Granted, there may be something to be said for the thrill and adventure of organising a travel itinerary with all your own connections and accommodation yourself, either as you go or all in advance.
On this occasion I accepted the offer of a little help and a bit less to have to think about so I could concentrate more on enjoying the destination, especially when that destination was as unique and unfamiliar as a first visit to Cuba.
‘The Cuban Experience’ is Virgin Holidays’ ever popular nine day Cuban tour package, with an allocated local guide and pre arranged excursions and accommodation for the duration of the tour. At the end of the tour you can fly home or add on extra days at a location of your choice, giving you the freedom to return to places you want to explore more, or discover more of Cuba independently.
….my 19 day trip to Cuba went as follows:
- 9 day guided ‘Cuban Experience’ courtesy of Virgin Holidays
- An additional 11 nights in Varadero (yes I know everyone turns their nose up at this unauthentic place, but after getting up early every morning for the Cuban Experience Tour, it was nice to just relax on typical beach resort for a while. In hindsight, it soon grew a little mundane but thankfully it wasn’t filled to capacity – I dread to imagine it during busier months when the beach is probably completely packed, spoiling its beauty. It would have been nice to split this time with some extra nights in Trinidad – my favourite part of the Cuban tour – maybe next time!).
Tip – 4-5 nights in Varadero is more than enough, honestly – thankfully a few extra excursions helped break up the time.
You see your Cuban Experience itinerary in advance with the hotels you’ll be staying in; all your transfers between locations and hotels are part of the tour and included in your package price. This is ideal for a first time Cuban tourist, you really want to get a broad flavour of the country and its many characteristics without the stress of trying to plan and organise it all yourself.
Our Cuban Virgin tour guide was an invaluable resource throughout – full of wit and charm, and I must emphasise the ‘charm’!!!
The early mornings, hours on the road and living out of a suitcase as you hop between hotels can be a bit tiring, especially as you get no time to settle after landing in Cuba. The morning after we landed it was an early start, no sympathetic lie-in – but worth the inconvenience for the experience you get and amount of ground covered over the nine days.
At the end of the Cuban Experience tour, an additional eleven nights were spent in Varadero for some good old ‘touristy beachiness’, time to relax (and sleep) before flying home to the UK on the inclusive return flight.
There are touring holidays to lots of destinations worldwide, and many different tour operators; I can’t help but think they’re still largely untapped and unheard of, yet such a brilliant way to explore a country for the first time.