Cuba is a dream destination for many and also for us. And that is mainly due to the beautiful beaches and the southern atmosphere that you can find there. Of course, Cuba is also known for its colorful Havana, where you can still drive around in real old-timers. And for lovers of cigars and rum it is also the place to be. You can fly directly to Varadero from Europe. However, anyone who thinks Cuba is a budget destination will be disappointed. Because of its tourist currency (CUC), Cuba has managed to keep its prices high for tourists.
BEST TRAVEL TIME
Although you can travel to Cuba all year round, the period after the rainy season is the most ideal time. This period starts in November and ends in April. This period is of course more expensive than the low season.
Flying to Cuba doesn’t have to be that expensive, despite its 10 hours of flying. Flights from Europe go directly to Varadero. You pay around 350 euros for a single ticket in economy. These prices can increase in the high season. If you want to go to Havana you can take a bus from Varadero. This is the easiest and cheapest way. Because from Amsterdam you have a direct flight to Havana, but unfortunately it still costs around 700 euros for a single ticket at the moment. Slightly overpriced in our opinion.
You make Cuba as expensive as you want. For example, you can chose an All-in hotel from 800 euros per week (which is not so bad because you do not have to pay extra for food and drinks). Or you can book a room with Airbnb. This is possible in Cuba starting at 15 euros for a night in the cities and 20 euros at the seaside resorts. You can find a hostel in Cuba from 4 to 12 euros per night. For a normal room in a hotel or a Casas particulares you pay an average of 60 euros for a night. Something you really shouldn’t book in Cuba as the Airbnb’s are of good quality.
RENT A CAR
Who wants to rent a car in Cuba should not be afraid of the traffic. Because in this country, the traffic rules are the same at home. With the exception that you are allowed a maximum of 100 km / h on the highways. Your driving license from home is also valid in Cuba. Renting a car in Cuba is possible from 70 euros with TUI. This is a fairly high amount. But that is mainly due to a much more limited supply than in other countries. A roadtrip in Cuba is certainly not cheap!
If you are not in a hurry and comfort is not really important, the train in Cuba is an ideal way to cross this country. Because every city is connected by a railway. Make sure you book these trains early enough. This is because only a limited number of places are given away to tourists. Extra tip: if you are going for a long ride, bring your own toilet paper. It can happen it’s not available on the toilet of the train.
Although there are some city buses in this country, they are not really recommended. This is mainly because they drive irregularly and are always overcrowded. Also pay attention to your belongings in these buses. The Viazul buses, on the other hand, are much more reliable and also quite cheap. For example, you pay 10 euros for a ride from Varadero to Havana. Which is not much for a ride of almost 3 hours. You have to book these buses beforehand.
Although you can find an airport at every larger city, it is not always of the known European quality. Yet they are safe. The question is whether this method is the most ecological way of transport in this country. Since the distances are not really big, it is better to opt for another way of transport. The longest flight from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, however, only takes an hour and a half. Also book your flights well on time! Because these are also sold out quickly. The easiest way to search for tickets is via Skyscanner.
WHAT TO DO IN CUBA?
FOOD IN CUBA
Eating and drinking in Cuba is not that expensive compared to European terms. You can eat well for a 10 euros per person. Cuban food mainly consists of beans and rice. Which is then combined with chicken, pork and sometimes fish. Eating healthy in Cuba is a bit more difficult as vegetables do not play such an important role in Cubans’ eating habits. You will not find a large chain of McDonalds here. After all, it’s Cuba. You also better ask the price of your dish because they are not always mentioned on the menu. Keep in mind that you also pay 12 percent vat (tax) on your bill afterwards.
DOCUMENTS FOR CUBA
You need a visa for Cuba. You can normally obtain this visa from your airline at the airport. This is a blank visa that you simply have to fill in with a pen. Please note, not every airline does this. So be sure to check this. If they do not provide this, you have to get your visa yourself at the consulate of Cuba. Watch out! If you are traveling from America, you need the permission of an American travel agency or the government. This is due to the increased controls between the countries. A European driving license is also simply valid in Cuba.
VACCINES FOR CUBA
You do need some vaccines for Cuba. You can get this from your doctor or the subtropical institute. You need a vaccine for Yellow Fever and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio). For a longer stay in Cuba, a vaccine of Rabies (rabies) is also recommended. You must also carry all these vaccines with you in the international vaccines booklet. You can easily obtain this at the subtropical institute. The chance that you have to show it is small, but you never know. In the touristic regions such as Varadero an exception can be made for these vaccines. For more information you can always look here.
In Cuba you have two different coins. The CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) for the tourists and the CUP (Cuban Peso) for the locals. As a tourist you will therefore almost only have to deal with the CUC. 1 CUC currently corresponds to 0.87 Euros. In Cuba it is recommended to always have cash in your pocket. Because you can not pay everywhere with your credit card, often only in the hotels. You can withdraw money with a credit card (not a regular card) or you can also exchange euros at the airport.
When it comes to the internet, Cuba is a real nightmare and certainly if you need the internet like us to do your job. Free Wi Fi is almost nowhere to be found. And if there is already Wi Fi you have to buy an entrance ticket of 1 CUC (80 cents) per hour. And although you have to pay for this WiFi, it is also not that good. When purchasing these tickets, your passport will also be requested for verification. Buying a SIM card with 4G is not yet possible for tourists in 2020.
Most employees in the service sectors such as restaurants and hotels have very low incomes and actually live for the tips they receive from tourists. Although this is not mandatory, it is still recommended to tip about 10 percent. You give about 2 CUC to a maid. You also tip a guide between 2 and 5 CUC. Even though some Cuban guides are trying to get a little more with lying that this would be a mandatory of 10 percent. Because it is not!
Compared to some other poor countries, Cuba is a very safe country for tourists. Of course you also have smaller crimes that you also find in our cities. But if you take good care of your belongings you will not be robbed that easily. The use of the safe in your room is recommended. Also, do not keep all your valuables in the same place. And of course, don’t show off all your expensive items. Leave them at home.