Nowadays we take our smartphones with us everywhere we go, use them all the time, and most of us probably can’t imagine our lives without them. These devices have actually proven themselves very useful, providing a variety of different tools at the reach of a hand anytime you want. Travelers are no exception: in recent years, there have been emerging countless mobile apps that are destined to make traveling to foreign countries easier. However, even if you are an experienced traveler, you may want to check your list of useful travel apps once again before visiting Cuba.
The thing is that the Internet in Cuba is not as wide-spread as in other countries, so you will have to make sure that all of the mobile apps you are going to use in Cuba are able to work offline. Also, you may want to install some new applications designed by Cubans for Cubans and for tourists traveling to Cuba. Here you have the list of some of the most useful ones:
If you have noticed that the maps app you have been using in your country is only available online, and wonder what to do when you arrive in Cuba, Maps.me is a perfect alternative for you. All you have to do is to install the app, and then download the map of Cuba from the database. You will not only get a complete plan of the streets of all Cuban cities, but also information about the locations, of shops, cafés, museums, and other attractions. The app allows you to use GPS without Internet connection, so it will also show your location, helping you to find your way through the city.
This application is a must-have for these tourists who travel on a budget, and prefer to use public transport. The app provides you with a complete list of bus, Colectivo taxi, and train routes within Cuba’s capital. You may read the addresses of the bus stops from a list, or see their locations on a map. This is the perfect app to find your way around the city and not to get lost in the complicated and unfamiliar public bus system.
This app may not be essential for a tourist, but certainly useful if you plan to spend time and interact with locals. It is a free file sharing application that almost all Cubans with smartphones have. It allows its users to create Wi-Fi hotspots and transfer, music, pictures, videos, apps, and other files within a short distance. It has been said to be the answer of Cubans to the limited Internet access in the country, allowing to create small local networks. Also, the app has a group chatting option, and some Cubans use it to meet new people, especially in crowded places.
AlaMesa is a mobile app by Cuban developers, which consists of a complete directory of restaurants, coffee shops, and all gastronomical services on the island. It provides an updated database, where you can search for restaurants based on location, type of food offered, price range, and other categories. Besides, it allows customers to book tables in restaurants and order their food delivered to their homes. With this useful app, you will never have to worry about not knowing where to eat: you will have a vast choice of different options, from which you can choose based on your preference.
CubaMessenger is the ultimate chatting app for Cubans. It allows you to call and send text messages, voice mails, pictures, and videos from, to, and within Cuba the fastest, cheapest, and safest way possible. As the Internet in Cuba is expensive, not everybody can afford using WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or any other chatting apps that require either Internet connection or mobile data. Therefore, this app is a wonderful alternative for those who want to have real-time chats with their friends and relatives both in Cuba and abroad. In Cuba the service is free, while users in foreign countries are charged $0,05 for every sent message and $0,02 for a received one, which still is the cheapest way of communicating with Cuba.
Due to US restrictions, Skype and many other apps are blocked in Cuba. Nevertheless, IMO is an app similar to Skype, that is not included in the list of apps that don’t work on the island, and allows Cubans to communicate with their families and friends who live abroad. Through IMO you can video call and text totally free, but Internet connection is needed. This is the reason why, if you visit any Wi-Fi hotspot in Cuba, you will surely find people video-chatting with their friends: there is no doubt these people are using IMO to do so.
Airbnb and Booking.com are two essential apps for travelers. They allow you to find yourself accommodation anywhere in the world, providing a huge choice among plenty of different options. There is a vast number of rooms, apartments, and even whole houses available for rent on these sites in Cuba as well. However, once you have already arrived on the island, you won’t be able to book lodging via these sites without a VPN. So, if you are traveling to Cuba during the peak season, when it is difficult to find an accommodation, or you just want to make sure a specific Casa Particular is available during your stay, it is advisable to book it before you leave your country.
Sube is a recently developed app similar to the well-known Uber. As Uber does not work in Cuba, Cubans created their own app that would provide its users with the same function: a link between drivers and their potential clients. Through Sube you can request a ride, and then choose between the drivers that bid for it. Although it does not solve the severe problem with transport in Cuba completely, it certainly does make it easier to get around the cities for both tourists and locals. Using the app requires Internet connection, but with the development of mobile data, and the increasing of the number of Wi-Fi hotspots in Cuba, using the app becomes easier, allowing more and more people to take the service.
if you want to be able to access your bank account online or other important work-related things, having a VPN is a must. Many online services are blocked from Cuba, and even if they are not, opening your bank account from there can lead to your funds being temporarily frozen if you live in the US. A VPN will give you the privacy needed for it.