Cuba Travel Guide

Useful Tips

Everything you need to know before you fly to Cuba
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Average Trip Cost

NA

When To Go

December to April

Currency

Convertible peso and Cuban peso

Ideal Length Of Stay

7 to 14 days

About Cuba

This largest of the Caribbean islands, Cuba has a fascinating history, and it is a country where life happens at a much slower pace. The politics of times past can still be seen in the old posters that still line the streets of Havana and within the aptly named Museum of the Revolution.  A lot is going on in Cuba. From sun-kissed beaches, colorful towns with tourist spots to commerce, and an exuberant way of celebrating life, Cuba has a lot to offer visitors interest in culture and history.    

Enjoy the incredible scenic Malecon in Havana, which is a boardwalk that rests between crashing waves and the colonial buildings in the city.  Enjoy a stroll on the pristine beaches of the country’s western end.  Tour Old Havana, to see its many historical buildings, some beautifully restored and others in decay and need attention. Enjoy tropical fruits in the company of friendly residents.

Go to the Vedado district and enjoy some of the best jazz music in the Caribbean.  Dance with the residents to a lively salsa song – it is customary to ask visitors if they would like to dance.  See the Cuban National Ballet performed at the Gran Teatro de la Habana.  Eat dishes that will make you crave them long after you return home like ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lime, and ropa vieja the national dish of Cuba, which is stewed shredded beef.  Drink an authentic mojito in Havana, the drink’s birthplace.  Explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of this dynamic island.  

See Cuba and learn about the heritage of the people, the history of the land, and its thriving present.



Where to stay in Cuba

Visitors to Cuba stay in a wide variety of accommodations, including renting rooms or entire apartments in private homes. Many visitors to Cuba also stay at historic hotels that have been restored to international standards.  Some of the best hotels in Havana, Cuba, includes: 

  • Malecón 663
  • Gardens Havana
  • Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana
  • Hotel Saratoga
  • Casa Selene 
  • Iberostar Grand Packard
  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activities In Cuba

Major tourist activities in Cuba include:

  • Admiring the colonial architecture in the historic capital city of Havana and taking a drive in a classic American car 
  • Visiting the Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolución), located in the former Presidential Palace and the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana)
  • Salsa dancing the night away at one of the traditional Cuban hotspots 
  • Relaxing at Varadero Beach, Cuba’s longest beach and one of the best and most well known in the Caribbean
  • Bird watching and hiking at Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve 
  • Visiting colonial Trinidad, which is almost a living museum to the Spanish sugar trade.

Facts About Cuba

Size:

110,860 square miles 

Population:

11.2 million 

Official Language:

Spanish

Demonym:

Cuban

Capital City:

Havana 

Government:

Single-party Marxist–Leninist Republic

Telephone Country Code:

+53

Driving:

 right side of the road

Local Beer:

Cristal and Bucanero

National Dish:

Ropa vieja

Main Airport:

José Martí International Airport

Electricity:

110v / 60Hz – plugs and sockets are of type A, B, C, and L

Visa Information for Cuba

Tourists visiting Cuba are required to obtain a Tourist Card, which is valid for one trip up to 30 days. This should be obtained before departure from your home country. The Tourist Card can be obtained from your tour operator or directly from the Cuban Consulate.  Beyond the Tourist Card to enter Cuba, each visitor will need to have a valid passport with a photocopy of its main page, return ticket, and confirmation of accommodations.   

Important note:  Travel to Cuba by Americans for purely tourist activities is still prohibited by law.  However, Americans can visit Cuba under one of the 12 categories approved by the United States Government.  These include:  

  • family visits; 
  • official business of the United States government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; 
  • journalistic activity; 
  • professional research and professional meetings; 
  • educational activities; 
  • religious activities; 
  • public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; 
  • support for the Cuban people; 
  • humanitarian projects; 
  • activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; 
  • exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and 
  • certain authorized export transactions.

     

NOTE: So, as to adhere to United States government guidelines, Americans should book their trip with a tour operator who has experience organizing trips to Cuba.  

How Long Does It Take To Get A Visa For Cuba

With a valid passport and supporting documents, it typically takes 7 to 10 days for a Cuba visa application to be processed by the nearest Cuban Embassy. A Tourist Card is valid only for one entry and for a 30-day stay in Cuba, extendable in Cuba for another 30 days maximum.

Is It Safe In Cuba

In comparison to major American and European cities, Cuba is relatively safe, but there is moderate crime. As such, it is recommended that visitors be vigilant at all times, especially when away from the major hotels and tourist areas. 

How To Get To Cuba

The main international airport for Cuba is the José Martí International Airport (IATA: HAV, ICAO: MUHA), sometimes referred to by its former name Rancho-Boyeros Airport.  José Martí International Airport is located 9 miles southwest of the capital city of Havana.  

