What to see in Cuba

INDEX OF CONTENTS

The Pearl of the Caribbean

Cuba, thePearl of the Caribbean,” is a magical destination that will transport you to a world of charm and authenticity. This Caribbean island, located just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty. In this corner of the world, time seems to have stood still, and every corner tells a story. Ready to explore what makes Cuba so special? Join us on an unforgettable journey through this Caribbean gem!

Cuba is a country full of charms: from the colors of Trinidad to the marvelous beaches of the Keysthe good humor of Havana or the unknown sunsets in Varadero.

But I don’t want to deceive you: Cuba is a very humble country. My biggest advice for traveling to Cuba is to be aware of where you are going and what to expect. It is a wonderful destination, in the midst of change and excitement.

However, I have met people who were disappointed after their trip because they expected to find only the grace of Cuban music, and conditions are not always so favorable. In Cuba, there is poverty, and even today, people survive thanks to a scarce ration book. Basic products are lacking (stores are almost empty), the roads are not in the best condition, and there are partially destroyed houses. But if you know how to look beyond, it will captivate you instantly, because its rundown and decadent air is full of a magic that makes up for all these shortcomings.

Where is Cuba?

Cuba is an island located in the Caribbean Sea, at the northern end of the Caribbean Sea, south of Florida in the United States and east of Mexico and Belize. It is the largest island in the Caribbean and is strategically located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Cuba borders to the north with the Florida Strait, to the west with the Gulf of Mexico, to the east with the Bahamas Channel, and to the south with the Caribbean Sea. The capital of Cuba is Havana, which is located on the northwest coast of the island.

Interactive Map of Cuba

Map drawing

Ready to embark on an exciting journey through the beautiful island of Cuba? Nothing brings you closer to the hidden treasures of this Caribbean country than this interactive map of tourist attractions that you can’t miss on your visit to Cuba.

In this virtual journey, you will discover the most fascinating destinations, from the iconic streets of Old Havana to the impressive mountains of Viñales and the beaches of Varadero. This map will guide you through a unique experience full of history, culture, and nature. Get ready to explore Cuba from the comfort of your screen and plan your next adventure in this Caribbean jewel. Let’s start the journey!

What Language is Spoken in Cuba?

Translation drawing

In Cuba, the official and predominant language is Spanish. Cuban Spanish has its own peculiarities and accents that make it unique in the region. In addition to Spanish, in tourist areas, it is common to find people who speak English, especially in hotels, restaurants, and other places frequented by international visitors.

Pinar del Rio

Religion in Cuba

Church drawing

Religion in Cuba is diverse and reflects a mixture of African, European, and indigenous influences. Below are some of the main religions and beliefs in Cuba:

  • Santería (Regla de Ocha): Santería is a syncretic religion that combines African beliefs and practices, especially from the Yoruba ethnicity, with Catholicism. In Santería, orishas (gods and spirits) are revered through rituals and ceremonies. This religion has a strong presence in Cuban culture and is practiced by many people on the island.
  • Catholicism: Catholicism also plays a significant role in the religious life of Cuba, despite losing influence in recent decades. Many Cubans are Catholics and follow Catholic traditions and festivities.
  • Spiritism: Spiritism, both Kardecian and spiritism mixed with African beliefs, is practiced by a portion of the Cuban population. It focuses on communication with the spirits of the deceased and has followers who believe in the ability of mediums to communicate with the beyond.
  • Protestantism: Although to a lesser extent than Catholicism, Protestantism has gained followers in Cuba over the years. Various Protestant denominations have a presence on the island, including Baptists, Pentecostals, and Methodists.
  • Afro-Cuban Religions: In addition to Santería, other Afro-Cuban religions such as Palo Monte and Abakuá also have followers in Cuba. These religions retain many African traditions, including rituals and spiritual beliefs.

It is important to note that Cuba is a country where religion and spirituality play a significant role in daily life, and the coexistence of different beliefs is common. Religious festivities, such as the Feast of the Virgin of Cobre (patroness of Cuba) and Santería celebrations, are important occasions in Cuban culture and often involve music, dance, and colorful rituals.

Cuban woman smoking a cigar

Time Difference with Cuba

24-hour Clock Drawing

When it is noon (12:00 PM) in Cuba, it is 6:00 PM in Spain on the same day. Cuba is 6 hours behind Spain. However, keep in mind that during daylight saving time in Spain, the time difference increases by an additional hour, making it 7 hours.

 In general, Cuba is in the UTC-5 time zone throughout the year.

Capitol, Havana, Cuba

What Currency is Used in Cuba?

Exchange Money Drawing

The official currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso (CUP). One Cuban peso is equivalent to 100 centavos. Until December 30, 2022, the official currency of Cuba was the convertible Cuban peso (CUC). However, the Cuban government decided to eliminate the CUC and return to the CUP as the only official currency.

The value of the Cuban peso depends on the value of the US dollar. 1 USD is equivalent to 120 CUP. The value with other currencies fluctuates, and you can check it on the website of the Central Bank of Cuba (look at the “Population TC” column).

For reference, in early 2023, 1 EUR = 128 CUP.

In some places, you will see that 1 US dollar is 24 CUP, but this is an outdated exchange rate. Since August 2022, the Central Bank of Cuba significantly improved the exchange rate due to the need to obtain foreign currencies, which are the truly valuable ones.

This is an effort to fill their coffers to be able to pay for food, medicines, and other provisions they import from other countries. It is also a measure to combat the black market for currency exchange, which offered more than 100 pesos for every euro while the state only provided around 26.

In practice, the CUP is useless outside of Cuba and has little value on the island. For this reason, people involved in tourism prefer to accept payments in euros. However, we recommend having CUP for day-to-day expenses: restaurants, buses or collectives within cities, street food stalls, ice cream shops, or basic stores that only accept pesos.

Currency Exchange drawing

If you want to take some money from home, I recommend exchanging currency with RIA as they offer the best commission-free exchange rate and send and collect the currency at your own home.

Cambio de Divisa Dolar

RIA Currency Exchange:

  1. Key Services:
    • Currency Exchange: RIA provides currency exchange services for various currencies, including US dollars, yen, pounds, and many more.
    • Money Transfers: In addition to currency exchange, RIA is known for its international money transfer services.
  2. Exchange Rates:
    • Ria stands out for offering competitive exchange rates. You can compare their rates with other options to ensure you get the best possible exchange rate.
  3. Physical Offices in Spain:
    • RIA has a physical presence through its offices in Spain. You can visit one of their locations if you prefer to conduct transactions in person.
  4. Home Delivery:

Virtual Currency Equivalent to Foreign Currency

The freely convertible currency (MLC) is a virtual currency equivalent to 1 USD. Ironically, dollars in cash are not accepted on the island. Therefore, in practice, 1 MLC = 1 EUR. There are also equivalences with the following international currencies: British pounds, Canadian dollars, Swiss francs, Japanese yen, and Mexican pesos.

There are no coins or bills in MLC. In establishments that accept MLC, tourists can pay in cash with euros or with foreign credit or debit cards (as long as they are not from a U.S. bank).

Cubans who want to use this virtual currency must obtain a wallet card that they can reload with accepted foreign currencies plus a commission retained by the government (quite a hassle!). In short, MLC was created so that Cubans can pay in “exclusive” stores that only accept this currency. Don’t think they sell luxury items; on the contrary, they sell basic food and necessities, but these stores are usually better stocked than those where only CUP is accepted.

It’s a very sad way to divide citizens into two categories: those with access to foreign currency and those without. Unfortunately, the shortage of basic necessities is a reality in Cuba, and residents have to find ways to obtain them.

MLC has also become the main currency in private homes and most tourist services (except for restaurants). It’s a way for owners to have foreign currency to reload virtual cards and access stores that operate with MLC.

Is it better to bring euros or dollars to Cuba?

If you’re traveling from Europe, bring euros directly. We recommend having €5, €10, and €20 bills for everyday expenses in places that accept MLC. Many establishments may not have change for large bills.

