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Colourful buildings and cars in Havana, Cuba

Cuba Travel Guide

Cuba is a captivating Caribbean island with a rich cultural heritage. Stroll through the vibrant streets of Havana, where classic cars and colourful architecture transport you back in time. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Havana and get lost in its narrow cobblestone streets, adorned with colonial buildings and lively plazas. Indulge in the pulsating rhythms of salsa music and witness the passionate dance performances that fill the air with energy. From the picturesque coastal town of Trinidad to the lush landscapes of Viñales, Cuba's diverse beauty captivates at every turn. Immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the Cuban people and savour the flavours of traditional cuisine, like the iconic Cuban sandwich and refreshing mojitos. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes, Cuba is a treasure trove for travellers seeking an unforgettable journey.

One of the highlights of travelling in Cuba is the opportunity to connect with its storied past and vibrant present. Visit the iconic sites of the Cuban Revolution, such as the Plaza de la Revolución and the Museum of the Revolution, and gain insight into the country's tumultuous history. Delve into the world of cigar production with a visit to a tobacco farm in the lush countryside. Explore the natural wonders of Cuba, from the crystal-clear waters of Varadero to the pristine beaches of Cayo Coco. Dive into the underwater paradise of the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) and witness the vibrant marine life that thrives in its protected waters. Cuba's rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty offers a captivating travel experience that will leave you enchanted and longing to return.

Key Facts

Time Zone

GMT-5

Money

Cuban Peso (CUP)

Dialing Code

+53

  • The vibrant and colourful culture is so full of life and laughter that you won’t want to leave.
  • Brush up on your Spanish skills whilst touring the perfect paradise beaches.
  • Do a whole host of amazing activities such as skydiving, mountain trekking, fishing, scuba diving, horse riding and more!
  • See Havana, the old colonial city and its 1950’s cars!
  • The weather is brilliant!

Located on the North-west coast, Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the political and administrative hub of the country. One of the most vibrant and energetic cities in the Caribbean, Havana offers visitors a beautiful mix of history, architecture and culture. Home to over 2.1 million Cubans there is always a festival or performing arts event to keep you entertained from dawn until dusk.

  • Hang out with the locals at a neighbourhood Afro-Cuban dance performance.
  • Relax on the golden sands of Cuba’s fabulous beaches.
  • Take in the best view of Cuba at the Mirador de Bacunayagua outlook.
  • Discover the ancient Cuban Indian art of Cueva Punta del Este.
  • Dive deep into the reefs and wrecks at Maria del Gorda and Pinar del Rio.
  • Visit a real Cuban cigar factory to see how these world-famous items are made.
  • Take a tour through lush mountain regions and coffee plantations.

Contrary to what you might expect of a Caribbean island, Cuban food is notoriously bland and not spicy. This may be due to the fact that all restaurants are government owned. The traditional dish of Cuba is rice and beans with pork or chicken.

Cuba is famous for cocktails such as mojitos, Cuba Libres and daiquiris and you can find these tasty tongue ticklers fairly cheaply all over Cuba.

Cuba has the tropical climate you would expect of a Caribbean island. Generally speaking, the seasons can be divided into wet and dry. The wet season runs from May to October and the dry runs between November and April. Historically most hurricanes occur during the months of October and November. Humidity rarely fluctuates past the usual range of 75%-90% at any time of year.

Visa

Visas may be required in order to enter or transit through certain countries depending on your passport nationality, your reason for travel and how long you intend to stay.

Visa, passport and entry rules are subject to change and you should check the most up-to-date information from the relevant embassy or visa specialist.

To make things easier we have teamed up with The Travel Visa Company who are one of the UK’s leading travel visa specialists. You can use their website, alongside embassy websites,  to find out the specific entry requirements for the countries you intend to travel to.

For a fee, their dedicated team of experts can also apply for visas on your behalf, taking away the hassle and streamlining the process for you if you wish. For more details on the services they provide please click here – The Travel Visa Company

Passport

Passports must be kept in good condition. Travellers with damaged passports may be refused entry at immigration. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that all travel documents are in good condition before they travel. Most countries will also require at least 6 months of validity on your passport from the time you finish your trip. 

