Looking for Cuba travel tips? We’ve got you covered!
We know, it’s one of those destinations that you’re always telling yourself ‘one day I’ll visit Cuba’.
Going to Cuba is on so many of our friends’ bucket lists yet very few of them seem to be close to getting there.
I’m not going to lie to you – Cuba is not an easy place to travel to. There are a handful of countries where you can fly direct to Havana from, so the hurdles go up immediately.
Can Americans go to Cuba?
Yes, you can now travel to Cuba from USA and fly to Havana direct from the States, but flights are hard to come by and will always be the most expensive option.
There are also quite a few rules about traveling to Cuba that put people off.
What’s more, there seems to be very little helpful Cuba information and everything you see seems to conflict with what you’ve just read before.
But since our recent trip to Cuba, we’ve become one of its best promoters.
It turns out that just like any other destination a little preparation is all you need before visiting Cuba to have the best time in this mysterious, beautiful country.
Below are our insider Cuba travel tips for getting yourself ready for an unforgettable journey
Money Tips for Cuba
1. Take cash with you
Even though things with the States are settling down now, it’s a good idea to take some hard currency on your trips to Cuba.
2. Take Euros or GBP Sterling.
These get the best exchange rate.
3. Don’t take foreign currency
They don’t know what to do with them. Don’t take American dollars, the exchange rate will be terrible plus you have to pay an extra fee every time.
4. Cuba has two currencies:
CUC (Cuban convertible peso or ‘Cuban dollar’) aligned to USD which tourists must use, and CUP (Cuban national peso) worth around 1 CUC = 22 CUP.
NonCubans shouldn’t have any CUPs on them – though people do.
As Cuba/USA relations ease, the likelihood of the CUC disappearing and the CUP remaining is high. US dollars will also probably become more accepted too.
5. You will find dual pricing in most places
And the CUP and CUC prices won’t match up. It’s important not to let this bother you!
6. Get a VISA card for Cuba
Due to it being an American company, MasterCard has never really worked in Cuba though with changes happening all the time, more and more American companies are working with Cuba now. VISA is usually ok. Usually!
7. Check to see if your bank has any American alliances
If it does, you might not be able to access your money regardless.
As US/Cuban relations improve, things will change.
8. Where to get money in Cuba
Try to get money out of the ATM upstairs on level 1 of Havana International Airport.
Avoid using the bureau de change at the airport though. They’re known to give incorrect change and the rates aren’t as good.
Hotels and resorts usually have a bureau de change.
9. Every town will have two types of bank
Banco de Cuba, which are proper banks, or Cadeca, which is like a currency kiosk. The bank usually gives better rates.
10. Only one person at a time can be served in the bank
If you’re traveling with a friend or your partner, flip a coin to see who goes! Towns usually have ATMs too – though some smaller places like Viñales don’t.
11. Tell your bank you’re going to Cuba
It’s a good idea to do this every time you leave your country anyway, but one of our top Cuba travel tips it that it’s even more important for this destination.
International calls are expensive and internet access is very limited.
If your bank thinks your cards are being used without your consent, they will cancel them on your behalf and leave you stranded.
Documentation Required for Travel to Cuba
12. Travel Insurance for Cuba
You need to have travel insurance to travel to Cuba. They do spot checks at Customs and if you can’t produce policy documentation, they make you buy insurance there.
The credit card we use to buy flights has nominal travel insurance included. It doesn’t cover everything though but we took the gamble. We weren’t checked going into Cuba.
13. Print out any travel documents before you leave for Cuba
Tech is really hard to come by during travel in Cuba.
If you need any travel documents while you’re in Cuba or for your next destination, print them before flying to Havana.
14. Getting your Cuba Visa
Most nationalities require a visa for Cuba called a “Cuba Tourist Card” to enter.
How to get a visa for Cuba? You can either buy yours through your local Cuban embassy or before checkin at a Cubana Air desk.
Your airline may include the Cuba visa on the price of your flight tickets – but you’ll still need to collect the tourist card at the Cubana Air counter before you check in.
Packing Tips and Getting to Cuba
15. Travel as light as possible
When you fly to Cuba, if you can, go with cabin luggage only. We managed to and it was the best. We didn’t have to worry about losing our stuff or about it getting damaged.
We also saw other travelers struggling in and out of the tiny doorways of Cuban buildings and up tight staircases with their enormous bags, which looked like a nightmare.
