This is a tough one. Many visitors are content to spend an entire week soaking up the rays and lying in the sand at an all-inclusive beach resort. I often devote an entire week to Havana. However, the following itinerary seeks to pack a handful of Cuba's top attractions into a concise, yet doable, week-long visit. You'll get a taste of the country's best big city and its top colonial-era town, as well as some time on the beach.
Day 1: Arrive & Settle into Havana
Arrive and check in to your hotel. Take an afternoon walk along the Malecón and have a sunset cocktail at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. For dinner, head to either La Fontana or La Cocina de Lilliam, two of the city's best paladares. Be sure to make a reservation as soon as you get to your hotel, because these places book up fast. After dinner, catch some jazz at La Zorra y el Cuervo if you're not jet-lagged.
Day 2: Step Back in Time in Havana
Start the morning off in La Habana Vieja. Visit the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, and Plaza de San Francisco. Be sure to tour the Museo de la Ciudad, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, and any other attractions that catch your attention. Have lunch at La Bodeguita del Medio. After lunch, head toward Parque Central and visit El Capitolio, and then later, either the Museo Nacional de las Bellas Artes, or the Museo de la Revolución. Finish up your afternoon strolling along the outdoor art exhibit that is Callejón de Hammel, but if your second day is a Sunday, arrive here earlier for the Sunday rumba sessions. If you have a spare half-hour, drive by the Plaza de la Revolución to see the José Martí memorial and the iconic iron sculpture of the face of Che Guevara on the Ministry of the Interior building. In the evening, go to the Tropicana for dinner and a show.
Day 3: Trinidad
Head for Trinidad. Stay in one of the many glorious casas particulares right in the colonial center of this classic little city. Spend the afternoon touring Trinidad's colonial-era landmarks, including the Plaza Mayor, the Plazuela El Jigüe, the Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, and the Museo Romántico. For dinner, make a reservation at Paladar Estela or Sol y Son. After dinner, stroll around the Plaza Mayor and listen for where the action is. It might be a salsa or son band playing on the steps below the Casa de la Música, or it might be in any one of several clubs nearby, including the excellent Palenque de los Congos Reales.
Day 4: Checking in with Che
Spend the morning walking around Trinidad, and shopping at the various little street markets around town. From Trinidad, head north to Santa Clara, Che Guevara's city. Your first and most important stop here is the massive and impressive Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara, set on the Plaza de la Revolución Che Guevara. In the early evening, head to Parque Vidal, the downtown heart and soul of Santa Clara. Stop in to tour the Teatro La Caridad, and then head to Hostal Florida Center for dinner. After dinner, see if there's anything happening at Club Mejunje.
Days 5 & 6: Hit the Beach
From Santa Clara, head to La Cayería del Norte, where you will find a handful of large, luxurious resorts on some of the finest beaches in Cuba. Be sure to stop for a bit in the tiny, colonial-era town of Remedios on your way. And then settle in for some serious relaxation. There's excellent snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as numerous opportunities to indulge in other watersports. Or you can just chill.
Day 7: Going Home
Return to Havana in time for your international connection. If you have extra time, head to the Almacenes San José, market to do some last-minute shopping before you go.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.