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2 Weeks in Cuba: Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus

Trip Highlights: Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Camaguey, and Santiago de Cuba.

In this 2 weeks in Cuba travel itinerary, I explored Havana’s vibrant streets and rich history before venturing to Cienfuegos’s coastal charm. In Trinidad, time seemed to stand still amidst its colonial splendor. Santa Clara offered a deep dive into revolutionary tales, while Camaguey captivated me with its unique layout and artistic spirit. Finally, in Santiago de Cuba, I immersed myself in a city where the country’s musical history and culture intertwine, completing my unforgettable Cuban adventure. 

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus

I arrived in vibrant Havana late in the afternoon, eagerly exploring its lively streets right away. As evening unfolded, I delved into the city’s renowned nightlife. My night peaked at the legendary Tropicana, where I witnessed an extraordinary cabaret show under the stars. This iconic venue, nestled in a tropical garden, mesmerized me with its dynamic blend of music, dance, and Cuban culture. I embraced the electrifying rhythm of Tropicana, making it a memorable start to my Havana journey. 🌆🎉🇨🇺

Day 2: Old Havana Odyssey – A Walk Through Time

I started my day by taking a 4-hour free walking tour through Central Havana, progressing into the historic heart of Old Havana. We marveled at the stunning Art Museum, strolled down vibrant Calle Obispo, and admired the historic squares: Plaza de ArmasPlaza de la CatedralPlaza San Francisco de AsisPlaza Vieja, and Hotel Ambos Mundos. We ended the tour with a delightful lunch at a local café and a refreshing drink in a famous Old Havana bar. I wandered the streets in the afternoon (as recommended by the guide), soaking in the local atmosphere. Late afternoon, I enjoyed a relaxing walk along the Malecon, captivated by the locals’ chill vibe and a breathtaking sunset. 🌅🚶‍♂️🇨🇺

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus

Day 3: Exploring Modern Havana 

At 10:00 am, I joined another free tour, but this time, it was all about the Modern Havana that started at Parque de los Mártires. First, we explored Hamel’s Alley, admiring Salvador Gonzalez’s tribute to Cuban African culture. Then, we discovered the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba and the famed Coppelia Ice Cream Parlour. We marveled at the University of Havana’s Greek temple-like buildings and strolled down Avenida de los Presidentes. I saw Che Guevara’s iconic silhouette in Vedado at the Plaza de la Revolución. The tour concluded at the Christopher Columbus Necropolis, ending at 23rd and 12th streets at 1 pm. After a quick lunch, I headed to Mi Cayito Beach for a dip and a relaxing afternoon. 

Where to stay in Havana

For your stay in Havana, Hostal Mirahabana offers a homely and budget-friendly option known for its tranquil ambiance. Hotel Nacional de Cuba combines historical significance with scenic views for a mid-priced stay. Iberostar Parque Central is ideal for luxury, blending modern amenities with classic elegance. 

Day 4: Classic Car Ride and to Cienfuegos

In the morning, I savored a quintessential Cuban experience in Havana – a tour in a classic car. Riding through the vibrant streets, I felt transported back in time. Then, at 15:25, I embarked on my journey to Cienfuegos. The scenic trip, lasting 5 hours and 20 minutes, offered stunning views and a deeper insight into Cuba’s diverse landscapes. I arrived in Cienfuegos by 20:45, excited for the next chapter of my adventure. Someone from Hostal Marina, where I stayed, picked me up at the bus station.

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Cienfuegos)
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Cienfuegos)

On Day 5 in Cienfuegos, I started at Parque Jose Marti, admiring the Catedral de la Purísima Concepción and the Arco de Triunfo. Just nearby, I visited the Palacio de Gobierno and the Statue of Benny Moré. Next, the Tomas Terry Theater offered a glimpse into the city’s cultural past. A short walk took me to the magnificent Palacio de Valle, a highlight of local architecture. As the day turned to evening, I strolled along the picturesque Malecon, witnessing a stunning sunset, the perfect end to a day filled with exploration and beauty. 

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Cienfuegos Self-guided Walking Tour).
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Cienfuegos Self-guided Walking Tour).

Day 6: Still in Cienfuegos and to Trinidad in the Evening 

At 8:00 am, I took a ferry to Castillo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua. I marveled at this 18th-century fortress’s historic significance and stunning sea views. By 10:00 am, I returned and headed to the serene Necrópolis Tomás Acea. Then, I immersed myself in the artistic ambiance of Parque Esculturas. After this cultural journey, I returned, packed, and relaxed at my accommodation. I boarded the 20:55 bus to Trinidad in the evening, excited for the 1 hour and 35-minute scenic ride ahead. A guy from Hostal Casa Mia picked me up at the bus station. 

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Trinidad).
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Trinidad).

In Trinidad, I started at the vibrant Plaza Mayor, the city’s historical heart. I explored the Romantic Museum just steps away, delving into the town’s colonial past. Then, a short walk led me to the Palacio Cantero for stunning city views. Continuing through the cobbled streets, I reached the Convento de San Francisco, now a captivating museum. Next, I immersed myself in revolutionary history at the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos. I marveled at the Museo de Arquitectura‘s heritage. My day concluded with discovering unique crafts at the Casa Templo de Yemaya‘s artisan market. In the evening (well, midnight), I checked out Disco Ayala, a disco bar inside a cave (literally in a cave!). 

