Cuba in 15 days for backpackers

Cuba in 15 days for backpackers
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Who wouldn’t like traveling to Cuba for the next 15 days? Its peculiar political situation, magnificent climate thanks to the Caribbean Sea,  and its rums and paradisiacal beaches, attract the curiosity of millions of tourists every year. The communist regime and the world blockade, which is still in effect today, have preserved the history of the country. A misfortune for the majority, a richness in a very pure culture that attracts the eyes of the whole world.

Cuba is that old woman whose wrinkles are not able to hide her profound beauty that tells us about her years of glory. A beauty that we could discover layer by layer, street by street.

blue car havana things to do in Cuba in 15 days

Cuba was a totally improvised trip. With just one month in advance, we decided to embark on this adventure. Traveling to Cuba is unlike traveling to any other parts of the world. You have to be prepared for a strong culture shock that will take down each of your beliefs.

reasons why should you travel to Cuba right now

The Cuba of today is not the Cuba of yesterday and it will not be tomorrow’s. We hadn’t even unpacked our bags after just arriving Cuba when they announced the death of the revolutionary Fidel Castro.

If there is a turning point in the history of Cuba after colonization, that would be the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Amidst a fully capitalized world, the island established a communist regime that lasts until today despite international pressure against it.

 old taxi car colors havana cuba itinerary for 15 days

There was already an international openness and slight approach to world capitalism during Fidel’s old age, after he transferred his powers to his brother Raúl. Now that Fidel is not here, the changes will be much faster. So if you want to travel to Cuba, do it now. Do not wait another day because Cuba of the future will be another island in the Caribbean, or perhaps theatricalized communism of what it was and will never be, used as a tourist attraction.

15-days North Cuba Trip Itinerary

The island of Cuba has two major cities, Havana and Santiago de Cuba, separated by almost 1000 kilometers. In 15 days, it is impossible to travel the whole island thoroughly, so after buying tickets to Havana we decided to explore the entire upper half, leaving Santiago for a second visit.

Even then, we left a lot of things to see from the north of the country after two weeks. But we believe that our 15-day Cuba itinerary made the most of our days on the island and took us on a route unlike everything else, to learn about the reality of the Cuban people.

people havana cuba bananas stall

Though we had a defined scheme, we had a lot of flexibility during our trip, since we decided where we were going to sleep as we arrived at a new destination. Staying flexible is highly recommended if you travel by backpacking in Cuba, where it is very easy to find private houses offering accommodation.

This way, we got to adjust the itinerary on the fly, according to tastes and incidentals: like the day we lost because I got sick. We only had a draft of the route drawn on a map and the first two nights of Airbnb in Havana.

sunset beach trinidad ancon beach things to do in Cuba in 15 days

In this section, we tell you about our tour in the north of the island that you can consider if you travel to Cuba for 15 days.

Havana

You will love it and hate it at the same time. Facades of ruins that were luxurious mansions in their past. Chaos and smoke. Authentic and banal life on its Malecon. Afro-Cuban culture. Havana is a museum trapped in time. You cannot and should not leave it out if you visit the northern part of Cuba.

old car lamparilla street havana cuba itinerary

Old Havana

Strolling through Old Havana is to make a trip back in time. The old part of the city is the most tourist area of the capital. Amongst neoclassical jewels and historic squares, you will find the two most famous cocktail bars on the island. La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floridita, both very frequented by the writer Ernest Hemingway who popularized them with his acclaimed phrase: “My Mojito in La Bodeguita. My Daiquiri in El Floridita”.

mojito bodequita del medio havana old cuba in 15 days

Apart from trying these two different concoctions, you will find a lot of good restaurants, like Doña Eutimia. Take into account that this area is more expensive than other areas of Havana.

centro habana

Although in this part of Havana there are some tourist sites, such as the Capitolio or the Revolution Museum, Centro Habana is the engine of the city. Cubans live here and that is why it is the most authentic and original part of Havana.

capitolio havana things to do in cuba in 15 days

Going through the Malecon to get to the other end of the neighborhood, we will discover the “Callejón de Hamel” (“Hamel Alley”), a magical alley where Afro-Cuban art and culture intermingle. Do not miss it!

Vedado

It is the newest district of the city, formed during the era of splendor in Cuba.  The large casinos, cabarets and hotels run by the American mafia were here.

