Day trips from Havana Cuba by an expert. Collage of images and memorabilia from Cuba.

11 Awesome Day Trips From Havana Cuba By A Local (2024)!

Are you city sleek who would mainly prefer to explore the infamous city of Havana on your Cuba holiday but would also like to get a sneak peek at what is outside the city limits?

Day trips from (or in) Havana are the answer!

After traveling to Cuba regularly for five years, I have taken day tours to Vinales, tours in Havana province, and a two-day tour to Trinidad and Cienfuegos, to mention a few. All have been really great experiences with great value and adventure for the buck.

So don’t worry; there are numerous day trips from Havana you can embark on without losing any of the sizzling Havana nights. Here is how to do it.

Affiliate disclosure: I only recommend tours, services and purchases I know and love on this website.

Easy To Navigate Map Of Cuba!

πŸ“ EpicNomadLife Tip: Are you in a hurry?

My favorite full-day tour from Havana is to Vinales Valley, the beautiful lush green Cigar and Rum heart of central Cuba!

This map was created with Wanderlog, the best trip planner app on iOS and Android

Day Trips In Havana And Close Surroundings

Narrow street in Old Havana, in the middle of old colonial style houses with elaborate details, little balconies, and decorative greenery.
Streets of Old Havana

If you prefer to stay close to the city, still want adventures, and don’t really want a lot of transport time, there still are tons of interesting things to explore near Havana Province.

I have traveled to Cuba for years, stayed in Havana for long periods of time, and explored every inch of the city and its surroundings extensively. So I am really excited to show you the ropes, where you should go, and how to do it.

After walking the streets and taking in the ambiance of the old city and greater Havana day and night, make sure you know all the things you should experience outside the city limits, too.

Here are eleven day trips you can easily make from Havana (although some will require a long day on the road) and a few suggestions for multi-day tours as well.

1. Beach Trip To Playa Del Este Or Varadero

Playa del Este west Havana on a warm summer day with children playing in the whitewater
Playas del este outside Havana

Only 25 minutes outside Havana, you find Playas del Este, the eastern beaches, a string of white sands stretching along the Atlantic shores east of Havana. Cubans go here to enjoy the Caribbean surf, and there are not too many tourists around.

You can catch the bus to Playas del Este from Parque Central at the edge of Old Havana.

Or you can book an organized tour to the beach and ride in style in a Classic Old American Car there and back.

There are not many beach bars, restaurants, or amenities in Playas del Este, so it is smart to bring all the food, drinks, and sunscreen you need to be self-sufficient for a day.

In the organized beach day version, you can also choose a beach day trip from Havana to Varadero, which will be a longer journey of about two and a half hours.

2. Visit Hemingways Home The Finca Vigia

Hemingways white charming house outside Havana Cuba
Hemingways house outside Havana Cuba

Just outside Havana city is the Finca Vigia, the house where Ernest Hemingway spent decades of his life.

Finca Vigia is located in the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula, about 15 miles outside of Havana. Hemingway bought this incredible house in 1940 for just over $ 12,000 and stayed there for long periods of time.

From his patio, there is an uninterrupted view towards Havana, which Hemingway got to enjoy until his death in 1961, after which the Cuban government took over the property.

The Finca Vigia is a museum today, and you can get to see it for $5. To get there, you can take the guagua, the local bus, to Cojimar, which is super cheap and takes around 40-45 minutes.

The easier option is to get a private taxi to take you there and back, which will be a 15-minute drive.

Or join an organized tour that picks you up and drops you off. The guides will tell you stories and anecdotes along the way.

3. Marina Hemingway West Of Havana

The Marina Hemingway, to the west of Havana, has long channels and docks for visiting boats, and it is also home to several international events.

Like the Ernest Hemingway International Needle Fishing Tournament, which has been held here every year since it started in May 1950.

Even without embarking on competitions, you can go deep-sea fishing from the marina and do catamaran day trips, scuba diving, and snorkeling trips along the beautiful Cuban coastline.

The marina also rents out equipment like kayaks and kites for surfing, and if this is all new to you, you can book an instructor to go with it.

There are also a variety of restaurants where you can explore Creole cuisine, so your day at Marina Hemingway will not lack anything.

4. Fusterlandia Art District in East Havana

Fusterlandia art district, in east Havana, Cuba. A whole neighborhood covered in colorful tiles.
Fusterlandia art district a whole neighborhood covered in tiles

If you like to study unique art and architecture during your travels, you will probably enjoy a visit to the one-of-a-kind Fusterlandia art district east of Havana.

Fusterlandia is a whole neighborhood decorated with colorful mosaics in the small, former fishing village of Jaimanitas, the hometown of internationally renowned Cuban artist Jose Fuster.

The art center is not big, but I really enjoyed my visit here, and both the center itself and the art created on all the houses in the entire barrio are impressive.

