As you plan your trip to Cuba
Planst you a trip to Cuba or would like to travel there? Cuba is a tourist country with a very special Flair and a dream of many travelers. We were in the year 2014, about 15 days on your own in Cuba, with the Bus on the road. In this post I have compiled a few important Cuba tips & a lot of information for the preparation of a round-trip.
Here you will find my Cuba trip reports and here is my Cuba travel guide recommendation.
*This article is being constantly updated (last updated in December 2017)
Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean. The capital is Havana. The island is bordered to the North-West to the Gulf of Mexico, to the South by the Caribbean sea and to the North by the Atlantic ocean. In Cuba you can swim in three different ocean. The 11 million people living on the island, including around 2 million in Havana. Cuba is known for music and dance, for the Caribbean Flair, colonial buildings, Cubans, cigars, beautiful beaches and of course the Havana Rum.
On the island, everything is in a state of upheaval since the ice age, between Cuba and the United States is officially over. Almost half a century, received the US unilateral economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba in an upright position. The number of tourists, especially German tourists – has increased since 2016 drastically. All want to experience the real Cuba, before companies from the US relocate to the island.
For entry to Cuba you need a passport, at least valid for six months.
For travel to Cuba, a visa is also necessary, the so-called tourist card. This must be in front of the entry to be purchased and is at the Cuban Embassy in Germany, travel agents or tour operators, as well as some of the airlines available at the airport. In the case of a package tour, you will receive the card directly from the tour operator. As an Individual traveller you will have to apply for the tourist card, however, on their own, directly in the Cuban Embassy. With the tourist card You can 30 days in Cuba to stay. A one-time extension of another 30 days is possible.
Note: The tourist card you should check prior to departure. You need to have on the back a stamp of the travel Agency. If this is missing, it is not accepted and that you have to buy the Cuban customs a new. At the point of entry the tourist card is registered with a stamp, so no separate stamp in the passport.
Each traveler is required at the time of entry, a valid health insurance for the entire duration of the stay to prove. Recognised by all private travel health insurance, the Cuba cover. The obligation to provide proof of an insurance policy or a certificate of insurance enough. For the international health insurance there are different providers. You're not supposed to have these completed beforehand, and no evidence, you have to entry an insurance policy to the Cuban airports to complete (2-3 CUC per day).
All the latest travel and security information for Cuba, you can find at the Federal foreign office.
On the island there are very good bus connections, for example, with the Viazul. In the buses you have to pay only with hard currency (CUC) – therefore, the route network is rather aimed at tourists. The buses, the Locals are very crowded and there are for tourist places. The Viazul runs between all major cities. In the high season, better book a place in advance, otherwise you have to wait occasionally for the next Bus, you can also take a ride only after 4 hours. The disadvantage of these buses is, however, that there is no contact with the Cuban people. Here you are sitting only among the tourists but air-conditioned (warm clothes recommended). For example, From Matanzas to Havana, we drive almost two hours and the journey costs the equivalent of about 5 Euro.
The shopping opportunities in Cuba are mostly limited to the basic food. Often, however, there are kiosks on the roadside, where you can buy water. Fruits and vegetables in each small Market stall – meat and fish is usually sold on the roadside, out of the window.
Cuba is not a Gourmet country and the food is rather minimalist. We mostly ate in the Casas are with the families. The Breakfast was always the same. There was coffee, omelette, and fruit in Abundance. In the evening there was either fish or meat with rice or beans to a vegetable. For dessert, there were primarily fruit or a homemade candy.
There are direct flights from Germany and we have flown with Air Berlin to Cuba. It is advisable to compare the prices, for example with Skyscanner. Here you can the period of time for arrival and departure, leave open, just in a certain month, locate and an Overview of the best period, get. A good Overview of flight prices, you don't get with Google Flights, you can book it, however. Who has found a cheap flight, you should again take a look at the Website of the Airline, because there can be cheap deals, and especially additional fees, such as additional costs when booking with credit card.