If you’re traveling from any American country, where the use of the dollar is more common, things get complicated. Since August 2022, state exchange houses accept cash dollars or U.S. credit cards to obtain Cuban pesos. Your cash dollars won’t be useful for anything else, only to get CUP. As we’ve been telling you, the CUP is highly devalued, and the use of MLC is spreading in tourist-focused sites. Therefore, it’s advisable to obtain euros in cash before arriving in Cuba to pay in places that operate with MLC.

I don’t recommend withdrawing money in Cuba

There are ATMs to withdraw CUP with your card from any non-U.S. bank. However, we don’t recommend using them at all. First, the exchange rate applied at ATMs is 1USD=24CUP. It’s an outdated equivalence; remember that the official exchange rate is 1USD=120CUP. It’s much worse at ATMs because there’s no physical foreign currency involved, and Cuban banks have no incentive to offer you a favorable rate.

You should also consider that there are frequent power outages in various areas of Cuba that can leave ATMs out of service. Moreover, many ATMs have withdrawal limits or simply don’t have available funds. Additionally, they may apply an extra fee.

Black market for currency exchange in Cuba

With the introduction of MLC, Cubans want to get foreign currency by any means. That’s why they may offer you CUP in exchange for your euros in many restaurants, exchange houses, or simply on the street. The exchange rate is usually somewhat better than in CADECA, and it’s a good way to help locals. However, we recommend having some trust in the person you’re exchanging money with. For example, you can offer it to the owners of your private home or a taxi driver you’ve chatted with for a while.

Pay with commission-free cards in Cuba

Tarjetas de Crédito DIBUJO

Recently, there are the so-called MLC stores (another novelty compared to my first trip), which are like small supermarkets with basic products. In these stores, prices are in dollars, and you must pay with a card (that’s why I recommend bringing one or two Revolut-type cards if you plan to travel to Cuba independently). They don’t accept cash, and it’s normal during your trip that you’ll need to buy some things there.

If you’re planning to travel to Cuba, I recommend that if you don’t already have it, you should apply for your free Revolut card to pay abroad without fees. With the Revolut Card, forget about those extra expenses, because the currency exchange fees that traditional bank cards usually have are around 3% to 4%, no joke!

TERJETA REVOLUT

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vintage car in Cuba

What is the best time to travel to Cuba?

Weather drawing

The best time to travel to Cuba is generally during the dry season, which spans from November to April. During this period, the weather is pleasant, with warm temperatures and lower chances of rain.

Dry Season (November to April)

Summer drawing

This is the high tourist season in Cuba. Temperatures are warm, with daytime highs in the range of 25-30°C, making it perfect for enjoying beaches and outdoor activities. Additionally, the likelihood of rain is quite low. During this period, you can take advantage of cultural festivals and events throughout the island.

Rainy Season (May to October)

Weather drawing

During the summer and fall months, Cuba experiences higher humidity and more rainfall, especially in September and October. Temperatures can be higher, with highs exceeding 30°C. Despite the rain, the landscape is usually green and lush. However, be aware that there is a risk of tropical storms and hurricanes in the region during this season.

If you prefer to avoid crowds and enjoy more affordable rates, you may consider traveling during the low season, which coincides with the rainy season. However, be prepared for occasional showers.

Therefore, the dry season, spanning from November to April, is the best time to visit Cuba if you’re looking for pleasant weather and a lower risk of rain.

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Cuba, Mayarí

How to get to Cuba and get around?

Getting to Cuba and traveling around the country is relatively easy, as the country has a well-developed transportation system and several options for travelers.

It’s time to book your flights; for that, you can read the post about Cheap Flights to find affordable flights and all my tricks so that you too can save when booking your flights. 

Here is information on how to get to Cuba and get around the country:

Getting to Cuba:

Plane and World Drawing

International Flights: The most common way to get to Cuba from abroad is through international flights to José Martí International Airport in Havana or to other international airports in cities like Varadero, Holguín, and Santa Clara. Major airlines and charter airlines offer flights to Cuba from various destinations in Europe, North America, and Latin America.

Plane Drawing

Internal Airports: If you plan to visit other regions of Cuba, you may need to take internal flights from Havana to cities such as Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Camagüey, among others.

Coco Taxi

Getting Around Cuba:

Bus

Public Transportation: Cuba has a public transportation system that includes buses, trains, and taxis. Víazul buses are a popular option for traveling between cities and offer comfortable and reliable service. Trains are also an option, but they can be less comfortable and slower than buses.

Taxi Drawing

Taxis: Taxis are common in Cuba and can be used for short trips within cities or longer trips between cities. Make sure to agree on the price before starting the journey or use official taxis with a meter.

Car Drawing

Car Rental: You can rent a car in Cuba if you want more flexibility and access to remote areas. Several international car rental companies operate in Cuba, although I recommend that you hire the car through this website and if possible with a driver; it is very economical, and they will be with you throughout the trip, so you can forget about everything, just reaching your destination. Keep in mind that roads may be in variable conditions, and you must follow traffic rules.

Mountain bike

Cycling and Motorcycling: Cuba is a popular destination for cycling and motorcycling enthusiasts. If you’re a fan of these sports, you can explore the country by bike or motorcycle. You can also rent a Coco Taxi, a fun way to get around the city.

Walking drawing

Hikes and Excursions: In areas like Viñales and Trinidad, hiking and walking excursions are excellent ways to explore the natural beauty and local culture.

Boat drawing

Water Transport: In some coastal regions, you can use boats and ferries to travel between islands and coastal areas.

Renting a Car in Cuba

Let’s talk about something essential for your Cuban adventure: car rental! 🚗

In my two trips to Cuba, it becomes clearer each time that the best way to explore the island is with the keys to a car in hand. In my first route, while organizing, I debated between transportation options: Viazul bus? Taxi or chauffeured car? Car rental in Cuba? The last option was the most appealing to me, although uncertainty about the state of the roads and driving requirements kept me in suspense.

After my last two experiences, especially the latest one, I can’t help but recommend, as they say, renting a car. Here, I share my opinion and tips for renting a car in Cuba, updated to 2023. So, you can clear all those doubts that surely hover in your mind and plan your trip with total confidence.

With a rental car, you’ll discover the authentic essence of Cuba, from its roads to the most remote corners. So, if you’re ready for the adventure behind the wheel, I invite you to immerse yourself in my experience and let yourself be carried away by the freedom that only your own car can offer in this captivating island. Get ready for an unforgettable journey in 2023’s Cuba!

🌟In Cuba, renting a car is not exactly cheap. The reason is simple: supply is scarce, demand is high, and the key to avoiding setbacks is to have your vehicle booked from Spain. Going without a reservation is practically like looking for a needle in a haystack. That’s why I insist that you secure your means of transportation for the trip through this website that I use; and seriously, the sooner you do it, the better.

Let’s talk numbers. Rental prices for cars in Cuba can start from 50 euros per day, and keep in mind that insurance is something you’ll need to contract on-site, at the pickup office, according to state regulations. This insurance usually costs around 20 euros per day. Generally, they give you the car with a full tank (charging you for it), and you return it empty. For more details, take a look at this link.

It’s common to pick up the car in Havana, either at the airport or in the city itself, but there are many more destinations available. Also, you have the option to rent the car in one city and return it in another, although keep in mind that this involves an additional cost.

Ready to explore Cuba at your own pace? Book your car and start the adventure. You won’t regret it! 🌴🚗

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coche de alquiler entre montañas y pinar
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Fuel Shortage in Cuba

Important Update 2023: In recent years, following the pandemic, there have been certain periods of fuel shortage in Cuba. There are times when it’s easier to find fuel and others when it becomes more challenging, considering that tourists usually have priority when refueling. My advice is to inquire directly with the car rental company about the situation when making the reservation because they can provide the most accurate information.

In general, moving around Cuba is relatively safe and accessible. However, it’s important to note that roads may be in poor condition in some areas, and transportation services may be limited compared to more developed tourist destinations.

