10 Tips for Traveling to Cuba

Updated: Jun 23

Traveling to Cuba is such a unique experience! You truly feel like you've transported back in time. It's always important to be prepared when you're traveling to a new country. Read the below 10 Tips When Visiting Cuba.

1. Cuba has 2 Currencies

Cuba utilizes two different currencies in the country: CUC and CUP.

CUP (Cuban Peso Nacional) is only used by locals. As a traveler, you won’t be utilizing CUP at all, but it’s good to be aware of the other currency.

CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) is the currency used for tourists. It always equals the US Dollar (1CUC = 1USD). There is a 3% transaction fee and for Americans there is an additional 10% exchange fee when converting your money to CUC. This means if you convert $100USD, you will receive 87CUC.

2. American Credit Cards will not work

Cuba will not accept American Credit or Debit Cards as payment – this includes all ATMs. As a traveler, you need to be prepared to exchange American cash for CUC. Cuba does allow European credit cards (as long as the European bank doesn’t have a parent American company).

3. Spanish is the National Language

Cubans speak Spanish – knowing a few key words will really go a long way when you’re in Cuba! I found that most people in the tourism industry spoke English too.

4. Tipping in Cuba

Similar to other Caribbean islands, tipping in Cuba is common and encouraged. 10% of the bill is standard for restaurants and tourism services.

5. Don’t Drink Tap Water in Cuba

It’s not recommend to drink the tap water in Cuba. Instead, opt for a bottled water.

6. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Pickpocketing is common in Cuba, especially in Havana. Be mindful of your belongings and ensure they are zipped and secured.

7. Bathrooms are mostly paperless

Bring your own toilet paper and tissues while traveling through Cuba. Most bathrooms are paperless or charge.

8. Cuba Customs

Be aware of the Cuban Custom rules and regulations. For instance, tourists are only allowed to bring 50 Cuban Cigars home with them per customs (read more here). There is also a list of prohibited items that tourists can bring into the country (read more here).

9. Internet and WiFi isn’t readily available or reliable

Internet isn’t the most accessible thing in Cuba. Your best chance of getting wifi is in a hotel or perhaps a restaurant – and even then, the connection is very slow. I suggest downloading maps of Cuba to your phone before you travel and any other valuable information.

10. Misc Tips for Cuba

  • Bring a hair brush if you’re going to ride in a convertible! You'll thank me later.

  • Don’t talk politics in Cuba.

  • Bring your own toilet paper and expect to pay for public restrooms.

  • Wear sunscreen and bugspray.

  • Avoid street food in Cuba.

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