Located on the largest island of the Caribbean, Cuba is a very popular tourist destination and for good reason.
Cuba is home to beautiful white-sand beaches, impressive rainforests and waterfalls, vibrant culture, and lively cities.
Due to various trade restrictions over the years, Cuba has many described by many as like walking into a time capsule and is now a unique blend of the past and present, where vintage cars roam around colorful historic buildings and towns.
The birthplace of salsa music, Cuba is also full of rhythm. Add in its sub-tropical climate, and it is a great place to vacation.
This Cuba travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Havana
- Power voltage is 110V-220V at 60 Hz. Type A, B, C, and L.
- Cuba’s two currencies are the Cuban Peso and the Cuban Convertible Peso, mainly used for tourists.
- 1 Cuban Convertible Peso is equal to 1 USD.
- The best way to get around Cuba is by bus or taxi. If taking a taxi, make sure the taxi is licensed before riding.
- You need a tourist card to enter Cuba, as well as a passport that is valid for two months after your trip ends. The tourist card allows you to stay in Cuba for up to 30 days.
- The most popular cellular networks in Cuba are Cubacel and Digicel and both offer SIM cards. It should be noted the SIM cards can only be used on unlocked GMS phones. To rent a SIM card, you need a passport and your IMEI (phone ID) number.
- Cuba has a sales tax rate of 2% on wholesale sales and a 10% rate on both retail sales and services.
- SIM Cards: Cuba has very limited Internet and the best bet for visiting Cuba is to unplug, relax and if you have to, use your hotel’s limited WiFi for emergencies.
- It is advisable to download offline maps and any apps offline that you use to travel.
Things to See and Do in Cuba
- Hike Through Sierra Maestra: Cuba’s largest mountain range and the start point of the Cuban Revolution. Take a tour to learn more about Cuba’s history and enjoy a beautiful hike and great mountain views.
- Varadero Beach: Visit this pristine and popular beach in Sol Palmeras. Walk through the sand, swim in the clear waters, get to know other tourists or locals, or simply relax and take in the beautiful views.
- Old Havana: Old Havana is the city center of Havana is considered a crucial part of any trip to Cuba. Stroll through one-of-a-kind historic streets and buildings to see the history of Cuba.
- Tropicana Club: Head to the famous Tropicana Club for some great nightlife entertainment. Get dinner and enjoy the thrilling cabaret show that’s been running since the 1930s, featuring lively song and dance numbers.
Cuba Travel Guides
Budget: Cuba offers family-run bed and breakfasts (or casas particulares) for around 15 to 25 pesos per night.
Mid-Range: For mid-range hotels, expect to pay roughly 70-130 pesos per night.
High-End: Upscale hotels will cost about 150-250 pesos per night.
- Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation.
If you’re on a budget, you can find options for pizza or spaghetti at around 3-4 pesos each.
Coffee lovers can find delicious cups of coffee for around 0.10 pesos. Restaurants are a good way to learn more about Cuban cuisine.
Expect to pay around 10-15 pesos for a meal at a restaurant.
The Best Ways to Get Around Cuba
Getting to Cuba:
Getting to Cuba: While there are 10 international airports in Cuba, the Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí in Havana is the main one, with the Gualberto Gómez International Airport in Varadero being a close second.
Flights: You can check for the best flights to Cuba on Skyscanner.
Transportation: Look for the Viazul buses, which are made especially for tourists and feature air-conditioning. Great for long distances, you can travel from Trinidad to Havana in six hours for just 25 pesos.
You will want to arrive at the station in advance to get a spot.
Trains: The train system in Cuba runs the length of the island and is a good way to meet the locals.
Go from Havana to Santa Clara for just 20 pesos, or from Santa Clara to Santiago de Cuba for 50 pesos. Be advised that the trains only run every few days, so planning ahead is key.
Taxis: Taxis are an alternative way to get around Cuba.
Fares start at 1 peso as a flat rate and increase by 1 peso for each kilometer traveled.
To travel from Old Havana to Miramar, for example, costs 8 to 12 pesos.
Car Rental: It is possible to rent a car in Cuba, but it is expensive and can be convoluted. Take care when you do. Check rates and availability here.
When to go To Cuba
Between November and April is the most popular time to go to Cuba, as temperatures range from 78 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and skies tend to be blue.
You can find higher temperatures (up to 90 degrees) and lower hotel rates in August but note that hurricane season is between August through October.
Where to Stay in Cuba
Iberostar Grand Packard – Located on the Malecon and walking distance to Old Havana, this is the premier place to stay in Cuba.
Hostal Las Palmas:One of the most highly rated bed and breakfasts in Trinidad. Explore Trinidad and the Playa Ancon beach, which are both close by.
Suite Florencia: Built-in 1940, this colonial house turned hotel in Santa Clara is right in the middle of everything. Descend the white marble staircase into this romantic hotel.
Enjoy beautiful views of Santa Clara from your room, or roam about Santa Clara and visit the nearby restaurants and bars.
What to Pack for Cuba
Cuba has a tropical climate so you can count on it being hot and humid.
- Swimsuit: With Cuba”>
- Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the powerful sun with some sunscreen.
- Cash: As you may not be able to withdraw money from your bank accounts while in Cuba, make sure to bring an appropriate amount of cash based on what you think you’ll spend.
- We didn’t have a problem withdrawing from ATMs in Havana, but it is better to be safe
Cuba Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
- Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
- Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
- VRBO: is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
- Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
- Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
- Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
- Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
- World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.