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The Best of Western Cuba CN

Visiting: Cuba
Trip Duration 8 Days

Reviews for The Best of Western Cuba

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

Trip notes

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The Best of Western Cuba reviews verified by reevooReevoo

91 reviews

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The Best of Western CubaScores 8.8 out of 10 based on 91 reviews
(9 out of 10)


The trip was varied: only a week but we saw a lot and managed 2 relaxing dips in the Caribbean as well. For me the highlight was our tour guide who was not only extremely informative and interesting but also very concerned for our welfare and enjoyment.
Confirmed traveller: 13 February 2017
Published on: 16 February 2017
(8 out of 10)


Vancouver BC Canada
An enjoyable mix of history, culture, architecture and free time.
Tour guide was excellent, especially under the difficult conditions in Cuba at the time ( many tourists and infrastructure strained).
Confirmed traveller: 29 January 2017
Published on: 12 February 2017
(9 out of 10)


If you are short on time this tour provides a good overview of some of the key highlights of Western Cuba including Havana, Vinales, Trinidad and Che's Monument and Mausoleum in Santa Clara. There is quite a bit of travelling, but this is to be expected on such a short tour. I really enjoyed the day trip to Vinales, where a short walk highlighted some of the key products of the region (coffee, cigars, sugar cane), and we were shown how the coffee beans are processed and how cigars are made by hand (yes, we got to sample them too!). Staying in the Casa Particulares in Trinidad was a great experience as it gave me the opportunity to see more of the Cuban life and to practice some of my rather rusty Spanish skills. Breakfasts at our Casa were excellent (omelettes, fresh fruit, bread, Cuban coffee, fresh pineapple juice). I would have liked a bit more time in Cienfuegos (and less time at the 'beach') as it looked a really picturesque city, even in the dark! I enjoyed the optional trip from Trinidad into the mountains (Topes de Collantes), and swimming in a natural pool with a waterfall was one of the highlights of the trip for me. However, I think the price of this day trip was quite expensive for what it was (55 CUC). In general, Cuba was much more expensive for tourists than I was anticipating, especially as Sterling has fallen so much against the Dollar (to which the CUC is tied).

We found it quite difficult to change money and Euros are now preferred to Sterling. On arrival the queue at the airport for changing money was 2.5 hours long, and the hotel reception (Hotel Plaza) did not have any money available (on more than one occasion). The food in Cuba was much better than expected and we had some excellent meals, but it is still worthwhile to take some cereal bars or something as local shops are non-existent and it is not possible to buy snacks like you might do in other countries. In Cuba, never turn down an opportunity to change money, use the toilet or have some food! The facilities and condition of the rooms in Hotel Plaza leaves a lot to be desired (even in Cuba) - avoid rooms on the 4th floor if you can (water supply, both hot and cold is very temperamental - hot water was mostly absent), although the roof terrace and breakfast at the hotel was nice.

In summary, a great trip if you are short on time. I flew with Virgin (no delays, worth paying the extra for!) with hand baggage only, so avoided any long waits at baggage claim, which all seemed a bit chaotic.
Confirmed traveller: 05 January 2017
Published on: 08 January 2017
(8 out of 10)


The large group size of 17 was possibly why I give a lowish score for the itinerary and leader as it was stretched at times...overall good though.
Confirmed traveller: 30 December 2016
Published on: 04 January 2017
(7 out of 10)


The itinerary was good, though time management could be improved to allow a little more time in some places (e.g. only 30 minutes to explore Cienfuegos - 2 hours would have been better). Earlier starts would help accommodate this.

The tour leader had a disappointing command of English. The level of information imparted about the history of Cuba and places we visited suffered correspondingly. She would do well to plan the information before hand and deliver it in a thought-through manner. She should prepare in advance, decide what to say, say it, then invite questions. That said, she couldn't understand questions which she invited and so was unable to respond appropriately. She frequently rambled to the point of no-one understanding what she was saying or meaning.

She often showed frustration with the job and failed to deliver the level of service expected of an Explore tour leader. 'I'm only paid to do xxx and no more.'

Her expectation management was poor and could have been improved with some advance thought: e.g. the waterfall trip was described as 20 minutes when it was more than 40 minutes in each direction, and advice on appropriate footwear would have been appreciated. When we reached the casas particulares in Trinidad, she had clearly arranged with the householders that we would eat there the first night, and she should have told us that was the plan. Instead there was a proposal for a meal out that was immediately unilaterally withdrawn by her as being too expensive, and we were left unsure whether we had a choice or not.

The money solicited for the tips kitty (£25) was too much for 7 days - so much so that she ended up 'buying us lunch' with our own money at the end. It was distributed very unevenly - £20 for a museum guide for 30 minutes, £10 for a walks guide for 2 hours.
Confirmed traveller: 30 December 2016
Published on: 31 December 2016
(10 out of 10)


Sydney Australia
This short tour of Cuban highlights is a wonderful way to capture the essence of this country that is on the cusp of change...Strolling through old Havana and mojitos in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, the traditional coffee and tobacco farms of Vinales, the musical cobblestones and echoes of sugar and slavery in Trinidad and following Che into Santa Clara. Our guide struggled with clear explanations and we are confident that Explore will address this. You need cash (€ or £ not $) and a good guide book. Don't come for the cuisine but for the superb old cars, friendly welcome, amazing music and to see Cuba before McDonalds arrives.
Confirmed traveller: 29 December 2016
Published on: 05 January 2017
(7 out of 10)


Castro's death meant Cuba was not its vibrant self for the nine days of mourning. Not a note of music nor a step of dance and only surreptitious alcohol. Our tour leader did her best to substitute for our cancelled salsa and cocktail lessons and improvised impressively but I think we missed out a bit. Couldn't be helped and we witnessed history with the crowds lining the roads for the "tour of the ashes"

We got to see a lot of the countryside ( that also implies quite a longtime in the bus...) and learn plenty of interesting history. Good to stay in casa particulares.
Take a bath plug if you're staying in Sevilla hotel and fancy a soak.
Confirmed traveller: 05 December 2016
Published on: 10 December 2016
(10 out of 10)


Cuba lived up to my expectations beautiful country ,friendly people, the group I was with were excellent, although the time I was there was a week of national mourning for Castro so very little alcohol and no music or salsa dancing but that did not detract from a wonderful week every day was enjoyable.
Confirmed traveller: 05 December 2016
Published on: 09 December 2016
(9 out of 10)


Our trip completely coincided with the nine days of national mourning following Fidel Castro's death so with no music, no dancing and little alcohol we didn't quite see 'typical' Cuba but could definitely say we experienced Cuba at a very historic time. I was a first time traveller with Explore, and it was great to find a bunch of like-minded travellers. I was grateful for previous comments/reviews as above for tips on itinerary/currency/etc so I knew what to expect.
Confirmed traveller: 05 December 2016
Published on: 08 December 2016
(8 out of 10)


Our visit was at an historic time so we saw Cuba from a different view point. Group was fun to be with and overall we saw everything we needed to.
Confirmed traveller: 05 December 2016
Published on: 08 December 2016