- 11 of the best suitcases for travel
- 10 of the best backpacks for travel
- How to pack carry-on only for any travel style
16. Gifts and bartering in Cuba
There’s a lot of talk about having pens to give to people in place of money. There is a barter system in Cuba, but not for pens.
Kids love to have pens but there won’t be a mad scramble if you produce a chewed up Biro.
We saw a man trade a bar of hotel soap for a cigar once, and there seems to be a shortage of tinned tuna in Cuba – it’s one of the most expensive things to eat there.
Otherwise, clothing with American brands on it is popular as is anything to do with baseball.
17. Flights to Cuba
Get to the airport three hours before takeoff for both flights to Cuba, coming and going.
Cubana Air likes its passengers checked in at least an hour earlier than any other airline. Planes are often overbooked, so it’s worth that extra hour for peace of mind.
18. Food in Cuba
Due to restrictions in trade, Cuban food isn’t the best – though it’s not the worst either. It’s usually just a bit bland.
Take a little salt with you or – as our friend did – take a bottle of sauce with you. He took some Sriracha, which was almost all gone after two weeks!
Technology in Cuba
19. Galileo Offline Maps
The internet hasn’t really taken off in Cuba yet, but you can still use your smartphone to get around.
Galileo Offline Maps allows you to use your phone’s GPS to show where in the world you are. You can even set Galileo to record your movements so you can see where you went!
You can also upload maps from elsewhere into Galileo (see my next point).
You need to download maps onto the app first before you get to Cuba and go offline. This is a paid app but worth every penny.
20. Cuba Junky
A brilliant blog, which tells you a lot about the country. This guy also has maps of Cuba with each Casa Particulare – a type of homestay popular with tourists in Cuba – noted on the map.
You can upload these maps onto Galileo (see my previous note) and use your GPS to navigate around. Visit Cuba Junky for details.
21. Havana Good Time
Havana Good Time is a good app-based guide to Havana that’s fairly current and will steer you clear of all the usual overtouristy spots.
Research & Preparation for Cuba Travel
22. Best time of year to visit Cuba
As with any destination, there are good and better times of year to visit Cuba. Between mid November and March is the cooler dry season – this is usually a busier time of year due to the lower temperatures and humidity level.
When to go to Cuba?
Between May and June is the wet season when things get a bit sweaty in Cuba but things happen like the tobacco is harvested and carnivale, which are one of the most popular highlights of the Cuban calendar.
July to early November is hurricane season, when things can get a bit windy.
23. Book your first night’s accommodation in Cuba
Not sure where to stay in Cuba?
Another one of our top Cuba travel tips it that it’s not a good idea to arrive in Cuba with no plan of where you want to sleep that night. Make sure your first night at least is covered.
Hotels in Cuba
- Book Hotels in Cuba on Booking.com
- Read Hotel Reviews on TripAdvisor
24. Book Cuba tours before you leave
As we’ve mentioned before, the internet is hard to come by in Cuba. Searching for Cuba tours and activities while you’re there will be difficult and costly.
We booked a small group tour with Cuban Adventures before we left and it proved to be the best decision.
25. Choose your tour based on itinerary
If you want to join a tour, you will need to think about how long you want to be traveling and create your list of places to visit in Cuba.
Don’t worry too much about promised services or extras. Most tours use the same agency for the tour guides.
26. Learn as much Spanish as you can
One of our helpful Cuba travel tips is to learn a little of the local language.
Even simple words and sentences will go a long way in Cuba. People love to talk to you and if you know a little of their lingo, they’ll be even friendlier.
It also helps if you’re staying in casa particulars so you can speak to your generous hosts.
27. Take salsa lessons
Everyone in Cuba knows how to salsa. Even if you just learn the basic steps, you won’t feel left out stood at the edge of the dance floor while everyone else is enjoying themselves.
You can take lessons in Cuba while you’re there, but by then it might be too late.
The most important thing to remember to do while you’re in Cuba is to have fun.
Cuba is not a dangerous country, as many people think. Crime rates are not high. There is a lot of bureaucracy here though, which makes traveling hard.
Providing you use your common sense and behave with respect for the local culture, you’ll have the best time in Cuba.
More Cuba Travel Tips
- 4 places to visit in Cuba and one to avoid
- 5 amazing cities in Cuba to visit
- 10 things you should know before traveling to Cuba
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Have you already visited Cuba? If yes, share some your best Cuba travel tips in the comments!
119 thoughts on “27 Things to Know Before You Visit Cuba”
I’m one of those people who have wanted to go to Cuba forever- since I was a teenager! Thanks for the tips and the gorgeous photos!
