April 24, 2024

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Cuba travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go

Cuba travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go

Stunning sugar-soft beaches, twinkling turquoise seas, palm-tree studded mountain trails, muscular castles, and fairly cities brimming with handsome villas, reside bands, salsa dancing, and art. Oh, and those vintage, colourful American cars… Cuba is an enigma, clinging to socialism although discovering its ft in a put up-pandemic entire world. Occur for vivid Havana and its nightlife but choose off into the wilds of this crocodile-formed isle for adventure, wild seashores, cultural quirks, cigars, diving, festivals and foodie spots, and the best issue of all – the warm and witty Cubans.

Recent journey limitations and entry prerequisites

There are no Covid restrictions on entry or on the ground. Travellers ought to attain a visa-like tourist card and fill out the on-line Viajeros kind prior to travelling.

Ideal time to go

Cuba is a terrific vacation spot yr spherical, but is insufferably incredibly hot in July and August (though the town of Santiago de Cuba hosts two riotous, musical festivals in July that are worthy of catching). November to April is high season, when the temperature is superb, and price ranges are higher. Dozens of festivals and occasions are held in this interval: music, dance, ballet, jazz, film, and art. Hurricane year operates from June until finally November.

Top locations and cities


The Spanish conquerors of Cuba grew wealthy on the back of the sugar and tobacco trade and poured their prosperity into 1 of the very best cities in the Americas. As a consequence, Havana is attractive: richly worked with colonial villas, adorned church buildings, flower-loaded patios, Art Deco towers, and 50s mansions. Locate its coronary heart in the streets of the Previous Town, now vivid with indie shops, bars, and cafés. Stroll the ocean promenade, the Malecón, and hail a chrome-festooned classic motor to tour the castles on the bay and the leafy streets of villas and galleries of the Vedado neighbourhood. By night time, look for out rooftop bars, art gallery openings, and boho nightlife places throughout the city.

Viñales Valley

It’s extremely hard not to be seduced by this lush valley of mini mountains, royal palms, tobacco farms, horse-driving farmers, and cutesy B&Bs in rural Cuba. At dawn a mist encircles the columns and porches of homes in Viñales town. Breakfast on eggs and mango as the sun burns by, then venture out on a horse, or by foot, to examine this Jurassic location of Cuba where towering limestone humps, identified as mogotes, dot the valley flooring, a final result of millions of a long time of erosion. At sunset sit on the porch of your B&B sipping a freshly designed mojito. You are going to come across delightful farm-to-fork foodstuff in Viñales, much too.


On the southern coastline of Cuba, the small, cobbled streets of Trinidad spill down the foothills of the Escambray Mountains toward the lovely blue Caribbean Sea. Trinidad is a photographer’s and salsa dancer’s aspiration. Huge mansions, all cinnamon, avocado and ochre-hued and equipped with European marble and chandeliers, ended up developed by sugar barons who reaped great wealth from the slaves who worked their report-busting sugar plantations. Now these ornate structures are galleries, museums, places to eat, and private properties. Obtain some of the most ridiculously rather B&Bs in the country in this article. Dance the evening away to live songs and get well on the close by Caribbean beach front the adhering to working day.

Santa Clara

Che Guevara, the Argentine medical doctor turned Cuban guerrilla, is buried in an elaborate mausoleum sculpture complicated on Santa Clara’s Revolution Plaza. Together with his mortal stays are these that died with him in a failed guerrilla marketing campaign in Bolivia in 1967. Visit the neighbouring Che museum, too, prior to heading off to the Café-Museo Revolución where by, along with a potent cup of Cuban coffee you can soak up the café owner’s incredible Che memorabilia selection. Nightlife pivots all around the theatre and bars of the primary sq. but really do not pass up the excellent El Mejunje alfresco club well-known for dwell tunes, cabaret, and LGBT evenings.

Santiago de Cuba

With winding historic streets that climb from the enormous harbour up to the metropolis centre, you will get a sense of the location of the island’s next town. It is surrounded by monumental mountains, just one of them named following a renowned cocktail. And it was in this fabled place, that Señor Bacardí found out the secrets and techniques of ageing rum 160 yrs in the past and launched the world’s most well-known rum. Check out the households, museums, and tunes spots of this lively metropolis – additional Caribbean in experience than distant Havana and soak up the dwell African and Spanish rooted music in town centre venues, daiquiris and mojitos in hand! Fidel Castro’s tomb is uncovered at the city’s outstanding marble cemetery.

Best below-the-radar destinations


Baracoa is Cuba’s finest-retained top secret. 6 hundred miles from Havana, it is a trek to get there, but oh so worth it. You’ll climb mountains, bathe in crystal-apparent rivers, swing in hammocks, take a look at cacao farms, research for aboriginal hideouts, and style some of the finest meals in Cuba – fish bathed in coconut, and a mashed coconut, honey, and nut dessert wrapped in a palm cone. Dance it all off in the little bars and Casa de la Trova (a community meeting household or dance corridor) fringing the very small major sq..


