Havana is the capital of Cuba and it was once regarded as the Crown Jewel of the Caribbean. It is a great place to visit with kids with its intense beauty, historic landmarks and picturesque places that you can visit. Havana also has magnificent beaches where you can just relax and hang out with your family. There is no shortage of things to do while on vacation in Havana.
Although there has been a recent ban on cruise ships to Cuba by the US president, there are still other ways to travel to Cuba. One of the ways is flying to Cuba using the “people to people” option like we did.
We traveled to Cuba in February to celebrate Aiden’s 6th birthday and we had a blast. I didn’t know what to expect prior to heading to Cuba with kids, but we all just fell in love and plan to visit again. Such an amazing country and five days in Havana definitely wasn’t enough time.
How Did We Get To Cuba?
We flew to Havana from Los Angeles on United Airlines with a stop in Houston. We found our tickets on Skyscanner.
Planning a trip and wondering how to get affordable flights? Then click the links below to read exactly how I am able to get flight deals, save on flights and more.
When we travel and plan to spend more than just a few days in a country, I don’t fancy planning a day by day itinerary because I know that we can be flexible and move things around as needed. However, because our time in Cuba was limited, I wanted to make sure that we maximized each day. So I reached out to a local Cuban tour guide, Dayami and she sent me a list of things to do and I was able to put together this Cuba itinerary.
Day 0: Arrive in Havana, Cuba and explore neighborhood.
We arrived in Cuba around 4pm and we were greeted by our driver with a sign that had our name on it. He picked us in a classic car and dropped us in Old Havana were our casa (Cuban home) was located.
When we got to our Casa, our host was already there waiting for us. She gave us a quick run down of how to use things in the apartment, and then handed us the keys. We had a very early flight that morning, so we were exhausted. We rested for about an hour and then went out to explore the neighborhood.
After resting, we decided to explore our neighborhood. Plaza de Armas was a short 5 minute walk from our casa, so we went there. The kids played with other local kids for a little bit, then we found a restaurant there and had dinner. There are several restaurants to choose from!
Day 1: 2-hour walking tour of Old Havana, plus one-hour ride in an American convertible, and Museo De La Revolucion.
We did a walking tour of Old Havana also known as Habana Vieja. The walking tour took us through Old Havana, including the four main squares. We also saw some of Hemingway’s favorite places. The tour lasted about 3 hours, with all the stops but it was amazing. It was very family friendly, and the kids were entertained throughout. It is such a great way to learn about Havana from a local. Our guide did such a great job at explaining every step of the way.
After our tour of Old Havana, our guide walked us to the were the classic cars were parked. She had arranged for a classic car ride for the four of us, so we hopped right into the car and were on our way. The driver had some fun music playing and took us around showing us some of the neighborhoods in Havana such as Vedado and more. He also took us to Plaza De La Revolucion where we stopped for photos.
After our classic car ride, we visited Museo De La Revolucion (Museum Of The Revolution) and learned so much. The reason behind the revolution in Cuba is definitely explained very differently than it is in the U.S. so that was interesting to see. The kids enjoyed it too and they asked lots of questions.
Day 2: Day Trip to the beach – Playa Santa Maria del Mar
Ever since Aiden was little, the beach has been his happy place – mine too. We initially wanted to take a day trip to Varadero which is a 4hr round trip drive from Havana, however we didn’t want to spend most of our day in the car, so we opted to visit Playa Santa Maria del Mar which was only a 30 minute drive from Havana. If you do have the time, definitely try to make it to Varadero as it has the most beautiful beaches in Cuba. Our tour guide had someone drop us off and pick us up when we were ready to leave. We spent about 6 plus hours here at the beach and the kids weren’t ready to leave.
Day 3: 4-hour city tour in classic American car with AC and a guide
(Tour Highlights – Ride along the Malecon (sea wall drive), Callejón de Hamel (rumba performances/Afro-Cuban religion/art scene), National Hotel, Fusterlandia community/art project, Rainforest of Havana (National Park), Bay fortresses and the Christ of Havana viewpoint)
My baby boy Aiden turned 6 years old today! Ah, what a special day for him and a special day for me too. Birthdays are such a special day for us as a family, and one of the reasons why we travel and spend the day together.
We visited several amazing sites with our tour guide and her husband who drove us around. This was a such a great way to see the city of Havana. We drove around several neighborhoods and visited several great sites.
Day 4: Full day excursion to Viñales Valley
(Options – Visit to cigar plantation: free cigar tasting and demonstration of hand-rolled cigar making, Boat ride inside a cave 5cuc/person, Tour of Palenque de los Cimarrones (former hiding place for runaway slaves) 3cuc/person, Los Jazmines viewpoint (marvelous view of the Valley and the mogotes (typical hills), Horseback riding 20cuc/person, Prehistoric mural wall painting 3 cuc/person, Zip line tour 8cuc/person)
Vinales was amazing! It is about a 4-hour round trip drive from Havana, but very worth it. There was so much to do there as you can see from the options listed above. We were only able to go horseback riding, visit the cigar plantation, tour Palenque de los Cimarrones and learn about where slaves used to hide as well national park. I suggest spending two or more nights in Viñales if you want to do everything on the list above.
Day 5: Free Day
This day we slept in especially as we had no activities planned. The last four days touring Havana, the beach and Vinales were very exhausting, so we spend the day relaxing and doing things around our casa. We walked around the neighborhood and found the busiest street in Old Havana. We also found a small market and we bought souvenirs made by locals. We spent a few hours at the park and my husband and the kids played soccer. This park also had internet so I took the opportunity to check emails and respond to a few messages.
Day 6: Depart Cuba
Our tour guide arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us to the airport. The boys were feeling stylish in their Hats, Coats, Shoes & Backpacks (Aiden’s backpack and Ethan’s backpack) especially as everyone was complimenting them.
This Cuba itinerary is a good starting point if you are heading there and want an idea of what to do and how to structure your day. Our day typically started with us getting ready, having breakfast at a restaurant close to our casa, off to an excursion, lunch, rest after excursion, go to the park so the kids can play soccer and we can use the internet, dinner, dessert at a local ice cream shop or churro stand and then bed.
Our favorite breakfast spot was “El Dandy.” We ate several meals there and every single one of them was just as good if not better. I highly recommend it. Every restaurant we visited also had really good food.
Aiden took five soccer balls to give to the kids in Havana. After every evening of playing soccer with them, he would gift the ball to one of the kids. When we left he had played with, made new friends and gifted all five balls.
Overall Cuba was amazing and we plan to visit again soon.
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