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Rental car round trip - Cuba & Mexico

Cuba & Mexico Round Trip - Mojitos & Mayans

Highlights

  • Two Caribbean countries and their highlights in two weeks

  • Discover historical destinations: Havana, Mérida, Valladolid

  • Xpu Há insider tip: Relax and unwind on the dream beach in Riviera Maya away from the crowds

  • Travel to both countries comfortably in a rental car

  • Cigars, vintage cars, salsa, mojitos, Mayan worlds, and dream beaches

Description

Cuba and Mexico: Experience two very different countries and their cultures. Rental a car and adventure through the colorful cities and dreamy beaches. Immerse yourself in Cuba’s nostalgia and discover Havana, vintage cars, and tobacco plantations. But that’s not all! Afterward, travel many centuries back into time and marvel at the Mayan sites such as Chichén Itzá in Mexico and bathing in crystal clear cenotes. After spicy salsa rhythms, head down to Mexico’s best beaches to unwind for a few days.

Destination

Central America / Caribbean

Havanna - Viñales - Las Terrazas - Valladolid - Mérida - Xpu Há / Riviera Maya

Visits during the dry season in Cuba and Mexico are the best. Book your dream vacation now for November, December, or April! During these months, the days aren’t too hot, and rain is pretty rare. As in many other countries in Latin America, the busiest time to visit is Christmas, New Year, and Easter.

The rainy season is from May to October. Spells of heavy showers come and go throughout the day, but usually don’t consistently last the entire day. The official hurricane season is between June and November. Like many Caribbean islands, Cuba and Mexico have pleasant temperatures between 77°F to 80°F year-round.

Welcome to Cuba - your two week round trip starts here. When you arrive at the airport, a colleague from our partner agency will meet you and take you to your hotel.

If you arrive at a decent time, you will have the opportunity to explore the capital, Havana, on the very first day! Hop into a time machine back to the 1950s and discover the many Art Deco buildings, iconic vintage cars, and the city’s famous colorful flair. Spend the night in a “casa particular,” the Cuban version of bed and breakfast, which local families independently run. This unique experience allows you to immerse yourself in everyday life of Cubans. Have some genuine chats and receive insider tips about events or secret spots of the city.

Travel time Havana Airport - casa particular: approx. 25 min / 15.2 km

Three nights with breakfast in Havana, Cuba

Today, pick up your rental car and drive to the west of the island to learn more about the world-famous Cuban cigars.

Viñales Valley’s fertile landscape offers ideal conditions for tobacco cultivation. Learn how Cubans roll their famous cigars and listen to some interesting facts about its history. The landscape is perfect for exploring on horseback or by bike. Trot or glide beside the fields and discover characteristic rock formations.

Did all of the adventures make you hungry? Today, you will have the opportunity to eat authentic Cuban food!

An optional yet fascinating excursion that we recommend is a boat right to Cueva del Indio. This unique experience takes you along the river both over and underground! Your ending destination is a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites (optional) like you’ve never seen before.

We have another hot tip for you: try the national dish, Ropa Vieja. This hearty, spicy beef stew with peppers and onions will impress all taste buds.

Travel time Havana - Viñales: 185 km / approx. 2.5 hours

Three nights with breakfast in Viñales, Cuba

About an hour from Viñales and Havana is Cuba's only eco-village and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Las Terrazas. It's a small sustainability paradise with numerous hiking trails, a colorful world of birds, and magnificent green trees. Did you see a beautiful bird swoop before your eyes? Were those the colors of the national flag? Then you've spot Cuba's national bird: the Kubatrogon or Tocororo!

This green oasis offers plenty of activities for nature and outdoor fans, promising something for every taste.

Adrenaline lovers, we have a treat for you. Book an excursion to the longest zipline in Cuba!
Those who like it more active are in good hands on the longest zipline in Cuba. Glide over the lush trees at high speed, for over a length of 5250 feet! The eco-village is also famous for its exciting horseback riding experiences. Climb on top of the gentle animal and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes.

Travel time Viñales - Las Terrazas: approx. 2 hours / 135 km

Overnight with breakfast in Las Terrazas, Cuba

Say goodbye to Cuba and hello to Mexico! Before flying over the Yucatán Peninsula, drop off your rental car at Havana Airport.

When you arrive in the land of the Mayans, pick up your rental car at the airport and drive towards Valladolid. The warm Mexican sun already greets your skin as you already drive past Mexico’s distinct landscapes.

The city’s lively atmosphere will already impress you as you drive to the first destination. From the colorful houses, music, and traders on the streets, this typical Mexican backdrop shapes Valladolid. A great meeting point is Zocalo Square, nestled right in the city center. Relish views of the stunning Cathedral de San Gervasio. See it in the evening when it romantically illuminates the cityscape.