Is an International Driving Permit Required?

Having a European driving license, it is not necessary to have an international driving permit to drive in Cuba. It’s always advisable to carry it, but it’s not truly required.

Maps.me, Your Best Friend for Driving in Cuba

The first valuable and useful advice I give you is to download the Maps.me mobile application before traveling to Cuba; once you have it, download the map of Cuba, and this will be your great ally for planning routes between different cities.

No internet is needed, and it includes most accommodations, monuments, etc. So, even if you get a data card, you can alternatively use Google Maps, but my experience is that Maps.me works much better on the island.

Gas Stations, Are There Many?

Tourist rental cars (distinguished by a letter “T” in the license plate) use the so-called “special gasoline,” somewhat more expensive than the common one but surprisingly affordable. Filling a tank can cost you between 12 and 15 euros depending on the capacity.

In general, there are plenty of gas stations in Cuba, but I always recommend not waiting until the last minute, especially considering the scarcity issue. When you reach half a tank, start thinking about finding one because it may not be close, it may be out of stock (if you arrive at the service station and the nozzle has an orange cone, it means there is no fuel), or it may simply be closed.

What is the Speed Limit in Cuba?

The maximum speed in Cuba on highways is 100 km/h, and on secondary roads, it’s 50 km/h.

State of Cuban Roads, Are They Dangerous?

Roads in Cuba are generally in acceptable condition. However, there is poor GPS signal (it’s good to have the map downloaded offline), and signage is scarce. In my first trip, I used Maps.me, and everything was straightforward. Although I admit that the last time, we hired a local as a driver for the entire stay, and we traveled all over the island.

In the eastern part of the island, the main highway and adjacent roads are almost always in good condition. There are some stretches with a few more potholes (for example, going to Cayo Jutías), but if you drive slowly, there’s no major issue. The western part, less touristy, is more challenging, so I recommend exploring the western area, which also has the most attractions.

However, you must avoid driving at night. The roads have very little lighting, and those small potholes that you see from afar during the day can burst a tire at night.

What to Do If the Police Stop You on the Road – Fines

While driving for kilometers, many uniformed individuals will try to stop you. For example, at the intersection leading to Pinar del Río and Viñales from Havana, there’s always someone claiming to work in transfer management, attempting to get you to pick up a hitchhiker.

You can ignore these individuals, but be careful not to mistake a police officer for one of them. In two out of my three trips to Cuba, the police stopped me. The first time was supposedly for not stopping at a stop sign (which, mind you, is a bit confusing with a yield sign), and the second time was supposedly for speeding.

I think the best approach is to be humble, apologize, promise to be more careful, and appeal to the fact that you are just a tourist eager to discover their wonderful island. At least, it saved me from a fine both times. I believe they are quite understanding with foreigners.

Secure Parking for Cars in Cuba

My recommendation is to leave the vehicle overnight in a paid and guarded parking lot (your accommodation will indicate one, and they are super cheap). Nothing necessarily has to happen, but sometimes there are thefts of parts like side mirrors, and if it was on the street, the police might tell you to deal with it for leaving it “abandoned” to its fate. For two or three euros, it’s not worth the risk.

Alternatives to Car Rental in Cuba

If you’re not convinced about renting a car (for me, it’s the best option, as you know; here I tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of all means of transportation in Cuba), there’s another good option: hire a transfer service so that a driver can take you from one city to another, saving you from hassles. Renting a car with a driver may lack privacy, but the advantage is having someone who knows the way and the condition of the roads perfectly.

In conclusion, I believe I have addressed the doubts I had before arriving in Cuba regarding everything related to cars and driving, car rental, and roads.

Sonia Habana Vieja Cuba

2-Week Itinerary in Cuba

Calendar drawing

Remember to plan travel times between different destinations to adjust the itinerary according to your preferences and needs. Here’s a 2-week itinerary that includes visits to Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cayo Coco, and Playa Pilar in Cayo Guillermo, Varadero:

Cuba Map

Day 1: Arrival in Havana

  • Arrival at José Martí International Airport in Havana.
  • Transfer to your accommodation in Havana.
  • In the afternoon, explore the Malecón and enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere in Old Havana.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2: Havana

  • Visit the old town of Old Havana, including the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral, and Plaza Vieja.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Explore the National Museum of Fine Arts or attend a show at the famous Tropicana Cabaret in Havana. Enjoy music, dance, and a spectacular atmosphere under the stars.
  • Dinner at a restaurant with live music.

Day 3: Viñales

  • Departure to Viñales (approximately 2-3 hours by car).
  • Arrival in Viñales and check-in to your accommodation.
  • Explore the mogotes and visit a tobacco plantation to learn about tobacco cultivation and how the famous Cuban cigar is made.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Viñales

  • Hiking excursion or horseback ride through the mogotes and the Valley of Viñales.
  • Lunch at a local farm.
  • Visit the Cueva del Indio, an impressive cave with an underground river.
  • Dinner in Viñales.

Day 5: Cienfuegos

  • Departure to Cienfuegos (approximately 5 hours by car).
  • Arrival in Cienfuegos and check-in at your accommodation.
  • Explore the city and visit the Palacio de Valle.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 6: Cienfuegos

  • Visit the Parque José Martí and the Teatro Tomás Terry.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Free time to enjoy the Rancho Luna beach or explore the city on your own.
  • Dinner in Cienfuegos.

Day 7: Trinidad

  • Departure to Trinidad (approximately 1 hour by car).
  • Arrival in Trinidad and check-in at your accommodation.
  • Explore the charming historic center of Trinidad and its cobblestone streets.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 8: Trinidad

  • Horseback visit to Javira Waterfall in Havana Park.
  • Lunch at Los Almendros Restaurant in Havana Park or relax on Ancón Beach, about 12 km from Trinidad.
  • Dinner in Trinidad and enjoy live music at the Casa de la Música.

Day 9: Cayo Coco

  • Departure to Cayo Coco (approximately 4 hours by car).
  • Arrival at your hotel in Cayo Coco and check-in.
  • Enjoy the beach and resort facilities.

Day 10: Cayo Coco

  • Excursion to Cayo Guillermo to visit Playa Pilar, the most beautiful beach in Cuba.
  • Lunch at a restaurant in Cayo Guillermo.
  • Time to relax on the beach, swim, and engage in water sports.

Day 11: Varadero

  • Departure to Varadero (approximately 4 hours by car).
  • Arrival in Varadero and check-in at your beachfront accommodation.
  • Enjoy the beaches of Varadero and resort facilities.

Day 12: Varadero

  • Free day in Varadero to relax on the beach, explore the city, or participate in water activities.
  • Dinner at your resort or a local restaurant.

Day 13: Return to Havana

  • Return to Havana (approximately 2-3 hours by car).
  • Arrival in Havana and visit places you didn’t explore in the first week.
  • Farewell dinner at a restaurant in Havana.

Day 14: Return home

  • Free time to buy souvenirs or explore more of Havana.
  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight.

12 Must-Visit Places in Cuba

Cuba is a destination full of opportunities to enjoy unique experiences. Here is a list of things to do in Cuba to make your trip unforgettable:

1. Explore Old Havana

Stroll through the narrow cobbled streets of this historic part of Old Havana, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire colonial architecture, visit picturesque squares, and immerse yourself in the rich Cuban culture. Get all the information about the most important sites to visit in Old Havana.

Visit the National Museum of Fine Arts: Explore Cuba’s artistic heritage in this museum that houses an impressive collection of Cuban and universal art within Old Havana.

2. Dance Salsa

Cuba is the birthplace of salsa, and there is no better place to learn to dance it than on the island. Take a dance lesson or simply join a local party.

Cuba, recognized as the birthplace of salsa, offers you the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant world of this infectious rhythm. What better place to learn to dance salsa than the island where it was born? Consider taking a dance lesson, where experts will introduce you to the characteristic movements and steps of Cuban salsa. Let the music and the energy of the island awaken the dancer within you!