It’s an incredible country, Joella. Really not a place to be missed. So glad you liked our post – it’s almost impossible to take ugly photos of Cuba, but my wife Christina has done a great job capturing what Cuba’s like.
Cheers – Jim
I just want to go Las tunas Cuba,my friends in online connection she needs to see me in personal life,,I just want to know about that kind of places I mentioned,,long time already they got invited me,,they said Cuba is very nice and peaceful…
Just wondering how you can take Sriracha or other sauce with you if you are traveling with only carry ons! Sounds like a great suggestion though – and salt. I’d probably sort of combine the two and take Tony Chachere’s.
Thanks for all the great info.
Wow, thanks for sharing such a detailed guide! Your pictures are incredible, I especially love the cars. As an American, I’ve always been super curious about Cuba. It would be nice to go somewhere and not see a Starbucks or McDonalds for a change!
Thank you, Allison. Could talk about Cuba all day! It’s a very special place. Don’t wait too long if you’re after seeing somewhere that doesn’t have a McDonald’s in it. The Cubans we spoke to can’t wait to try a Big Mac! Funny, isn’t it?
Cheers – Jim
please i will like to visit cuba and stay there to work ,,,,what can i do to do that i have my visa already
I really enjoyed this. I’m half Cuban and half of my family is from this visually beautiful country and they almost all still live there! I’ve always heard the stories from my Nana, good and bad. I also spoke, yet very rarely, to family on the phone. I wanted to visit with her and she wanted to take me to see family, but as I became older so did she. She passed away on Thanksgiving last year at a very young age and we never visited Cuba together. I still plan on visiting in the future even though I’m honestly scared to do so, not having her by my side. But I still want to go. And seeing this post has inspired me to hopefully visit this country sooner than later! So for that, I thank you.
Wow. Thank you so much, Alicia. Your story’s so beautiful. I’m so sorry to hear about your Nana. She’d want you to go to Cuba – meet your folks. And you know she’ll be there with you.
Thank you again for sharing. Jim
Thank a lot saving money for the trip
Thanks for going in depth about this beautiful country! It’s a destination I’m toying with but didn’t know much about like the rest of the world. Disappointed to hear about the food! All cuban food I’ve had in other areas was delicious!
Get yourself out there, Megan. Cuba’s so worth the effort. I know what you mean about the food – there’s potential for it to improve though, especially with trade routes improving in and out of Cuba.
I think all the food labeled ‘Cuban’ in bars etc is a kind of Mexicanised/Americanised jazzed-up version of what people are expecting to find in Cuba. If you go there with low expectations, you’ll really love what you find to eat!
Cheers – Jim
Nice advice! I have recently written my very own guide for Cuba. I even mention scams – they are very frequent there.
Are they actually that frequent? That scares me lol.
You are more likely to be scammed in the US than in Cuba. An example of a scam is to sell a worthless book taking about scams in a country the author knows nothing about.
How can I find your guide?
I always wanted to see Cuba and after these lovely photos I want it even more! Thanks for all the tips x
I can only agree with your tips! Visited Cuba last year, it’s a beautiful country!
Cuba is on my list too… Living in Canada , fortunately there are many options for Cuba 🙂 and no travel restrictions
I don’t agree about the food! Yes, it is simple but very tasty. I was there at the beginning of the year and can say the taste of the chicken is incredible, same as it was before the use of hormones and geo modifications. Small choice, but real taste. Isn’t the human health more important than the variety of food?
We too are among the many people who have Cuba in the top 5 of our bucket list. The cars, the architecture, the music, and the food! Such a vibrant country. Hopefully we can make it there sooner than later. Being all the way in the Philippines makes it a little challenging though haha…thanks for posting this. Love the pics. 🙂
Thanks a lot for this incredible post. Being Cuban, and still living in the country, we tend to see a lot of lies spread all over the Internet about life here. It’s good to see people who are willing to come here and share an honest impression.
PS: the travel tips are very accurate, I can endorse that… 🙂
Great to hear Nestor. I’m sure many people are getting value from this post thanks to Jim!
This is a wonderful piece of information. I went last year and am returning in 2 weeks. Once you fall in love with Cuba you are smitten. I yearn for the heat…the laughter, rumble of old cars and the Malecon. It is a magical land and I hope it will not change too much
Great tips! Planning on visiting Cuba in a few weeks. Thank you!!
just came across your blog on your trip to Cuba. I was born in Cuba but left the country when I was seven. My husband and I plan on spending our 25th wedding anniversary there which is coming up soon , I have no problems speaking Spanish but I’m still nervous traveling there.
