Cuba travel advice
There is no doubt Cuba is a stunning destination and visitors flock to its sun-drenched shores mostly on all-inclusive package holidays because, compared to other Caribbean islands, it’s inexpensive: often they never leave their holiday complex. We do not deal with the all-inclusive package side of the market but instead concentrate on designing tailor-made journeys throughout Cuba to discover the country’s fascinating history, passionate people and beautiful landscapes.
We use knowledgeable local guides to help you make the most of your time and experienced drivers to navigate surprisingly long distances. At the time of writing the Foreign Office advice is to avoid internal air travel within Cuba, hence we do not recommend flying as a means of transport around the country. Although Cuba’s focus is now on tourism to ensure its future prosperity, the country is a law unto itself when it comes to service levels and quality of food. Our trips are designed to discover the less-visited places, avoiding high-rise hotels and though they may not be luxurious, are in unique locations that incorporate the essence of the country.
UK passport holders require a Cuban Tourist card to visit Cuba: we can arrange this on your behalf. As well as being a fantastic country to visit in its own right Cuba can very easily be combined with Costa Rica or Mexico.
Cuba's official language is Spanish. English is only widely spoken within the tourist industry so having a few choice phrases of Spanish is always useful, especially in more rural areas.
Food and drink
Dining in Cuba is an experience that is enjoyed for the atmosphere and ambience, not for the quality of the food. This is due to food shortages and the restrictions on private enterprise. Most of the restaurants in the country are state owned and offer wholesome but not gastronomic cuisine. Dining in a 'Paladar' is a much more entertaining experience. Paladares are small, private, family run restaurants often found in a family home, giving them a unique atmosphere. The cooks at Paladares are usually more imaginative with the food available and the best meal you have in Cuba will often be in a Paladar. Vegetarians are not well catered for in Cuba as vegetables are often cooked in fat.
Money and expense
Cuba has a dual currency, the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) which was introduced to offer an alternative to the US dollar. Some places only accept Cuban pesos and others only Convertible Pesos (usually tourist related establishments). Since 2004 US Dollars are no longer accepted, and an 18% commission is charged to exchange them, so you are better off taking Euros and Sterling to exchange for Cuban Convertibles. You can find ATMS in the main cities such as Trinidad and Havana but outside of these it can be difficult and even here they often do not function.
Tipping customs have recently changed and now it is recommended that tourists tip a small amount, not necessarily a percentage. At times taxi drivers, hotel porters, waiters and ubiquitous musicians will expect (or even demand) a tip. Most Cubans earn an average of £13 to £15 a month so it is no surprise that many Cubans have turned to tourism as a good tip can easily triple their salaries. However many Cuban's, especially in more rural areas, are proud people and offering a tip to someone giving you directions or inviting you into their homes for a coffee can be an insult.
Please ask permission before taking photographs.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
When to go to Cuba
You’ll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Cuba.
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