Day 8: From Historic Streets to Playa Ancon 

Waking up late after a night at Disco Ayala, I leisurely explored Trinidad, feeling like I traveled back in time. Then, I rented a bike and pedaled to Playa Ancon, a 50-minute ride filled with scenic views. Another option to go there is by bus and taxi. The beach’s tranquil waters were perfect for swimming and relaxation. I returned to Trinidad before dark, refreshed with a shower. My evening unfolded at Plaza Mayor, where I enjoyed a delightful dinner, soaking in the vibrant night scene. The day perfectly balanced historical exploration and beachside leisure. 

I boarded the 07:30 bus to Santa Clara, arriving after a 3-hour and 10-minute journey. I stayed at Hostal Amalia, a 2-minute walk to the city center. Right after lunch, I embarked on a free walking tour of Santa Clara, unraveling the city’s rich history linked to the Ten Years’ War and the Cuban Revolution. I learned about critical figures like Marta Abreu. The walk took me past landmarks like the La Caridad Theatre, statues of independence leaders, the Cathedral of Santa Clara de Asis, and the Monument to the Seizure of the Armored Train. This site marked Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s crucial role in ending the Batista regime. I then visited the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Plaza Che Guevara. The tour concluded with insights into local culture at Café Museo Revolución and the El Mejunje cultural center. 

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Santa Clara)
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Santa Clara)

Day 10: Santa Clara’s Peaks and Streets – A Day of Discovery 

I started my day ascending to Loma del Capiro, a vantage point offering panoramic views of Santa Clara and a historical site from the Cuban Revolution. Then, I strolled around the city center, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere and visiting landmarks like the Leoncio Vidal Park and the bustling market streets. In the afternoon, at 15:55, I boarded the bus for a 5-hour and 10-minute journey to my next destination – Camaguey!

In Camaguey, I started my self-guided exploration, aka walking tour, at Trabajadores Square, delving into the city’s rich history. I wandered through its unique layout, visiting squares, historical churches, the provincial library, the old City Hall, and vibrant trade streets. I even discovered a local store and an art gallery, immersing myself in the city’s artistic vibe. The blend of architectural styles felt like a journey through time, showcasing Cuban history and civil engineering. The “City of Churches” lived up to its name, offering a glimpse into the religious heritage through its essential temples. My day concluded with a walk through the labyrinthine streets, each turn revealing the traditions of this fascinating city. One full day in this city was not enough for me. 

In Camaguey, I stayed at Hostal Carmencita, located in the city’s historical center. It is known for its welcoming atmosphere and quality service.

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Camaguey)
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Camaguey)

Day 12: Journey to Santiago de Cuba – A New Chapter Begins 

I embarked on my bus journey to Santiago de Cuba at 09:15, arriving after a 6-hour and 25-minute scenic ride. Once settled in my accommodation, Hostal La Hiedra, I headed to the vibrant Parque Cespedes, one of the lively squares/parks in the city. There, I enjoyed dinner at an affordable restaurant, soaking in the lively Afro-Cuban atmosphere of my new destination. 

Early in the morning, I hired a motorcycle and rode to Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro, located 6 miles from Santiago’s center. I arrived as the first visitor at 9 am, soaking in the breathtaking views and historical significance. By 11:00 am, I was back in the city, ready to explore. Without wasting time, I embarked on a self-guided walking tour, starting at the historic Cuartel Moncada. Then, I strolled through Abel Santamaría Park and Mars Square, admiring the vibrant bowers and the peaceful Dolores Square. Next, I visited the Emilio Bacardi Museum, delving into local history.

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Santiago de Cuba)
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Santiago de Cuba)

Continuing my journey, I discovered the birthplace of José María Heredia, followed by a relaxing moment in Cespedes Park. The City Hall of Santiago de Cuba impressed me with its grandeur, as did the majestic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. I then explored the historical House of Diego Velazquez. I climbed the Padre Pico Staircase, pausing to admire the view from the Velazquez Balcony. My day concluded with a serene walk along the Alameda, during which I reflected on the rich history and culture I had experienced throughout the day.

At 22:00 pm, I embarked on a 14-hour bus ride back to Havana, arriving at 12:45 the next day (Day 14). This non-stop journey marked the end of my time in Santiago de Cuba. For those who prefer a quicker return, flying is an option, though more costly and requires a next-day departure due to the limited time in Santiago. Later in the evening, I caught my international flight, departing from Havana, carrying memories of an incredible journey across Cuba

2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Santiago de Cuba)
2 Weeks in Cuba Travel Itinerary: From Havana to Santiago de Cuba by Bus (Santiago de Cuba)

Gracias and Adios, Cuba!

Reflecting on my 2 weeks in Cuba, I realized it was a journey through time, culture, and self-discovery. Each city whispered its own story, teaching me lessons in history, art, and resilience. The warmth of the people, the rhythm of the music, and the vibrant colors of the streets have been etched into my memory. This adventure has been a tapestry of experiences that have deeply enriched my understanding of this beautiful island and its spirited heart. 🇨🇺❤️🌟🎒

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