At present, it is a residential neighborhood. Although it is one that lodges fewer places to visit by the tourist, there are some you cannot miss, such as the Revolution Square.

revolution square che guevara things to do in cuba in 15 days

Havana has a thousand places to discover. To organize your days in this city, I recommend you not to miss our Complete Guide to Havana.

Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos can be visited as a day trip to enjoy its neoclassical buildings. These have granted the city recognition as a World Heritage Site.

This small city, known as the Pearl of the South, is a must stop in your trip to Cuba in 15 days if you are interested in Cuban architecture and especially the eclectic architecture that is very present in the mansions located in Punta Gorda.

cienfuegos mansion cuba in 15 days punta gorda

We decided to spend the night to enjoy the sunset from its Malecon. They said it was very different from Havana, and it did not disappoint.

palm tree malecon cienfuegos things to do in Cuba 15 days

If you want to know more about the Pearl of the South, here is the Guide to visit Cienfuegos in one day.

Trinidad

Stoned streets and colorful colonial houses give life to our favorite city of Cuba. Also, there are amazing places surrounding the city that you should not miss.

At least three days is necessary to explore this gem and all it has to offer.

Old Town

Trinidad is a museum city. In its old town, there is a very wide variety of them. Nevertheless, the best of the city are the beautiful colonial houses and streets, as well as the Cuban rhythm that has lived in its Casa de la Música.  Although you will hear it during your entire trip to Cuba in 15 days, here is where you will enjoy it most.

colonial houses cienfuegos cuba things to do in 15 days

Topes de Collantes

More than half of the island’s native species live in these mountains. Walk the path that takes you to Salto del Caburní and enjoy capturing the smallest bird in the world, the Cuban hummingbird with your camera.

waterfall salto del caburni trnidad topes de collantes Cuba in 15 days

Valle de los Ingenios

Learn the dark history of Cuba, the era of African slaves through the sugar mills, and discover the most powerful industry that the island has had in its history in a landscape that will overwhelm you.

the

Playa Ancón

Visiting Ancon Beach is mandatory when you travel to Trinidad. This beach with turquoise waters and white sand is ideal for resting. The access is very easy, so it is also suitable for families.

trnidad ancon beach caribbean cuba

However, what made us fall in love with this beach were its sunsets, where the sky seemed to burn in flames.

ancon beach sunset the best of cuba in 15 days

In the Complete Guide to Trinidad that we have written, you will find all the necessary information to prepare your trip.

Viñales

Viñales is the original rural Cuba. The Cuba of tobacco plantations plowed by oxen, the coffee, the tropics and the Guajiros. Enjoy a unique geography with its peculiar Mogotes forming a unique landscape.

mogote viñales cuba in 15 days itinerary

Explore the Valley of Viñales by bicycle and visit each of its caves to learn how the Maroons lived  and how slaves fled from the sugar mills.

travel to cuba 15 days cove

To complete your visit, make a nocturnal route of ascent to the Aquatics and contemplate the sunrise with the best views of the valley.

sunrise aquatic vinales best views

In our  Guide to Viñales Valley, you will not only find all the useful information for your trip, but also the downloadable offline maps, so you can make the best trekking without the need of a guide.

Cayo Jutías

Cayo Jutías is a lost key far from monstrous hotel complexes and agglomerations. This is one of the Cayos de Cuba that is more frequented by locals than tourists. There, you will find only turquoise water, white sand, starfish and many kilometers of wild beach waiting for you. The Cuban paradise.

cayo jutias best beach of cuba in 15 days

If you walk the hour that separates you from the beach of giant starfish, I assure you it will steal your heart. Do not hesitate to proclaim that Cayo Jutías is one of the best beaches in Cuba.

To enjoy the experience to the fullest, stay to sleep on the beach and live a magical sunset in total solitude.

If you want to discover the best  Cayo of Cuba, do not miss our Guide to Cayo Jutías.

HOW TO BEGIN TO ORGANIZE A 15 DAY TRIP TO CUBA

If you do want to travel to Cuba for 15 days, I advise you not to miss this Guide to Organizing a Trip to Cuba that we have prepared.

cuban child in 15 days

In the guide you will find all the information you need about the best time to travel to Cuba, what visa is necessary, travel insurance and vaccines, best accommodation and transportation options, official currency, Internet access and other essentials that you should not forget in your luggage.

MAP OF CUBA –  CUBA  TRAVEL ITINERARY for 15 DAYS

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written by Ascenphotography by danzafra

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