Cuba travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go

Stunning sugar-gentle seashores, twinkling turquoise seas, palm-tree studded mountain trails, muscular castles, and very towns brimming with handsome villas, are living bands, salsa dancing, and art. Oh, and those people classic, vibrant American cars… Cuba is an enigma, clinging to socialism when discovering its ft in a post-pandemic entire world. Arrive for vivid Havana and its nightlife but take off into the wilds of this crocodile-formed isle for journey, wild beaches, cultural quirks, cigars, diving, festivals and foodie spots, and the best thing of all – the warm and witty Cubans.

Present-day vacation restrictions and entry necessities

There are no Covid limitations on entry or on the floor. Travellers need to attain a visa-like tourist card and fill out the on the net Viajeros form prior to travelling.

Most effective time to go

Cuba is a fantastic vacation spot year round, but is insufferably scorching in July and August (though the town of Santiago de Cuba hosts two riotous, musical festivals in July that are value catching). November to April is significant period, when the weather is superb, and selling prices are higher. Dozens of festivals and functions are held in this period of time: music, dance, ballet, jazz, film, and art. Hurricane time operates from June until eventually November.

Best locations and metropolitan areas


The Spanish conquerors of Cuba grew loaded on the back again of the sugar and tobacco trade and poured their wealth into a single of the greatest metropolitan areas in the Americas. As a result, Havana is lovely: richly labored with colonial villas, embellished church buildings, flower-loaded patios, Artwork Deco towers, and 50s mansions. Find its coronary heart in the streets of the Previous Metropolis, now vivid with indie outlets, bars, and cafés. Stroll the ocean promenade, the Malecón, and hail a chrome-festooned vintage motor to tour the castles on the bay and the leafy streets of villas and galleries of the Vedado neighbourhood. By night, look for out rooftop bars, art gallery openings, and boho nightlife spots throughout the metropolis.

Viñales Valley

It is extremely hard not to be seduced by this lush valley of mini mountains, royal palms, tobacco farms, horse-riding farmers, and cutesy B&Bs in rural Cuba. At dawn a mist encircles the columns and porches of houses in Viñales city. Breakfast on eggs and mango as the sun burns via, then enterprise out on a horse, or by foot, to explore this Jurassic region of Cuba wherever towering limestone humps, acknowledged as mogotes, dot the valley flooring, a outcome of thousands and thousands of a long time of erosion. At sunset sit on the porch of your B&B sipping a freshly built mojito. You are going to find delightful farm-to-fork foodstuff in Viñales, far too.


On the southern coast of Cuba, the little, cobbled streets of Trinidad spill down the foothills of the Escambray Mountains to the wonderful blue Caribbean Sea. Trinidad is a photographer’s and salsa dancer’s desire. Big mansions, all cinnamon, avocado and ochre-hued and fitted with European marble and chandeliers, ended up created by sugar barons who reaped tremendous prosperity from the slaves who worked their report-busting sugar plantations. Nowadays these ornate structures are galleries, museums, dining establishments, and personal homes. Locate some of the most ridiculously pretty B&Bs in the nation here. Dance the night away to stay tunes and get better on the close by Caribbean seashore the pursuing day.

Santa Clara

Che Guevara, the Argentine medical professional turned Cuban guerrilla, is buried in an elaborate mausoleum sculpture elaborate on Santa Clara’s Revolution Plaza. Together with his mortal stays are all those that died with him in a unsuccessful guerrilla marketing campaign in Bolivia in 1967. Go to the neighbouring Che museum, way too, before heading off to the Café-Museo Revolución exactly where, along with a potent cup of Cuban coffee you can soak up the café owner’s unbelievable Che memorabilia selection. Nightlife pivots close to the theatre and bars of the primary sq. but don’t overlook the excellent El Mejunje alfresco club well known for live songs, cabaret, and LGBT nights.

Santiago de Cuba

With winding historic streets that climb from the huge harbour up to the city centre, you will get a perception of the setting of the island’s 2nd city. It is surrounded by monumental mountains, one particular of them named just after a popular cocktail. And it was in this fabled spot, that Señor Bacardí found out the insider secrets of ageing rum 160 a long time back and launched the world’s most popular rum. Explore the homes, museums, and tunes places of this energetic town – additional Caribbean in experience than distant Havana and soak up the dwell African and Spanish rooted tunes in city centre venues, daiquiris and mojitos in hand! Fidel Castro’s tomb is discovered at the city’s extraordinary marble cemetery.

Most effective less than-the-radar destinations


Baracoa is Cuba’s most effective-held top secret. 6 hundred miles from Havana, it’s a trek to get there, but oh so truly worth it. You will climb mountains, bathe in crystal-crystal clear rivers, swing in hammocks, pay a visit to cacao farms, search for aboriginal hideouts, and style some of the greatest food stuff in Cuba – fish bathed in coconut, and a mashed coconut, honey, and nut dessert wrapped in a palm cone. Dance it all off in the small bars and Casa de la Trova (a neighborhood conference house or dance hall) fringing the tiny principal sq..


