Travel Tips

LOCAL TIME

GMT – 5 hours during spring and summer and – 4 hours during autumn and winter (same time zone as New York & East Coast USA)

CLIMATE – WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CUBA?

Cuba has a hot and sunny tropical climate with an average yearly temperature of 25C.

Cuba’s weather is pleasant all year round – but in our view the best months to go are between March & June and November.  Availability and prices are reasonable during these months (with the exception of Easter week) and the weather is just perfect.

July and August can be very hot months and hotel availability may be complicated.  Christmas and Easter periods are considered peak season.

Hurricane season in Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean runs from June to November, with the fiercest storms typically blowing through in September and October.

DO I NEED A VISA?

UK and EU passport holders need to purchase a tourist card, which we can provide. You also need to ensure your passport is valid at least six months after your date of return. You must not loose this document, you will need it for departure. The Tourist Card allows its holder to stay for up to 90 days from the date of entry into the country and it is valid for one entry into Cuba. Children, regardless of their age, also require a tourist card.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

We’ve shortlisted a few important arrangements you should check well in advance of travelling.
Click here to find out more.

HOW WILL I GET AROUND?

The easiest way to travel within Cuba is by renting a car and driving yourself. You need to be aware that unfortunately GPS or Sat Nav systems do not work in Cuba as yet. But still, self-drive is a popular option for travellers, especially from the U.K.  Hire cars may be a few years old, and some show some wear and tear, but are well maintained and generally reliable.  A good map for navigation is essential, as road signs may be limited.  Many locals speak good English and will be happy to direct you should you struggle to find your destination.

There are other alternatives for those who don’t fancy driving: private transfers, collective transfers and / or travelling using VIAZUL, which is the national regular coach service in Cuba.

WHAT’S THERE FOR CHILDREN TO DO?

Cuba is a perfect destination for families travelling with children. We recommend you choose a hotel in Havana with a swimming pool (Sevilla Hotel and Parque Central are normally the best options for families travelling with children). Varadero, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria are our top recommendations for families heading to the beach. In these areas, there is a good selection of all inclusive beach resorts with good food, excellent hotel entertainment and great kids clubs.

ARE GAY TRAVELLERS WELCOMED?

Homosexuality is not illegal in Cuba.

For decades following the Revolution, gays and lesbians were closeted and persecuted (Read Reinaldo Arenas’ Before Night Falls). The blockbuster movie Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate) certainly brought the issue to the forefront but, at present there are no openly accepted gay or lesbian establishments in Cuba.

Havana has a discreet gay community, who normally congregate  in the Vedado and La Rampa areas in the evening.  Santa Clara is perhaps the most openly gay city in Cuba and there is an annual gay and transvestite carnival in the middle of May. Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, heads the National Center for Sex Education and champions homosexual, bisexual, and transgender rights. In mid-May 2008, the state-television network transmitted Brokeback Mountain on TV, the first time a gay film has been broadcast in Cuba. Cuba also held an anti-homophobia day for the second time in May 2008, promoted by Mariela Castro. The legalization of same-sex marriage has also been talked about.

WHAT PROVISIONS ARE MADE FOR DISABLED TRAVELLERS?

All airports and major hotels provide facilities for the disabled. Assistance to disabled travellers on local airlines is available with prior notice and more and more hotels are catering for the disabled.

MONEY MATTERS

Please note American credit cards and travellers cheques cannot be used in Cuba.  The currency used by tourists is the CUC or convertible peso which trades at near parity with the US dollar. You may change your currency at banks, bureau de change (at the airport on arrival) or hotels throughout the country. Please be aware that there are not many cash machines in Cuba. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in Cuba but it is advisable to check with your bank before travelling.  Convertible pesos can not be exchanged back into hard currency outside Cuba, so you are advised to exchange them before leaving the country (but remember to retain 25 convertible pesos for departure tax when leaving the country).  You are strongly advised NOT to exchange money on the black market on the streets.

SAFETY – SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?

Cuba is the country with the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere. Generally speaking, Cuba is a very safe destination although in big cities like Havana or Santiago de Cuba, like in any major city, you need to be aware of your belongings.

WHAT HEALTH PRECAUTIONS ARE REQUIRED?

Vaccinations are not needed for Cuba. Bringing with you antibiotics, paracetamol, plasters and anything you may need for personal hygiene is always a good idea. You can always leave these behind when coming back and this will make a great gift for the local people. One important item you must not forget is good mosquito repellent! In some areas, like in Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo and even in Varadero, you will definitely need it.

HABLAS ESPANOL?

The national language in Cuba is Spanish. It is always useful to learn a few basic phrases like “cuanto cuesta” (how much…) or “donde esta…” (where is…) but you will notice that most Cuban people speak a good level of English, especially in the tourist resorts.

CLOTHES – WHAT TO BRING

Casual clothes mostly. Some five-star hotels will require smart attire for dinner time.

PLUGS & TECHNOLOGY

Cuba has 110 volt electricity usually but some new hotels operate on 220 volts. The most common type of socket is the american two-pin style but best if you bring an international converter plug. Most hotels have generators in the event of a power cut.

TIPPING IN CUBA

It is always a good thing to tip when you have been provided with a good service. Tipping in Cuba is common. With average wages of approximately 3o convertible pesos per month, tips will be welcomed by Cuban locals.

ARE TOURS & OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS AVAILABLE

Yes. Normally these are pre-booked locally from our holiday reps or directly at your hotel bureau.

INTERNET ACCESS

The majority of hotels offer this service at a small additional charge.

        

 

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