Consider in advance exactly how much money you need. The Euro can you directly at the airport in Varadero in the currency, the CUC, Peso Convertible, swap or in any major city (for example, in Havana). In the smaller towns there are no banks and it is difficult or impossible to come to money. Here, you're going to need a lot of cash to travel. Nevertheless, you should try to leave the cash in the accommodation and to hide it well. Cuba is regarded as safe, but you never know. I am per day, with about 15-25 Euro. As a accommodation in a Casa Particular (a double room) is included, as well as what you need the day otherwise. We swapped half of our money directly at the airport, and the other half of our stop in Havana. With a credit card you can pay almost nothing, except in the large Hotels and Restaurants, but there we were not on the road.
For gifts, you'll find that Cuba always grateful buyers find. In each city we were asked by the Locals to pins. Ball-point pen or pens of any kind are to Cuba a scarce commodity and therefore, always welcome. But also sweets or cosmetics can bring any Cuban heart to the rays.
In the accommodation there are no or hardly any Internet. We had in our entire trip a single Time, Internet in Cuba. In the larger cities, such as Havana, there are Internet cafes with very slow connection. In the larger Hotels, there are also, in part, to the Internet, but here it is as a Backpacker rather less on-the-go.
Cubans are very open, sociable and curious people. Many of them have come simply to shop and want to sell it afterwards or offer anything – be it cigars or a Restaurant to offer. These so-called “Jineteros” (tab), hold usually only because where many tourists gather, such as in Havana. In the smaller towns it is usually left alone, or you really want to chat only. Cubans are very resourceful to come to the tourist currency. Often, they also offer classic Photo with a cigar and a request for a few CUC.
In our Backpacker Tour to Cuba we had no rental car and we drove the entire route with the Bus. This has worked wonderfully. The road conditions are miserable and the roads are littered with holes with a punch. On fast roads you should drive more slowly, because horse-drawn carriages and cyclists are not uncommon. On the Internet however, there are a couple of information on the topic of car hire, such as Cubacars or Havana cars.
Cuba has a subtropical climate. Throughout the year the temperature is around 28 degrees. From mid-may until the beginning of December it is very hot and tropical showers fall. In the Caribbean and also in Cuba is from July to the end of October, the official hurricane season. The best time to travel from a climate standpoint, it is in our Winter – from mid-November until the end of April. Then the climate is bearable. One way or the other you should be sufficient with mosquito repellent and possibly. Mosquito net cover. In some Casas, we had a net over the bed, but I wouldn't count on me dear.
The most well-known Rum brand Havana Club. Mojito Cuba's national drink, and my absolute Highlight. In our trip through Cuba, there was really no day that we don't have at least two Mojitos to drink. No matter in which Casa we had, Rum was plentiful. Every street kiosk with the small range, had at least 5 different Rums in a high number of pieces. The prices for a bottle are 2 Euro. Unfortunately, you may run a Liter of Rum, therefore, one is to so much as to drink there as much as possible.
Cuba is a rather safe country. We – two girls – came to us on our Backpacker Tour not once threatened or unsafe. Nevertheless, you need to keep an eye on your valuables, as everywhere in the world. In the Casa Particulares are you living directly in and with the family. Accommodation two clothes, we stole the pieces out of the backpack. That was the only little incident and you can't really blame the people somehow.
The national language in Cuba is Spanish. English is hardly spoken. Especially in the smaller towns away from the tourist strongholds (such as Varadero) understand the Cubans, not a single word of English. Therefore, it is essential that you learn some of the vocabulary you dictionary take.
The Atlantic or Caribbean? With over 5,000 kilometers of coastline, the decision is difficult. In Cuba there are countless gorgeous beaches. My absolute favorite beaches were on the island of Cajo Jutías and in the small coves in La Boca to Playa Ancon. The Playa Ancon, to count according to the travel guide to the beautiful beaches of the island, has thrilled me less. The small coves are beautiful with a distance, and, above all, lonely. At the Playa Ancon, there is also a Hotel, which some tourists mix.
110 Volt with flat contacts. So you need an Adapter.
Taxi driving in Cuba is favorable. Here you should insist that the taxi meter is turned on or the price before you negotiate. For the equivalent of a total of 10 euros, a taxi driver took us to Vinales to Cajo Jutías dangers (travel time about 40 Min) , been waiting all day and in the evening back home. The average salary for a Cuban is less than 15 Euro in the month. It is why Cuba is so understandable that every Local is a taxi driver, or at least one of the family. If you ride a rickshaw, then negotiate well in advance the price and get niemas just like that.
