Bicycling Western Cuba

Bicycling Western Cuba

Bicycle off the tourist track and experience the rich culture of western Cuba. We’ll explore some of Cuba’s vibrant towns adorned with neoclassical architecture, see Cuban cigars rolled, savor some of the finest food this country has to offer, and spend time with locals to learn about the rich history of this charming country. The stunning route shows-off the best of Cuba's crystal blue waters and lush forests.

All of our itineraries meet the United States requirements for a People-to-People licensed trip and we will provide all licensing documents necessary for our American travelers. Recent loosening of regulations has allowed airlines to schedule direct flights from Miami and Houston into a variety of Cuban cities making this fascinating country more accessible than ever before.

If this sounds great but you'd like to explore more of Cuba, join us on the Grand Cycling Tour of Cuba: Central and Western.

Please Remember: With over 50 years of a trade embargo by the United States (and sanctions if other countries trade with them) and an economy that has boomed, busted and never truly found its way, Cuba is like no other place you have traveled. We choose to travel by bicycle because we know that getting off the buses and into the heart of a country on two wheels is one of the best ways to truly experience a place. With that said, you will notice that buildings are in need of repair, sometimes including portions of the hotels we use. Air conditioning, though present in 100% of your hotel rooms, may break down. Road surfaces can be rough with potholes. Hot water and water pressure can vary. Internet access is sporadic and hard to find. But, the people in Cuba are some of the warmest and friendliest people on earth. They genuinely want to share and talk about their lives with travelers from all over the world - especially Americans.

We recommend you bring an attitude of flexibility and an understanding that you may not find the amenities that exist in other countries. However, a trip to Cuba could be one of the most fulfilling travel experiences you've ever had - are you ready for an amazing adventure?

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 308 km (191 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 62 km (39 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 3.0
  • Countries / Cuba
  • Begin/End / Havana/Havana
  • Price / From USD$4695
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Cycle To The “Rainbow of Cuba”, Tobacco Plantation/Cuban Cigars , San Carlos Valley, Limestone caves of Vinales, Organic farm visit, La Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    Please remember, Cuba is in a Zika prone area so be aware it is not recommended to travel there if you are pregnant.
  • Includes
    7 nights' accommodation; 7 dinners, most lunches, all breakfasts; full van support; bilingual tour leaders, all People to People activities to comply with the OFAC regulations of group travel. And the usual (see below).

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Havana
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    0km / 0m
    difficulty level
    2
    48km / 622m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    3
    57km / 308m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    4
    52km / 437m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    5
    Hike option 0km / 0m
    6
    45km / 272m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    7
    49km / 537m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    8
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Some days may shuttles or options to ride the full day will make it a 301 tour. Roads can be bumpy on a few days.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Welcome to Havana

Highlights: Explore Havana, guided Tour of Old Havana, fit Bikes

Bienvenidos a Cuba! Gather this afternoon at our Havana hotel for an orientation and bike fitting. Once you have satisfied your appetite with a welcome dinner together, you can head back to the hotel, or stay out and take in the sights and music of Old Town Havana.

Lodging: Hotel Presidente (or similar*)

* Lodging for trips in Cuba are assigned by the state run travel agency and may be subject to change up to 1 week prior to the departure.

  • Meals: Dinner

DAY 2: Transfer and bike to Soroa

Highlights: Bicycle Carretera Central, cycle to the Rainbow of Cuba

An hour long shuttle takes us out of Havana today before we begin our ride through western Cuba. The bustle of the city fades away as you bicycle quiet roads into Las Terrazas. Aptly named the Rainbow of Cuba, as rainbows frequently shimmer over the rivers, waterfalls, and orchid-laden trees. Located in the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, our hotel is nestled in a lush and tropical garden filled with orchids. Have a cool drink by the pool before dinner.

