21 Days of Bespoke Luxury Experiences
After a morning, noon and night sensory and sensuous exploration of Havana, from the colonial core of the UNESCO World Heritage site Old City, to the rambling Art Nouveau mansions of the Vedado quarter, head southwest to roam the Viñales Valley on foot or by horseback exploring this rural idyll of tobacco fields, royal palms and mini mountains, known as mogotes. Visit some of the tobacco plantations of the nearby Vuelta Abajo region, source of the best leaves used to craft the best cigars in the world.
Return to Havana and fly to Baracoa. When Christopher Columbus set eyes on the Bay of Baracoa and the Bay of Honey he proclaimed it the ‘most beautiful land I have ever seen.’ Many travellers to this buried corner of Cuba agree. Its lush tropical forests of royal palms and cocoa and coffee beans encircle an area rich in legends, flowing rivers and pre-Columbian relics.
From Baracoa, drive the remarkable twisting mountain road, La Farola, passing Guantánamo to Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second city, infused with the rituals and percussive sounds of its predominantly African heritage and music. This colonial port city also played a pivotal role in the 1959 Revolution and its streets are embedded with museums and monuments that bear witness to this recent history.
From the hot and heady streets of Santiago, head north to the rugged coastline and sapphire seas of Guardalavaca, rich in tropical vegetation and punctuated by hidden coves. Camagüey is a proud, handsome and cultured colonial city of plazas and churches squeezed into a warren of corkscrew streets. Genteel Sancti Spíritus, founded by the conquering Spaniards as one of the original seven villas of Cuba, is endowed with some fine colonial buildings in its small historic core.
Head southwest to Trinidad for the country’s most perfectly preserved colonial city. Its attractive houses were built on the back of the riches of the sugar trade; its beauty was trapped in time when the price of the sweet stuff tumbled and the sugar barons went in search of business elsewhere abandoning the town to an existence of skeletal elegance. Before heading back to Havana, stop at Santa Clara to take in the culture and alternative nightlife of this well-ordered university city; pay homage to Che Guevara at the Plaza de la Revolución where an enormous brutalist monument towers over his mausoleum.