Now that relations between Cuba and America are opening up, I’ve been intrigued to check out Cuba, especially before chains and commercial companies take over. I would love to see the authentic feel of Cuba before too much commercialization comes in.
Great read, wouldn’t have thought of all that by myself. Thanks for the share!!
Great tips and I love the photos! Cuba is still on my bucket list. I think I should visit it fast though, as I heard that many things are changing.
Cuba is a quite stunning country to visit and I really enjoyed seeing your photos especially the musicians one. Brings back many happy memories from my last trip there in December. I only get to go there once a year but am anxious to get back to Havana (I prefer it to the beach locations actually). Great blog. I have started following your posts recently.
Jim, I left my country 50 years ago and have never returned. I yearn to see my country again, but not until the repressive Castro regime is over. How can you be a travel writer and be so one sided. You should report on the good, the bad and the ugly. You paint a pretty picture of what it’s like for a tourist, visiting theref or just a few days. Why don’t you talk about everything else? The decay, the smells, the prostitution, the lack of hope, the endless search for food and basic necessities…tell the people what living under a communist regime has resulted in. Tell them that people are often hungry, bored, restless, persecuted, ostracized…that is why I don’t give in to my longing for the beaches, the mountains, the sun of my Cuba…
I totally understand what you are saying and I’m so sorry for the challenges you face growing up in Cuba. A tourist perspective is always going to be different. We share a lot about Australia on this blog from the tourist perspective and we don’t share the bad stuff. Surprisingly there is a lot of it as there is in any country. By opening up the doors to travel in Cuba more people will gain that insight and work to promote and support Cuba. The more tourism comes to the country the more the economy can grow which helps everyone.
I’m sure that Jim did not mean to purposefully glaze over the bad side. He is just writing for the potential traveller so will share that perspective. Thank you for sharing yours with ours though. And we hope you can return to Cuba soon with better hope.
Hi Vivian, I think the problem is, that you left Cuba 50 years ago.. “the repressive Castro regime”? Two almost 90 (!!) years old idealistic men, who won the political war with the USA and now try not to sell the whole country to reckless multinational companies. “The decay, the smells, the prostitution, the lack of hope, the endless search for food and basic necessities”: Did you see the world?? There is nowhere something like that?? And I think, there is not “cuban people” anymore. There are many poor cubans, but there are also people, who started some privat business and live now at the european standard (yes!!).
There is something, that I don’t like about Cuba. There are Cubans, who only complain about the “regime” and do nothing to improve their lifes or all they do is stealing. I now some foreigners, who live in Cuba and they get very angry with the Cuban, because they want to give work to them, but nobody is interested to work hard. Cuban got used to “easy money” from the government or relatives, who live abroad and just don’t want to work hard to earn it. In the shops the tourist are paying the dobble prices for almost everything from water to internet cards (the right price for small water is 0.50 CUC, big bottle 0.85, internet card for 1 hour costs 2 CUC), because this is much easier for the sales persons, than to consider, how to earn money in the legal way. And Vivian, there is no communism in Cuba. Socialism, but not communism. And there are many people in the world, who like socialism. Me for example.
Speaking as a Cuban, you do not know what you are talking about. Prostitution, communist regime, etc are all VERY real there. Cuba is a beautiful country, but it’s VERY oppressed and has been for years now. Its very disrespectful and uneducated for you to speak on something you very clearly know nothing about. That country and those people can’t “better” their situation because its a communist country. Things like speaking against the government and the dictators are punishable by law, and its very harsh punishment. You should educate yourself before speaking. Thanks so much!
Jessica, do you think your type (Cuban fifth column) squatting in churches in Miami would be able to fool us? I practically live in Cuba and I know that the people, in general, love their leadership, their country, and what the revolution offered them in terms of independence and pride. Your bling bling type who barley make it in the US on the welfare system and who borrow jewelry from pawn shops just to pull their lies about their lives in the US are not fooling anyone.
They love him so much that they haven’t had elections in almost one century and almost a million people risked their lifes through shark infested waters using rafts made of trash to escape it.
mmmh I can smell the lvoe.
Sweetie, I love that you are defending the communism there. Do you think that it is fair that when I go to Cuba with my boyfriend.. who was born there and left at 9 years old.. he is not allowed to do any of the excursions if it involves a motor? Also, my parents were born there and I in the united states and I had to argue for two hours for them to let me get on the excursion. Do your research before you start making ignorant comments.
