1) Bring Cash: For the best exchange rate, it is recommended to bring Euros or GBP Sterling. The
American dollar exchange rate is horrible and you will also have to pay an extra fee every time.
Furthermore, you will want to avoid bringing Aussie dollars because they usually do not know what to
do with them.
2) The Two Cuban Currencies: Cuba has two currencies. The currency which tourists muse
use, is the the Cuban convertible peso or ‘Cuban Dollar’ (CUC). The locals use the Cuban
national peso (CUP) but Non-Cubans should not have any of this currency. It is important to
note that 1 CUC = 22 CUP so do not be alarmed when you see the differences in prices.
3) Use The ATM Before Leaving The Airport: Before you leave the airport after arriving in Cuba,
you should consider taking money out of the ATM (located upstairs on level 1 of Havana
International Airport). I would advise against using the bureau de change at the airport because they
are known to give incorrect change and the exchange rates are not ideal. If you forget to stop by the
ATM at the airport, some hotels and resorts will have a bureau de change.
4) Travel Insurance: You will need travel insurance in order to enter Cuba. Customs will
conduct spot checks and if you cannot produce policy documentation then they will make you
buy insurance there.
5) Visas: Most countries require a visa, also known as a Tourist Card, to enter Cuba. These can be
purchased through your local Cuban embassy or before you check-in at a Cubana Air desk. Some
airlines actually include the visa on the price of your flight tickets, however, you will still need to
collect the visa at the Cubana Air counter before you check in. For a list of countries that require a
visa, check here.
6) Travel Light: If you can avoid checking baggage, you will have more peace of mind. Travel light
so that you can go with cabin luggage only. You will not have to worry about losing your luggage or
having it damaged. Not to mention, it can be difficult to maneuver those larger bags around the tiny
Cuban doorways and tight staircases.
7) Flights: You will want to arrive at the airport about three hours before takeoff when arriving and
departing from Cuba for two reason. First, the planes tend to be over-booked so arriving early can
help ensure that you will keep your seat. Second, Cuban Air likes to have its passengers checked
in at least an hour earlier than any other airline.
8) Food In Cuba: While Cuba is an amazing cultural experience, the food does not really fit the
bill. The food tends to be a bit bland, so consider bringing a little salt, Sriracha or Tabasco to add
some flavor to your meal.
9) Navigating Cuba:
If you tend to rely on your
phone for navigation, it is
important to remember
that internet has not really
taken off in Cuba.
However, you can still
use your smartphone to
get around using Galileo
Offline Maps. With this
application, you can use
your phone’s GPS to
show you where in the
world you are. You can
even record your
movements to see where
you went. Be sure to
download the app before
you leave for Cuba!
10) Best Time To Visit
Mid November – March: Cooler and
dry season. This tends to be a busier
time of the year because of the lower
temperatures and humidity level.
May – June: Wet season. Things can
get very hot this time of the year. But
if you are willing to take on the
humidity some great things take
place, such as tobacco harvesting and
July – Early November: Hurricane
season. Things can become windy
and you run the risk of having to
cancel your trip due to weather.
11) Learn Some Spanish: Having the ability to communicate with local people while in Cuba can
make your experience exponentially better. Even if it is just simple words or sentences. The people
will love to talk to you and if you are able to carry a conversation, they will be extremely friendly.
They will likely show you some hidden gems and maybe even invite you over for dinner!