Our tip: If you are hungry in between, you should try an authentic Mexican delicacy: marquesitas. It’s almost like a fried crepe with a bit of crisp; you can choose a savory one with cheese or sweet with chocolate cream, then grab it in your hand as you continue your tours through the vibrant city streets!

Not far from the city center’s small weekly market is the Cenote Zaci. Cenotes are limestone caves filled with water where you can dive and swim. You can find other cenotes around Valladolid, which you can easily reach by bus or bike.

Travel time Las Terrazas - Havana airport: approx. 1 hour / 76 km
Flight time Havana - Cancun: approx. 1.5 hours
Travel time airport - Valladolid: approx. 2 hours / 160 km

Overnight with breakfast in Valladolid, Mexico

Today, discover the Yucatec-Maya Ek Balam archaeological site. The mighty ruin rises in the middle of the jungle between lush green trees. The pristine and undiscovered site features a pyramid-like structure near the entrance, as well as a fine arch and a ball court. Not far from Ek Balam is the natural sinkhole Cenote Xcanché. This natural wonder offers ziplines overhead and refreshing swims in the cool, turquoise waters. After discovering these breathtaking sites, drive back to Valladolid.

If you head north, you will find the sleepy fishing village of Las Coloradas hidden on the coast of the Yucatán. On dusty slopes, drive past the salt mountains that surround the famous artificially created ​​pink salt basins. If you look closely, the color of the lagoon water shimmers from yellow to orange to striking pink. The color comes from the red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that thrive in the salty environment. As the water evaporates, these organisms become more concentrated, creating the pink waters to glisten under the Mexican sun. Travel to another world: the pink lakes serves as a backdrop behind the white hills. These dazzling sites create a surreal landscape while playing with an array of colors and the glaring sunshine. Later in the day, make your way back to Valladolid.

Travel time Valladolid - Ek Balam / Rio Lagartos: approx. 2 hours / 130 km

Overnight with breakfast in Valladolid, Mexico

After breakfast, you will leave Valladolid and set off for Chichén Itzá, where the Mayan world will captivate you. During this highlight of your trip, you will see the famous and impressive ruins that live on the peninsula. The city emerged in the second half of the first millennium before the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, between 750 and 950 AD. Suddenly, the Mayans’ world disappeared mysteriously. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that people rediscovered the city under the dense jungle. The most famous building is the 24-meter high Kukulcán pyramid dedicated to the god of the same name. Nearby, there are other outstanding structures such as the Temple of 1000 Pillars, the Warrior Temple, the observatory, and a ball court. The site has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

Chichen Itzá means “at the mouth of the well of the Itzá.” The Itzá were an ethnic group of the Mayans that had control of northern Yucatan during these times, which is the city’s name references. Cenote Yokdzonot is a few kilometers from the site and offers a refreshing swim, a zipline, and natural wonders. Explore its tunnels, then climb the stairs that take you to several platforms with impeccable views.

On the way to Mérida, you can also visit Izamal, aka La Ciudad Amarilla (the yellow city). Learn about the Franciscan convent, constructed in 1549, on the platform of one of the essential pre-Hispanic pyramids. We recommend an aimless wander in the streets, drifting past the colorful architecture, enjoying a coffee in the plaza, or watching the everyday life of the residents.

After exploring the city, continue your journey to today’s ending destination, Mérida. The city is the vibrant city of Yucatán, full of culture and history. After your arrival, you can walk past mansions and horse-drawn carriages on the magnificent Paseo de Montejo.

Travel time Valladolid via Chichen Itza, Cenote Yokdzonot, Izamal - Mérida: approx. 3 hours / 184 km

Overnight with breakfast in Mérida, Mexico

We dedicate today's explorations to the capital of Yucatán, otherwise known as the "white city." The vivid houses and the traditionally dressed locals are the reason why the city adopted this nickname.

Some of the city's highlights worth seeing include the vast cathedral, the bishop's seat, the Palacio Municipal, and the Casa de Montejo (converted into a mansion to house the Montejo family, stone conquistadors decorate the facade). You will feel the Spanish and French colonization influence all over the city. For example, the Champs-Élysées served as a model for the Boulevard Paseo de Montejo.

Other exciting experiences that we recommend are a cooking course or a street food tour to discover the culinary diversity of Yucatán.

Overnight with breakfast in Mérida, Mexico

Today you will say goodbye to Mérida and drive to the Gulf of Mexico coast. On the way, we recommend a detour to Cobá, one of the most important Mayan sites. These ancient Mayan city ruins are a highlight of anyone’s Mexico vacation. Experience the unique Yucatec feeling while you surround yourself with bird cries, cicadas chirping, and iguanas. The Nohoch Mul pyramid is one of the few that visitors can still climb today and the largest on the Yucatán peninsula. Once you make it to the top, the view is worth it. Relish the seemingly endless sceneries of the rainforest that surrounds the Mayan site. In the past, Mayans would practice their ritual sacrifices here at the top when asking the rain god for precipitation, which would lead to their city’s fertility.