Vivian, like you I am Cuban but gave up a long time ago trying to explain to other people what Cuba is about and they will never understand it because they see Cuba as a rare attraction. Don’t you see they exhort people ‘to go before the Mc Donald’s and Starbucks’ ge there? It is totally useless. Unlike you I went 3 years ago to visit my family and it’s very hard to see their struggle.
Nicole says Cuba is socialist not communist even when Castro has said they remain a communist nation.
You have to forgive their ignorance because until a year or so ago, nobody could even locate Cuba on a map and now everybody seem to know a lot about Cuba.
The country has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean so don’t forget to enjoy a great swim. The water is lovely!
How do I get to go to the beach if none of the tours from the ship include time at the beach?
Wow..Great tips I simply love to explore new places.
great write up, thank you!! we’re planning on going early november and will revisit this post as we get ready for it. was wondering how long would you recommend to stay. we want to be able to really experience / learn the culture without being rushed. any advice helps! thanks again so much!
Hi Jahnel. It’s really hard to say how long’s long enough in Cuba. Less than a week’s stay and you’re only really going to have time to explore Havana – which is awesome by the way and not to be sniffed at – but if you wanted to see more of the country, 10-12 days would be enough to explore as far as Trinidad and 2 weeks or more should get you all the way down to the southeast.
We booked a small-group tour through Cuban Adventures and had a great time. If this is your first time to the Caribbean/South America, this is great option. The local guide gave us a really good feel of what Cuba’s been through and what it’s about now. If you search yTravel Blog for Cuba, you’ll find our latest post on where to visit in Cuba – it’s based on the tour we took.
Have fun and enjoy Cuba. Quite jealous of you going I must say!
I didn’t see that your article covered getting a travel visa or any kinds of entry/exit papers for Cuba. Is that not necessary any longer with the new relaxed sanctions? Also, what is the common reason for travel that Americans should put down if they are not going with a tour company but want to photograph the country and/or experience the culture?
You do still need to have a Visa to visit Cuba, it’s also known as a Tourist Card. There are many sites in which you can buy a Visa online. Here’s one: http://cubacenter.com
From what I’ve read during my research you can state your trip is educational. “As far as the educational trips go, all you have to do is sign a piece of paper saying you’re going to learn about some aspect of Cuban life,” Smith told HuffPost. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/17/how-to-travel-to-cuba_n_6489024.html
Great post! my husband is from Cuba and this is my second time to this beautiful country. We just celebrated our wedding ceremony at Hotel Nacional and did a 5 day tour with our group, everything you have mentioned here is by far correct since during my first trip to the country I was not quite prepared and knew the second time around to bring some necessities and definitely learning spanish!
Enjoyed your blog, Just returned from Cuba. I’ve tried to gather as much information as possible before our trip. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the poverty of the people in Cuba. We stayed in Old Havana in a Casa Particular. I purchased items to bring with us on the trip to leave as gifts, like soaps, pens, batteries, reading glasses. The people are so grateful. They want to talk with you and know where your are visiting from. I left with such mixed feelings of sadness for the people of Cuba, and pray that their lives will improve.
Cuba has at its northern coast many beaches that are very belllas as Varadero with its crystal clear water s. The keys have paradisiacal landscapes, in order nauturales an island full of charms
QUESTION : what about passport stamps for illegal US travelers? Trying to go for this new years and having a difficult time figuring out if it is too risky to go now illegally. Can you really just ask someone not to stamp your passport and they won’t?
We are heading to Cuba in December and I appreciate all this helpful advice. There’s really so much to be aware of when you’re traveling there. But we’re very happy to be going now! Thanks.
As american citizen visiting Cuba are you allowed to purchase food for cooking in Cuba without a problem? What is available to purchasevref food?
What is the departure tax . And what currency do you use to pay it.
The departure tax is payable as you leave Cuba. It is 25 cuc per person and must be paid in cuc and cash only. A good piece of advice that a travel agent gave us a long time ago now, was to set this money aside as soon as you get some money changed that way you will have it and not worry about it. You will be directed at the airport where you need to pay it.
Great Article, I’m trying to make my first trip in April of this year and really enjoyed this! I have a question about accommodations, I planned on using Airbnb for the first few nights, but I want to travel around the country a bit, what other sites are reliable sources for hotels and/or villas?
