Welcome to Cuba You have just landed in the heart of the Caribbean, on a mythical island that has a lot to offer you. Here, the sun reigns all year long and the omnipresent music takes you right away in a festive and relaxed atmosphere.
Want to enjoy beautiful landscapes? Get out your swimsuit and head to the most beautiful beaches of Cuba like those of Varadero or Cayo Coco. Crystal clear waters and coconut trees are waiting for you to bubble, or swim among the fish. If you prefer hiking, put on your walking shoes and go to the regions of Viñales or Barranco. You long walks in the rainforest, surrounded by flowers of all species where only the song of birds will bother you. After these nature getaways, you will retrace the history of Cuba by admiring the picturesque streets of Havana, Trinidad, Santa Clara or Santiago. These cities offer several exciting museums, as well as monuments where the Cuban revolution still resonates. Colonial architecture offers real hidden treasures on every street corner. A simple walk in the city then turns into a journey in time. Cuba is also a cocktail of traditions where music gives you an appointment at any time. Cuba free, American car, artisanal cigar, salsa on the beach, no it’s not clichés, but what awaits you on your next vacation.
- The essential thing to know
- How to dress
- Where to stay
- Before leaving
- To take away
The essential thing to know
To discover the real Cuba, stay in a casa particular (room at the inhabitant) rather than in a hotel complex.
Always carry with you toilet paper (or wipes) and hydroalcoholic solution, and drink only bottled water
The roads are sometimes very bad. On distances less than 150 km, the taxi is cheaper.
In this heavily bureaucratic system, you will not always get a clear answer to a simple question: insist with politeness and a smile.
Cuba is a complex country subject to various passions. Leave your mind open, and expect to be surprised and bewildered more often than your turn.
How to dress
Bermudas, sandals, light dresses, shirts and t-shirts are perfect for the hot and humid climate of Cuba.
Theaters and theaters generally refuse men in shorts. Casual outfits are to be avoided if you have to do paperwork. The island has only two nudist beaches, frequented by foreigners.
Where to stay
Cuba has thousands of casas particulares. For the most popular, especially those listed by Lonely Planet years guides, book. The booking is also recommended for all-inclusive hotels, in order to obtain better rates.
Casas particulares Rooms that individual Cubans rent to foreigners at affordable prices.
Campismos In rural area, cheap and rustic accommodation, usually in bungalows.
Hotels Cuba hotels are state owned (but can be managed by foreigners); Rates and standing vary, from small budget in Soviet architecture to luxury in a colonial home.
Resorts These large, state-of-the-art international clubs offer all-inclusive stays.
Two currencies circulate in Cuba: convertible pesos (CUC) and pesos (or moneda nacional, MN). A convertible is worth 25 pesos. Foreigners pay mainly in CUC.
The Cuban economy works mostly with cash: outside international hotels, the bank card is not used much.
If this communist economy does not pay in the bargain, it can sometimes be possible to negotiate, especially with the owners of casas particulares (if for example you stay long enough in the same house) and some small independent traders.
Tipping plays a vital role in Cuba: the majority of Cubans are paid in moneda nacional (MN), a bonus of 1 CUC (25 MN) or more is a valuable boost.
Resorts / hotels In the bellhop, maids and waiters. Musicians Always have small cuts for musicians who come to liven up restaurants. Restaurants 10% are the rule; go up to 15% if the service is excellent. Taxis 10% when using the taximeter; if not, agree in advance on the price.
Paladares and casas particulares It is in private restaurants and homestays that we eat the best in Cuba, with a bonus of quality service and gargantuan portions.
Hotels & Resorts The all-inclusive resorts offer international cuisine buffets.
State Restaurants The cuisine and the service vary greatly. Often cheaper than in paladares.
Cubans working in tourism generally have good command of English and sometimes French. Otherwise, the more you will master the language of Cervantes, the more your stay will be rewarding.
Be sure to stock up your bank account before you leave, in case you run out of cash.
Take a copy of your medical insurance to present at the airport.
When booking your flight, check that the tourist card is included with your ticket.
Take some salsa lessons and learn at least some basic Spanish.
To take away
- A Spanish dictionary or conversation guide.
- Electrical adapters for European plugs.
- A money belt that fits well at the waist.
- A small medical kit, analgesics and any treatment in progress.
- Insect repellent, sunscreen and sunglasses.
- A good stock of cash