Down on the south coastline of Cuba – with one particular highway in and just one street out – is the Bay of Pigs, notorious for the US tried invasion of the island in 1961. But it is not just a web page for historical past buffs: the drinking water is the most beautiful in Cuba, aquamarine flecked with inky indigo blue, home to colourful fish, and the odd war wreck. Snorkel, dive, and bicycle to top secret seashores together the jagged limestone coastline below, backed by swamp peppered with Cuban crocs and vibrant endemic birdlife.


Distant Gibara is a fishing port of white residences and jumbled rooves crammed all-around a small harbour in northeast Cuba. It bursts into everyday living for the annual global cinema competition in August which draws in Cuban and worldwide stars. Come for the caves that can be explored with guides, the tasty regional fare rooted in fish and shellfish, and a highlight – the prospect to dive in a series of gorgeous sinkholes scattered in pristine jungle configurations around town.

Most effective things to do

Continue to be in a Cuban B&B

Couple of destinations in the world give extravagant digs for extremely fair costs. In Cuba you can bed down in villas, mansions, fincas (farmhouse stays) and Art Nouveau apartments for unthinkable selling prices. But, far more than that, the Cuban families who host global guests will be the stars of your continue to be. The shots of fantastic interiors will get a zillion likes on the ‘gram, but the memories of your warm, loquacious hosts with 101 gripping stories to explain to will linger lengthier.

Employ the service of a auto

Lonely mountain roads with epic scenery, isolated Spanish colonial towns and rural villages, virgin white sand shorelines with not a different soul in sight, and quirky sights observed away from vacationer hotspots. All this is probable in a retain the services of vehicle, and more. You are going to need to have to reserve, and gasoline expenses are rising, but there is no improved way to investigate off the overwhelmed track especially as the public mentor community is restricted. Deliver your individual snorkel, and lunch!

Take a guided art tour

Just one of the incredible hallmarks of Cuba’s 1959 revolution was a big investment decision in the arts. You’ll find planet-course art in Cuba, Havana particularly, and a guided tour to the households and studios of some of the ideal artists at work on the island is a intriguing introduction to the fertile arts’ scene, and life in Cuba in basic. Operates from Cuba’s residing artists are identified in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Artwork and MoMa, and London’s Tate. Opt for your medium, or enable the guide pick out for you.

Acquiring close to

Employing a auto isn’t low cost. Use the public coach enterprise Víazul (bookable on the web inside of and outside the state) which operates regular buses from Viñales in the west to Baracoa in the east, with routes out to well-liked seaside resorts and towns. New air-conditioned prepare carriages launched in 2019 but the community is antiquated. Train tickets can be acquired at any Viajeros agency business on the island (hard cash order). Accredited and unlicensed taxis can be made use of to get to distant places.

How to get there

TUI is the only airline traveling immediate from the United kingdom to Cuba (Varadero seashore vacation resort) from Manchester. From London you can fly with Air France, Iberia, and Air Europa by using other European metropolitan areas, or with a couple of funds airways which include Spain’s World2Fly and Iberojet.

Funds conserving tip

Wifi is available at community wifi hotspots and obtainable by scratch cards bought from telephone (Etecsa) workplaces or by resellers on the street. Purchase a Cuban SIM card (which can be purchased online in advance of you fly) and decide it up at Havana’s international airport. A 30-working day Turista SIM card costs US$25 and features 6GB of facts, 100 texts and 100 minutes of calls. Best-ups can be bought on the internet.


What’s the climate like?

The climate is comfortably warm and breezy from November via to April. Daily tropical rains get started in May well and run to Oct, but even these downpours evaporate in seconds. As mentioned over, July-August can get far too stiflingly sizzling for quite a few.

What time zone is it in?

Cuba is five hrs at the rear of GMT.

What currency do I will need?

Cuba united its dual currencies in January 2021 the Cuban Peso (CUP) is now the sole formal forex, but the financial condition in Cuba is at present sophisticated – with locals making use of MLC (a currency which Cuban have to upload to their financial institution cards by acquiring overseas currencies) for some purchases. This is an great overview.

For a holiday getaway, bring a great deal of Euros in cash (additional than you imagine you are going to have to have) to fork out for lodging on the go, cafe meals, and personal transportation and services. Carry a debit or credit score card (with no connections to the United States phone your financial institution to look at) to acquire necessities these types of as bottled water, medicines, cleanliness items and some foods at “MLC” (Moneda Libremente Convertible) shops, exactly where cash is not recognized. Financial institution playing cards are utilised to pay back for vehicle hire the island’s only mentor support, Víazul activities these types of as diving, sailing outings and canopy going for walks and accommodation and foods at government-owned lodges and restaurants, as effectively as to withdraw income in Cuban Pesos (CUP). The CUP is utilized to buy road food, cafe foods, museum entrances, local transport, and practice transportation. Transform a smaller amount of money of Euros into CUP on arrival. Black market prices for your Euros will make your holiday getaway significantly less costly.

What language is spoken?

Spanish is the formal language.

Something else I ought to know?

Cuba is a communist, a single-social gathering point out. Do examine up on the politics and economics just before you visit. Provide all drugs you may perhaps have to have with you.