Immerse yourself in the authenticity of Cuban culture by joining a local party. In many corners of Cuba, the nights light up with the infectious rhythm of salsa. If you’re not ready for a formal lesson, don’t worry! Parties are the perfect place to let yourself be carried away by the music and practice your newly acquired salsa moves. Dancing in Cuba is not just an activity; it’s an experience that will immerse you in the joy and passion of the island.

Cuban salsa

3. Entrance to Cabaret Tropicana

Entrance to Cabaret Tropicana, book it directly here with the Entrance to Cabaret Tropicana, you will discover the glamour and rhythm of the Cuban night. Undoubtedly, the best way to enjoy an incredible evening in the heart of Havana.

At Cabaret Tropicana, a symbol of the Havana night, you will enjoy a show with unique choreography, blending the sensuality of the Caribbean with the aesthetics and elegance of Cuban culture. A great artistic team will provide you with a spectacular fusion of typically Cuban music and dance. You will witness incredible movements by the dancers, while the bongos and trumpets transport you to another era.

During the two and a half hours of the show, you will traverse all the genres of Cuba: from the bolero to the rumba, and from the son to the guaguancó, including, of course, the mambo, salsa, and danzón. You won’t want to stop dancing!

The Tropicana Cabaret of Havana, known as the paradise under the stars, was inaugurated in 1939 and became the symbol of the nightlife of 1940s Cuba. Its open-air location allows you to enjoy the freshness of the surrounding tropical trees. It is one of the most famous cabarets in the world, and stars like Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Édith Piaf, or Ingrid Bergman have performed there. Its visual style was copied by venues in Paris, New York, and Las Vegas.

4. Visit Trinidad

This colonial city is a gem in southern Cuba. Explore its cobblestone streets, visit museums, and enjoy live music on the steps of the Plaza Mayor.

Trinidad, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Valley of the Sugar Mills (where sugar was produced between the 17th and 19th centuries), is one of the best-preserved colonial cities in America.

Exploring its historic center filled with pastel-colored houses transports you to another era; a magical feeling. Despite its small size, there are many super interesting things to see in Trinidad in 2023, and also, there are several excursions from Trinidad that you should consider during your visit. I would dedicate at least a couple of days to it.

Trinidad Cuba

5. Enjoy the Beaches of the Cays

Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo are popular destinations to relax on white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, like this the most beautiful beach I have ever visited called Playa Pilar and it is in The Keys of the Gardens of the King.

Immerse yourself in a corner of paradise in the Caribbean, where natural beauty combines with serenity and adventure. Cayo Coco, a hidden treasure in Cuba, is known for its white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and dreamy landscapes; I would dedicate 3 days and 2 nights to it.

But the magic doesn’t end there; a short distance away is the neighboring Cayo Guillermo, home to the iconic Playa Pilar, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Starfish in Cayo Coco

6. Varadero Beach 

Cuba boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and  Varadero is a shining gem among them.

Varadero! The Cuban paradise that everyone longs to discover. Dive with me into this first-hand post, where turquoise waters and white sand become the backdrop for an unforgettable experience.

Imagine waking up with the Caribbean breeze caressing your skin, knowing that you’re about to explore a corner of Eden on Earth. Varadero, more than a destination, is a sigh of tranquility amid sips of mojitos and days under the sun.

My advice to start this journey on the right foot is simple: let yourself be carried away by the magic of Varadero from the moment you step onto this Cuban jewel. The turquoise waters will whisper stories as you stroll along the white sandy beach, and the nightlife will invite you to immerse yourself in the authentic Cuban essence.

Cayo Coco

7. Explore Viñales

Discover the unique landscape of Viñales, with its mogotes (conical hills) and tobacco fields. You can go hiking, horseback riding, and visit tobacco plantations.

🌴Here I tell you about the 10 dreamy places you can’t miss:

  • Viñales Botanical Garden: Want more green in your life? Visit the botanical garden and indulge in tropical flowers and quirky trees! Plus, you might come across adorable hummingbirds. Nature lovers, this is your spot!
  • The Mural of Prehistory: A giant mural depicting evolution painted by 18 people in 4 years! A stroll through history and art in one place. Ideal for lovers of artistic walks!
  • Polo Montañez Cultural Center: If you’re looking for a party like there’s no tomorrow, this is your place! On Saturdays, the people of Viñales dance with an energy that will make even the palm trees sway. And if dancing isn’t your thing, try their fabulous cocktails!
Viñales
  • Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás: Adventurers, this one’s for you! The island’s most extensive cave, complete with bats, underground rivers, and even an ancient skeleton. Exciting, isn’t it?
  • Los Acuáticos: In the Sierra del Infierno, there lives a peculiar people who heal with aquatic powers. They say only two families remain. An amazing journey, if only for the views!
  • Granjas de tabaco: If you’re a tobacco fan (or know someone who is), here you can visit tobacco farms, even on horseback! Learn how cigars are made and, if you dare, try rolling one yourself!
  • La Cueva del Indio: Cave inside, boat outside! Stalactites, stalagmites, and a boat ride. A karstic experience you can’t miss!
  • Viñales city: With around 30,000 inhabitants, the city also has its charm. Museums, strolling streets, and private residences that will make you feel like a true Cuban. A must-visit!
  • Cayo Jutías: Beach, sun, snorkeling, and crystal-clear waters. This cay has everything to relax and enjoy one of the best beaches on the island!
  • Mercado de Artesanía: Looking for the perfect souvenir? In the craft market, you’ll find unique Cuban works. From belts to jewelry, all handmade with love!

Now that you know the secrets of Viñales, all that’s left is to plan and enjoy this Cuban paradise!

Cienfuegos portada Cuba

8. Explore Cienfuegos

Visit to observe birds, crocodiles, and enjoy the natural beauty of Cuba. Cienfuegos is a city located on the south coast of Cuba, on the shores of Cienfuegos Bay in the Caribbean Sea. Founded in 1819, the city is known for its impressive neoclassical architecture, parks, and rich cultural history.

1. Fall in Love with Parque José Martí: The heart of Cienfuegos beats in Parque José Martí. Dedicate time to this place dedicated to national hero José Martí, surrounded by architectural jewels like Teatro Tomás Ferry and Palacio Ferrer. Sitting on its benches is one of the best ways to absorb the beauty of the city.

2. Photograph Teatro Tomás Terry: In Parque José Martí, Teatro Tomás Terry steals the spotlight. Built in 1890, this neoclassical theater is an architectural gem both inside and out. A must for photography and history lovers! In Parque José Martí, you can see the beautiful building of Teatro Tomás Terry. Dating back to 1890, it is one of the eight great colonial theaters of Cuba. Its neoclassical style is captivating on the outside, and inside, it is spectacular. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

3. Climb the dome of Palacio Ferrer: The pastel blue Palacio Ferrer is a picturesque corner in Cienfuegos. With free entry and the option to climb its dome, you get different views of Parque José Martí. Recently renovated, this building is a must-visit. There are few buildings as picturesque in Cienfuegos as Palacio Ferrer. It is located at one end of Parque José Martí, and it’s hard to miss. The pastel blue color of its facade catches the eye. It’s beautiful! Moreover, you can enter for free and climb to the dome. The views might not be breathtaking, but you can enjoy Parque José Martí from a different perspective. We believe it’s an essential activity to do in Cienfuegos. Also, the building has been recently renovated, and its interior is well-preserved. It’s worth it!

4. Visit the Cathedral: In Parque José Martí, the Cathedral is another colonial treasure. Built in 1833, it remains in excellent condition thanks to renovations. An architectural gem that captures the essence of Cienfuegos’ colonial history. It is another iconic building in Parque José Martí. Catholic temples in Cuba are beautiful, and this one is no exception. It was built in 1833 during the Spanish colonial period, and it is well-preserved thanks to renovations. It is one of the best-preserved colonial gems in Cienfuegos, so don’t miss it.

