a classic pink car in Cuba on a busy street

Published: 11/28/19 November 28th, 2019

Like a Cuban-American, Talek Nantes has already established lots of experience traveling around Cuba. There&#8217s much more towards the country than simply all-inclusive resorts! Within this guest publish, she offers some an in-depth introduction to how you can travel around Cuba just like a local.

I’ve been traveling between Cuba and also the US since i have was created. (Really, before I had been born: my mother found america when she was pregnant beside me. I love to say I had been produced in Havana and born in the united states.)

Like a Cuban-American who authored a magazine around the country and runs tours there, I’ve managed to get my pursuit to share my appreciation for Cuban culture with everybody who would like to go through it.

People frequently ask me if Cuba is costly.

It doesn’t need to be. It may be quite an inexpensive spot to visit.

From apparent attempted-and-true advice, like get your meals at locations a minimum of three blocks from popular tourist sites, to little-known tips just the locals know, here’s how you can experience Cuba on a tight budget.


1. How to save cash on Cuban currency exchanges

colorful buildings in downtown Havana

Cuban currency can’t be purchased overseas, because it is not traded worldwide, so it’s important to have it on arrival.

Cuba has two currencies: the CUC, that is what vacationers and visitors use, and also the CUP, also known as the peso, utilized by everybody else. Like a customer, all of your transactions will be performed in CUC, that is roughly comparable to one US dollar. There are approximately 25 CUP to at least one CUC.

Inside a country with 2 currencies, you should be aware of web site CUP and CUC. For instance, you shouldn’t pay too much in CUC when something is priced in CUP. So when you obtain vary from a CUC, make certain the modification isn’t in CUP. The easiest method to have them straight is to understand that a CUC has monuments on its face along with a CUP, or peso, has images of people.

Once in Cuba, you need to exchange money in the airport terminal “CADECA.” A CADECA may be the official government exchange location. Bear in mind that you’ll want your passport to be able to exchange currency.

Change barely enough to help you get for your accommodation, then change more in the CADECAs around, because they have better rates. Avoid exchanging currency at banks and hotels, because these offer less favorable rates.

Us residents must be aware that charge cards attracted upon us banks aren’t recognized in Cuba and ATMs cannot dispense money from US banks, which means you must bring enough cash to last the whole trip.


2. How to save cash in your accommodations in Cuba

a green car driving by on a street in Havana

To find the best bang for your buck, you cannot beat a casa particular.

Casas particulares, or casas for brief, would be the homes of local Cubans who rent rooms to visitors just like a B&#038B. You are able to rent an area inside a private home for typically 30 CUC every night.

The good thing of remaining having a Cuban family is you can come with an authentically Cuban experience. You consume together, spend time within their family room, have fun with their children or pets. You’re treated like among the family when you are there. That’s much more rewarding than remaining in a sterile hotel.

It’s very easy to reserve a casa. You are able to reserve on Airbnb or a variety of similar websites (though Airbnb frequently has got the largest selection and among the couple of sites Americans can broadly use). You need to pre-book a casa at home a minimum of for the first night’s remain in Cuba. Once in Cuba you are able to book the next nights yourself through either your host or simply by searching for any house using the casa sign (a blue anchor having a roof on the white-colored background) and just knocking around the door.

Otherwise, hostels will probably be your smartest choice to save money. Some top-rated Havana hostels range from the following:

  • Cuba 58 Hostel
  • Casa Rene &#038 Madelyn
  • Hostal DRobles
  • Casa Novo Guesthouse
  • Hostal Corazón del Mundo
  • Casa Zeila

Prices every night vary from around 5 to fifteen CUC, though the majority are around 11 CUC.

I’ve found casas is the best accommodation option. A hostel might be cheaper, but there are lots of casas with hostel prices, which means you obtain the best of all possible worlds: inexpensive plus interaction having a local family. Isn’t the bond along with other cultures among the primary reasons we travel?


3. The best place to eat in Cuba without emptying your wallet

vendors selling fruit on a street in Havana

The best place to eat in Cuba are paladares. They are independently owned (versus. government owned) restaurants. You will find all kinds of paladares, from high-finish establishments in renovated mansions to hole-in-the-wall stands.

Traditional dishes you’ll find at paladares include arroz disadvantage pollo (chicken and grain), ropa vieja (shredded beef), and lechón (roast pork). Typical drinks range from the classic mojito, daiquiri, and Cuba Libre. Fruit drinks will also be easily available. The neighborhood beers, Bucanero and Cristal, are extremely good.

Any guidebook points the paladares. There are also them within the A La Mesa application.

Typical costs (in CUCs) for meals in paladares are listed below:

High-finish paladar:

  • Lunch: 10–25
  • Dinner 15–35

Mid-range paladar:

  • Lunch: 7–10
  • Dinner: 10–25

A number of my personal favorite paladares in Havana include Doña Eutemia, close to the cathedral Los Mercaderes and San Cristóbal, where US President Barack Obama had lunch. An average meal at one of these simple will definitely cost about 15–20 CUC.

Street vendors will also be found through the country and provide little sandwiches, pizza, croquettes, pastries, along with other snacks for one to three CUC. Your meals are not great, but it definitely is budget-friendly.


4. Cuban transportation on a tight budget

a bicycle parked outside an art shop in Cuba

Transportation will probably be your greatest expense, with taxis being the most typical. Rule number 1 to get around in Cuba would be to negotiate prior to getting in. Tell the motive force where you need to go, or let him know on paper and get just how much (“¿Cuánto?”). Regardless of the driver states, counter with a few CUCs lower. The motorists are utilized to this they often start in a greater rate, anticipating that they’ll finish track of a lesser fee.