Afterward, drive to Xpu Há between Playa del Carmen and Tulum and look forward to a few relaxing days at the beach.

Travel time Mérida via Cobá - Xpu Há: approx. 2.5 hours / 298 km

Three nights with breakfast in Xpu Há, Mexico

Xpu Há is an insider tip on the Riviera Maya that we are excited to share with you. The idyllic, postcard Caribbean-esque beaches are more popular with locals than with tourists. Feel like a local when you relax under the Mexican sun, or head to one of the beach restaurants for some fresh tacos and cold beer. The turquoise water is ideal for snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and other sports activities.

Enjoy these couple of days in tropical paradise unwinding from an eventful vacation. Soak in those last moments with the summer and sunshine of Mexico.

Today it's time to say goodbye, or "adiós," to Mexico. This colorful and captivating country and its hospitable and cheerful people will leave you with many unforgettable memories as you head back home. Pack your luggage and drive to the airport to start your journey home.

If you have any requests or changes regarding the itinerary, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to adapt the round trip according to your individual wishes. How about a visit to the Mayan site of Tulum directly on the Caribbean Sea or extending your stay on Isla Holbox?

We hope you had a wonderful trip and will come back soon!

Travel time from Xpu Há to Cancun Airport: approx. 1 hour / 81 km

itravel - for that moment.

Casa Magda, Havanna, Cuba

The accommodation is in the Nuevo Vedado district and offers cozy & warmly decorated rooms. Surrounded by lush vegetation, the terrace boasts incredible natural views, the perfect place to enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast every morning.

Hostal Los Tres Caballeros, Viñales, Cuba

Not far from the center, this hostel is the ideal starting point for excursions. The rooms have a private bathroom, air conditioning, and a minibar. From the terrace, enjoy views of the Viñales countryside.

Casa Hospedaje Villa Duque , Las Terrazas, Cuba

The casa nestles in a rural area, close to beautiful coffee plantations and the Mirador de Soroa viewpoint. The rooms are functional and straightforward.

Casa Tia Micha***, Valladolid, Mexico

Casa Tia Micha is in a vibrant, colonial-style building and offers attractive rooms with free WiFi. It's also in the center of Valladolid, less than 5 minutes' walk from San Gervasio Church, making it a perfect starting point for city explorations. Each of the air-conditioned rooms has modern furnishings, a flat-screen cable TV, and a minibar. In the dining area, you will receive an American breakfast each morning. Other highlights you can look forward to are the hotel's spacious terrace and the restaurants, bars, and cafes you will find around the hotel's adjacent streets.

Casa del Balam***, Mérida, Mexico

Casa del Balam is a restored Art Deco mansion with an outdoor pool, free WiFi, and air-conditioned rooms with cable TV. The rooms have a view of the nearby José Peón Contreras Theater or the University of Yucatán, and amenities include a minibar and a bathroom with toiletries. Bistrola 57 serves meals in the hotel's courtyard garden. For adventures outside of the hotel, you can easily reach many cafés, shops, and galleries in a 5-minute walk, or even discover the Mérida Cathedral, which is only two blocks away.

Serenity Eco Luxury Tented Camp by Xperience Hotels***+, Xpu Há, Mexico
For the final accommodation, you can look forward to a luxurious stay in a beautiful eco-lodge! Serenity Eco Luxury Tented Camp is eleven miles south of Playa del Carmen, seventeen miles from the famous Tulum Archaeological Site, and 200 yards from Xpu Há Beach. The jungle encompasses the luxury tented lodge, offering a remarkable garden and year-round outdoor pool in the middle of these natural surroundings. The tents provide king-size and queen-size beds, a colonial-style desk, a chair, and a large mirror. There's also a private bathroom, toilet, and separate shower cubicle.

