By: Kiersten Rich.
Cuba is a country with a complicated yet fascinating history. For years, the trade embargo prevented US citizens from visiting the Caribbean Island. But in 2016, everything changed when the restrictions were lifted.
And although the rules changed yet again in 2019, visiting the mysterious island is not impossible. Before you plan a visit, make sure to check on regulations and restrictions in place, as things are subject to change.
Less than a hundred miles away from the United States, the minute you arrive, you feel as if you’ve been transported back to the 1950s. With classic convertibles lining the streets, crumbling Spanish facades, and live street music on every corner, it’s no wonder it has become so popular with tourists from all over the world.
What to Expect
Language: The official language of Cuba is Spanish, with about 90% of its population speaking it as their first language.
Currency: The official currency of Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP) though they also use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). 1 USD is equivalent to 1 CUP.
Credit Cards & ATMs: At the moment, no US credit or debit card can be used in Cuba. This also includes using a US debit card to try to get cash out of a Cuban ATM. However, if you are using a card from somewhere else, like Canada or Europe, it’s likely your card will work, but you will run into a 3% charge for every payment. Cuba does have an expanding network of ATMs, but don’t expect a US-issued card to work with the machines. Any other country issued card will work just fine but again, expect a hefty fee.
Plugs: In Cuba, the power plugs are type A, B, C, and L, the standard voltage is 110 / 220 V, and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. I recommend buying a universal adapter (make sure it has surge protection) and using a converter for hairdryers and hot tools.
Safety: As a whole, Cuba is generally safer than many other countries, with violent attacks being rare. Petty theft, especially at the beach or in hotel rooms, can be common but small preventative measures work wonders. The same goes for pickpocketing.
Best Time to Visit
Because Cuba is a warm tropical climate, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong time to visit. However, the country does experience two distinct seasons, dry and wet season.
The dry season runs from December to May, and you can expect dry, sunny days with no trace of clouds in the sky. The wet season runs from June through November.
Although a little rain doesn’t sound too bad, the country has the potential to be hit by a hurricane between August and October, so its best to avoid the area entirely.
However, more and more travelers have become interested in visiting Cuba so hotels are booking up quickly during the dry season meaning more and more people are willing to risk unpredictable weather to see the country sooner rather than later.
If this isn’t a risk you’re willing to take, I highly recommend booking very far in advance.
Top 15 Things to Do in Havana
Have a Mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio
Rent a Classic Car for a Spin Around Havana
Eat at La Guarida
Eat at a Paladar
Try a Cuban Sandwich
Stroll the Colorful Streets of Old Havana
Visit the Museum of the Revolution
Grab a Daiquiri at La Floridita
Stroll El Malecón
Shop for Rum and Cigars
Visit the Capitol Building
Watch the Cabaret at La Parisienne at Hotel Nacional
Fabrica de Arte Cubano
Visit Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón
Visit Ernest Hemingway’s House, Finca Vigía