Vamos Cuba Travel Guide
- cuba weather
- safety in cuba
- internet in cuba
- legal stuff
- tourists scams
- money in cuba
- cuban visa
- cuba photo gallery
- Food & Drinks
Enjoy the Cuban beaches all year round
When is the weather at its best?
It’s more comfortable from November through to April, because the temperatures are warm but not stifling and there’s less chance of rain. This is also the perfect time to get away from the cold British winter!
How hot does Cuba get in the summer?
The summer temperature is around 30C during the day and around 23C at night. It can be much more humid and uncomfortable.
The Rainy Season (May – October)
The weather in Cuba changes from May to October during the rainy season. Despite being called "the rainy season", the rain is rarely constant and the weather will will be warm. If you enjoy sightseeing rather than relaxing in the sun – or you’re coming to do a course – then visiting in the rainy season will be cheaper but just as enjoyable.
The Hurricane Season (August – October)
Like any other Caribbean island, Cuba sometimes gets a hurricane visit, especially between the months of August and October. Don’t let it put you off coming because the Cuba weather can be fantastic and it is the cheapest period in the holiday season. However, be aware that a hurricane can have an impact on
Events and Festivals
Cubans are passionate about music and dance so although the winter months are generally quieter in Cuba there is still plenty of activities to entertain you. The Annual Festival Internacional de Ballet takes place in October, and the acclaimed Festival International de Jazz (International Jazz Festival) take place in February.
For movie buffs the Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (Cuban’s film festival) is a must-see event.
Don’t let the dark, icy winters get you down, come and experience our beautiful Cuba weather instead.
For details on events and festivals in Cuba, please see our calendar. Which one will you choose?
More detailed information on weather in Cuba can be found on our Cuba weather page, including month-by-month guides to help you choose the best time to visit.
Safety in Cuba – is Cuba safe?
Is Cuba Safe?
Unlike many other parts of Latin America, Cuba has a low crime rate and is a safe country to visit. Crime, of course takes place, but violent crime against tourists is not usual. Even in a city like Havana, it is safe to walk the streets.
Due to the fact that Cuba is a one-party state, there is a strong police presence and guns are illegal, so you needn’t be worried about drive-by shootings or gun crime.
There are scams, robberies and pick- pockets, but as long as you are aware and follow the safety rules, you shouldn’t be affected by petty crime. Cuba is safe and it is a marvellous place to take a holiday.
Just follow these simple safety rules to help you keep safe in Cuba:
- Always change your money at a bank, official exchange or by withdrawing cash from a cashpoint machine. Don’t walk around with your bag open or your wallet sticking out of your pocket.
- Make sure you don’t lock eyes with the street sellers, don’t engage them in conversation and don’t accept their offers of a taxi, a good place to stay, or a great exchange on your money or, even the offer to escort you to the best club in town.
- Everyone needs to earn a living, but if you use the services of the street vendors, you will find yourself out of pocket!
- If you want to get to know the locals talk to the shop assistants, the taxi drivers and your hosts, they will tell you if there are any places you should avoid, or where the street vendors or beggars tend to pester tourists.
- If you don’t want to do your sightseeing alone, then go on trips with an official excursion company and see the sites with other tourists.
- If you go out at night, take care with alcohol, people who are drunk are an easy target for theft and if you out very late, get a taxi back to your accommodation. Make sure it is a registered taxi and that the driver uses the meter.
- Keep copies of your passport and credit card numbers and the phone numbers that you will need to ring up and cancel them, if they are stolen and don’t carry your passport round with you.
Using your common sense and being aware of the people around you applies to holidaying in any country in the world. Cuba is a friendly country, the majority of people are kind and helpful and Cuba is a lot safer than many other countries.
So, come on – Vamos Cuba – Stay Safe – Enjoy!
Have a look at this independent article about Safety in Cuba.
Internet in Cuba
Using the Internet and your mobile in Cuba
How to stay in touch with family and friends when you’re in Cuba
Using the internet in Cuba is now a lot easier, thanks to the underseafibre optic cable from Venezuela, although it is still nowhere near the speeds that we are used to in Europe.
Apart from being slow, it is also expensive, but if you are determined to use the internet while you’re in Cuba and you’ve got the money to spend on it and the patience to wait for the pages to load, here’s how to go about it.
These are the official internet rooms of Cuba’s telecommunications company, ETECSA. They are a bit like internet cafes, only they don’t sell any food or drink, it is basically an office space with computers, which is open to the public. They are open from 8.30 in the morning until 7pm in the evening, 7 days a week. There are 2 in Miramar district and 2 in Vedado, one of them is in the Focsa building, which is the highest residential building in Havana.
Where else you can use the Internet in Cuba?
UPDATE January 2018: Now one hour of internet card costs 1CUC for one hour. Many public WIFI points are available around all Cuba.
Skype is unreliable, mainly because of the slow internet speeds, if you want to try and use it, then pay the extra to use the internet in a hotel, which is slightly faster than in the Nauto rooms.