5. Buy souvenirs on Bulevar Santa Isabel (Calle 29): Enjoy a stroll along this charming boulevard with its picturesque facades and bustling daily market. Take a piece of Cienfuegos home by purchasing crafts, flags, or bracelets!

6. Walk along the Malecón de Cienfuegos at sunset: Although it doesn’t rival La Habana’s, the Malecón de Cienfuegos has its charm. From Paseo del Prado to Punta Gorda, feel the sea breeze and admire the architecture along the promenade. Cienfuegos also has its malecón. While not as beautiful as La Habana, it’s still well worth it. It starts at Paseo del Prado and ends at Punta Gorda, at the beautiful Palacio del Valle. An ideal place to feel the sea breeze and see the buildings lining the promenade.

7. Reach Punta Gorda and Palacio de Valle: Punta Gorda is a hidden treasure with stunning views. The Palacio de Valle, an example of Cuban eclecticism, is the crown jewel. Go up to its terrace for panoramic views and a cocktail. Punta Gorda is one of Cienfuegos’ best-kept treasures. From there, you’ll have incredible views of the Bay, especially at sunset. But the most beautiful thing about Punta is the different mansions there.

The most famous is the Palacio de Valle, one of the best examples of Cuban eclecticism. We believe the Malecón de Cienfuegos couldn’t end in a better way. You can go up to the palace’s terrace, which has a bar with beautiful views for a drink. Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Cienfuegos.

8. Stroll along Paseo del Prado: Step onto Cuba’s longest street! Paseo del Prado is the main artery of Cienfuegos, stretching 2 kilometers. Watch classic cars pass by as you walk along this pedestrian gem. Paseo del Prado is 2 kilometers long and is the main artery of Cienfuegos. Walking through the central (pedestrian) part while watching classic cars pass by on both sides amid those buildings is a very interesting thing to do in Cienfuegos.

9. Buy a historical book at La Fernandina Bookstore: On Paseo del Prado, discover the small La Fernandina Bookstore. With books on Cuban history, it’s the perfect place to take home an educational souvenir and chat with the friendly owner. Precisely, one of the most interesting buildings to see in Cienfuegos is on Paseo del Prado. It’s a tiny bookstore that sells books on Cuban history. The owner is very friendly and loves to chat with tourists, especially Spaniards, as we share many things. If you want to take a good souvenir to read on the plane back home, this is the ideal place. You’ll surely learn a lot of interesting facts about Cuba!

10. Go on a tour to the Bay of Pigs: A historical and natural experience awaits you in the Bay of Pigs. Visit beaches like Punta Perdiz and Playa Girón, immerse yourself in marine life, and explore the Cueva de los Peces. An unforgettable excursion! Aside from its historical significance, the Bay of Pigs is beautiful. There are paradisiacal beaches like Punta Perdiz and Playa Girón, among others. They are ideal places for snorkeling and enjoying marine life. You can also visit the Cueva de los Peces, the deepest one in Cuba.

11. Giron Museum: Immerse yourself in the history of the military operation at the Giron Museum, where tanks, planes, and original items used in 1961 are displayed, along with detailed documentation. This visit is essential to understand the Cuban people’s feat during that crucial period.

12. Jagua Fortress: The imposing Jagua Fortress, erected in 1742 by King Philip V of Spain, stands as one of the most significant buildings in Cienfuegos. Its military construction protected the bay from pirates and corsairs, contributing to the development and security of the port. Even today, the fortress plays a vital role in the Cuban economy. Its well-preserved structure is a must-stop to understand the history and importance of Cienfuegos.

How to get to Jagua Fortress from Cienfuegos? 

Two options await you: the first one is to take a taxi from Cienfuegos to Hotel Pasacaballo, near Rancho Luna, and from there, embark on a small boat to the fortress. The second option is to head directly from the Cienfuegos dock, a journey that takes approximately one hour.

13. Flamingos in Guanaroca Lagoon: Discover the natural beauty of Guanaroca Lagoon, a saltwater lake southeast of Cienfuegos. As a protected area, it hosts more than 170 bird species, with a highlight being the colony of 2,000 flamingos. To explore this sanctuary, take a short boat ride on the lagoon early in the morning to enjoy the variety of birds and other animals. We recommend arriving at 8:00, with 30 minutes in advance to purchase tickets. The lagoon is about a 20-minute taxi ride from downtown Cienfuegos. Reserve a boat ride on Guanaroca Lagoon

14. Excursion to El Nicho Waterfall: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Sierra de Escambray with an excursion to El Nicho Waterfall. Midway between Cienfuegos and Trinidad, this stunning waterfall is accessible via a 2-kilometer circular trail.

15. Discover natural pools: Dense forests await as you head to the waterfall. Don’t just stop there, continue to the panoramic viewpoint to enjoy spectacular valley views. The entrance fee is 10€, and it is located an hour away from the city. Sharing a collective with other tourists or negotiating an individual trip for approximately 40€ with a taxi driver are the options to get there from Cienfuegos. This excursion is undoubtedly one of the best experiences you can have around Cienfuegos.

Ciénaga de Zapata National Park Cienfuegos
Food drawing

9. Taste Cuban cuisine

Try traditional Cuban dishes such as ropa vieja, rice and black beans, yuca with mojo, and, of course, cocktails like the mojito and daiquiri. Although you may not believe it, the typical Cuban mojito is not served with crushed ice; they use whole ice cubes, and they are not as sophisticated as those you can find in Europe. Here’s the proof; you can’t miss visiting La Bodeguita del Medio where you can taste them and form your own opinion.

Cuban cuisine is a blend of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences, making it a unique and flavorful gastronomic experience. Here are some typical Cuban foods you should try during your visit:

Ropa Vieja: A emblematic Cuban dish, ropa vieja is shredded beef slow-cooked with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It is usually served with rice and beans.

Moros y Cristianos: This is a combination of rice (cristianos) and black beans (moros). It is a basic and delicious dish often served as a side.

Yuca con Mojo: Yuca, a root similar to potatoes, is boiled and served with mojo, a sauce made of garlic, lemon, and olive oil. It is a basic and delicious dish.

Tostones: Tostones are fried green plantains, then crushed until crispy. They are served as a snack or side dish.

Cerdo Asado: Roast pork is a popular dish in Cuba, with marinated pork slow-cooked in a “Chinese box.” It is generally served with rice, yuca, and mojo.

Camarones al Ajillo: Camarones al ajillo are shrimp cooked in a garlic and olive oil sauce. It is a delicious dish usually served with rice.

Picadillo: Picadillo is a mixture of minced beef, raisins, olives, and capers, cooked in a tomato sauce. It is served with rice and ripe plantains.

Malanga Frita: Malanga is a root similar to yuca. It is sliced thinly and fried until crispy. It is a popular appetizer.

Congrí: Congrí is a mixture of rice and black beans cooked together with spices. It is often served with pork or chicken.

Tamales: Cuban tamales are made with cornmeal filled with meat and steamed. They are a traditional delight.

Yuca with Onion: Boiled yuca is served with sautéed onions, and sometimes mojo is added to give it more flavor.

Flan: For dessert, don’t miss the flan, a creamy caramel sweet treat.

Peanut Nougat: This is a traditional Cuban sweet made from peanuts and honey.

Cuban Coffee: Try a strong and aromatic Cuban coffee, often served very sweet.

Cuban cuisine is tasty and diverse, and you can enjoy it in local restaurants or in “paladares”, small family-run restaurants. Don’t forget to try these traditional dishes to experience authentic Cuban cuisine.

Cuban Fish

10. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Explore Cuba’s vibrant coral reefs and discover the diversity of marine life in places like María La Gorda and Jardines de la Reina.

Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear waters of Cuba and discover an underwater world full of color and life. With its warm waters and coral reefs, Cuba is a paradise for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Two standout places to explore are María La Gorda and Jardines de la Reina.