From China, book flights to Cuba via:

  • Air China: Beijing–Capital

From Canada, book flights to Cuba via:

  • Air China: Montréal–Trudeau
  • Air Canada Rouge : Toronto–Pearson
  • Air Transat (Seasonal): Montréal–Trudeau
  • Sunwing Airlines (Seasonal): Montréal–Trudeau

From the United States, book flights to Cuba via:

  • American Airlines: Miami
  • Delta Air Lines: Miami
  • Delta Connection: Atlanta
  • JetBlue: Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK
  • Southwest Airlines: Tampa
  • United Airlines: Houston–Intercontinental
  • United Express: Houston–Intercontinental, Newark

From the United Kingdom, book flights to Cuba via:

  • Virgin Atlantic: London–Heathrow

From Europe, book flights to Cuba via:

  • Aeroflot: Moscow–Sheremetyevo
  • Air Caraïbes: Paris–Orly
  • Air Europa: Madrid
  • Air France: Paris–Charles de Gaulle (Seasonal charter: Pointe-à-Pitre)
  • Alitalia (Seasonal): Rome–Fiumicino
  • Blue Panorama Airlines: Milan–Malpensa, Rome–Fiumicino
  • Condor: Frankfurt 
  • Corsair International: Paris–Orly
  • Edelweiss Air: Zürich (suspended)
  • Evelop Airlines: Madrid
  • Finnair (Seasonal): Helsinki
  • Iberia : Madrid
  • KLM (Seasonal): Amsterdam
  • Turkish Airlines: Istanbul

Within the Caribbean region, book flights to Cuba via:

  • Bahamasair:  Nassau
  • Caribbean Airlines: Port of Spain
  • Cayman Airways: Grand Cayman
  • Sunrise Airways: Port-au-Prince, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
  • InterCaribbean Airways: Kingston, Santo Domingo–Las Américas

Within Latin America, book flights to Cuba via:

    • Aerogaviota: Baracoa, Cayo Coco, Holguín, Kingston, Montego Bay, Santiago de Cuba
    • Aeroméxico: Mexico City 
    • Aeropostal: Caracas
    • Conviasa: Caracas, Managua
    • Copa Airlines: Panama City–Tocumen 
    • Cubana de Aviación: Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Guantánamo, Madrid, Nueva Gerona, Santiago de Cuba
    • EasySky: Tegucigalpa
    • Fly All Ways: Paramaribo
    • Interjet: Cancún, Mérida, Mexico City, Monterrey 
    • LATAM Perú: Lima 
    • Neos (Seasonal charter): Milan–Malpensa
    • TAAG Angola Airlines: Luanda
    • VivaAerobus (Charter): Cancún, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey

When To Go To Cuba

The best time to visit Cuba is between December to May, when it’s warm but uncrowded, and there’s little to no threat of hurricanes.  Peak times for travel to Cuba are Christmas, Easter also July and August as there is a wide variety of events, including many carnivals.

Major events attracting visitors to Cuba include: 

  •  January – February: Havana Jazz Festival 
  • April – May: Havana Biennial
  • May: May Day Celebrations
  • June: Trinidad Carnival (Fiestas San Juaneras)
  • June: Camaguey Carnival (San Juan Camagüeyano)
  • July: Santiago de Cuba Carnival
  • July: Festival del Caribe (Festival of Fire)
  • August: Havana Carnival
  • November: Marabana Marathon

Weather In Cuba

The weather in Cuba is mostly hot and tropical, and the dry season in Cuba is November through April.  The temperature stays a mild 75° to 80° but is subject to cold fronts during the dry season.  The rainy season in Cuba is from May to October, but like most tropical destinations, rain/downpours don’t last for a long time.  That said, Cuba is also susceptible to hurricanes due to its position in the Caribbean basin. 

Getting Married In Cuba

Marriage Requirements:

Couples wishing to get married in Cuba must send all notary certificates and legalized documents (translated in Spanish) to the Cuban Consulate to obtain a marriage license.   A Registrar will conduct the ceremony for couples getting married in Cuba.

Documents Required:

All documents must be originals legalized by the Foreign Office and then validated by the Cuban Consulate in your home country.  That said, in addition to the completed application for marriage, both the bride and groom will need their:

  • passports 
  • birth certificates along with driver’s licenses or other forms of identification
  • certificates of no impediment or single status report

Also, if applicable: 

  • divorce papers, i.e., decree absolute and/or death certificate of spouse
  • proof of parental consent if under 18, stamped and signed by a solicitor
  • proof of name change by Deed Poll, stamped and signed by a solicitor

Residency Requirement:

Three working days.

Fees:

To be advised locally.  

Witnesses: 

Four people are required to witnesses the ceremony.  

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