Legal Travel from the US to Cuba

People-to-People Cultural Immersion Tours

Cuba, an island approximately 90 miles from the southern coast of US territory, has been a forbidden tourist destination since the 1960 embargo.  This embargo prevents any US citizen or resident from spending money in Cuba.  Thus, an American tourist flying to the island would break the law, since the taxes incurred on an airfare ticket to enter a Cuban airport violates the embargo. 

In 2009, President Obama eased the embargo allowing for Americans to legally travel to Cuba for research and cultural immersion experiences.  The most popular way US citizens can enter and explore Cuba is under a People-to-People license issued by the United State’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. This license is typically issued to a travel organization emphasizing the Cuban culture.


Cuba Tours from USACredit: WikiCommons: Henryk Kotowski

Here is a list of five legal Cuba tours from USA with a People-to People License.


1) InsightCuba

InsightCuba: Cuba Tours from USACredit: InsightCuba

InsightCuba is a non-profit organization that helps Americans tour Cuban within the confines of United State’s law. Tours offered through InsightCuba range from weekend excursions to Havana to 12-day coast-to-coast explorations of this amazing country. Additionally, they offer a selection of itineraries that cater to your individual tastes, such as a Jazz tour highlighting the musical influence in Havana and a Scenic tour that provides a cultural immersion of all the amazing sites Cuba has to offer.

Tours can be booked year round and range in price from $2095 to $4295. If you book a tour with InsightCuba, the company takes care of all your paperwork, so all you have to do is enjoy your trip and take in the Cuban culture.


2) National Geographic Expeditions

National Geographic Expeditions offers one of the mostly highly rated tours to Cuba that also operates via the people-to-people license.  At the time of this publication, National Geographic is currently only offering one tour, entitled “Cuba: Discovering Its People and Culture.” This is a nine-day tour takes tourists from Havana to Cienfuegos to Trinidad and back to Havana.  You will get to interact with locals, musicians, artists, teachers and historians, as well as visit historic landmarks like the Bay of Pigs and Old Havana. 

National Geographic strives to provide an authentic touring experience that you will never forget.  This tour is offered year round with dates announced six months in advance for a starting tour price of $5,795.


Cuba Tours from USA(128112)Credit: Caulfieldh


3) Friendly Planet

Friendly Planet: A Cuba Tour from USACredit: Friendly Planet

Friendly Planet may be the best tour option for the budget traveler.  Friendly Planet also operates on the people-to-people license, allowing you to travel from the US to Cuba legally.  At the time of this publication, Friendly Planet offers two tours, entitled “Colors of Cuba” and “Discover Havana.” The Colors of Cuba tour is a nine-day tour that takes you to see the sites of Havana to Trinidad and Cienfuegos to Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigia from $2,999. The Discover Havana tour is a six-day tour that allows you to explore Havana, Hemingway’s home, Cojimar, and a palladar dinner from $2,299. Unlike other tour companies previously mentioned, Friendly Planet includes the roundtrip airfare into their tour pricing.


4) Smithsonian Journeys

Smithsonian Journeys: A Cuba Tour from USACredit: Smithsonian Journeys

Smithsonian Journeys is another touring company that utilizes the people-to-people license that offers Cuba tours from USA. The Smithsonian Journeys offers one eight-day tour four times a year.  Its itinerary is a mixture of the National Geographic Expeditions tour and the Colors of Cuba with Friendly Planet.  The eight-day tour covers historic Havana, including the Palace of Fines Arts, Matanzas, the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens, La Finca Vigia and Cojimar. The tour price for this eight-day immersion starts at $5,880.


5) Cuba Education Tour

Cuba Education Tours: A Cuba Tour from USACredit: Cuba Education Tours

Cuba Education Tours offers the most diverse range of tours. From an International Jazz Festival Tour to the Cuba Arts and Culture Tour to the Cuban Culture and Nature Tour, there are at least six different types of tours that specialize in the tourist’s specific cultural preferences. Prices vary based on the tour you choose and start from $1,489 to $2,595. The tours range from eight to nine days and offer a variety of activities and cultural immersion experiences, such as the Cuban Crocodile Farm, Old Havana and Vinales village.