Before going to Cuba, some information might be useful to you. And I give you the essential in this article.


{Information from November 2022} For Belgians and French people, you must obtain a tourist card before boarding the plane. For this, you can make the request by mail, or on site at the consulate (click here for more information). Download the “Tourist Visa or Tourist Card” form for update information and procedures. Count two full weeks, from the start of the process until you obtain the card. The price of the visa is €22 if you go there, count an additional €25 if you do it by mail or if someone does it for you.


When you arrive at the airport, you can see with your accommodation if they can arrange you a transfer. Be careful, some casa particulars make you pay more than it should be because you don’t know the price. For example from Havana airport, we paid €40 with our casa while on the way back I had one for €20. It may be worth seeing directly at the airport and negotiate there.

In Cuba, there are hotels or casa particulars. Booking.com  doesn’t offer accommodation in Cuba. You can book hotels via Reserving.com for example, or by contacting them directly. But hotels are more expensive than casa particulars.
In Cuba, casa particulars are more common. You have a room and a private bathroom each time, at a local place. Most of them will offer you an additional breakfast, and sometimes a dinner. This allows you to meet locals, and not pay too much. It’s a very enriching experience. To book them, you can contact them through Airbnb. Go through this site to see what are the prices. Unfortunately from Cuba, it’s impossible to book because the site blocks at the booking stage. But to get through this, you can contact the hosts from the application, and find a way to give your phone number. For example, you can write the first 5 digits of your number in letters, and the rest in numbers. Once you have their contacts, you can book directly with them, and  you avoid Airbnb fees. Personally, I wasn’t used to book accommodation directly with the locals without really going through an intermediary site. In Cuba, I never had a problem. If the host tells you that he is keeping the room for you, you’ll have your room as expected! You can also go door to door. Casas particulars have a small white sign with a very meaningful blue sign that you can find on many doors. You can knock on those doors and see. This isn’t the method I recommend as it takes time  and sometimes you can find it cheaper by doing it another way. I had most accommodations for an average of €10 per night for the room. If you’re 2, it’s very advantageous.
Be aware that when you arrive in the casa particulars, they have a register where they will indicate your information. This is how casa works in Cuba.
Now, you can buy a local SIM card. The advantage of the card is that you have internet almost everywhere. I haven’t used this solution so unfortunately I can’t give you the prices.
I personally used their famous ETECSA card. When you arrive in town, you can go to an ETECSA store and ask for wifi cards. They sell 1h or 5h cards. It’s around €1 for 5 hours of wifi. Then you can go to the ETECSA wifi points available in town. On maps.me application you can find the different points on the map. In some hotels and casa, they tell you they have wifi. They actually have an ETECSA wifi point and you need those cards to connect. To use them, it’s simple. You connect on the wifi, a page will then appear and ask for your username and password. Then the page will show the time remaining on your card. Once you are done, you just have to disconnect the internet from your phone and it will stop consuming your internet time. You must do this at each connection. Speed ​​isn’t very good everywhere. Sometimes you have to be patient. So download your movies, online books or other things in advance.
Some sites being blocked in Cuba, I advise you to download a VPN before. In this way, you’ll be able to access all the information you want without any geolocation problem. And it will allow you to book via Airbnb or your buses without any problem.

You can rent a car. It all depends on your budget. Make sure that gas stations have gas. As I haven’t done it that way, I won’t be able to give you more advice. Just be aware that the roads aren’t in good conditions, there are quite a few holes in some places.

