a field trip to a farm outside the city. A member of the farm will lead our exploration as we learn about organic farming methods and the crops crown there.

Lunch: At the private farm.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we'll meet up to return to the hotel by private motorcoach. In the late afternoon, gather with your fellow participants in the hotel for a performance by an independent contemporary band playing music which resonates in today's Cuba. Afterwards, have the opportunity to talk with the band members about the music tourists come to Cuba to hear versus the music locals enjoy.

Dinner: At a private paladar. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
5
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
Depart Cuba
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. See your program’s “Transportation Information” regarding transfers at the conclusion of the program.

Breakfast: At the hotel or boxed breakfast depending on flight times. This concludes our program.

Morning: Whether you are returning home or departing for your next adventure, safe travels. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.