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23508
Cuba

A Look at Life in Havana

Immerse yourself in the culture of Havana through meaningful interactions with locals, and learn about how the complicated history has impacted this remarkable city.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23508RJ
Length
5 days
Starts at
1,799
Cuba

A Look at Life in Havana

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
Starts at
1,799
Program No. 23508 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 4 - Nov 8, 2021
Starting at
1,799
Nov 11 - Nov 15, 2021
Micro group
Starting at
1,999
Itinerary Note

This is a Micro Group departure, with 12 or fewer participants.

Dec 2 - Dec 6, 2021
Starting at
1,799
Dec 9 - Dec 13, 2021
Micro group
Starting at
1,999
Itinerary Note

This is a Micro Group departure, with 12 or fewer participants.

Jan 6 - Jan 10, 2022
Starting at
2,099
Feb 3 - Feb 7, 2022
Starting at
2,099
Mar 3 - Mar 7, 2022
Starting at
2,099
Apr 7 - Apr 11, 2022
Starting at
2,099
May 12 - May 16, 2022
Starting at
1,849
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 4 - Nov 8, 2021
Starting at
2,049
Nov 11 - Nov 15, 2021
Micro group
Starting at
2,249
Itinerary Note

This is a Micro Group departure, with 12 or fewer participants.

Dec 2 - Dec 6, 2021
Starting at
2,049
Dec 9 - Dec 13, 2021
Micro group
Starting at
2,249
Itinerary Note

This is a Micro Group departure, with 12 or fewer participants.

Jan 6 - Jan 10, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Feb 3 - Feb 7, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Mar 3 - Mar 7, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Apr 7 - Apr 11, 2022
Starting at
2,349
May 12 - May 16, 2022
Starting at
2,099

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.
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 10 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 entrepreneurs.
  • Learn about urban planning in Havana from a local architect and explore its four plazas on foot with a Cuban host.
  • 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

Select dates are Micro Group departures, with 12 or fewer participants. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Culture Smart! Cuba
by Mandy Macdonald
A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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 Nacional de Cuba

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

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.

Dinner: At the hotel, our meal will include beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead. During our Orientation session in the morning — essential for all participants — we will review 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, U.S. & Cuba, Dance Rehearsal
Havana
B,L
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour. 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, have what you like from the extensive buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and beverages.

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. The program is staffed by a bilingual Cuban Host who will provide educational commentary and be with us throughout, as well as a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics. We will also have local experts from time to time who will provide additional information and educational leadership. 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’ll have a presentation on the history of U.S.-Cuba relations by an expert in the field. We’ll gain an understanding of Cuban perspectives on the tumultuous relationship between the two countries, followed by open discussion. In the late morning, 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.

Lunch: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll interact with the members of a community group at a local church. 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
Urban Planning, Old Havana, Farm Visit, El Morro
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a local architect for a presentation on architecture and urban planning that will address the ongoing, government-funded restoration of Old Havana. We’ll learn about the work being done as well as the challenges and vision for the city’s future. We’ll then set out with our Cuban host 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. Next, we’ll visit with members of a graphic arts cooperative and learn what they do. 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 staff will lead our exploration as we learn about organic farming methods and the crops grown there.

Lunch: At the farm.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll depart for El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, known simply as El Morro. This fortress was used to protect Havana’s bay. The views will help us gain a better understanding of the city’s layout and the military challenges it faced.

Dinner: At a local paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Old Havana, Dominoes, Jazz Performance
Havana
B,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 5 miles, approximately 30 minutes, 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: Hotel buffet.

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 Cuban host. 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. Dominoes, Cuba’s national game, has its own set of rules, played enthusiastically in private and public. More than competition and skill, it is a greatly enjoyed social activity. We’ll meet members of a local dominoes league, learn the Cuban rules, then play with club members. Teams will rotate and each American will play with one Cuban and an opportunity to practice a few words in Spanish!

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

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 a local jazz band. Afterwards, have the opportunity to talk with the band members to learn about their lives as musicians in Cuba.

Dinner: At a paladar, share favorite experiences 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
Depart Cuba
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet 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!






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