Using Your Mobile Phone in Cuba
Unless you manage to get a special package with your service provider, roaming charges will make the cost of phone calls very expensive. Sending texts is much cheaper, although they will still cost between 40p and 60p depending on your service provider. Receiving a text is free, so advise your family and friends back home to use texts, rather than phoning.
There are public phones in Havana and you can buy phone cards, which make them cheaper to use. The cost is about 4 CUC per minute to phone the UK, so that’s about £2.36 – which means you need to talk fast! Cards can be purchased for 10 or 25 CUC.
So, now you know that you can keep in touch with the folks back home, if you need to.
Your Financial Protection
The Package Travel Regulations 1992 require us to provide security for the monies that you pay for the package holidays booked from this brochure and/or website and for your repatriation in the unlikely event of our insolvency. We provide this by placing any monies paid by you the customer into a trust account held by PTS – Protected Travel Service. We are not allowed to draw money from that account until you return from your holiday or the trip is cancelled. For more information about PTS please click here:
Getting the Right Visa
A Tourist card is normally issued for 30 days with an exception for Canadiens (90days). If you want to stay for another month you need to extend your visa at immigration in Havana or other city in Cuba for extra charge. Its very easy and fast to obtain the tourist card either via online website, or directly with Cuban embassy. Feel free to contact us if you need any help.
Recommended website: VisaCuba
A Student visa is required only if you will be studying in Cuba more then 30 days.
Its compulsory for tourist travelling to Cuba to have appropriate travel insurance before they entry Cuba. ¡Vamos*Cuba! can advise you on this matter if you wish.
Advice for Australians Travelling to Cuba
We've put together this guide for Australians travelling to Cuba. If you have any further questions about how to travel to Cuba from Australia, please don't hesitate to get in touch!
Tourists Scams in Cuba
Is Cuba Dangerous?
In general Cuba is one of the safest countries you could visit. Tourism is an important economic resource for Cuba so in addition to the genuine interest and friendship which you may experience from local people, the Cuban authorities are also working in the background to ensure that you have a trouble free visit.
Scams to Avoid
Unfortunately, a few less than honest Cubans make their living by running scams on tourists. Known as jineteros (opportunists) they can be usually found in popular tourist places such as Casa de la Musica or Havana Vieja.
Although they may appear to be friendly, the friendship they are offering is not genuine and simply a scam to obtain money.
It is not uncommon in Cuba for a stranger to strike up conversation with you. Whilst they may be genuine there is also a chance that they are simply checking to see whether or not you will be a suitable target so if you have just arrived or the person is overly friendly be wary about what information you disclose.
The jineteros, who usually speak good English, are keen to create a good impression and so may say that they are teachers or professionals who want to practise their English.
Whilst chatting to a friendly Cuban is not an unpleasant experience, the scam comes when they invite you to go for a drink or to a party. Within a matter of minutes (or so it seems) their friends will appear and before you know it you will be picking up the bar bill.
This may not seem too bad, and it wouldn’t be if the drinks were at the correct price, but the prices are highly inflated. This is because the main prize for the jinetero, apart from the free drinks,is the backhander he will receive from the bar or cafe owner.
The jineteros rely on your lack of knowledge, so if you have just arrived, saying that it is your second visit to Cuba or that you are visiting Cuban friends or relatives may put them off.
Another recommendation is not to buy puros (cigars) on the street. Whilst they may be at bargain prices do you really know what you are buying? Far better to wait and purchase them from one of the official shops such as those in Havana Vieja or even at the airport on your way home.
Enjoy Cuban Hospitality
Despite the fact that Cuba is in a difficult economic situation and many people are struggling Cubans are naturally outgoing and the warm welcome you will receive from them is second to none. Whether you travel with your family, alone or in a group you will be overwhelmed by the friendliness of the Cuban people.
Be wary of the jineteros, but don’t let this put you off your visit. The majority of Cubans are genuine and regardless of their economic circumstances will offer friendship without expecting anything in return.
Money in Cuba
How Money Works in Cuba
There are two official currencies in Cuba. One is the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the other is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). Unlike other places in the world, you can’t buy your currency before you get to Cuba, you have to buy it when you are in Cuba.
If you buy American Dollars beforehand, you will be charged a 10% penalty to change your currency into CUC. Take a credit card with you for emergencies and when you can to Cuba, change your pounds or Euros into CUC.
CUC is the currency most used by tourists and visitors and if you want to, its the only currency you will need. However, if you are buying local purchases like street food, bread, fruit and drinks, you might like to go local and make your purchases using the Cuban peso.
You can exchange your CUC for Cuban pesos (CUP) at any Cadeca (exchange office), or at your hotel if they have the facilities to change money and then you can use both currencies. You will need your passport to change money in Cuba.
If you want to take a ride in an old Cuban taxi, you can pay with CUC, but if you have some Cuban pesos, the price will be slightly cheaper. The same applies to things like street food or ice cream.