Diving Mask

María La Gorda: Located on the western tip of Cuba, María La Gorda is a gem for diving enthusiasts. This remote corner offers the opportunity to dive into clear waters and explore spectacular coral formations. From colorful brain corals to majestic gorgonians, María La Gorda’s reefs host an impressive variety of marine life. During your dives, you might encounter turtles, barracudas, and a wide variety of tropical fish. Additionally, exceptional visibility and calm conditions make this area perfect for both novice and expert divers.

Diving Drawing

Jardines de la Reina: Considered one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean, the Jardines de la Reina are an underwater marvel. This protected archipelago offers a practically untouched marine ecosystem. Pristine reefs, vertical coral walls, and sponge gardens create a fascinating underwater landscape. As you submerge in these waters, you find yourself surrounded by schools of tropical fish, rays, sharks, and, if lucky, even manatees. The Jardines de la Reina are a paradise for underwater photographers and marine biodiversity enthusiasts.

Diving Mask

Diving in Ciénaga de Zapata: The coast of Ciénaga de Zapata, with an extensive coral barrier, offers exceptional diving opportunities. With four instruction centers and over 30 dive sites, explore remnants of sunken ships, caves, and spectacular marine life. An unforgettable underwater experience.

Whether you choose to explore the mysterious underwater depths of María La Gorda or dive into the richness of Jardines de la Reina, Cuba offers scuba diving and snorkeling experiences that will transport you to an underwater world full of wonder and beauty. Get ready to plunge into Cuban waters and discover the magic hidden beneath the surface of the Caribbean!

Diving girl in Cuba

11. Explore the Zapata Swamp

Enjoy a unique journey in the Zapata Swamp.

Farm Fiesta Campesina: This picturesque place at the entrance of the Zapata Swamp offers a Cuban countryside experience. Enjoy the natural atmosphere, native animals, and from here, explore the historic Central Australia and the Command Museum, witnesses to key events in Cuban history.

Tourist Center Guamá: Located on the Treasure Lagoon, Guamá is a rest point with restaurants and attractions. Discover the replica of the Taino Village and take a boat ride on the lagoon. Don’t miss the interaction with crocodiles at the nearby Crocodile Breeding Farm.

Taino Village: Explore the Taino Village, a sculptural representation of pre-Columbian Cuban life. Created by artist Rita Longa, this replica immerses you in the life of the Tainos, with sculptures and structures reflecting their daily activities.

Treasure Lagoon: With myths of pirate treasures, this lagoon is the largest freshwater one in Cuba. It offers bird watching, fish, and trout sightings. Admire the natural beauty and enjoy fishing. Take advantage of the boat ride for a unique experience.

Playa Larga: Relax on one of the best beaches in southern Cuba. From Hotel Playa Larga, explore the International Diving Center and immerse yourself in marine beauty. The beach is also a spot for bird watching and enjoying breathtaking views.

Cueva de los Peces: Immerse yourself in this flooded cave, a cenote with crystal-clear waters. Ideal for cave diving, it houses fish, sponges, and archaeological remains. Refresh at the nearby restaurant and bar after exploring its 70 meters of depth.

Hotel Playa Girón: Commemorating history, this hotel is named after the place where mercenaries landed in 1961. Explore the museum dedicated to this invasion and enjoy the beach, diving, and speleotourism options.

Caleta Buena: Another diving center with 19 dive points. Its coves, natural pools formed by erosion, are ideal for diving and offer close encounters with colorful fish. Enjoy a relaxing day in this fascinating environment.

Las Salinas de Brito: A paradise for migratory bird watching. The salt flats are home to 65 species, including pink flamingos. Marvel at these birds while enjoying the unique conditions of the Brito marshes.

Diving in the Zapata Swamp: The coast of the Zapata Swamp, with an extensive coral reef, offers exceptional opportunities for diving. With four training centers and over 30 dive points, explore sunken shipwrecks, caves, and spectacular marine life. An unforgettable underwater experience.

Cuba libre

Traveling to Cuba Requires Mandatory Medical Insurance

In our travels, it’s common to face unexpected situations. It doesn’t have to be something serious, but from a sprained ankle to a lost suitcase or a complicated insect bite, anything can happen. Traveling involves its risks, and the costs, especially medical ones, can be considerable abroad. In Cuba, for example, an emergency consultation can exceed 500 euros, and believe me, it’s not exactly economical.

This is where the importance of good travel insurance comes into play. In my experience, it’s always wise to have one. But in the case of Cuba, it’s not just advice, it’s mandatory! Medical surprises can arise, and the Cuban government will ask to see your insurance upon entering the country.

So, without further ado, let me share with you my personal recommendation, the insurance I chose on my two trips, Mondo Insurance, which I consider the best to cover all eventualities. Remember, investing in your well-being and peace of mind during the trip is as essential as choosing the next destination.

You can book the one I recommend with a 5% discount following this link. If it was crucial before, even more so now with the times we live in: it’s a basic. You’ll get a 15 % discount, if you contract it between November 20 and November 27, 2023, only for being a reader of Viajera por el Mundo so you can’t miss this opportunity to save a good amount on your trip.

Seguros Mondo Black Friday

What happens if I already have private insurance? Does it work?

Some private insurance policies provide coverage for travel, but it’s advisable to make sure that Cuba is among the destinations covered. Check if your private insurance covers the island before you depart, or you might be in for a disappointment.

In any case, even though I have private insurance, I always feel more secure carrying specific travel insurance. Considering how affordable they are, it’s better not to take any risks.

Street Music in Cuba

Hire the Best Tours in Cuba

Binoculars Drawing

It’s an ideal place to engage in a variety of activities, as mentioned above, and here you can hire them directly, hassle-free, and at a good price, including Free Tours that are free of charge.

The best Tours in Cuba, you can also hire transportation from the airport to the hotel or to the final destination you need to reach.

Healthcare in Cuba

Nurse Drawing

Cuba has a healthcare system that has been recognized for its focus on preventive healthcare and its universal and free healthcare system. Here, I provide you with information about healthcare in Cuba:

Public Health System: Cuba has a public health system, and healthcare is a universal right for Cuban citizens. The country has made significant strides in healthcare and medical research despite economic limitations.

Universal Healthcare: Healthcare is free for Cuban citizens and is available throughout the country. Cuba has a high doctor-to-population ratio and a strong investment in healthcare infrastructure.

Quality of Healthcare: Cuba is known for its robust preventive healthcare. The country has made significant advances in eradicating infectious diseases and promoting health. Additionally, Cuba is recognized for its biotechnological medicine system and drug production.

Healthcare for Foreigners: Cuba also provides medical services to foreign visitors through its health tourism industry. Many foreigners travel to Cuba for medical care, surgeries, and medical treatments at prices lower than in their home countries.

Traveler’s Health Insurance: It’s important for tourists visiting Cuba to purchase travel health insurance before their arrival, as, while healthcare is of high quality, medical services can be costly for foreigners without insurance.

Vaccination: Spanish citizens traveling to Cuba are not required to be vaccinated against any diseases. However, it is advisable to stay up-to-date with vaccines recommended by the Ministry of Health of Spain, such as the vaccine against typhoid, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B.

If you plan to visit Cuba, it’s important to inform yourself about health insurance requirements and ensure that you are aware of health and safety regulations. Overall, Cuba takes pride in its healthcare system and the quality of its medical care, making it an attractive destination for those seeking affordable quality healthcare.

Coliseum Cuba

Is it safe to travel to Cuba?

Police drawing

In general, Cuba is considered a safe travel destination, and millions of tourists visit the island each year without major issues. However, like any tourist destination, it’s important to be aware of certain safety aspects when traveling to Cuba. Here are some considerations:

Crime: Crime in Cuba is generally low compared to many other destinations, but it still exists. Tourist areas are usually safe, but it’s important to take precautions, such as guarding your belongings and avoiding displaying valuables in public.

Health and Sanitary Safety: Healthcare in Cuba is of high quality, but having travel health insurance that covers possible medical emergencies is essential. Drink bottled water and take standard precautions to avoid foodborne illnesses.

