Since we have recently (that’s relative now after tons of work – feels like years) returned from holiday and it consisted in visiting many wonderful places in three countries, I finally had time for tips in Cuba. Contrary to what we usually do, we have not really planed our Cuban trip and went a bit with the flow and enjoyed what it had to offer. There are a few things one should consider when travelling in Cuba.
I have a few tips for you to consider before you go to Cuba so you are a bit more aware of the situation and once you have decided you can accept all of these, you will move on to a list of things especially curated for a trip in Cuba.
Don’t go to Cuba if:
- You feel holidays should go hand in hand with luxurious hotels, clean and exotic places
- You feel you will miss your shops at home and will need to keep buying stuff
- You want to shop on your holiday – there is not a great offer, unless you wish to buy souvenirs.
- You are allergic to dust or dirty places
- You can’t live without your high heels
- You can’t pack light. You can’t even go up the stairs in most places with a huge luggage and there are no lifts
- You can’t live without Internet on holidays
- You don’t like Cuban music. It is everywhere!
- You don’t like the smell of cigarettes or cigars. Smoking is allowed almost everywhere here.
- You like to take long showers/baths. There is very small water pressure in the showers.
So now, if you decided all the above are not important, read some of my tips below.
When in Cuba:
- Change your money in a big city like Havana. It will be difficult to find an exchange in a smaller place.
- In most ATMs only VISA cards works. So either have enough cash on you, either a VISA card.
- Do not bring American Dollars. Cuban government takes 13% for each dollar changed into a CUC and you will end up losing money. Change euros, Swiss Francs or pounds. Much better! Euro is 1 to 1, the rest slightly more than 1.
- Always have small money on you for tips. You will need them in any restaurant with live music as they will come and sell CDs and ask for tips. You will also need money for restroom
- Negotiate a bit on taxi fares, possibly also in casa particolares. Taxis tend to ask a lot of money.
- When you get the chance to buy an Internet card, either get a 5-hour one or various of one hour. You never know when you will find the next one. These are scarce. Hotels usually sell them a bit more expensive, but even they end up short
- Stay I casa particolares. It is a great experience you might not have the courage to do in any other place and you will learn a lot about Cuba.
- If you can, don’t drive in Cuba. Roads are not necessary the best, you will have no GPS available and sometimes street signs can be confusing. These are also a bit different than in other areas of the world
- Book your bus ticket the day you arrive, otherwise you will end up with no seats available. Taxis are more expensive than buses.
- Have fun in all restaurants you go, dance when you hear music and let Cuba in!
A main menu in Havana starts at 6-7 CUC up to 17-18, depending on what they offer. A normal portion will cost you 10-12 CUC. In Havana you might need to get a starter in most places as portions are quite small, but in a casa particular, menus come with lots of side dishes, fruits, salads and sometimes soups as a starter.
Photos by moi with my phone.