While visiting Cuba for leisure as an American is still prohibited, travelers can visit the country under one of 12 approved categories. Many government-approved companies offer tours that educate visitors on Cuba’s rich history. Visitors can travel to Cuba to explore cities like Havana and Santiago de Cuba and can discover the rural areas, including beaches and tobacco farms.
Abercrombie & Kent
Experience every side of Cuba with Abercrombie & Kent’s 10-day journey. This company offers up to 24 people the experience of a lifetime, exploring Havana’s cultural and economical aspects, by chartering their own flights to Cuba. Guests will dance their way through a private salsa lesson and get to see a concert in the style of Buna Vista Social Club. Participants will also meet two artists, Salvador Gonzales and Jose Fuster. You’ll even get to enjoy a meal in Jose Fuster’s home. Dining with local artists isn’t the only way to eat with this luxury tour company; you’ll also get to eat at a paladar, a typical restaurant, run in a Cuban home. You’ll tour Havana’s architecture with a local architect and local cigar factory where you will learn all about working on a tobacco farm. To top off your trip, you’ll also play a game of baseball with local Cubans.
Slightly less expensive than Smithsonian Journeys or Abercrombie & Kent, Classic Journeys offers a similar experience without the higher price tag. Following a quick charter flight to Cuba, you’ll learn not just about the lives of well-known Cubans, but you’ll also meet people from all walks of life. Learn about Santeria through a religious leader, and visit coffee and tobacco farms after a countryside walk in Vinales Valley. You’ll also meet with local artists and discover the importance Cuban artists have in this country. Your party will also get the chance to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Grand Circle Foundation
The only non-profit tour company on this list, Grand Circle Foundation strives to teach visitors about Cuba’s rich history. The 13-day tour is offered to small clubs via Overseas Adventure Travel. Tours include, “Cuba: A Bridge Between Cultures” and “Cuba: Cultural Pathways from Camaguey to Havana” You’ll see Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city in Cuba, and learn about Afro-Cuban influences. You'll even visit the city where Christopher Columbus’s ship landed, Baracoa.
Insight Cuba offers the most diverse selection of tours, including the 12-day “Undiscovered Cuba,” the eight-day “Classic Cuba,” and the five-day “Jazz in Havana.” Smaller trips include the four-day “Weekend in Havana.” Trips can be arranged for up to 12 visitors and include highlights, like the town of Santa Clara, where you’ll see the Che Guevara Mausoleum and travel aboard a vintage steam train. Insight Cuba is notably all-inclusive with accommodations, charter flights to Cuba, all meals (except 2), visa fees, and health insurance included in the price.