A Trip to Cuba

March 20, 2019

Cuba is an untouched country with the right mix of natural beauty, history, and culture.

The biggest airports in Cuba are Havana, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos. We flew into Santa Clara. Tourists typically fly to Cuba via Mexico or as of 2016, through the U.S. (usually through Miami). Some European airlines, like Air France and Swiss Air, fly to Cuba. However, these flights may be more expensive.

There are two types of visas that can get you entry into Cuba – a tourist visa that you apply for at the Cuban embassy in your country, and tourist cards that you obtain at airports in Mexico or by applying online via a US airline. However, depending on your nationality, you may only be eligible for one of these visas. This information is constantly changing therefore it’s best

Pro tips for getting around Cuba:

Traveling around: The easiest way to travel between cities in Cuba is pre-booked taxis. We used ‘Taxi Vinales’, which was very reliable and affordable. The exact price depends on the number of people and the duration (e.g., ~20-25 CUCs per person for a 2 hour drive). You should submit a request online before getting to Cuba – they are very prompt in getting back to you. It will help to have your Cuba travel itinerary ready in advance. This company accepts U.S. issued credit cards (which not all companies do).

Accommodation: There are only few hotels in Cuba, so we decided to stay in homestays booked through Airbnb (links here for Trinidad and Havana). These are houses where the owner and family live in one part of the house and the rest is rented out. It was a pretty unique experience. Best of all, the hosts at these homestays cook you a fresh breakfast every morning (including some of the freshest fruit) – a great way to start your day!

Currency: Most credit and debit cards don’t work in Cuba. It’s easiest to carry Euros or Canadian Dollars and exchange them for the local currency (the CUC or Cuban Convertible Peso). The CUC is pegged to the USD and the current exchange rate is around 1 CUC = 0.9 USD. You can exchange USDs too, but the locations are limited and there’s an additional 10% fee. Note that locals use a different currency from tourists (CUP or the Cuban Peso).

Connectivity: In general, expect to be disconnected throughout the country. Some network carriers have spotty service, but there are no international roaming packs, so be aware that any connectivity is expensive. The bigger cities have ‘hot-spots’ where you can purchase wifi cards if you want to be connected. 1 hour access usually costs 3 CUC (or USD 2.7).