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Beginner’s Guide to Cuba

by WhyNotCuba

New to Cuba? A lot of things in Cuba are very different from most other countries in the world. It can be highly paradoxical: rum is cheaper than bottled water, there are two currenciescows are considered “sacred”, Soviet style buildings can be found next to Spanish colonial palaces and glamorous American style Art Deco residences…

Moreover, things can change quickly, but the information on the internet doesn’t keep up. Hence many people doing research before travelling will read everything and the opposite. For example, some sites say that MasterCards do not work at ATMs (they have worked for a while) or that carrying CUP is illegal for foreigners (it isn’t).


What to do in Havana?

Here we keep all our resources practical for travellers visiting Cuba for the first time. We will aim to keep it as up to date as possible.

Basics

You might want to know a short history of Cuba to impress your new Cuban friends.  If you are American, check out this updated guide on how to travel to Cuba legally. If you are a girl you might want to check our article on visiting Cuba as a solo female traveller.

How to travel to Cuba legally as an American in 2019

Updated: June 2019 In June 2019, the Trump administration imposed the newest travel restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba. America…

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Best time to visit Cuba

The best time to visit Cuba is during the dry season between November and April. During this period the weather is mostly sunny with very little rainfall and average daytime temperatures around 27 degrees celsius. The peak tourist season runs between November to mid-March, and prices tend to be the highest during the holidays in December.

The annual hurricane season is officially between June 1 and November 30, but in reality most of them occur between August and early October.

Getting around ????

Image showing classic Cuban car
Most vintage cars in Cuba are used as taxis and are also referred to as “almendrones”

Once you arrive in Cuba, there are many options to get around the island. If you are flying to Cuba, you might want to read how to get to the city from Havana Airport. Travellers can chose from several options to get around Havana, including the famous American vintage cars which are used as taxis. Generally the best maintained classics are used for tours and to transport tourists. From city to city you can go via Viazul, or via private companies such as these Cuban taxi companies.  We try to find solutions for every budget. Check out our guide to Cuban transportation to figure out what best fits your needs.

Transportation in Cuba

You can find numerous means of transportation in Cuba: if you are short of money and prefer cheap transportation, you…

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Accommodation in Cuba ????

Looking for a wallet friendly place to meet fellow travellers, or would you like to stay in a historic mansion formerly owned by a sugar baron? Figure out where to stay in Havana, and the different types of accommodation in Cuba and all sorts of other practical matters, like knowing that Airbnb & Booking.com won’t actually let you book if you are already in Cuba (you’ll have to use a VPN).

KNOW THIS before staying in a Cuban Airbnb

Airbnb is one of an online platform for travellers to find and book lodging all over the world, providing countless…

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Cuban Money ????

Che Guevara Coin Cuba
A coin with an iconic Che Guevara portrait.

Money in Cuba can be confusing, and some tourists arrive only to realise their cards don’t work and their cash cannot be exchanged. We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide with all you need to know about money in Cuba.

You might also want to know why Cuba can be expensive for tourists, as well as what the fair prices are so that you avoid getting ripped off by tours, hustlers and jineteros. Perhaps you want to know the secret to travelling to Cuba on a budget.

Cuban Currency: The Definitive Guide (2019)

Using Cuban money one of the most confusing things about travelling to Cuba. In fact, many tourists who fail to…

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Internet ????

People waiting outside ETECSA offices.

Getting online in Cuba is very different to getting online in the rest of the world. It is also no secret that Cuba doesn’t have the best internet connection. Chances are you will appreciate the digital detox and might be surprised by how little you actually need a constant internet connection. Read our guides on how to survive Cuba without internet and on how to get internet in Cuba.

How to get internet in Cuba

Nowadays a great part of the world’s population has been enslaved by social media and Internet surfing. Cuba, though, still…

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Cuban Food and Drinks ????

Hungry? The food in Cuba often suffers from a bad reputation by people who spend too much time eating peso pizzas and not enough home made traditional Cuban meals.

You should try the typical restaurants that serve criolla food such as roast pork, moros y cristianos (rice with beans) and tostones (smashed fried plantain). Eating at casas particulares is your cheapest and most authentic way of experiencing Cuban food.

You could also take a cooking class in Havana.

How to eat cheap in Havana, Cuba

In Cuba, there is a big variety of places to eat, which can be extremely expensive, as well as surprisingly…

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Of course, when in Cuba you must have Cuban coffee. The cafecito is an integral part of Cuban culture.

One thing you absolutely have to do is eat as much tropical fruit as possible. Its the sweetest in the world! For food, be sure to check out A La Mesa, a Cuban restaurant app (that works online).

Best apps for visiting Cuba in 2019

Nowadays we take our smartphones with us everywhere we go, use them all the time, and most of us probably…

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In terms of drinks, make sure you try these classic Cuban cocktails and check out this comprehensive list of Vedado nightclubs and bars.

Cuban Cocktails: all you need to know

Cuban cocktails are famous worldwide, and when you are visiting Cuba the traditional rum based cocktails, offer the perfect refreshment…

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Cuban Cigars

So you want to buy a Cuban cigar? If you do not want to get scammed then read what our friend Tino has to say about buying cigars in Cuba.

Insider Guide: Welcome to the Cuba Conga

The WhyNotCuba team spoke with one of the most secretive travel bloggers in Cuba, the person behind the underground Cuba…

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Things to do in Cuba ????

Image showing white sandy beaches and turquoise sea
Varadero is one of the most popular destinations in Cuba and the biggest beach resorts in the Caribbean

There is always something to do in Cuba. It is a great destination whether you want to immerse yourself in its vibrant and eclectic culture, or looking to spend a day relaxing on the beach. If you’re visiting Havana, check out our list of 20 things to do. If you are a beach creature, check out our list of best beaches near Havana. Stay tuned for more articles on things to do and see!

Five off-the-radar beaches to enjoy in Cuba

There are more than 3 600 miles of coast in Cuba. The number of Cuban sandy beaches is said to…

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