Fuster has been nicknamed “Picasso” for his impressive and particular work, which has been widely displayed in exhibitions around the world. Over a period of 30 years, he created Fusterlandia, which stands as a testament to his work and legacy.

If you choose to do a Classic American Car tour of Havana, you can ask your driver to make a detour here or take a taxi there and back. A visit to Fusterlandia will probably be a half-day trip from the center of Havana.

Best Longer Day Trips From Havana

San Cristobal cathedral Old Havana Cuba
San Cristobal Cathedral Old Havana Cuba

Havana is located on the northwestern part of the Cuban main island with shores to the Atlantic Ocean.

From here, you can easily explore the wider Havana province, as well as Pinar del Rio with Vinales Valley, and Matanzas Province with Varadero.

If you don’t mind getting up really early, you can reach famous places like Trinidad and Cienfuegos along the southern Caribbean shores.

While you are down south, you might want to visit the Bay of Pigs, too (you know, where the US invasion went horribly wrong in the 60ies).

Organized tours might be a good idea in Cuba even if you normally don’t do this, as organizing details like transport and tickets might be a bit trickier than in other destinations and might not be available online.

πŸ“ EpicNomadLife Tip: You can rent a bike to get around Havana on your own.

5. Day Trips From Havana To Vinales

The green valley of Vinales west of Havana, with vast plains, trees, fields, and the famous mogote hills
Vinales Valley west of Havana

Vinales Valley lies to the west of Havana, a couple of hours in a taxi or three and a half hours on the Viazul bus ($12 online booking).

Getting a day trip from Havana to Vinales is super easy and a great way to see the highlights of the UNESCO-protected valley.

Organized Day Tour Havana – Vinales

A woman with red nail polish rolling a Cuban cigar from the dried tobacco leaves
Cuban cigars in the making

You can also choose an organized day trip from Havana to Vinales that will show you the highlights of the valley in one day, and you will be back in the city for a night out.

I have done this tour twice, and I really enjoyed it. It includes visiting a tobacco farm, testing Cuban cigars and rum, and visiting the Cueva del Indio cave, which is quite spectacular.

Here, you will make a subterranean boat trip (my favorite part)!

Then, you will visit the Mural de la Prehistoria (a huge mural painted in the 1960s), have a traditional Cuban lunch, and listen to your tour guide tell stories and anecdotes about the area.

Organize Your Vinales Tour Yourself

Horseback riding in Vinales on red dirt roads on a sunny day
Horseback riding in Vinales Valley in Cuba

If you want to get a taxi from Havana to Vinales, you can book one for only you (and your friends), which is called a taxi privado in Cuba.

This is opposed to a taxi collectivo, a taxi you share with other travelers heading for the same destination as you.

Your casa host or hotel will be happy to help you book a colectivo, but for a private taxi, you need to negotiate the price yourself.

Among the most interesting things to do in Vinales on your own are visiting a cigar farm, hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, ziplining, or caving, just to mention a few.

Distance From Havana To Vinales

Cuban tobacco hanging to dry from the barn ceiling in Vinales Valley Cuba
Tobacco hanging to dry in Vinales

Vinales is 93 miles away from Havana, and the roads between the two cities are in decent condition. The drive here takes less than three hours.

If you choose the organized tour, you can opt to jump the tour at the end of the day and stay over in a casa particular. Then get the Viazul bus back to Havana the next day or whenever you are ready.

Want To Stay Over In Vinales?

6. Varadero Day Trips From Havana

Aerial photo of the Varadero Peninsula stretching out into the sea
Varadero Peninsula

Paradisiacal peninsula Varadero lies a couple of hours to the east of Havana, famous for its all-inclusive resort, prize-awarded Varadero beach, and brilliant Caribbean ambiance.

Apart from heading into the resort bubble, Varadero also has a variety of activities and sights to offer.

You can go caving, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, take a classic car tour, get on the hop-on hop-off bus, or walk the streets of Varadero Town.

You can also catch the Viazul bus at 8:30 for $12, leaving from the Omnibus Station in Havana.

The award winning white sands and calm seas of Varadero Beach on a sunny summer day
Paradisiacal Varadero beaches

Among the Caribbean-inspired activities to do in Varadero to whisk you away is, of course, spending a day on the beach.

Or maybe on a catamaran snorkeling the crystal clear waters, or join a day trip with scuba diving if that is your passion.

On land, you can do classic car tours, take a Cuban cooking workshop, test Cuban cigars and rum, and visit a protected natural reserve and the dolphinarium located in a huge natural mangrove.

I have researched that all these organized activities listed get lots of good reviews from other travelers. Still, always make sure you check the reviews for each one before you make your booking.

Or you can just enjoy Varadero town with markets and restaurants (which is only about 60 seconds from the famous and award-winning Varadero beach).