You will get 24/25 pesos per CUC if you exchange them, so if you pay for something that is advertised in CUP and you pay in CUC, don’t forget to wait, or ask for the change.
Credit cards aren’t something you’ll see being used a lot in Cuba. Everyone pays in cash. There are ATM machines in Havana. These will accept English Visa cards and Debit cards without a problem, only those that are linked to American banks might be difficult to use. Cash machines might be hard to find outside of the city, so if you go on an excursion, take cash with you.
Your Vamos Cuba host will know where the exchange office and the cash machines are located and you will be given the details on the first day of your stay in Cuba.
Once you have been a day or so in Cuba, you’ll get the hang of it and the money won’t seem so confusing.
Cuban Visa and Travel Insurance
The Cuban visa is a simple Tourist card needed for entry to Cuba. It is normally issued for 30 days, with an exception for Canadians who will receive a 90-day tourist card. If you want to stay in Cuba for an additional month after your tourist card expires, you will need to purchase an extension from the immigration office in Havana (or other provincial offices) for an additional charge of $25 CUC.
It’s very easy and fast to obtain the tourist card either online, or directly from your nearest Cuban embassy. Feel free to contact us if you need any help with this matter. We could recommend obtaining your Cuba tourist card from VisaCuba.
A student visa is required only if you are planning to study in Cuba more than 30 days.
In previous years, a $25 CUC departure tax was required to be paid by all individuals leaving Cuba, but this charge should now be included in your flight taxes.
The Cuban Government decided on February 16 2010 that all travellers, foreigners, and Cubans living abroad, coming to the island after May 1 2010 will be required to obtain medical insurance. To meet such requirements, travellers need to have valid travel insurance for the duration of their visit. Your travel insurance policy needs to cover medical expenses, or you will need a medical insurance policy for medical expenses with coverage in Cuba, before you will be granted entry clearance to the island.
Travellers might be asked during the immigration check to demonstrate that they have valid insurance.
Cuba Photo Gallery
Places to see in Cuba
Vinales Valley, Cuba
Our client with her salsa teachers
Enjoying self made Coco Loco in Vinales, Cuba
Great beach day in Playa Jutias
Casa Particular Luxury Havana
Our clients cycling to Havana
Our client with her salsa teachers
Pina Colada en Finca,Vinales
Casa Comfort Havana
8 Days Private Tour
FOOD & DRINKS IN CUBA
Cuban food has a bad reputation, probably created by someone who had one too many bowls of rice and beans while visiting the island. While this staple dish may often appear on dinner tables across Cuba, there are a lot of other authentic Cuban dishes that will have you going back for seconds.
The most important thing to note about Cuban food is that it is all organic, largely due to the trade embargo with the US which makes it difficult to access pesticides. It’s also very wholesome and unprocessed, and will often be built around a small amount of meat. Vegetarianism is still quite rare in Cuba, as meat is still seen as an essential part of the diet. However, as more tourists visit the country, the variety of food available is changing.
Things you need to know: Breakfast is included on all tours and holidays. This will usually be eaten at your casa particular and will be varied. Typical breakfast items include eggs, ham, toast, cereal, fruit and coffee. We recommend eating breakfast in your casa particular, but we can offer tips of local restaurants or paladares – from cheap and cheerful cafeterias to luxury private restaurants. Your tour guide will mention this during your orientation walk (included in every package).
Things to note: Despite Cuba’s reputation for bad food, you won’t go hungry if you know the right places to eat! Vegetarians and vegans may struggle to find as many options as their omnivorous travel buddies, but rest assured that your casa particular owner will go out of their way to make sure you are catered for. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please let us know in advance so we can forewarn your case owner.
Rice is used more frequently than potatoes, as it is more widely available. In 2014, potatoes were only available for one month and people waited in long lines to get their hands on them. Pasta isn’t very common in Cuba, but you may occasionally see street vendors selling spaghetti.
If you’re worried about getting your five-a-day while on holiday, you needn’t be, as fresh fruit and juice is widely available for around 3 Cuban Pesos (around 7p).
Tea drinkers be warned! The Cuban people are proud coffee drinkers, and with good reason, as they have some of the best coffee in the world. It is typically served in an espresso shot, and infused with Demerara sugar during the pulling process. It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!
For those with a sweet tooth, you will have many opportunities to try some delicious Cuban desserts. Brightly coloured cakes are common at celebration dinners, as are Cuban staples such as tres leches cake and flan.
Cuba should be named the cocktail capital of the world, as it’s the home to so many delicious options! Try a mojito, daiquiri, or Cuba Libre. Beer drinkers are also well catered for, as Cuba has many delicious beer options to choose from. Bucaneroa and Cristal are the two most popular and widely available, while some locals will swear by local beers such as Cacique and Mayabe. They’re all light and highly refreshing lagers, perfect after a day at the beach – we would recommend you try them all and pick your favourite!