Let’s make one thing clear before unveiling this epic adventure; you need way more time in Cuba for a proper experience. But sometimes that’s how life works, and you have to make the most of the time given to you. So, how do you plan a 48-hour trip to an island filled with incredible history, cultural gems, and breathtaking nature?
Lucky for you, we’ve hashed out all the details for an unforgettable weekend escape in Cuba. Find out where this jam-packed itinerary takes you and discover some of Cuba’s best sights in only 48 hours.
Landing in Havana
José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba welcomes international travelers and is almost certainly where your trip will begin. For the quickest transport into the city, book a taxi directly from the airport terminal. The ride to downtown Havana takes about 20-30 minutes and costs around $20-25 USD.
The fun begins in the colorful city centre of Havana and its enthralling history around every corner. One of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba, Old Havana enchants visitors with its cobblestone streets and elegant buildings. You could spend an entire day exploring every piece of Cuban culture here, but our itinerary lets you roam around the district for a few hours.
Soak up the vibe, grab a cup of coffee, and watch this vibrant plaza come to life as you admire the colonial architecture. Make sure to take plenty of photos of beautiful sights like Plaza de la Catedral, Casa del Conde Jaruco, and from atop the camera obscura.
After walking around Old Havana, it’s time to rest your feet and go for a ride down Havana’s iconic seaside esplanade. Stretching for nearly 5 miles along the coast, the Malecón is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists. The broad sidewalks attract artists, performers, playful children, wayward explorers, and everything in between.
Strolling along the seawall is a delightful way to enjoy the Malecón, but that will take precious minutes from the itinerary. To save time for other ventures, hop inside a classic American car to ride up and down the roadway. Vintage automobiles from the 1940s and 50s cruise down the Malecón, and they operate as taxis in Havana.
Havana Beach Excursion
No trip to Cuba is complete without at least a few hours lounging on its powdery white sands. There are hundreds of beaches in Cuba you could visit, but our itinerary sticks to the coastline around Havana. Many of the gorgeous beaches around the capital can be reached in minutes by taxi and are popular outings amongst the locals.
Bacuranao is the most convenient beach to reach from Havana and go for a refreshing swim. If you’d like to venture farther along the coastline, Tarará provides a serene setting of crystal-clear waters, soft sands, and coconut trees.
Your first day concludes with a taste of Havana’s raging nightlife scene. Havana residents keep the party going well into the night with a mixture of salsa dancing, live music, cocktail bars, and swinging jazz clubs.
El Floridita is an icon that was a beloved hangout of acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway. Situated in the vibrant Vedado district, El Gato Tuerto keeps the good times flowing with its entertaining live music. If you have those dancing shoes ready, Club Jardines de 1830 is the perfect venue for an evening of salsa.
Whichever nightly activity you choose, just make sure to stock up on coffee to have lots of energy the next morning.
Day Trip to Viñales Valley
Rise and shine for day two of your 48-hour Cuban adventure! You have to wake up at the crack of dawn for this journey, but you’ll explore one of the island’s most scenic spots. Whether you drive or take the bus, the trip to Viñales Valley takes a few hours, and it’s imperative to get an early start.
The rustic countryside is home to quaint farming towns, tobacco plantations, and karst landscapes. Limestone cliffs rise above the valley to create many sensational vistas for your photo collection. Viñales hosts a multitude of activities for nature lovers and thrill-seekers wanting to get away from urban sprawl.
There are lots of hiking and cycling trails, and rock climbing is steadily becoming another popular activity among tourists. For a peaceful outing, consider horseback riding or touring one of the tobacco plantations. Local farmers embrace a slower pace of life and still use traditional methods to cultivate tobacco and other crops. Get a closer look at the valley’s unique topography by taking a boat ride inside eerie caves formed from eroded limestone.
The Viñales Valley is a magical place to complete your 48-hour itinerary, but there are many other places near Havana you can visit. If you want to customize your itinerary and take a different trip from the capital, check out the best group tours in Cuba for an unforgettable vacation.