Want To Stay Over?

Day Trips To Havana From Varadero

If you prefer to spend the majority of your holiday close to the beach and pools, you can also stay in one of the Varadero resorts or a casa particular and opt for a day trip from Varadero to Havana.

I have stayed at a variety of resorts in Varadero, so feel free to check out my recommendations.

Even if you prefer to stay at a Cuban resort, I recommend you don’t skip completely visiting the enigmatic and unique city of Havana during your holiday.

The venerable Prado Avenue with decorative tiles, lined with large green trees.
Prado Avenue

The current bus schedule is not great for a day tour option from Varadero to Havana, so a taxi or an organized tour to Havana would probably be smart in this case.

Your hotel or host can help you book a private taxi for the day, which gives you the freedom to go wherever and see whatever you want in Havana.

Or opt for an organized tour, which will include a mix of planned activities and free time to explore on your own.

You can also choose to stay a night or two in a casa particular in Havana, and explore the city a bit more.

Need a place to stay in Havana?

7. Havana To Cienfuegos Cuba Tours

The Cuban version of the Arch de Triomphe in Cienfuegos, Cuba: a smaller white replica of the Arch de Triomphe.
The Cuban version of the Arch de Triomphe in Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos, La Perla del Sud, is one of the few cities in Cuba that has more French influence than Spanish, as French settlers founded the city back in the day.

Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 by the French emigrant Don Luis D’Clouet, and its architecture mirrors this.

The many classical facades and columns provide an atmosphere reminiscent of 19th-century France.

The city was an important trade port for a long time, and today, you can still enjoy the wide avenues, shops, and restaurants, and the location right on the Caribbean coast of Cuba with beaches and palms.

The distance from Havana to Cienfuegos is 230 kilometers, and the trip takes about three hours in a car or taxi but almost seven by bus. From Varadero to Cienfuegos, the distance is 184 kilometers or a two-and-a-half-hour drive.

So, if you want to visit Cienfuegos from Havana or Varadero for only one day, the best option is to book a taxi.

Want To Stay Over?

8. The World Famous Bay Of Pigs!

The museum in Bay of Pigs

Bahia de Cochinos, or the Bay of Pigs, was the center point of the failed US-backed invasion by Cuban exiles that went horribly wrong in 1962.

Despite those dramatic days that had big consequences, it is a sleepy little town next to the tranquil beach today, but remnants of the drama of the invasion are still there.

Scuba diving on Punta Perdiz in the Bay of Pigs in Cuba
Scuba diving along the Bay of Pigs in Cuba

A small museum presenting dramatic events from the Cuban perspective is an interesting place to visit.

For the full experience, combine your visit to Cienfuegos with stopping at Playa Giron. The drive between the two southern destinations is just over an hour along the beautiful coastline.

Along the bay, you can stop wherever for a quick swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Bay of Pigs.

9. Journey To The Revolution | Santa Clara Cuba

Che Guevaras Maudoleum in Santa Clara, in front of the Plaza de la Revolucion
Che Guevaras mausoleum

The Infamous revolutionary Che Guevara and his companion Emilo Cienfuegos spent dramatic days in December 1958 in Santa Clara town fighting the soldiers of President Batista.

On New Year’s Eve, their final victory over Batista forces was the single most important incident that led to the Cuban Revolution and 60 years of socialist rule under Castro in Cuba.

Visit the Loma del Capiro hill, enjoy the spectacular view, and see where Che Guevara held a stance for a while before conquering the city and securing the revolution.

A selfie of me and the view from the top of La Loma hill in Cienfuegos, with the city full of green trees in the background around sunset
Travel Cuba Loma del Capiro Santa Clara view small

Santa Clara is about three and a half hours east of Havana, a town full of memorabilia, signs, and symbols of this particular event. It is also the home of a spectacular mausoleum where Che Guevara is laid to rest.

Take the Viazul bus from Havana to Santa Clara, book a private taxi, or a seat in a taxi colectivo to get here.

An hour and a half north of Santa Clara, you can also reach one of the famous Cuban keys, Cayo Santa Maria. A triplet of paradisiacal islands completely dedicated to all-inclusive hotels, beaches, and leisurely life.

Want To Stay Over?

10. Trips From Havana To Trinidad

View of Trinidad city and its terracotta rooftops on a bright sunny summer day
View of Trinidad

Colonial snapshot and UNESCO-protected city Trinidad is a unique testament to colonial Cuba, as it has hardly changed for centuries.

When Cuba was priced out of the sugar trade after centuries of prosperity, this sugar kingdom lost its momentum and became a quiet backwater in Cuba while modernization continued in other places on the island.

Because of this, Trinidad today is like a rare screenshot of what the city looked like in its glory days.

Visit museums and remnants of the sugar aristocracy, learn about the dark history of the slave trade, and admire the unique architecture in the old city.