I live in Canada so how about carrying Canadian Dollars? Is it safe to roam around everywhere with a camera as a friend who went seemed to be afraid of doing so ?
sortta got scared reading what u said about cuba
I am a European passport holder, resident for many years in California. I intend to visit Cuba with a friend flying in from the UK in March, but have no idea how to get to Cuba, owing to lack of information over here! I have been told that there are charter flights from Miami, that is all. Is there a website which will help me?
I hold a Swedish passport and I live in CA since 2001 (green card). I found a local company that is helping me with everything, insurance, airline tickets, hotel etc. Julian is super responsive, even on the weekends. I highly recommend him and his company. Right now I don’t remember the name of the company but his email is [email protected].
Realmente muy buena la pagina solo le recomendaría visitar el oriente destino Baracoa lo más bello de la naturaleza cubana y especies endémicas que solo se encuentran hay
Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for the insight. I enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Cuba in 2015. We spent a couple of weeks there, staying in la Habana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos. Didn’t take a tour and found it pretty easy to make our own way around.
I’ve written up some of our own tips here … http://voyja.com/index.php?post/Travel-Tips-for-Cuba
I think it is sad that you are recommending to visit as a romantic destination a country were its people are so oppressed that they have to barter for pens, canned tuna and a bar of soap!!!
We have been to Cuba quite a few times with no problems. For anyone wanting a 2 week guided tour of Eastern or Western Cuba, we would recommend cubatours1.com
run by a Canadian named Tom Robertson who is married to a Cuban and will take you off the beaten track.
As Canadians we have always been treated well.
I believe it is great that you talk about dancing salsa in cuba, I think that if you gave your audience an option of where they can go to learn it they would like it even better, I have this link that perhaps can have some value in case that you want to provide your readers with that information, enjoy.
I enjoyed reading your article, very informative. I am interested in buying a couple of pieces of Cuban Jewelry do you know what I can expect or stores I can visit?
On my way to Cuba in April. Can’t wait. Thanks for the tips.
Thank you for your good information about Cuba. Please give me more information about Catholic Church & schools are there or not? How is life there for family if I want come there & want settled there with family? What about visa ( from Pakistan) . How we will get visa to come there & can we get immigration visa? I belonged with Roman Catholic Church . I am CHRISTIAN. Is Cuba a CHRISTIAN country? Thank you please reply me.
Cuba is NOT a Christian nor Catholic country. Religion is still very much controlled and persecuted there. It’s proclaimed to be an athiest nation. What’s most practiced, is Santería.
Thanks for all the good info. Can I take Mexican pesos?
Im leaving for cuba in a weeks time….cant wait!!!!!
Since Cuba doesn’t import food, is there a better time of the year to go when the food is more plentiful. Fruits veg etc?
Food in Cuba is seasonal. It’s plentiful all year but exactly what you can get depends on the time of year. Some of our favourites are avocado and “guanabana” available from April to September. You will find lots of people selling fruit and vegetables in markets, street carts, or even in front of their homes.
Hello. I am only dreaming of a trip to Cuba. My cousin and family are actually going to visit. (?)
I took Spanish in high school, community college, community education class and classes at a university. I would love to test my language skills. Smile
I also have some very old photographs of my great grandmother’s family. I know my great grandmother’s dad was Caucasian; but I think her mom was from Cuba, Puerto or Native American. I base this on a group family picture.
Well, time to end my dream letter.
Adios. Hasta luego.
Hi Jim and Christina! These photos of Cuba are incredible. What type of camera and lenses do you normally use? Thank you, Lilly and Taylor
My boyfriend is Cuban and we are planning to visit sometime in April. is that a good time of the year to visit? and how much money do we need for example, a week of stay there?
Not sure where you are but I did not find the food bland at all. I would recommend taking done travrl toilet paper as some of the restaurants either have no tp or ration out or sell sheets before you enter the wc
The Cuban cuisine (known as Creole cuisine) is a combination of Indian culinary tradition, Spanish and African.
Wow! That’s a long list! We are just looking at our world trip and where to go and Cuba had always been on my bucket list. I didn’t appreciate the issues we may face here! Shall have to give this extra research time. Thanks for a great article ?
Great info. Im on a gathering mission in my plans to go to cuba this november. question about money.
lets say i have some left over CUP when I’m headed back. Can i change that money back into euros? thanks
Thanks for this guide – it’s really helpful with great tips I haven’t seen elsewhere.
My family and I are travelling to Cayo Coco next year, and whilst there we plan to rent a car and drive up to Havana for a couple of days. But I don’t know whether to drive straight there or stop off somewhere along the way. Did you visit anywhere great along that route that you’d particularly recommend we should stop and see?