In Cuba there are government Hotels and Casa Particulares (guest houses). Even if in our travel year 2014, the selection of accommodation on the popular hotel booking platforms was very low, there is today an ever-growing selection. The travel planning and the booking of accommodation is becoming easier and easier. We slept in (until the last night in Varadero, we wanted to be close to the airport) only in Casa Particulares, which I would do again. We did not book these guesthouses in advance, but mostly a result of the on-the-spot, often with the help of the guest house families.
For me, there is no better way, the real life of the Cubans to get to know, as in private accommodation (the so-called Casa Particulaes) to spend the night. All of the accommodations that have a license are marked at the front door with a blue anchor and not overlooked. It is a room, a private area with a small roof terrace – definitely contact with the families and cleanliness is guaranteed. We had booked the first accommodation in advance, since we only landed at 19 and then not even a accommodation wanted looking for. The rest of the nights we have booked and this has worked wonderfully.
- Many of the private accommodations & Hotels on Tripadvisor (incl. Reviews)
- VOUCHER: Here, I'll give You a 30 € voucher for Airbnb
- Casa Particular in Cuba Hostal find
The selection of Hotels online is greater, this applies especially to popular places such as Havana, Matanzas, Sancti Spíritus and Villa Clara. Many more Hotels in Booking.com you can find also here.
- 25 Euro prize money back: On this Link you will receive in Booking.com after the trip, 25 euros back to your credit card
Cuba's economy is functioning with two units of currency: the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Peso Convertible (CUC), the Cuban currency currency abroad is worthless. In Cuba You pay as a traveler with the CUC, the to the Dollor-linked convertible Peso. The actual Cuban Peso (Peso cubano or CUP) is of relatively little value. The one is a currency, the other for the Locals (1 CUP = 24 CUP). Today, the CUC serves as a means of Settlement between Cuban companies and as a means of payment in transactions for high-quality consumer goods. Who transfer as Cubans, not tourists or well-Known abroad, the Dollar, remains much failed and is at risk of poverty. An average income of Cubans earned in the month of 455 CUP (about 15 Euro). So he can go shopping on the market, going by Bus, but consumer goods such as hair shampoo, shower gel, etc. can be obtained on the island, only against CUC. He goes with his salary in the currency exchange he gets the equivalent of $ 19. Anyone who travels to Cuba, not the Cuban Peso-CUP is normally in contact.
The difference to Germany is during the summer time minus 5 hours – otherwise, minus 6 hours. Here you can find a lot more to the time zone of Cuba.
Cuba is the Land of the Tobaccos. Cigars in quantities on the island and at really low prices. You should definitely in the West to Pinar del Rio and the tobacco plantations to visit there. 80% of the tobacco production in Cuba come from this Region. It's really worth it. At the exit you can run 20 loose cigars without evidence, as well as up to 50, if you are in a closed, sealed and with the official hologram provided with the original packaging. More than 50 you need the original invoice of a state-approved business.
- When you leave the country you have to pay 25 CUC Departure tax.
- The import and export of local currency is forbidden.
- The second half of the tourist card will be forfeited upon departure as proof that you are leaving the island. So well keep.
On our Backpacker trip through Cuba I had this Michael Müller Cuba travel guide (circulation: 4. July 2017), with 800 pages and the extra weight was worth it. Umfassbar a lot of info about all the necessary topics of a true Cuba expert. You can find a lot of tips, Restaurant, Bar, or beach recommendations, as well as in-depth knowledge of Cuban history.
Another very good Cuba travel guide, Stefan Loose travel guide Cuba (edition: 4 also. February 2015) or DuMont travel guide, travel guide Cuba (circulation . January 2017)
These instructions for use, for Cuba, is also of great value.
The trip to Cuba (I was with a girlfriend on the go) is one of the most beautiful experiences of the last trip and I think fondly back to our time. Here are my best tips and Highlights in Cuba: