Currency: Cuban Pesos
Electricity: 110V – but why worry about this? Grab a universal plug adapter!
Major Cities: Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Vinales
Check out the best things to do in Cuba.
Americans can visit Cuba but there are some restrictions. You’ll need to choose a valid Travel Category and purchase a Cuban Tourist Card. Both are easy to do, you just have to understand the details! Everything you need to know before visiting Cuba can be read here.
Read more: Yes, Americans Can Visit Cuba – Here’s How
Carry British pounds, Mexican Pesos or Euros to exchange for local currency. You can exchange US Dollars, but there will be an extra 10% surcharge.
Also, make sure to have health insurance for your trip sorted before you leave – this is a requirement from the Cuban government.
Cuba has a hot, humid climate so pack lots of breathable, lightweight fabrics. Sturdy walking shoes are a must as well I cover what I wore in Cuba in depth in my packing post!
Read more: What to Bring to Cuba
Expect to have an unplugged vacation in Cuba. Wifi access is nonexistent, as even locals must purchase a data card. If you visit Cuba on a cruise, most cruise ships will have satellite internet which you can pay a daily rate to use.
Havana has a couple public hotspots. What this means is that you can purchase a data card, walk here and tap into the internet. It’s honestly a bit of a pain and also expensive so I didn’t see the need to have internet on my trip.
While I wouldn’t say Cuba has more scams than other countries, travelers should always keep their wits about them. It’s common to get off the bus station and be inundated with offers for rooms, taxis, tours, you name it. This is quite common in Asia too!
If you look like a tourist and are walking around, enterprising Cubans will often approach and ask if you would like a guided tour, a restaurant recommendation, a hotel room, etc. They are intermediaries, and will get a kick back from the place they take you to. Of course, if you are the spontaneous type and arrive without a bed for the night, this can be just what you want…
If someone invites you to their home for a meal, understand that they are expecting you to pay for the meal. Rather than a host invitation or immersive experience, they will cook for you and seat you by yourself as if you are dining in a restaurant within their home.
For any shopping, whether it be aged political posters or vintage taxis, be sure to haggle and haggle hard – often the standard price is 1/3 of what they seller starts with.
Some locals will also approach to ask you for gifts. Cash, clothing, bags, soap – nearly everything is in demand as resources are limited and shops in Cuba frequently run out of items to sell. If you give, know that it’s not uncommon for locals to tell their friends that so-and-so tourist is generous so that you will be followed around the city by more and more people asking for gifts.
The American embargo on Cuba lasted for 50 years so resources are in extremely short supply. In such an environment, it’s natural that tourists can be seen as rich targets.
Read more: Where to Stay in Cuba: The Ultimate Guide