Such a great resource, it looks like you cover everything you need to know how to travel to Cuba! I recently went back last week after having gone 3 years ago and between this blog post and http://www.howtotraveltocuba.com, I felt very prepared for all of the recent changes. Keep spewing the knowledge!
Thank you for mentioning my website
Hello, I am going to Cuba in January and was wondering where did you go? What was your favorite city!? Also, did you stay in a Casa Particular? If so, can you recommend them to me?
This article is very well done and so informative. I’m looking in to traveling to Cuba so I appreciate your insight.
One of the best places to visit in Cuba is Viñales. Near from havana, heaven on earth.
Hi guys, did anyone travel to Cuba recently? I wonder how the situation is now as Cuba became so famous- is it hard to get accomodation (especially Casa Particulares) during peak season? Did anyone try AirBnB? Thanks for sharing your experience!
I am thinking of travailing from one city to another by bus…good idea or not
This is an awesome Blog. Wish I found it before I visited Cuba. In December of 2016 myself, my wife and 10-year-old daughter traveled to CUBA from Atlanta on Delta Airlines for 1 week. We stayed at a different hotel every night and traveled to a different location every day. I struggled gathering recent information when organizing our trip , like this blog, I wanted to help as many future CUBA travelers as possible.
Glad you were able to visit Cuba with your family and looks like your videos provide helpful tips.
This list will no doubt be incredibly useful, bookmarking it. Thank you!
I do not understand why you would say that tourists should not have any CUP? If you know how and where to use it, not only will it save you some money but in the end you will interact more with Cubans. Use CUP for a street pizza for example, and spend about .40 US cents. And even better, learning to use, and then navigating bigger towns like Havana with collective taxis (collectivos) is great. Here, you will save a lot of money as the regular taxis are great at taking advantage of tourists, and prices are always rising. When you use a collectivo, you have to speak to the cab driver in Spanish, and smash in to an old American jalopy with 4 or 5 Cubans. It is great, and cost is again .40 US cents for a ride almost anywhere around town.
Thank you so much author for sharing such a nice and informative piece of article with us.
I as a part of a Cuba travel services (solturartravel.com) must say that these tips are exactly from those which most tourists ask to us.
we really liked your post about Cuba. It covers nearly everything that you need to know before getting there. We have also travelled through Cuba for some weeks and would totally agree that you need to book certain things before getting there (first night/nights and trips) as it can get really frustrating to do that in certain parts of Cuba. It is a unique country, but communication and bookings are also unique 😀
Thanks to nice people at Hostal Brina (http://www.monkibo.com/brina) in Old Havana we had a very nice stay in the capital. They also recommended what to see in the city and where to travel next. There are gems in Cuba, but you need to blog around first.
We traveled to Holguin, Cuba a few years back from Canada. Had a wonderful time, but although sunny days, in early January it was very windy at times. The people are great, food so so, as you explained. Wished we could have spent more time and visited Havana. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and travel inspiration!
How are you?
My husband and I are travelling in South and Central America. We’ve very intrigued about Cuba but we’ve heard that its quite expensive (compare to Mexico/Guatamala etc) and that tourists are exploited? Was this your experience?
Thanks for the great tips, well-structured and informative!
I would like to ask your opinion regarding few moments.
First of all, how long would you suggest to stay there? I found some nice discussions regarding that (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-cuba/cuba/how-much-time-in-cuba), but I’m curious what are your thoughts on that.
Secondly, what month would you suggest? As far as I understand, November–April would be a good time regarding weather, but what about tourist crowds? I would like to combine a beach vacation with some cultural tours, would summer months still be ok? I found a seasonal guide on Cuba https://rove.me/to/cuba does it go along with your experience? If you could travel to Cuba once more, what time of the year would you choose?
Thirdly, how safe would it be for a solo female traveller to visit Cuba?
To his excellent article on Cuba, I would add that the Spanish language used in Cuba is not the same as that used in other countries such as Spain.
Many people who speak a little Spanish have to know that Cubans speak very fast and with a lot of accent.
Little by little there are more Cubans who speak English, since the films on television are not translated and this helps to spread the use of English.
Excellent article !!!!
I was surprised when a couple of people asked me for soap. Apparently mot of the visitors are Canadian and they bring soap and toiletries. I brought a bag of 20 ball point pens my guide brought me to a school.The teachers were very grateful as they had run out of pens. they invited us to join them for lunch. I also highly recommend making arrangements for a guide / tour before leaving home. I found Fer Tours, http://www.fertours2havana.com, and had a six hour walking & driving tour for $100 for 2 people. The guide also helped us with money, purchases, and other logistics. The most popular mode of transportation would be the classic cars! Bottom line, Cuba exceeded my expectations, as I was expecting to see a lot of poverty. It was great – but the bars closed at midnight!