Yellow taxis are government-run (versus. independently owned). They are utilized by vacationers and they are probably the most costly.

Coco-taxis are basically motorcycles having a cover formed to resemble a yellow coconut (and so the name), and they’re everywhere. They are usually cheaper but could just take a couple at any given time.

Bici-taxis are rickshaw-like bicycles that’ll get you around Old Havana.

An alternative choice may be the colectivo, or collective taxi. They are cars that travel busy thoroughfares within city limits, obtaining and shedding off people because they complement. A visit in one finish of the busy, central street to another, or any place in between, will definitely cost about 50 % a CUC. The taxi is shared with as many as six people.

Buses are overcrowded, hard to rely on, and never air-conditioned but they’re inexpensive. They travel major routes mostly outdoors Old Havana.

Typical transportation costs:

  • Yellow government taxi: 10 CUC within city limits
  • Coco-taxi: 5 CUC within city limits only fits 2 people
  • Bici-taxi: 2 CUC per person only fits 2 people not motorized
  • Collective taxi: Half a CUC per trip inside a shared taxi
  • Bus: About .20 CUC

An enjoyable method to explore a large city like Havana is as simple as going for a tour inside a classic American convertible in the ’50s, but at forty to fifty CUC an hour or so, they aren’t very budget-friendly.


5. Remaining connected in Cuba without having to pay a lot of money

a tropical beach scene in Cuba with a palm tree

Access to the internet in Cuba is iffy. It’s not offered everywhere, where it’s, it’s hard to rely on.

The easiest method to keep in touch would be to purchase a web connection card, offered in increments of just one CUC each hour, in the local ETECSA, the Cuban government’s telecommunications office with branches all around the island. You apply the login and password around the card for connecting your phone or computer.

You can also buy a web connection card for the most part high-finish hotels, however the cost is often as high at 7 CUC each hour, so purchasing your card in an ETECSA is a big savings.

After you have your card, look for a location where one can connect. Most parks have connectivity, just like areas around ETECSA offices. Just search for categories of people huddled over their phones.

Greater-finish hotels offer Wi-Fi at crazy charges.

Should you not consume your online time, the leftover is going to be saved in your card and you’ll be able to utilize it again.

An average daily budget

For any typical day in Havana, Cuba’s most costly city, you will probably budget the following:

  • Breakfast at the casa: 5 CUC
  • Street food snacks: 2–5 CUC
  • Lunch in a paladar: 5–7 CUC
  • Dinner in a paladar: 5–10 CUC
  • Alcoholic drink: mojito: 2–3 CUC, beer: 2 CUC, rum: 5 CUC/bottle
  • Room inside a casa: average 30 CUC
  • Intracity taxi: 2–10 CUC
  • Museum entrance fee: 2–8 CUC
  • Entrance fee to some music venue: free or 2–10 CUC
  • Web connection card 1–2 CUC

To become safe and sound and then leave your little room to splurge, budget 100 CUC/day. Bear in mind you might want to buy the world-famous cigars and rum. The neighborhood art you discover in the many galleries out and about might also suit your needs.

Traveling outdoors of Havana

When you are traveling outdoors Havana, you have a few options. Probably the most convenient and costly would be to reserve taxis which will collect you at the casa and deliver you door-to-door. Your casa host or hostel or hotel staff can arrange choice for you.

An alternative choice may be the national bus service, which extends over the entire country. The buses are air-conditioned, and also the costs are very affordable. Prices from Havana to popular destinations are listed below:

  • Havana to Viñales: 12 CUC
  • Havana to Trinidad: 25 CUC
  • Havana to Varadero: 10 CUC
  • Havana to Santiago, around the far side from the island: 51 CUC

You have to get your tickets in the Viazul bus station at Avenida Independencia #101, at a corner of 19 de Mayo. The buses will give you towards the bus stations inside your destination city, which can be in very central locations easy to wherever you need to go.

You will find vehicle rental agencies throughout Cuba with which you’ll organize a self-drive tour. However, bear in mind the roads outdoors Havana could be in inadequate condition and hard to navigate. With easy transportation inside the big metropolitan areas and convenient bus service between metropolitan areas, a vehicle rental might not be your most budget-friendly option.

Domestic flights are pretty hard to rely on and that i wouldn’t recommend it.


Before visiting Cuba, Us residents should look into the travel needs. Ordinary tourism is illegitimate for all of us citizens. All US visitors must visit Cuba under certainly one of 12 Government approved groups. “Support for that Cuban People” is easily the most generally used category and could be selected when choosing the air travel ticket.

Experiencing Cuba on a tight budget certainly has its own challenges, but it’s totally worthwhile.

Cuba will get beneath your skin rapidly. It bewitches and beckons you to definitely explore much more of it.

Regardless of the number of occasions I go back to Cuba I usually find something to amaze us a new art venue, a outstanding bit of 1700s architecture or perhaps an innovative undertake traditional Cuban cuisine.

Cuba is really a safe, beautiful country with welcoming people along with a fascinating culture. Use it your must-visit list and also you will not be disappointed.

Talek Nantes is definitely an author, digital content creator and founding father of the travel blog, Travels With Talek. She’s a separate travel enthusiast and enjoys discussing her travel encounters with other people. She resides in together with her husband in New You are able to City and Miami. Talek leads tours to Cuba and her newest book is Don’t just visit Cuba, experience Cuba on Amazon . com.

Book Your Vacation: Logistical Tips and Methods

Book Your Flight

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