Duration of the trip: 15 days / 14 nights

Including

  • Fourteen nights in the accommodations mentioned above or similar:

    • Three nights at Casa Magda with breakfast in a standard room, Havana, Cuba

    • Three nights at Hostal Los Tres Caballeros with breakfast in a standard room, Viñales, Cuba

    • One night at Casa Villa Duque with breakfast in a standard room, Las Terrazas, Cuba

    • Two nights at Casa Tia Micha*** with breakfast in a Standard King Room, Valladolid, Mexico

    • Two nights at Casa del Balam*** with breakfast in a standard room, Mérida, Mexico

    • Three nights at Serenity Eco Luxury Tented Camp by Xperience Hotels***+ with breakfast in the Harmony Room, Xpu Há / Riviera Maya, Mexico

  • Six days rental car package of the category Peugeot 301 or similar until day four in Cuba

  • Road map (book with extensive map material)

  • Driving directions around Havana (detailed descriptions for driving from the capital to the provinces) and a booklet with information about Cuba and rental car information

  • Seven days rental car package of the category FC - VW Vento or similar in Mexico

  • The starting price is valid during the travel period 05/01/20 - 06/30/20 & 09/01/20 - 10/31/20

Car rental Cuba

General rental car conditions:

  • Incl. insurance for loss and theft (including windows), accidents, and natural disasters

  • Attention: Theft or loss of bikes and radio/audio/CD equipment is not covered

  • The customer's contribution in the event of damage is limited to 350 CUC

  • A rental car day corresponds to 24 hours

  • The minimum age for drivers: 21 years

  • At least two years of driving experience required

  • Valid national driver's license

  • When handing over the rental car, all drivers must present the original passport and driver's license

  • The vehicle must be returned with the same fuel level as it was received

  • The partner agency confirms a rental car category, but not a rental car model.

    • There may be changes on-site, which may result in higher additional costs (e.g., for insurance or the deposit) due to a higher category
    • These are to be taken over by the customer on-site
  • The main driver must return the rental car entered in the contract otherwise, a penalty fee must be paid

  • An additional day can be charged in the event of late delivery

  • If the rental car is returned early, there is no entitlement to reimbursement of rental costs that have already been paid

Services not included and must be paid directly upon acceptance:

  • Compulsory Cuban rental car insurance

  • Deposit (will be refunded if the customer properly fulfills the contract)

  • Fees for the registration of additional drivers (max. two people)

  • Drop-off fees

  • Mandatory surcharge of 20 CUC for picking up rental cars at an airport station

  • If the car is filthy: 10 CUC after drop-off

Rental car insurance conditions:
Rental car insurance is not included in the price and must be taken out and paid directly at the rental company when it is handed over in Cuba. The insurance is only valid for the drivers entered in the rental agreement.

The insurance covers loss and theft (including windows), accidents, and natural disasters. Attention: Theft or loss of bikes and radio/audio /CD equipment is not covered. The customer's contribution in the event of damage is limited to 350 CUC.

The rate for the insurance varies depending on the rental car category:

  • Económico 10 CUC / day

  • Medio 10 CUC / day

  • Medio Alto 20 CUC / day

The tariff for the deposit varies depending on the rental car category:

  • Económico 200 CUC

  • Medio 200 CUC

Car rental Mexico

  • Incl. insurance for loss and theft (including windows), accidents, and natural disasters

  • The navigation system cannot be booked in advance, only at the pick-up location

    • As an alternative to the navigation system, we recommend the offline version of Google Maps
  • The driver(s) must have had a valid driver's license for at least two years

  • Extra charges: drivers between 18 and 24 years, navigation system & child seat

  • Since the car rental company charges a deposit of USD 250 (depending on the category) as security when you pick up the rental car, a credit card with sufficient credit and that has been valid for at least three months is essential.

Excluding

  • International flights

  • All meals not mentioned

  • All the extras in the hotels

  • Tips for bellhops and housekeeping

  • All admissions, tours, and any activities during the self-drive trip

  • Motorway and parking fees

Services & Notes

  • Cuba:

    • Caution - Be careful when approached by “jineteros” (aka hustlers). Sometimes they will stop your vehicle at the entrance to the village or wait for you at the exit of the bus station and use gestures to indicate that they want to help you find the casa you have reserved in advance. Often they pretend to be members of the casa and will lie that the casa booked is closed or full. Then they will escort you to an alternative casa that has been “reserved” for you. Do not believe these lies. Look for the exact casa address on your own, knock on their door when found, and wait until it’s opened for you.

    • Road conditions in Cuba: We would like to point out that the road conditions in Cuba do not meet European standards. Some roads are in poor condition (bumpy, with potholes and in parts not asphalted). It’s often necessary to drive slowly. Animals and carriages are also standard on the road. For these reasons, journey times may be longer.

    • Compulsory health insurance: Entry into Cuba is only possible with foreign health insurance (not from US insurance companies). If you cannot provide proof of insurance when entering the country, you must take out Cuban health insurance at the airport.

    • The mausoleum (Ché Guevara monument) is closed on Mondays and may be closed on other days without notice. Caribbean Tours does not guarantee opening times. The monument, and its imposing statue of Ché, is worth a visit on its own.

    • Opening times of churches cannot be guaranteed as they depend on the local pastor.

  • Mexico:

    • In the state of Quintana Roo, an eco-tax is levied, which must be paid at the hotel (approx. 1-2 USD per room per night).