Awesome guide. very informative. Planning a solo trip to Cuba can be so daunting and I reckon you’ve covered a lot of great stuff!
have you been back or know of anybody going after the change in travel policy to Cuba.
Can anyone clear up a confusion on what vacinations I need for a 3 week holiday. We are travelling around in casas and eating locally. My doc tells me I only need Tetanus but I’ve read that I should have Hepatitus A and Colera. Any ideas?
I wanted to suggest a link to a tour company offering day tours of Havana. At the risk of seeming like spam – let me tell you that I was in Cuba about a year ago – and met a young lady who gave the most awesome street tour of Havana. Upon my return to the US ( I’m a graphic designer ) I set up a web site for her ( I make NO money off it ) in an effort to help HER make some money. NOT an easy thing in Cuba. She is genuine, honest – speaks excellent English and truly knows her history. She is not some huge corporation but a single mother trying to make a real honest living. I would be so appreciative if you could pass her information along to anyone that might benefit from it:
Here is her name and information:
Cristina Molina Rodriguez
Thank you for sharing Benjamin! That’s very thoughtful of you
Hi Benjamin, Thank you for posting. We are thinking of going and will check out your contact. Are they a tour operator? I can’t find any reviews about them.
I will be in Varadero on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Is there any Clothing optional beaches in that vicinity? If not, where in Cuba could I find a clothing optional beach?
Trip to Cuba is a fascinating cultural experience. And if you like Cuban music and dance like I, you can experience it the first hand. Some comments I would like to add, is that traveling independently in Cuba is not easy due to lack of reliable state run transportation. There are other options but not cheap or comfortable. As it come to taking a Salsa class in Cuba, there are many options but make some comparison of dance schools first. Some of the people that teach are simply great dancers but not real teachers. I was lucky to find both but it took a lot of visits to different schools and a lot of taking. And Salsa is not the only Latin dance. I learned many Cuban dances there.
We are on a cruise leaving from Seattle (flying there) to Orlando and then on to Key West and Havana. We cannot seem to get a visa even though we need one. Cuban embassy in ACT can’t help as we’re leaving from US. Cruise1st don’t do visas and Visa Central are no longer allowed to issue them. Have just found out that Norwegian Cruises Line will do it for $200 each . As we’re only there 1 day, seems totally over the top. Was wondering if you had any suggestions please
Unfortunately I don’t know anything about the visas. There are so many various rules and specifics which depend on a lot of factors so it’s not something we give advice about. That does seem a bit over the top. Maybe ask passengers who have been on previous cruises what they did. I’m sure you can find them on the facebook page of the company
The Post you have writter about Cuba is very interesting. You have covered almost everything which a traveller want to know while traveling to Cuba.
Thankyou so much for sharing these wonderful information with ur.
sortta got scared reading what u said about cuba
Lot’s of info about Cuba, I’ve been twice now and still haven’t done Havana, next time for sure. Hoping to photograph another wedding there soon.
I and my family would like to visit Cuba soon but it seems so complicated to prepare to come there. We would like to have independent time, but is it possible to have a vacation there like that? what would you suggest? we would like a coastal experience also.
Did you travel places in Cuba other than Havana?
Here are some tips for places to visit other than Havana
Not sure when this was written, but I loved reading it! I’ve never been anywhere ! Never even been in a plane but I’m going with my husband, my best friend and her husband(my husband’s best friend) on November 16th!! I am ultimately excited! Really looking forward to all it has to offer. Well be going to Cao Coco!! Thanks again for sharing!
We hope you have an amazing time! Your trip sounds so awesome!
Thanks for the great information Jim.
Can you share which purpose you went to the trip on? I see that Support for Cuban people seems to be the most relevant of all the options relating to tourism. Were you questioned at all regarding your intent when leaving US o r entering Cuba?
Hi there Jim, thanks so much for these Cuba travel tips. Cuba was great (fell in love with Havana) but my trip got off to a rough start. Borrowed a power plug adapter from the hotel and… well, that’s the last time I’ve ever been able to use my phone. Apparently I should have used a voltage converter. Other (European) visitors to Cuba: check if you need a voltage adapter or you might just lose your phone / laptop / tablet. Found this on it: https://world-power-plugs.com/cuba