15 things you need to know before traveling to Cuba 

1. You need a visa to enter Cuba.

We bought our visa during our stop in Mexico City. It was about $25 dollars and can be bought at your airline counter. For more info try calling your travel airline to give you details of the purchase.

2. You must fit under one of twelve categories to visit Cuba.

To learn more on the twelve categories click here

3. Change your money in Euros or Pesos before arriving to Cuba and take enough money. 

If you take dollars, you will be charged a 10 percent fee. My advice is to exchange your dollars to either pesos or euros before arriving to Cuba. There are no ATM’s and your credit cards or debit cards will not work.

4. Do not check in your luggage, take a carry on. 

If you are traveling for a few days try taking a carry on instead of checking in a luggage. If you do check in a luggage make sure you are patient, you will not get your luggage within 30 mins but up to an hour or more. A friend gave me this tip before my trip and we all took a carry on bag. We were out of the airport within 30mins after arriving.

5. Take snacks, gum and things to give away. 

Take snacks for you and things to share with others. Believe it or not Cubans are grateful for any little thing they are given. They want to learn about the world outside of Cuba and want to try new things. Plus sharing part of your culture with them is greatly appreciated.

6. Don’t expect great food. It’s just ok. 

Honestly, the food was just ok. I like the Americanized Cuban food but I was opened to trying everything, so don’t be picky.

7. People for the most part are friendly but you can run into people with attitude.

For the most part everyone we met was so nice but we did encounter some people that had attitudes and lacked costumer service. So if you ask a question and are left hanging, that’s pretty much the end of the conversation.

8. Buy travel insurance

You must buy travel insurance before traveling to Cuba. I bought the most basic insurance for $50 Buy insurance here

9. Do not exchange money on the street always at the bank or an exchange house.

You will run into many men on the streets or outside of the bank or exchange houses trying to convince you to exchange your money with them. We heard stories while in Cuba of tourist being given fake money. No matter the wait make sure to exchange your money at a secure location.

10. Do not drink the water. 

Make sure you buy bottled water to drink. I even brushed my teeth with bottled water. Cubans can drink their own water but it is not recommended for tourist. You can get sick!

11. Once departing make sure you arrive extra early to the airport. 

We arrived to the airport close to two hours before departure and we made it to our gate with 15 mins to spare. You have to check in with someone over a counter, after checking in you must go through a check point and then security. It took forever! Especially because the airline only had one person working the counter so just be mindful of time.

12. Wifi access

The only way to have wifi access is by going to any hotel and buying a 1 hour internet card. Different hotels have them at different prices. We found the cheapest to be at Hotel Sevilla for $2 CUC.

13. Download a offline map

I used the CityMaps2Go App and it was so helpful. I made sure before I left on the trip I marked all the places we wanted to visit. Plus it helped us get back home plenty of times.

14. No crime

Some streets are not well lit but you will be surprised to know that the crime rate in Cuba is really low. What you should worry about is being scammed. Just be smart who you talk to.

15. Take medicine

One of my friends had some stomach pain and we forgot to take medicine. Although our host family knew some natural remedies, it would had helped to have medicine on us.

Hope these tips help. Enjoy your trip and make lots of memories.

If you would like to see a recap video of my trip Click here

Hugs,

Viri 

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2 Comments on 15 things you need to know before traveling to Cuba 

  1. Those are some great points. Thanks! I plan to visit it in a few years! The cool vintage cars always have me 😉

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