Travel to Cuba: things to know
So, you decided to spend your holidays in Cuba? Good choice! We are happy to welcome you to our home country and help you with all your preparations, reservations and creating the best tour following your desires and requests. We will give you as much information as possible, make your stay comfortable, enjoyable and to fulfill all your wishes. Our goal? To give you the time of your life!
Before traveling to Cuba there are a few things you need to know and take care of.
First of all, you need a valid passport, obviously you think, but if you are European your passport needs to be valid at least 6 more months from the day of your arrival in Cuba. For Canadians, this has to be a month from the return date.
You need a tourist visa or a tourist card, to enter Cuba, we can provide for a Visa for travelers from Europe if you are traveling from the USA please contact our Miami office Daiquiri Tours USA
You need valid travel and health insurance. We suggest you to make a copy of the insurance policy (in English) clearly indicating that Cuba is included, in case needed.
If you require medication for a chronic illness, (es.Diabetes), bring also an English written copy of the doctors’ recipe, indicating clearly what the medication is for.
Climate and clothing
Cuba has a tropical climate, with temperatures always pleasant even during winter. Depending on the seasons, (same as the European ones) the evening can be a little cooler. Therefore we recommend light clothing and beachwear for the day and warmer garments for the evening/ night.
Currency and money exchange
Cuba is a unique country with two different currencies: the USD and the Cuban Peso (CUP). The most used currency is the USD (Cuban Convertible peso). One USD is equal to 25 USD. The Cuban Peso is used less but is accepted in several places. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the currency prices indicated (75 USD corresponds to 3 USD).
In Cuba you pay almost everything in cash, using a Credit Card is unusual and in many places even rejected. For this reason, we strongly recommend you to bring the amount of money in cash close to the idea that you think you’ll use during your stay in Cuba. In this case, you’ll exchange directly to USD:
• At the offices of the CADECA Bank (the only bank exchanging currency).
• A Habana at the Hotel Nacional: You will find an authorized exchange office on the ground floor.
• On request only made before your departure for Cuba: at our offices located at the Hotel Bello Caribe.
• You can access ATMs with VISA, Mastercard and even some European Debit cards (But often it doesn’t work, so don’t count on it)
• American Express or monetary transfers from US banks will not be accepted, don’t try. (You will not be able to complete the transaction)
• You are allowed to bring a maximum €5000 in cash per person in and/or out of Cuba.
• If traveling from the US we advise to first exchange the dollars to Euro’s in the US, again for more information contact our colleague’s Daiquiri Tours USA.
Telephone and internet
Calling with a fixed telephone or landline:
The national telephone company is called ETECSA. Most Cuban public telephones work with prepaid cards (10, 20 and 50 USD). To call abroad, just enter the country code of the country you’re calling followed by the telephone number. Prepaid cards are sold in Hotels, Post Offices, Airports, tourist – shops and of course in ETECSA Telephone Centers.
N.B .: The hotels offer the possibility to use the telephone for national and international calls. If you are a guest of a Casa Particular, you can call abroad only with the option “Receiver pays” ,or, in other words, a collect call.
The use of your mobile phone in Cuba
If you use the Roaming service, you will not have problems with your mobile phones. The signal is widespread in tourist resorts and major cities. But in the less touristy or inland areas or the open country, the signal may be missing. For Smart-phones owners, the GPRS signal has good coverage to send and receive your emails.
Warning: the costs of data roaming are high.
We suggest you purchase an ETECSA SIM for phone calls/SMS. You can buy a Cuban SIM CARD immediately at the airport and it costs approximately 25USD.
It is now possible to buy a special sim card for travelers on the Cubacel Tur. You can order this card through this website: www.recargasacuba.com, it costs around 25 Euros. You will receive a Cuban Sim Card including 1GB internet + 20 mins call + 25 Sms. You need to order the card online, following all the steps and in the end, you need to indicate in which Cubacell kiosk you want to pick up the card. The easiest one is at Havana Airport. For more information and conditions check out the Cubacel website.
Internet in Cuba
On the island, there are several Wi-Fi points, mostly in interesting places and city centers, but ETECSA is installing more and more points. To access the Internet from your laptop, smart-phone or tablet, you need to have a NAUTA card that you can buy at the ETECSA offices for 2 USD or even from private (3 USD per card): the card is normally valid for 1 hour of connection. Obviously, in many hotels you can find Wi-Fi points, this is an extra service and needs to be paid directly in the hotel.
Almost anywhere in Cuba, the voltage is 110V and not 220V (but some hotels use 220V), we suggest bringing an American socket adapter.
Maybe you didn’t know that Cuba is the Latin American country with the lowest rate of delinquency and crime. It is one of the safest countries in the world.
But of course, prudence is always a must, like it is in any other place on the planet: traveling with a lot of expensive jewelry, money or other precious items can tempt even the mildest, quietest and sweetest person…!
Food in Cuba
Who thought that food is not good or limited in Cuba is mistaken! Cuban food is rich and delicious existing in meat, fresh fish, rice, cereals, tropical fruits, and many, many vegetables.
In Cuba almost all the vegetables and spices are locally and biologically grown..
Also, since 2011, Cubans are allowed to have their own local business, also restaurants, since this year the amount of Paladares (Family restaurants) tripled. In these restaurants, you will find the most delicious dishes, with reasonable prices for European standards.
In Cuba, tips are taken for granted … They are vital for those who work within the tourism sector: waiters, chefs but also porters, drivers, tour guides etc.
Some restaurants include 10% of the total for the service: but it is up to the customer to decide whether to leave something extra or not.
Last but not least
Get used to the Cuban rhythms, sometimes you just have to wait, relax, don’t stress and you will see that you will have a wonderful time. For any question or if you need any help you can always contact us.