Beautiful Cuba is both exotic and fascinating country, a dream destination if you prepare properly for your visit. It is certainly different from most other places you have been to.
White-sanded Caribbean beaches, charming small towns, vintage cars, cigars and salsa – the list is long.
Its almost like traveling back in time – time has stopped here thanks to Cuba being isolated from the outside world for over 50 years.
If this is your first time, here are some very helpful tips how to visit Cuba on a budget. First of all, if you are looking for sun and beach, family type of holiday – Cuba is not for you.
You’d be better off somewhere in Thailand for instance. The country has lots to offer and is best for curious explorers and adventure seekers.
The country, its people and culture are very different from the rest of the world.
How to visit Cuba on a budget
Havana is the capital and largest city of Cuba. We don’t recommend staying here for longer than 2-3 days as the center of town is rather small.
Everything is quite expensive, too – hotels, food and services. Instead, consider taking a road trip around the island. Additionally to standard travel tips, there are some exclusive tips just for Cuba, which we are going to share below.
What to pack?
Make sure to pack following items:
- Sunscreen (hard to find it there)
- Toilet paper roll (also hard to find)
- Indigestion pills
- Wet wipes
- Backpacking food (e.g. instant soups)
- At least 2 credit cards with different payment systems
- As many Euros as you can (there is 10% tax on US Dollars when exchanging currency)
Stay away from hotels
Local B&B’s called Casa Particular can be found all over the country. You won’t find them online, so once you arrive at a new place, look for blue ship shaped signs.
Just knock on the door and ask for a room. The price is $20-40 per night and usually includes breakfast (fried eggs, fruits).
Make sure to bring some small souvenirs from you home country – the owners will love it!
As most locals can’t afford to eat out, all restaurants are targeted towards tourists.
You can choose between public and private restaurants, but we strongly recommend sticking to private ones.
By the way, there is no “ready food” in the stores. Outside Havana, in other cities you may find amazing, family owned restaurants with modest prices – just search on Tripadvisor for ideas.
Drinks in Cuba
Haggling in taxis
Tourist = walking wallet
Remember that tourism is big source of income in this poor country, so locals will do anything to get you paying.
Average salary in Cuba is only $80-100/month, so that is understandable. For instance, a dinner for two “gringos” in a restaurant will cost you on average around $50.
Make sure to have enough cash on you, as almost all credit cards will likely to be declined (especially issued in US).
Keep an eye for groups of people in the parks with their smartphones – that is likely to be a WiFi hotspot.
Cuban government opened the first 35 public wi-fi hotspots in 2015, so it is rather new here. You can purchase access cards from Etecsa in most large hotels or in company offices.
Price for 1 hour is $2, but you don’ have to spend it all at once.
Santiago de Cuba
The most beautiful, Caribbean style white-sanded beaches are found in Trinidad. Just a short taxi ride from the city center (don’t agree to pay more than $5 for the taxi).
It’s an artist town with lots of home galleries, where locals sell their work. On weekends it turns into party town, when local musicians play open air music on the main square.
Grab a cocktail for $2-3 and enjoy the atmosphere unlike anywhere else!