Further Entry Requirements

Some countries will require proof of certain vaccines, such as yellow fever or covid, in order to gain entry. Please check with the relevant embassy or a visa specialist before travelling.

Spanish is the official language of Cuba although, much like South American Spanish, it can differ quite vastly from the sound of Spanish from mainland Spain. Cubans in the tourism industry are likely to speak some English however a basic understanding of Spanish is appreciated by the locals.

Travellers who wish to use British appliances in Cuba will need an international travel adapter as only the European 2 circular pin plug and the North American 2 flat pin plug with a circular grounding pin are used.

Drugs-related offences carry severe penalties in Cuba, so pack your own luggage and never carry items for anyone else.

Avoid military sites and don’t take photographs or videos in these areas.

Homosexuality is legal in Cuba, but open socialising or public displays of affection is still frowned upon.

It is illegal to import meat products and fruit into Cuba.

We have selected what we believe to be the key points that you should be aware of when travelling in Cuba.

Gap 360 follows advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and we recommend that you frequently check the FCDO for updated travel advice. You can find the website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office

Crime

On arrival and departure to and from Cuba, we advise that you lock suitcases and do not carry valuables in your case, to reduce the risk of theft during baggage handling. If possible, have your suitcase shrink-wrapped before you travel.

Bogus tour agents and taxi drivers can operate around the airports and in Old Havana, so only travel in registered (not private) taxis and with known and reputable tour operators.

Mugging and car crime occasionally take place in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and other areas. When in central Havana at night, be vigilant, don’t walk and always use a taxi, even for short journeys. Keep an eye out for pickpockets and bag snatchers on public transport, at major tourist sites and in nightclubs. Do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables with you.

Carry a photocopy of your passport and lock your passport and valuables (such as laptops or mobile phones) in a hotel safe, as there have been reports of thefts from rooms, particularly in private guest houses (‘Casas Particulares’).

There have been reports of hire cars having their tyres punctured, and if this does happen always ensure you get the car to a main town or city before stopping. Never stop for hitchhikers. Avoid political demonstrations or large public gatherings.

Transport/Travel

Do not use mopeds or three-wheel Coco-Taxis in Cuba as there have been a number of serious accidents reported. If using a motorcycle the law requires you wear a crash helmet. We do not recommend hiring motorbikes, scooters, ATV vehicles, quad bikes or other types of motorised vehicles whilst abroad. Safety and quality of vehicles vary considerably and the traffic conditions can be much more dangerous than what UK travellers are used to. Should you wish to go against this advice, you should ensure you are hiring from a reputable company and that your travel insurance covers you for such activities. Do not use private taxis or unlicensed cabs; radio taxis are generally a reliable option.

Roads and vehicles in Cuba, including public transport, are often poorly maintained. Avoid driving at night when animals and unlit vehicles can be dangerous hazards. Serious traffic accidents may take several months to resolve, during which time you may be unable to leave Cuba.

Customs Regulations

High-powered electrical items may be confiscated when entering Cuba, as may Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Any inbuilt GPS in mobiles, tablets or laptops should be disconnected or disabled. Confiscated items are normally returned on departure.

It is illegal to import meat products and fruit into Cuba.

Departure Tax

On leaving Cuba you will be required to pay an airport departure tax in local currency of 25 Convertible Pesos (CUCs) per person.

Money

Cuba has a dual currency system, and travellers use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), while locals use the Cuban Peso (CUP), which is worth less than the CUC. You will need to confirm with your bank before travel that your debit/credit cards will work in Cuba. If not you can exchange Sterling or Euros in cash, or bring travellers’ cheques (not American Express).

ATMs are not widely available. Only exchange money at Cadeca exchange houses, large hotels or banks.

Natural Disasters

Cuba’s hurricane season is between June and November and often coincides with heavy rains, which may cause flash floods and landslides and disrupt power, communications, flights and water supplies. Cuba is an active earthquake zone, although major earthquakes occur infrequently.

Health

You should contact your GP around 8 weeks before departure for advice about vaccinations or other preventive measures. Bring any prescription drugs you take regularly with you, plus a copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining your condition in case of questions at customs.

Dengue Fever is present across Latin America and the Caribbean and there have also been some recent reports of cholera cases in this area.

Diarrhoea can be caused by contaminated food or water so we advise you to drink bottled water.

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