Havana Cuba
Havana Cuba

Havana

Havana is Cuba’s capital city. Spanish colonial architecture in its 16th-century Old Havana core includes the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum.
Photo by Alexander Kunze

CUBA

Carribean

Cuba Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Havana

Location:

Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida

Currency:

Cuban pesos (CUP)

Area:

110,860 sq km

Population:

11,032,343 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Spanish (official)

Religion:

Christian 58.9%, folk religion 17.6%, Buddhist <1%, Hindu <1%, Jewish <1%, Muslim <1%, other <1%, none 23.2% (2020 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC-5

Tel Code:

+53

Weather

Climate

Cuba has a tropical climate with high humidity, characterized by warm temperatures and a rainy season that runs from May to October. The island is also prone to hurricanes from August to October. Average temperatures during the year range from 25 to 32 degrees Celsius, with occasional heat waves that can reach up to 35 degrees Celsius.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Cuba depends on what you're looking to do and see. The high season for tourism runs from December to April, when the weather is dry and warm, and the chance of hurricanes is low. This is also when the majority of festivals and events take place.

If you're looking to avoid the crowds and enjoy more affordable prices, the low season runs from May to November. This is also the best time to visit if you're interested in scuba diving or snorkeling, as the coral reefs are at their best during this time. However, it's important to note that it can be hot and humid during this period, and there's a greater risk of hurricanes.

Overall, the best time to visit Cuba would be from December to April, when the weather is dry and warm, and the chance of hurricanes is low. But if you're looking for fewer crowds and more affordable prices, the low season, from May to November, is a good option as well.

Transportation

Public Transportation

Cuba has an extensive public transportation network, which includes buses, trains, and taxis. However, the public transportation system in Cuba is not always reliable, and it can be difficult to navigate for tourists. The main forms of public transportation are the state-run Viazul buses, which connect major cities and towns.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available in Cuba's major cities, and they can be a convenient option for getting around. However, it is important to note that the quality and safety of the vehicles can vary, and prices are often negotiated rather than being based on a meter.

Cars and Bikes

Renting a car or bike is another option for getting around Cuba. This can be a great way to explore the country's rural areas and have more flexibility on your trip. However, it's important to keep in mind that driving in Cuba can be challenging, with poorly maintained roads and unpredictable driving habits.

Air travel

Air travel is another option to move within the island. Cuba has several airports, such as José Martí International Airport in Havana, and it is connected to major destinations around the world. It also has regular domestic flights between major cities like Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Varadero.

Overall, the best way to get around Cuba will depend on your travel plans and budget. Public transportation is often unreliable, but taxis and rental cars are widely available. Air travel is also an option for traveling between different regions of the country. It's important to keep in mind that driving in Cuba can be challenging, with poorly maintained roads and unpredictable driving habits.

Accommodation

Hotels

Cuba offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels. Many of the hotels in Cuba are government-run, and they vary widely in terms of quality and facilities. Some of the newer and more luxurious hotels are in the major cities and tourist destinations like Havana, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba.

Casa Particulares

Casa particulares is a popular option for accommodation in Cuba, it is a type of private home stay where you can rent a room from a local family. Casa particulares offer a unique and authentic experience of Cuban culture and lifestyle, and they are often more affordable than hotels. They can be found in most towns and cities throughout the island.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals, such as apartments and villas, are becoming increasingly popular in Cuba. These can be a great option for families or groups of friends who want more space and privacy. Many vacation rental options are available online, such as Airbnb and Booking.com.

Campsites

Camping is not a common option for accommodation in Cuba, and there are not many designated campsites in the country. However, it is possible to camp in some national parks with a permit, and some people choose to wild camp in rural areas.

Overall, the best way to get around Cuba will depend on your travel plans and budget. Hotels and Casa particulares are the most popular options for accommodation, with a wide range of choices available. Vacation rentals and camping are also an option, but less common.

Money

Use Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC)

Cuba has two currencies: the Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The CUC is the currency used by tourists, and it is pegged to the US dollar. It is important to note that the CUC is subject to a 10% surcharge and a 3% exchange fee when exchanging for other currencies, so it's best to bring enough cash to last your entire trip.

Bring US dollars

US dollars are widely accepted in Cuba, but they are subject to a 10% surcharge. It's best to bring small denominations of US dollars (no larger than $50) and to have them in good condition, as torn or heavily marked notes may not be accepted.

Use credit cards with caution

Many credit and debit cards issued by foreign banks do not work in Cuba, but Visa and MasterCard are accepted at some hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it's best to bring enough cash to last your entire trip as not all establishments accept credit cards and ATM's are not widely available.

Be aware of the local prices

Prices in Cuba can vary widely, and it's important to be aware of what things should cost. It's also important to be aware of the official prices and the prices charged to tourists, as the prices can be different. Shopping around and haggling can help you get better deals.

Avoid changing money on the street

Changing money on the street is illegal in Cuba, and it's best to avoid it. Instead, use official currency exchange offices or banks. These will have more favorable exchange rates and will be more secure.

Be prepared for limited access to banking services

Banking services in Cuba can be limited, and it's important to be prepared for this. Many ATMs and credit card terminals do not work, and it can be difficult to find a bank that will cash traveler's checks. It's best to bring enough cash to last your entire trip, and to have a backup plan in case of emergency.

Be aware of the local laws and regulations

It's important to be aware of the local laws and regulations when traveling in Cuba. It's illegal to take any form of Cuban currency out of the country, and it's also illegal to take any form of Cuban artwork or antiques out of the country without proper documentation.

Overall, the best money tips for traveling to Cuba are to use Cuban Convertible Pesos, bring US dollars, use credit cards with caution, be aware of the local prices, avoid changing money on the street, be prepared for limited access to banking services and be aware of the local laws and regulations.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Cuba Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Cuba is a Caribbean island known for its rich culture, history, and beautiful beaches. From the vibrant streets of Havana to the tranquil beaches of Varadero, Cuba offers a diverse range of activities for visitors. The island is famous for its music, dance and cigars, as well as for its rich history and architecture, which is a blend of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. With this in mind, here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Cuba that will provide an unforgettable experience.

      1. Visit Havana

      The capital city of Cuba is a must-see destination, known for its colonial architecture, vibrant culture, and rich history. Some must-see attractions include the Old Town, the Malecón, and the Revolutionary Square.

      2. Take a Classic Car Tour

      One of the most popular ways to experience Havana is to take a tour in a classic American car, which will take you to some of the city's most iconic landmarks and neighborhoods.

      3. Visit the Viñales Valley

      This beautiful valley located in the western part of the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its spectacular landscapes, tobacco farms, and traditional villages.

      4. Explore the beaches of Varadero

      Varadero is one of Cuba's most famous beach destinations, known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities.

      5. Visit the Trinidad

      Trinidad is a colonial city located in the central part of the island, known for its well-preserved architecture, lively music scene, and beautiful beaches.

      6. Visit the Cienfuegos

      Cienfuegos is a charming colonial city located in the south of the island, known for its beautiful architecture, excellent museums, and lively music scene.

      7. Visit the Santiago de Cuba

      Santiago de Cuba is the second-largest city on the island, known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and lively music scene.

      8. Take a trip to the Bay of Pigs

      The Bay of Pigs is a beautiful natural reserve located on the southern coast of the island, known for its excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, as well as its historic significance.

      9. Visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum

      The mausoleum of Che Guevara located in Santa Clara, is a must-see for those interested in the revolutionary history of Cuba.

      10. Visit the Museum of the Revolution

      The Museum of the Revolution in Havana is a fascinating look at the history and culture of Cuba, with exhibits on the island's history, politics, and art.

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