In this detailed article you will find many tips to travel across Cuba, but you should know that your trip’s success will depend on the people, on your guide, on your driver, on the friendships you make, and above all, on the house or hotel where you stay.
– What indispensable things should I take when travelling to Cuba?
The mother of our Cuba travelling tips: the indispensable things you are to take will fit in one pocket. Leave anything you want back at home, but do not forget to take these 5 things. This is one of our most important tips when travelling to Cuba.
1- Passport (valid for at least 6 months)
2- Visa issued by the travel agency
3- Travel insurance, which should include the mandatory medical insurance in Cuba.
4- Cash and a credit/debit card. (if you have Euros don’t even think about exchanging them for Dollars to travel to Cuba – the Euro is more valued)
5- Address and name of your hotel or temporary home where you’ll stay during your first few nights in Cuba.
What luggage should I take?
We believe this is one of our best advices when travelling to Cuba, both for our trips and for others. Depending on the airline there will varying limits set for luggage weights, but for all cases it is not allowed for luggage to exceed 20/22 kg. Don’t worry if you have left something behind; in Cuba you can buy it. But do remember not to forget your passport, visa, insurance and money (cash and credit/debit card, just in case).
I’m sure you won’t forget your t-shirts, swimsuit, summer sneakers, mosquito repellent, etc… but something you can’t forget is some warm clothes, especially because even when Cuba is a tropical country, you may see the occasional day of bad weather. Also, planes, buses and restaurants tend to get chilly.
Passport and visa?
Having a valid passport is obviously necessary to enter Cuba. Additionally, it should be valid for 6 months after you departure for Cuba. The visa is also indispensable; it will be managed by the travel agency with whom you hire your trip; do keep in mind they will need a few days to send it to you.
What currency is used in Cuba?
The CUC -convertible peso- will be the currency you use 99% of the time when paying for something in Cuba. The ideal thing is to exchange it at the airport, thereby saving time the following day making lines to exchange the money.
The exchange rate is usually between 1.30 or 1.10 CUC per €, and the dollar is usually exchanged 1 = 1.
Video about the queue in the bank
10 Tips for travelling to Cuba as a tourist
Should I take Euros or Dollars?
If you live in Europe, take Euros and exchange them for CUC. If you live in the USA, take dollars. It can’t get any simpler than that. The best tip for your trip to Cuba is to take cash and exchange it, but don’t forget to take your credit/debit card as well in case you need to withdraw some extra money for your trip.
– Can I use my Credit or Debit card?
Even though in 99.9% of the cases we will pay cash, it is important to take your card. It’s all the same whether it is a debit or a credit card, but make sure it is NOTAmerican Express or issued by any American bank.
MasterCard has started working as you would expect.
You will probably not use it for payments, but you can withdraw money (in CUC) at ATMs and banks.
– Spend a CUC or two to take a picture with the figurantes callejeros (street performers).
Mainly in Havana you will find several government-appointed figurantes who give ambience to the streets dressed in vintage clothing, and who offer people to take a picture with them.
Among our Cuba travelling tips, we advise you to take a picture with them for 1 CUC, even though you can always shoot more than once. Don’t be shy; take back a good, typical Cuban picture. Of course, it is better for you to take the picture instead of buying a postcard.
Sometimes people are ashamed, but don’t be – help Cuban figurantes and take a nice memento back to your country.
– Where should you stay?
In Cuba you have two choices: hotels and official private homes. Since 2015, hotels have doubled or even tripled their prices. My advice is that if you are thinking about staying at a 3-star hotel, you should undoubtedly stay at a private home, which has a cost of 30 to 40 CUC a night.
Don’t forget to activate roaming on your phone, and to deactivate your voicemail. Check your fees before travelling to Cuba.
How about internet access or Wi-Fi zones?
Since 2015 many Wi-Fi zones have been established along the streets of Cuba, you just have to ask. 1-hour connection cards are sold for 2 CUC, but at times they are hard to come by. Don’t worry though, in Wi-Fi areas there are usually people who resell them for 3 CUC. If you are staying at a hotel it will be easier for you, since they usually have Wi-Fi zones.
Can you drink tap water?
As with any other country we would advise against it, since drinking bottled water is a guarantee.