If there's anything you're unsure of about travelling to Cuba and you haven't found the information in our detailed Travel Guide, then this is the space to check. On our FAQs section you will find an extensive list with the most commonly asked questions about Cuba as a destination: what you can do there, what to expect, what medical facilities are available to foreigners, how much to tip, dress etiquette and just about anything that may concern or interest you, written from a UK traveller's perspective.

Cuba Quick Facts


Capital
Havana
Area
110 860 km² (almost half of UK)
Population
11 242 628 hab.
Language
Spanish
Currency
Cuban Pesos (CUP)
Electricity
110 v / 60 Hz
Dial code
53
Time zone
GMT -5 hours

Cuba - FAQ

If there's anything you're unsure of about travelling to Cuba and you haven't found the information in our detailed Travel Guide, then this is the space to check.

On our FAQs section you will find an extensive list with the most commonly asked questions about Cuba as a destination: what you can do there, what to expect, what medical facilities are available to foreigners, how much to tip, dress etiquette and just about anything that may concern or interest you, written from a UK traveller's perspective.

Table of contents

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How safe is Cuba?

Cuba is one of the safest destinations for tourists in the World. Criminal activity is very well controlled, especially against tourists. Attacks targeting tourists are virtually unheard of but you still need to follow a few safety measures to avoid becoming an easy target. Most crimes against tourists are of non-violent nature and involve opportunistic theft or scams, so you need to be vigilant and not leave valuables on public display.

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What is the best time of year to go to Cuba?

Generally speaking winter and spring are the best times to visit Cuba, when the hot and humid weather is at its mildest and driest. This is also the time of year outside the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. But exactly when the best time is to see Cuba will depend on a number of other factors, such as what you'd like to do there and what your plans are.

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Can I use credit or debit cards?

The short answer is yes, but not everywhere. While most hotels, airports, some restaurants and some shops do accept cards, not all businesses are equipped to take them, especially those outside Havana.

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Can my bank refuse to allow me to use my credit or debit card in Cuba?

If your bank or the financial institution governing your bank is U.S. based there is a slight chance that they may restrict use of your account and credit or debit cards in Cuba. However, due to the recent changes in U.S. legislation regarding travel to Cuba, most U.S. banks have now enabled use of their cards in the island. Having said that, sanctions against Cuba are still in place and OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations do not require financial institutions or credit card companies to accept, maintain, or facilitate authorised financial relationships or transactions, so there's a chance use of your card in Cuba could be declined. To be on the safe side, always check with your bank ahead of travel.

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How can I plan my weekly budget in Cuba?

Cuba is not the most expensive place in the Caribbean, nor is it the cheapest. However, in comparison with most other Caribbean destinations you can get by with much less if you're a savvy traveller and know how to spend your Cuban Convertible Pesos. Those staying in a mid-range casa particular will be covered for accommodation, food and transportation costs with $75 - 100 CUC per day. Low budget travellers could get by with even less, especially if buying food from local vendors on the street.

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What is the flying time from the UK?

A flight from London to Havana takes 9 hours and 45 minutes approximately. The return flight is usually around an hour or so shorter because of favourable winds.

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Do I need insurance to travel to Cuba?

Yes, you do. Since May 2010 Cuban authorities have made it compulsory for travellers arriving to the island to either have valid travel insurance covering medical emergencies for the duration of their stay in Cuba or to purchase one immediately upon arrival at the airport. It's also advisable to obtain comprehensive travel insurance to cover loss, theft or any other emergency.

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Which is the procedure for arriving to Cuba by sea?

A handful of sea ports in Cuba accept arrivals from international travellers aboard their own vessel, these include the following northern marinas: Hemmingway Marina in Havana, the Darsena, Chapelin and Gaviota Marinas in Varadero, the Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo Marina in Jardines del Rey and the Gaviota Bahia de Naranjo Marina in Holguin. If entering through the southern coast you should call at either of the following sea ports: the Maria La Gorda International Scuba Diving Centre in the province of Pinar del Rio and Cayo Largo del Sur Marina and Punta Gorda Marina in Santiago de Cuba.

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What clothes I should wear?

Whatever the time of year in which you plan to visit you won't have to pack anything heavier than a shawl or perhaps a light cardigan for the evenings when you travel during the winter months. Cuba's warm year-round temperatures mean you'll have to be extremely unlucky to find temperatures falling below 20 degrees Celsius.

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Do I need a power plug adaptor?

Yes, you need one that converts to fit American sockets. Electrical outlets in Cuba use a 110-volt current with two to three-pronged outlets. Only in a few hotels and especially in some beach resorts you might find some outlets with 220 volts and European sockets (you will still need an adaptor to convert from UK's three flat prongs to the European standard of two rounded prongs) but this is still not very common. This all means that on top of a plug adaptor, you might also need a voltage converter and neither of these are easy to find anywhere in Cuba, so make sure you bring one from home.

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Should I pack medicines?

The short answer is yes, especially if they are prescription medicines. Whilst there are special pharmacies for tourists stocking a variety of internacional medicines, these are very limited and you might not find any outside Havana. On top of this, it might also be a good idea to pack an emergency medical kit including Paracetamol, anti-diarrhea tablets (Imodium) and antacids (Gaviscon or Tums). That being said, Cuba has an excellent healthcare systems but they often ran out of basic supplies. For more information visit our Health and Safety section.

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What about food allergy sufferers?

Most restaurants in Cuba aren't used to providing gluten-free or lactose-free products so to find celiac-approved or lactose-intolerant-friendly menus might be a challenge in some places. That being said, we're sure you'll find alternatives at most all-inclusive resorts' buffet spreads and you can always ask in local restaurants or at paladares, where they'll be happy to cook you up an alternative tummy-friendly dish from scratch.

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Are sugar-free sweeteners available in Cuba?

Not everywhere, so it's always best to bring your own.

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Should I get vaccinated before travelling?

Your requirement for inoculations will depend on your vaccination history and the general medical advice in the UK is that you must be up to date with the primary courses of vaccinations and boosters recommended for life in Britain. Having said that, a vaccine booster usually advised when travelling to Cuba is Hepatitis A, especially if you're an adventurous eater likely to try local street food. Hepatitis A is a food and water-borne disease and while most Cubans boil their water at home, those selling food on the street are unlikely to be as scrupulous, so to be on the safe side a Hepatitis A booster is recommended

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What books about Cuba should I read before getting there?

There are many Cuban books that can bring you closer to the destination before you actually get there. Whether they're inspired by Cuba or written by Cuban authors, there are a few on top of our list of recommendations.

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What film about Cuba do you recommend?

We profile ten of the most influential, astounding and unique Spanish-speaking, Cuban films - these are all classics: To get a feel of Cuba in colonial times: Marti, el ojo del canario (available on YouTube with English subtitles) To get to know Cuba before the Revolution: Clandestinos by Fernando Perez To get to know the Revolution: Before Night Falls, Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate), Guantanamera and Habana Blues To have a laugh : Vampires in Havana - Vampiros en la Habana (animated comedy in a historic context)

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Can I take my own favourite liquor, whisky or wine to Cuba? How many bottles of alcoholic beverages can I bring in my suitcase?

You can safely take bottles of alcoholic drinks to Cuba with no restrictions as to the nature of the drink. Bring no more than two to four bottles though, or however much amounts to a limit of 2.5 litres per person. For more information on what you can import or export from Cuba, read our Entry Requirements section.

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Can I drink tap water?

No! Cubans boil tap water to make it safe for drinking, you as a foreigner will be safe with bottled water.

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Explore cuba your way

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For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

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Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

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