Transportation: Public transportation in Cuba is safe, but you should be cautious when crossing streets, as traffic can be chaotic in some areas. When renting a car, follow traffic rules and be cautious, although I recommend hiring a car with a driver, which will be very cost-effective.

Hurricanes: The hurricane season in the Caribbean usually runs from June to November. If you travel during this period, stay informed about weather conditions and follow local recommendations in case of hurricanes.

Currency Exchange: Be cautious when exchanging money and use official exchange houses to avoid scams.

Culture and Respect: Respect Cuban culture and customs. Avoid sensitive political topics and be respectful to locals. The Cuban people are friendly and hospitable.

In summary, Cuba is a generally safe travel destination, but it’s important to exercise common sense and take basic precautions to ensure a trouble-free experience.

Cuba building in ruins due to humidity

Do I need a visa for Cuba?

Passport and visa drawing

Spanish citizens have certain requirements and specific considerations when traveling to Cuba.

Visa or Tourist Card: Spanish citizens wishing to travel to Cuba for tourist purposes generally need to obtain a Tourist Card. This card is issued for a stay period usually of 30 days, but it can be extended up to 90 days if requested. The Tourist Card can be obtained through the Cuban Embassy in Spain, travel agencies, or airlines. Make sure to obtain this card before your trip.

The need for a visa to travel to Cuba depends on your nationality and the purpose of your trip; you can apply for it at this link Visa Application:

Tourism: Most tourists wishing to visit Cuba will need to obtain a visa or tourist card known as the “Tourist Card.” This card allows you to travel to Cuba for tourist and vacation purposes. Depending on your nationality and the country you are traveling from, regulations for obtaining the Tourist Card may vary. In some countries, the card can be obtained directly at the airport or at a Cuban embassy or consulate, while in other locations, you can acquire it through a travel agency or an airline.

Other Purposes: If your trip to Cuba is for purposes other than tourism, such as business, work, studies, or family visits, you may need a different type of visa, such as a business visa (work visa), student visa, etc. You should consult with the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country for specific information on visa requirements for your situation.

Exceptions: Some countries have special agreements with Cuba that may exempt their citizens from the need for a Tourist Card or visa for short stays. Make sure to check if your country has any such agreement with Cuba.

Keep in mind that visa requirements and regulations may change, so it’s crucial to verify the most up-to-date and accurate information before planning your trip to Cuba.

Malecón Cuba

How to make phone calls from Cuba?

smartphone drawing

Making phone calls from Cuba is simple, but there are some considerations, especially if you are using a foreign mobile phone. Here are some basic steps for calling from Cuba:

Local Calls in Cuba:

  1. To make local calls in Cuba: If you have a Cuban mobile phone or a local SIM card, simply dial the phone number of the person you want to call. Don’t forget to include the area code if necessary.

International Calls from Cuba:

  1. For making international calls from Cuba: Dial Cuba’s international access code, which is “119,” followed by the country code you want to call, the area code (if necessary), and the person’s phone number. For example, if you want to call a number in Spain, you would dial “119” + “34” (Spain’s country code) + the phone number.

Calls to Cuba from abroad:

  1. To call Cuba from abroad: Dial your country’s international exit code, which is usually “+,” followed by Cuba’s country code, which is “53,” and then the person’s phone number in Cuba. For example, if you’re calling Cuba from the United States, you would dial “+53” followed by the phone number.

Keep in mind that making international calls from Cuba can be expensive, so be sure to check rates with your phone company before making international calls. Also, note that mobile phone coverage may vary in some areas of Cuba, especially in rural areas.

If you plan to use your foreign mobile phone in Cuba, make sure it’s unlocked for local SIM cards and check with your service provider about roaming agreements and international rates to avoid unexpected charges. You can also purchase a local SIM card in Cuba or buy one before traveling, ensuring internet access as soon as you arrive in the country. I’ll tell you how to prepare for this below.

SIM Card or E-SIM for Internet during your trip

wifi drawing

I recommend that you learn about E-SIM cards—virtual cards, download a QR code, install it on your phone, and you’ll be able to have internet from the moment you disembark and throughout your stay, allowing you to make calls without cost and without surprises on your bill upon your return from your vacation.

These cards cover virtually the entire world, including Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, the Philippines, India, Israel, Montenegro, Oman, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkey, or Vietnam, among many others.

The physical and the virtual, called ESIM, with faster activation because there’s no need to wait for it to be sent by mail. Sign up in advance and make sure to stay connected on your trip!

Holafly Descuento por ser lector de Viajeraporelmundo
wifi dibujo

I recommend that you learn about E-SIM cards; they are virtual cards. You download a QR code, install it on your phone, and you can have internet from the moment you get off the plane and throughout your stay, allowing you to make calls without cost and without surprises on your bill upon your return from your vacation.

These cards cover practically the entire world, including Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, the Philippines, India, Israel, Montenegro, Oman, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, among many others.

The physical and the virtual, known as ESIM Cards with Holafly, with activation that is faster because you don’t have to wait for it to be sent to you by mail. Sign up in advance and make sure to stay connected on your trip!

Cuba museums

What are the plugs like in Cuba?

Plug drawing
  • Voltage: 110/220 V
  • Frequency: 60 Hz
  • Plugs: Type A / B / C / L

The plugs to use in Cuba are of type A / B / C / L:

The plugs to use in Cuba are type C

 
Type C: Valid for E and F plugs
 
 
The plugs to use in Cuba are type A

 
Type A: Japanese A plugs can be used in the USA but often not vice versa
 
 
The plugs to use in Cuba are type B

 
 
Type B: Sometimes valid for type A plugs
 
The plugs to use in Cuba are type L

 
Type L: Valid for type L plugs
 

If you need to buy a travel adapter I personally buy power plug adapters on Amazon, where you’ll find a great selection. Click directly on the link and you can buy yours.

The need for a power plug adapter also depends on the country you live in. If you need more information about plugs from anywhere in the world, you can visit the page Plugs of the World.

Cuba Streets Woman Basket Maker

Typical Drinks in Cuba

Cuba is known for its iconic drinks and refreshing cocktails that are an integral part of Cuban culture. Here are some typical drinks from Cuba that you should try during your visit:

Mojito: The mojito is a classic Cuban cocktail that combines white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water, mint leaves, and ice. It’s refreshing and perfect for Cuba’s warm climate.

Daiquiri: The daiquiri is another famous Cuban cocktail, made with white rum, fresh lime juice, and sugar. It can be served frappé or in its simplest form.

Cuba Libre: This simple drink combines white rum, cola, and lime juice. It’s similar to a rum and cola but with a touch of acidity.

Piña Colada: Although its origin is disputed between Cuba and Puerto Rico, the piña colada is a tropical drink made with rum, pineapple, coconut, and coconut cream.

Aged Rum: Cuba is famous for its rum, and Cuban aged rum is a high-quality drink that can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Some well-known brands include Havana Club and Santiago de Cuba.

Sugarcane Juice: Sugarcane juice is a fresh drink made from sugar cane, sometimes mixed with lemon to add a touch of acidity. It is a natural and refreshing beverage.

Sugarcane Tea: Similar to sugarcane juice, sugarcane tea is prepared by boiling fresh sugar cane and is served hot. It is a comforting and sweet beverage.

Cuban Coffee: Cuban coffee is strong and served in small cups. It is sweetened with sugar and sometimes mixed with rum or rum cream.

Tropical Juices: Cuba is a paradise of tropical fruits, so you can enjoy fresh juices from fruits like mango, guava, pineapple, and papaya.

Butterfly Pea Tea: This butterfly pea flower infusion is an herbal drink that changes color from blue to purple when adding lemon or lime.

National Sodas: Try Cuban sodas, such as TuKola and Ciego Montero cola soda.

Coconut Water: In coastal areas, you can enjoy fresh coconut water straight from green coconuts.