If you don’t rent a car, you have 3 ways to get around.
1- Taxi: the most expensive but most effective solution. The taxi will take you wherever you want. If you make a return trip to a place, the driver will wait for you there as long as you want.
2 – Collectivo: between several cities, a collectivo service exists. You’re going to ask me, but what’s a collectivo? In Cuba, it’s actually a taxi that you share with other people. The company will find the others. Prices are more or less fixed (you can always negotiate a bit sometimes) between cities. For example from Santa Clara to Trinidad, it’s €20 per person. It’s super convenient because there are running every day, they pick you up at your accommodation, and drop you off at your next accommodation. You just have to ask your casa so they can organize the trip for you. Normally, you’ll almost always have a collectivo the day before. They travel between the main Cuban cities. Make sure the price is fixed, no matter how many people  are in the taxi. Ask for a business card at the first collectivo you take, in order to get an idea about the ​​prices. You’ll have the listed prices on it. You can then contact them by WhatsApp.
For taxis and collectivos, you can be in cars that are around ten years old or old American cars! I sometimes wondered how these cars could still drive, especially when you see your driver braking with the handbrake downhill…
3 – Bus Viazul: In Cuba, tourists can only take one bus company, Viazul. I didn’t try to take the local buses as I read that the agencies and the drivers refuse to take you if you aren’t Cuban. And it’s true that when you arrive at the bus station, they all point you to the Viazul agency. You can book your buses directly online or at a bus station. Please note that there aren’t daily buses. On the other hand, the good thing is that the prices are fixed, no matter when you take your ticket. If you book online in Cuba, you won’t be able to proceed to the payment stage, I never really understood why. But you can make a reservation and then go to a bus station to finish the payment. On the bus station, you must give your luggage to what they call a check-in area. They weigh your bag, then give you a numbered ticket. Which is great because to get your bag back, they check if it’s yours. You’re pretty sure to pick it up when you get off the bus. The buses are sometimes not on time, but it’s still reasonable. I’ve never waited more than an hour for the bus. Plan a sweater for the trip because they put on the air conditioning. There aren’t toilets on the bus. But it stops often enough at bus stations, or sometimes at restaurants. You usually have to pay to access it, it’s annoying but no choice. If you’re on the bus for a long time, don’t rely too much on a set time to eat. At the bus station they can’t tell you if the bus will stop for an hour to eat. So sometimes he will stop for an hour at lunchtime (or 3 p.m.) at a stopover restaurant, or sometimes not. I took the night bus and I never had a problem, nor control. The seats are ok to be able to sleep.
Read this paragraph carefully because I met a few people bothered by this subject in Cuba.
Before traveling to Cuba, notify your banks. There are some countries where if you use your card they will immediately block it. And you don’t want to end up in a country without money.
Once there, know that they accept two currencies: the Euro or the American dollar, and the Cuban pesos. Some will tell you that you only have to pay with euros or US dollars, but it all depends on what you’re doing. Collectivos, excursions, casa particulars (including breakfasts and dinners at their homes), and supermarkets are to be paid preferably in euros or US dollars. The rest you can pay in Cuban pesos. You pay almost everything in cash, except for certain excursions, such as the one we did in Trinidad.
To have Cuban pesos, you can exchange in the official offices (I saw only one at the airport then nothing), in the street but beware of scams, or directly at your host, which is a good solution. You agree on the exchange rate and he will exchange the money with you. Make sure it’s not more expensive than what you could withdraw from the bank. Sometimes I paid for accommodation in euros, and asked them to give me change in Cuban pesos to have both currencies. You can always withdraw Cuban currency at an ATM, but beware of power cuts and sometimes the ATM runs out of cash. I really advise you to have all the cash in Euros or US dollars beforehand so as not to worry about this point.
In general, in the casa particular, they can cook for you. I never really asked if I could access the kitchen because the supermarkets are expensive for local prices anyway.
Cubans have access to certain foods through tickets, which are obviously not accessible to tourists. So in some cities, you might not be able to buy much such as sandwiches. They have some street foods but there are pizzas or sometimes snacks. Don’t expect to find brands you know. There are quite a few fruit and vegetable vendors on the street. You can easily find and buy what you want. It’s the cheapest and most accessible type of food.
There are many restaurants in towns. More or less expensive depending on where you are. You can eat between €30 and €8. The portions aren’t very big sometimes. In general what I did to not spend too much money is I had breakfast at the host (about €5 each time), then I had fruit or an avocado for lunch, and I ate early evening in the restaurant. When you go to a restaurant, don’t be in a hurry. They take time to prepare and serve you. Besides, you’ll surely not find everything on the menu. It will often depend on the stocks they have, and sometimes it comes down to 4 or 5 dishes versus about fifteen on the menu. In terms of Cuban specialties, it will depend on the regions or cities. I invite you to look at the articles of Viñales and Baracoa to have the addresses of the best restaurants in Cuba.

In most cities I went to, there were power cuts every day. They never know what time it will happen, or how long it will last. So when you have electricity, take the opportunity to charge your devices that are at the end of their battery, because it can last several hours. The only places I haven’t had one are in Havana and Varadero, a city full of all-inclusive resorts. In Baracoa, the cuts are by district, not necessarily the whole city at the same time. Some places have generators but not all.

For some entries, be aware that you have local prices and tourist prices. You will always pay more than the locals. It’s like that in many countries. You just have to be careful that you pay the displayed price, and not too much.
For excursions, you have tourist agencies in the big Cuban cities, or you can ask your casa particular directly. Do not hesitate to go to different agencies to compare prices (Infotur, Cubatur). If you’re traveling alone, they may ask you to pay double for some excursions. Try to meet people on the way to share the costs, and have a good time together.
In general, bring all the medications and toiletries you need. Sometimes they don’t have everything. For a few days in Cuba, even for a month, take everything you need.
The locals are very kind. They are helpful and you can trust them, obviously by being careful as everywhere in the world. I’ve never had things stolen or mugged in the street. A host from a casa even came to the bus station to bring me back something I had forgotten at his place. In some cities, as a woman walking alone, you may have a slight street harassment. People who will try to call you or get your attention often. It’s a bit annoying after a while. But if you’re walking with another person, any gender, you don’t have that subject anymore. I found it strange but it was the case so…

Cuba is a country that I loved. I won’t lie to you that I had a culture shock at the beginning even if I had done a lot of countries before. After a few days of adaptation, I was able to fully enjoy my trip. Colorful cities, unique architecture, adorable locals, incredible landscapes! I have great memories of it today. A country to see, and which will surprise you in a good way!

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