Down on the south coastline of Cuba – with a person road in and just one highway out – is the Bay of Pigs, infamous for the US tried invasion of the island in 1961. But it is not just a site for background buffs: the h2o is the most attractive in Cuba, aquamarine flecked with inky indigo blue, household to vibrant fish, and the odd war wreck. Snorkel, dive, and bike to key beach locations alongside the jagged limestone coast below, backed by swamp peppered with Cuban crocs and colourful endemic birdlife.


Distant Gibara is a fishing port of white homes and jumbled rooves crammed around a modest harbour in northeast Cuba. It bursts into daily life for the annual intercontinental cinema competition in August which draws in Cuban and global stars. Arrive for the caves that can be explored with guides, the tasty regional fare rooted in fish and shellfish, and a highlight – the likelihood to dive in a collection of beautiful sinkholes scattered in pristine jungle options all over city.

Very best factors to do

Remain in a Cuban B&B

Handful of areas in the earth offer you extravagant digs for very honest prices. In Cuba you can bed down in villas, mansions, fincas (farmhouse stays) and Art Nouveau apartments for unthinkable prices. But, far more than that, the Cuban family members who host global company will be the stars of your stay. The photos of magnificent interiors will get a zillion likes on the ‘gram, but the recollections of your heat, loquacious hosts with 101 gripping tales to notify will linger extended.

Retain the services of a car or truck

Lonely mountain roadways with epic surroundings, isolated Spanish colonial cities and rural villages, virgin white sand beach locations with not a different soul in sight, and quirky sights uncovered away from tourist hotspots. All this is achievable in a retain the services of auto, and a lot more. You’ll will need to reserve, and fuel prices are climbing, but there’s no much better way to explore off the beaten keep track of specifically as the community coach community is constrained. Convey your very own snorkel, and lunch!

Consider a guided artwork tour

One particular of the amazing hallmarks of Cuba’s 1959 revolution was a substantial expense in the arts. You are going to uncover globe-course art in Cuba, Havana in particular, and a guided tour to the households and studios of some of the finest artists at perform on the island is a fascinating introduction to the fertile arts’ scene, and life in Cuba in normal. Operates from Cuba’s dwelling artists are discovered in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Artwork and MoMa, and London’s Tate. Pick out your medium, or enable the guide pick out for you.

Finding about

Employing a car or truck is not low cost. Use the public mentor company Víazul (bookable on the web inside and outdoors the nation) which operates regular buses from Viñales in the west to Baracoa in the east, with routes out to popular seashore resorts and metropolitan areas. New air-conditioned educate carriages introduced in 2019 but the community is antiquated. Train tickets can be acquired at any Viajeros company office environment on the island (dollars purchase). Accredited and unlicensed taxis can be used to get to distant places.

How to get there

TUI is the only airline flying immediate from the British isles to Cuba (Varadero beach resort) from Manchester. From London you can fly with Air France, Iberia, and Air Europa via other European towns, or with a pair of spending budget airways including Spain’s Globe2Fly and Iberojet.

Income conserving suggestion

Wifi is accessible at community wifi hotspots and obtainable by scratch playing cards purchased from phone (Etecsa) offices or by resellers on the avenue. Buy a Cuban SIM card (which can be acquired on the internet ahead of you fly) and choose it up at Havana’s intercontinental airport. A 30-working day Turista SIM card expenditures US$25 and incorporates 6GB of information, 100 texts and 100 minutes of phone calls. Top-ups can be bought on the internet.


What’s the climate like?

The temperature is easily scorching and breezy from November by means of to April. Each day tropical rains get started in May possibly and run to Oct, but even these downpours evaporate in seconds. As described previously mentioned, July-August can get also stiflingly hot for a lot of.

What time zone is it in?

Cuba is five several hours driving GMT.

What currency do I need to have?

Cuba united its twin currencies in January 2021 the Cuban Peso (CUP) is now the sole formal currency, but the financial condition in Cuba is at the moment difficult – with locals making use of MLC (a currency which Cuban will have to upload to their lender cards by shopping for international currencies) for some purchases. This is an fantastic overview.

For a getaway, carry a lot of Euros in hard cash (a lot more than you feel you will will need) to pay for lodging on the go, cafe foods, and non-public transportation and expert services. Bring a debit or credit rating card (with no connections to the United States connect with your bank to verify) to invest in necessities these kinds of as bottled h2o, medicines, hygiene products and solutions and some meals at “MLC” (Moneda Libremente Convertible) stores, exactly where dollars is not accepted. Financial institution playing cards are used to spend for car or truck hire the island’s only coach assistance, Víazul activities this kind of as diving, sailing excursions and cover strolling and accommodation and meals at govt-owned motels and places to eat, as well as to withdraw money in Cuban Pesos (CUP). The CUP is utilised to buy road meals, restaurant foods, museum entrances, regional transport, and prepare transportation. Adjust a tiny amount of money of Euros into CUP on arrival. Black marketplace premiums for your Euros will make your vacation considerably more affordable.

What language is spoken?

Spanish is the formal language.

Everything else I should really know?

Cuba is a communist, a person-party point out. Do study up on the politics and economics in advance of you visit. Bring all medicines you may well need with you.