  • Distance: 48 km (30 mi)
  • Gain: 622 m (2040 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: Soroa to San Diego de los Banos and Pinar del Rio

Highlights: Learn about Cuban Cigars

Follow Cuba's Carretera Central as you pedal deeper into the heart of tobacco country. Coast down to the plains and wind your way through small towns to San Diego de Los Banos, an old thermal hot springs vacation town brimming with colonial architecture. We'll have lunch after our ride and then shuttle to Pinar del Rio. This evening we'll visit a local arts organization that works with adults and kids who would otherwise not have anything to do. Dinner is on your own tonight.

  • Distance: 57 km (36 mi)
  • Gain: 308 m (1010 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 4: Pinar to Viñales

Highlights: Cycle through the San Carlos Valley, Mogotes and limestone caves.

Today we continue West from Pinar del Río, named after its river banks adorned with pines. After a shuttle out of town you'll cycle one of the prettiest valleys in the area, the San Carlos Valley boasting incredible views of limestone bluffs blanketed in lush forests overlooking isolated huts and rust-colored tobacco fields. The stocky limestone mogotes abruptly rising from flat plains give it a fantastical appearance. Lunch is along the way before shuttling into Viñales. Tonight we have dinner at our hotel.

  • Distance: 52 km (33 mi)
  • Gain: 437 m (1433 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: Viñales - Rest day

Highlights: Explore the limestone caves of Vinales, visit an organic farm

Take the day to stretch out your legs and explore the wonderful town of Viñales. There is plenty of hiking to be done in the valley just behind this charming town. We'll organize a group hike to walk in the Mogote National park before heading to lunch where we'll learn about the small farms working to create a sustainable way of farming as we visit a local organic farm.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6: Viñales to Soroa/Las Terrazas

Highlights: Pedal the Carretera del Norte

We pedal North away from the tourist track today as you leave the Vinales Valley. Your route takes you through small rural farming villages on your way to Palma Rubia where we'll regroup, have lunch and then shuttle back to the hills for a tour of the beautiful botanic gardens in Soroa or a relaxing stay at Las Terrazas.

  • Distance: 45 km (28 mi)
  • Gain: 272 m (892 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: Soroa/Las Terrazas to Havana

Highlights: Pedal ridgeline roads

Our ride today takes us through a variety of routes with varying terrains and views. Enjoy some of Cuba's lushest landscapes as we head out of La Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve where stretches of forests and grasslands, rounded hills and waving royal palm trees surround you. The beautiful lush hills then give way to cultivated farmland and small rural towns as we pedal our final kilometers outside Havana. We'll regroup for a picnic lunch before shuttling into Havana. We'll celebrate the end of our tour in style tonight at a local restaurant in Havana for dinner.

  • Distance: 49 km (31 mi)
  • Gain: 537 m (1761 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: Adios Havana!

Highlights: Explore Havana or head home

We'll have breakfast early before sending you on your way to explore Cuba or head home!

If this sounds great but you'd like more cycling in Cuba, check out our Grand Cycling Tour of Cuba

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Welcome to Havana

Lodging:

Note:

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1: meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the day 1 hotel listed on the itinerary.

We recommend flying into Havana (HAV)

  • Taxi from the Havana airport to the hotel (25 min/CUC 25-30)

Day 8: Departure Information

Adios Havana!

Your trip ends on the final day after breakfast.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio

We recommend flying out of the Havana Airport (HAV)

  • Taxi from the ending hotel to the Havana airport (25 min/CUC 20-30)

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

Please remember, Cuba is in a Zika prone area so be aware it is not recommended to travel there if you are pregnant.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two) and a water bottle (or two) and in some cases a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • How would you describe this tour to a friend? Truly an "Experience +". A journey back in time (75 to 125 years).

    Larrie R., Shoreview, MN - January 2018
  • How would you describe this tour to a friend? Unique. Beautiful. Dynamic. Surprising. Welcoming. Complex. A must do lifetime bucket list experience.

    Kristen L., Cambridge, MA - December 2017
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