When we travel to a country for the first time it is always important to inform ourselves about what we should know about the country before traveling. When traveling to Havana it is good to know certain cultural aspects, Cuba is not a typical Caribbean destination, and upon landing you will not only get to know a beautiful tropical country full of history, but you will feel and vibrate with each story Cubans tell you, with each person you meet and with each place you visit in Havana.
You may have read hundreds of news, blogs or travel guides about Cuba, but be sure that when you set foot on the island the amazement and surprise will be your travel companions during your trip to Cuba with Espíritu Travel but before traveling to Havana we want to give you some recommendations and make your landing easier with some tips.
Continue reading if you want to know some tips to keep in mind before traveling to Havana.
Eight tips to prepare your trip to Havana
Here are eight tips that can help you better prepare and manage your expectations for your trip to Havana.
Do i need a visa to travel to cuba?
The answer is yes! Although it is actually a “Tourist Card” that must be processed in advance of your trip. Cuban authorities require to have a Cuban Tourist Card that can be purchased at the airport, during the check-in for your flight.
As your travel date approaches you need to make sure that you have the necessary documentation to travel to Cuba. Espíritu Travel will guide you thought this process to make it as simple as possible.
1. What kind of currency do you use in cuba?
The second tip to visit Havana that I am going to give you is that you learn to differentiate the two currencies of Cuba, the CUC or convertible peso and the national currency or Cuban peso. Tourists only pay in CUCs so it is important to know how to differentiate both currencies.
Normally the change is usually 1CUC = 1 $ and 1 CUC is equivalent to 24 Cuban pesos. CUC coins are always silver, and the “convertible peso” label appears on the bills, so you will have no problem differentiating them. Always check the change!
We recommend that you change your dollars before traveling to Cuba.
2. Learn some spanish
In general, you will be able to speak English without any problem in Havana since most Cubans speak some English but the official language of the country is Spanish, so you can run into Cubans who do not speak any English.
We recommend that you learn some basic words such as “buenos días” (Good morning), “gracias” (thank you), “Dónde está el baño?” (where is the bathroom)… Espíritu Travel local guide will accompany you during your trip to Cuba so you won’t have to worry about translating Spanish but is always good to know a few words.
3. The internet in cuba is not very accessible
There is no broadband internet access in Cuba. Since you will not have internet at your disposal at all times, we recommend you download the map of Cuba in the maps.me app. It works offline! If you need internet in Cuba there are WIFI cards that you can buy by the hour. You can get your WiFi cards at WiFi shops or telcom booths.
These cards are usable only in WiFi booths sparsely distributed across Havana. There are two different WIFI cards, one for 1 CUC ($ 1.40) for an hour and the other for 5 CUC ($ 7) for five hours. As tourists, just make sure you get the bigger card (the small one’s for locals).
4. Your best option of accommodation: casas particualres
Casas Particulares are private houses licensed by the government under strict conditions to rent en-suite rooms to foreigners. A sort of micro bed and breakfast that has been set up in people’s homes.
Staying in a casa particular is without a doubt one of the best ways to get to know the real Cuban life, know their culture and experience the warmth of its people. Cuba is a country that has much to tell and the greatest strength that the island has, is the spirit and the stories of its people. So, don’t be shy and sit down to the table and ask your Cuban hosts about life in Cuba!
Click here to learn more about Cuban “casas particulares”
5. ¿How to move around havana?
There are various modes of transportation in Havana, Coco Taxi, convertible taxi, shared taxi, trishaw and bus. Havana is full of vintage cars. You know why? Americans living or traveling in Cuba escaped the island on January 1, 1959, during the Cuban Revolution. Their properties (cars, houses …) were confiscated and distributed to the population. The best way to get around Havana is using one of these old cars that they call “almendrones”.
You can also get around in a taxi and you will recognize them because they are all yellow, but the experience is more spectacular when you travel the streets of Havana in a classic car from the 50s, don’t you think?
During your trip to Havana with Espíritu Travel you will have the opportunity to tour its streets on an “almendrón” accompanied by your local guide during sunset. It will be an unforgettable experience! Click here to learn more about classic cars from Cuba.
6. Best time to travel to havana
The best months to travel to Cuba are from December to April since it is not as hot as in the months of summer. When choosing the clothes to pack for your trip to Havana, you have to bear in mind that the humidity exceeds 90% and that the cold is almost non-existent except on nights from September to December. We recommend that you wear cotton clothing that is not yellow or dark, as they attract mosquitoes, wear comfortable shoes and do not forget to bring a hat.
Don’t forget to pack a small first aid kit in your suitcase! Products are scarce in Cuba and medicines more so. Check out our article Best time to travel to Cuba for more information.
7. Save a day for a day trip
Less than two hours from Havana you can enjoy a day at Varadero beach or a horseback excursion through the magnificent Viñales National Park and UNESCO World Heritage.
Take a look at our suggested trip plan Long Weekend in Havana where you could add an extension to visit Viñales or relax at the whites sand beaches of Varadero.
8. Plugs, voltage, water and other things to know
The voltage is A 110V. As for water … NEVER drink from the tap and always do it with bottled water. If you have to withdraw money in Cuba, do it at the ATMs.
You have not come to Havana to try the same food that you could eat on the corner of your street at home. Try Cuban food! Learn more about Cuban gastronomy here.
Planning your trip to Cuba with Espíritu Travel is warranty for a genuine and culturally inspiring experience in the Pearl of the Caribbean. Havana is a very peculiar place, with a strong personality. Cubans are the greatest treasure of Havana: talk to them, be kind, ask and respect! Just open your mind, enjoy, dance and eat.