Are you planning a trip to Cuba? Here are my tips and tricks and a 2 week itinerary to get you started!
I highly recommend staying at a casa particulares instead of a state hotel. The service is much better and you get way more bang for your buck.
You can book your casa particulares from home or let the owner of you casa arrange the next one, depends on how much flexibilty you like. I arranged everything from home because I want full control in deciding what accommodations to stay. I also only had 2 weeks in Cuba and already knew what places I wanted to visit. I emailed each casa directly. This way I don’t have to pay a fee to a broker (like Airbnb or Booking) and the casa also receives all of the money.
Here is a list of the casa particulares I stayed at (and recommend).
Hostal Peregrino Consulado, Consulado 152 (btwn Colon & Trucadero), www.hostalperegrino.com, email@example.com, 7-861-8027. Price 40 CUC (double) including breakfast.
Villa los Reyes, Salvador Cisnero 206C, www.villalosreyes.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 48-79-33-17. Price: 30 CUC (single), 40 CUC (double) including breakfast.
Casa Las Golondrinas, Calle 39 (btwn Avs 58 & 60), email@example.com, 43-51-57-88. Price: 25 CUC (double), 5 CUC for breakfast.
Casa Sofia, 220 Simon Bolivar street (btwn Frank Pais & Clemente Pereira str), http://casasofia.zohosites.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 41-99-36-31. Price 30 CUC (double), 5 CUC for breakfast.
Casa Mary y Angel, Calle 43 – Av 1, www.casamaryyangel.com/varadero, email@example.com, 45-61-23-83. Price 40 CUC (double), 5 CUC for breakfast.
To go from one place to another you can either take the Viazul bus or the taxi collectivo. The prices are similar. The tickets for the Viazul bus are better to be arranged from home on their website. Not able to book or already in Cuba? Then it’s better to use the taxi collectivo. The Viazul bus is comfortable but dress warm with the aircondition blowing. The taxi collectivo is faster and picks you up and drops you of at your casa particulares. For the shorter rides I recommend the taxi collectivo. It also saves you an hour waiting time at the bus station and going there.
You need a visum when going to Cuba. Order one online for €20 or it might be included if you book a flight with a tour operator.
Upon arriving in Cuba you need to be able to show you have medical insurance that is covered in Cuba. Ask your travel insurance company to send you a letter in English about your coverage. The insurance companies know about this and can provide you with a letter. If customs ask you about this and you can’t show any proof of insurance, you are obligated to get an expensive insurance right there. When I arrived I wasn’t asked, but it does happen.
Bring (enough) cash
Make sure to bring enough cash in Euros to last you throughout the trip. Even though ATM’s are getting more common in the larger cities, I definitely wouldn’t rely on this. When there is an ATM it might only accept VISA (not Master card or Meastro). Do not bring American dollars; a 10% penalty fee will be added to the exchange.
Bring a guide book
Although internet is slowly getting more common in Cuba, you don’t want to rely on this when planning your trip while there. A guide book like the Lonely Planet might just be your savior. I personally also brought a few prints of information or blogs about things I wanted to see or do.
Download the Maps.me app
The Maps.me app is better than Google Maps for offline navigation in Cuba. It even shows all the points of interests and the casa particulares with the map of Cuba that you must download while you’re still at home and have a reliable internet connection.
Download the Google Translate app for offline use
Install the Spanish, English (and your own language) dictionary. This always helps when needing to ask something in Spanish. A phrase book can also be handy but an app is mucht faster and doesn’t take any physical space.
Are you planning on going to Cuba for 2 weeks? Here is an itinerary to a trip to Cuba that includes all; cities, beaches, breathtaking valleys, tobacco plantations, waterfalls and more.
Havana (2-3 days)
Start the trip in Havana (and if you fly into Varadero, take a ride with a tour bus here). Be amazed by the American cars, the local life and the colonial buildings.
Vinales (3 days)
From Havana take the Viazul bus or taxi collectivo to Vinales. After the day of arrival make sure you have two full days. Go horse riding, see caves or hike in the valley. Nature lover? It doesn’t get better than this. Use the last day for of the beaten track hiking or take a taxi collectivo to Cayo Jutias.
Cienfuegos (1 day)
When arriving in Cienfuegos in the afternoon, you’ve seen it all that very day. Arrange a taxi collectivo to El Nicho waterfall the next day and after be dropped of in Trinidad. Trust me, you definitely want to see El Nicho!
Trinidad (3 days)
The city with a relaxed atmosphere. Explore Trinidad and its surroundings. Cycle to Playa Ancon, take a tour to Toppes de Collantes. Other options are the closer by waterfall Javira or the train to Valle de los Ingenios.
Playa Larga (1-2 days)
I didn’t visit Playa Larga and the town isn’t that great, but the Bay of Pigs is the place to go diving, or snorkling in the Cueva de los peces.
Beach (2 days)
Spend the last says at the beach like Varadero, maybe buy some cigars and rum as souvenirs. And just relax.