I had a lovely day at Playa Ancon outside Trinidad

Ten fifteen minutes outside of the city is also the famous Playa Ancon beach, where you can lounge in a beach chair or lazily dip your toes in the Caribbean sea.

Traveling to Trinidad by car would take around four hours and is not the best option for a day tripβ€”but it can be done.

The feasible option would be to book a taxi for the day and set off very early in the morning.

Want To Stay Over?

11. Day Trip To Las Terrazas Pinar del Rio

Laz Terrazas natural pools in Pinar del Rio province, Cuba.
Day Trip from Havana to Las Terrazas in Pinar del Rio

Las Terrazas is a village with a beautiful freshwater system in the hills of Pinar del Rio province, a tranquil Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, which is around a one-hour drive from Havana.

I went here with a friend who was visiting from home. We did not do our research well enough and happened to arrive shortly after a hurricane, so the area was actually closed for repairs.

But, as we had traveled so far, they were still kind enough to let us in, and we got to enjoy the beautiful ponds and waterfalls all by ourselves.

Normally, you can go here on an organized tour where you will be picked up in the morning from your hotel or casa, and head for this stunning oasis only an hour’s drive to the east.

This tour includes a welcome cocktail and a tour of a coffee plantation, Las Terrazas town, the Soroa orchid garden, and the Soroa Waterfalls, where you can swim in stunning clear green waters.

Multi-Day Trips Of Central Cuba

2-Day Trip Cienfuegos, Trinidad & Santa Clara

The small, probably 1:1 size statue of Che Guevara and the boy child in Santa Clara, Cuba
Che and the boy child statue

If you have the time, a better option would be to visit Trinidad on a 2-day trip.

You can organize it yourself, with a combination of bus transport and taxis for parts of the distance if you want to curate your trip.

You can also join an organized tour that will take you to these three destinations over two days. On this tour, you won’t have to worry about bus schedules or haggling taxi prices!

Organized Round Trips In Cuba!

If you feel that the day trips from Havana are not enough, you might want to consider joining one of the round trips in Cuba.

This way, you can experience more of the island during your Havana holiday if you have the time.

To avoid any hassle with organizing transport and planning the trip, you can opt for organized shorter tours. Or combine this with your own adventures.

Best Way To Do Day Trips From Havana

You have several options for doing day trips from Havana, even if you don’t want to do an organized tour. You can take a Viazul bus yourself (it takes a bit of time, and the schedule binds you).

Or get a taxi collectivo (a bit pricier), or taxi privado (expensive), which both are faster options.

Your hotel or casa particular will help you book a seat in a taxi collectivo or privado, to pick you up where you are staying.

Getting Around Cuba!

The viazul bus to Varadero from Havana is comfortable and a great budget option for travel in Cuba
Traveling with Viazul in Cuba

Only setting aside a couple of days would do a lot, and it would make you able to take the Viazul bus all or part of the distance, maybe in combination with a taxi.

To get around Cuba, you can book the Viazul bus securely online in advance, and there are also options to pre-book taxis for certain distances.

You can also check out Taxi in Cuba or My Cuban Taxi to research destinations and prices.

This way, you can tailor your own day trip or round trip from Havana, covering a lot of sights and distances if you don’t want to miss out within a short time frame.

Also read: 19 Best Beaches In Cuba By A Cuba Expert

Sights In Havana!

The impressive white Capitolio building on a bright sunny summer day, with a bright blue classic American car passing by
The Capitolio in Havana

What about the Cuban capital?

I really recommend you spend some time in Havana during your Cuba holiday. After all, it is one of the most famous places in the world.

You will have time to see the magnificent El Capitolio building (which looks like the White House but is inspired by the Pantheon in Paris), the Museum of the Revolution, the old fortresses, and the historic city.

Visit various museums, the Malecon boardwalk, and the modern parts of Havana, such as El Vedado, which has beautiful avenues and parks.

To plan your stay in Havana, read about the 43 best things to do in Havana to create your perfect itinerary.

Wrap-Up Wonderful Day Trips From Havana Cuba!

There is no other way to say it, exploring Cuba is simply not done in a day, or in a week for that matter.

But if you are on a schedule and have decided to come, I certainly want to help you create your perfect stay.

Fear not; there are day trips from several beach havens to Havana if you are willing to take a bit of transport time and plan to make the most of it.

Who knows, maybe you even decide to come back some other time once you have had a taste of it?

Related blog posts:

Easy Havana Tour Guide: 8 Best Havana Tours By A Local

Is Female Solo Travel In Cuba Safe? A Local Woman’s Advice

5 Best Caribbean Islands For Solo Female Travel By An Expert

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One Comment

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Havana–growing up in Miami, this was not an option for us. I appreciate the local perspective. Saving this for when I have a chance to visit.

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