These beverages are an integral part of everyday life and culture in Cuba, and enjoying them is a delicious way to immerse yourself in the authenticity of the island. Whether you opt for one of the classic cocktails or a natural drink, you won’t be short of options to refresh yourself and savor the rich tradition of Cuban beverages.

Cuban Mojito

What to Wear in Cuba?

Clothing Drawing

The choice of clothing for your trip to Cuba will depend on the season you plan to visit and the activities you have in mind. Here are some general recommendations on what to wear:

Climate and Season:

Summer Drawing

Warm Climate: Cuba has a warm climate for most of the year, with average temperatures around 25-30°C. For most seasons, lightweight and cool clothing is essential. Bring T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts, dresses, shorts, and skirts.

Sun Protection: Since the sun in Cuba can be very strong, it’s important to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

Swimwear: If you plan to visit beaches, make sure to bring swimwear and beachwear. Also, it’s useful to bring a shirt or a sun protection garment to avoid burns.

Light Clothing: Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics, such as cotton or linen, to stay cool and comfortable.

Comfortable Footwear: Bring comfortable walking shoes, such as sandals, sneakers, or breathable closed shoes if you plan to hike or walk a lot.

Semi-Formal Clothing: If you have plans to dine in more elegant restaurants or attend evening events, bring semi-formal clothing, such as a collared shirt or a dress.

Waterproof Clothing: During the rainy season, which usually runs from May to October, bring a waterproof jacket or a lightweight waterproof jacket and a foldable umbrella.

Insect Repellent: In rural areas or certain times of the year, mosquitoes can be a problem. Bring insect repellent to protect yourself.

Cultural Respect: On certain occasions, such as visiting religious sites or during formal events, it’s appropriate to wear more conservative and respectful clothing.

Remember that, regardless of the time of year, wearing comfortable clothing, sunscreen, and insect repellent is essential. In general, Cuba is an informal and relaxed destination in terms of attire, so comfort is key.

To facilitate the Organization of your Luggage,  you can print or view the list you’ll find at this link, where you’ll find everything you need to bring when you travel. So you won’t forget anything!

Shoeshiner in Cuba

Where to Stay in Cuba?

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One of the great curiosities of Cuba is the topic of accommodation. Casas particulares, where Cubans offer rooms at a modest price (around 25 euros per night + 5 € per person for breakfast), provide an experience to live during your trip. Having a chat with your hosts will teach you much more about Cuba than a week of reading guides. On my first trip, I improvised the houses where I stayed, but things have changed a bit, and now I think it’s better to book them from Spain.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to give up comfort, there are also hotels in Cuba that are super cool, more in the classic style of accommodation that many are accustomed to. A combination of both styles is perhaps the most advisable.

1. Hotels: Cuba has a variety of hotels, from luxurious beach resorts to historic hotels in cities like Havana and Trinidad. International hotels usually offer modern amenities and services, such as restaurants, bars, pools, and beach access. Some examples include the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the Iberostar Parque Central in Havana, and the Paradisus Varadero in Varadero.

2. Casas Particulares: Casas particulares are an excellent way to experience local life and save money. Cubans rent rooms in their homes and usually provide a welcoming and authentic atmosphere. This is a unique opportunity to interact with locals and learn more about Cuban culture. Casas particulares are common throughout Cuba, and you will find them in cities, beaches, and rural areas.

3. Hostels: In major Cuban cities, such as Havana and Trinidad, you will find hostels that offer shared or private rooms. These are ideal for budget-conscious travelers who want to meet other travelers.

4. Camps: In natural areas and along the coast, there are camps and cabins available for those who want to be closer to nature. Some of them are near national parks and nature reserves.

5. All-Inclusive Resorts: If you’re looking for a beach experience with all the amenities, all-inclusive resorts in destinations like Varadero offer packages that include accommodation, meals, drinks, entertainment, and activities.

6. Rural Hostels: In rural areas of Cuba, there are rural hostels that offer basic accommodation for those exploring the Cuban countryside and want to experience a quieter atmosphere.

It’s important to note that the availability of accommodation may vary depending on the season and location.

Cuban Cigars Shop

What to Buy in Cuba?

Shopping Bag Drawing

Cuba offers a variety of souvenirs and products that you can purchase during your visit. Here’s a list of popular items to buy in Cuba:

Tobacco: Cuba is famous for its high-quality tobacco, especially the tobacco used for Cuban cigars. Habanos are known worldwide and make a popular gift for tobacco enthusiasts.

Rum: Cuban rum is another standout product. Brands like Havana Club are appreciated for their flavor and quality. You can buy rum bottles at local stores.

Handicrafts: Cuba has a thriving community of artisans who produce a wide range of handmade products, such as hats, ceramics, sculptures, and paintings. These items make ideal souvenirs.

Music: Music is a fundamental part of Cuban culture. You can buy CDs, vinyl records, and other products related to Cuban music, such as maracas, drums, and other instruments.

Jewelry: Cuban jewelry, especially those made from local materials like black coral, is popular among tourists.

Clothing and Textiles: Cuban fashion is unique, and you can buy clothing and textiles with authentic Cuban designs, such as guayabera shirts, straw hats, and embroidered clothing.

Art: Cuba has a vibrant artistic scene. You can buy contemporary and traditional artwork in art galleries or directly from local artists.

Coffee and Spices: If you’re a coffee lover, consider bringing Cuban coffee home. You can also buy local spices, such as saffron and pepper.

Ceramics: Ceramic pieces, such as mugs, plates, and vases, are popular items to take home as souvenirs.

Literature: Cuban literature is rich and varied. You can purchase books by Cuban authors or about the history and culture of Cuba.

Perfumes and Cosmetics: Some Cuban perfume and cosmetic brands are known for their unique fragrances. These products are also popular to take home.

Remember, when buying tobacco or rum, ensure that you are purchasing authentic products from legitimate sources, as there are imitations in the market. Also, be aware of customs restrictions regarding the amount of tobacco and alcohol you can take with you when returning to your home country. Enjoy your shopping experience in Cuba and bring home some special memories!

Viñales con sus mogotes

National Holidays in Cuba

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Cuba celebrates several national holidays throughout the year, many of which reflect aspects of its history, culture, and traditions. Here are some of the most important festivities in Cuba:

Revolution Day (January 1): This date commemorates the triumph of the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959. Parades and events take place across the country.

Workers’ Day (May 1): International Workers’ Day is celebrated with parades and activities throughout the country to honor Cuban workers.

National Culture Day (October 20): This festivity commemorates the birth of José Martí, a prominent Cuban writer and independence leader. Cultural and artistic activities take place throughout the country.

Independence Day of Cuba (May 20): On this date, the independence of Cuba from Spain in 1902 is commemorated. Patriotic events and ceremonies occur nationwide.

Armed Rebellion Day (July 26): Celebrated in honor of the assault on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953, a key event in the revolutionary struggle. It is a day of reflection and remembrance of the Revolution.

Revolution Day (December 2): This day commemorates the arrival of the Granma, the yacht that transported Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba in 1956, marking the beginning of the revolutionary struggle.

Christmas (December 25): Although Cuba is predominantly Catholic, the celebration of Christmas has been subject to restrictions in the past but has been allowed again in recent years. Cubans celebrate with masses, festivities, and family gatherings.

New Year’s Eve (December 31): Like in many places around the world, Cubans celebrate the arrival of the New Year with fireworks, parties, and family gatherings.

Santiago de Cuba Carnival (July): The Santiago de Cuba Carnival is one of the most important events in the country. It includes parades of troupes, music, dances, and festivities that attract visitors from around the world.

These festivities offer visitors the opportunity to experience Cuban culture, music, dance, and history. If you plan to visit Cuba during one of these festivities, be sure to inform yourself about the specific events taking place in your area of interest, as celebrations may vary by region.

Coches clásicos Cuba

You might also be interested in these posts about Cuba:

Have you been to Cuba? Tell me what you think of my experience and suggestions to make the most of your time in Cuba. I hope you find these recommendations helpful!

Tobacco Fields

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