Whether you want to try a Cuban cigar or sandwich or go to the source of Cuban rum or the original home of the mojito, there is only one island to visit—Cuba. This small island off the coast of Florida is full of unique experiences that you are sure to remember for the rest of your life. From multicolored buildings and vintage cars to friendly locals and delicious cuisines, the culture and flavor of Cuba is unlike any other.
- Currency: Cuban Peso (CUC and CUP)
- Must-See Landmark: Old Havana
- Must-Try Food: Cubano Sandwich
- Most Common Language: Spanish
- Emergency Services Telephone Number: 106
Travel Insurance Plans for Cuba
With a wide range of plans on the market, it may be difficult to select a plan. To find the plan that's best for you, first assess the condition of your health then take a look at your travel plans. From there, you can compare plans side by side with our compare tool. For travelers with pre-existing conditions, senior travelers and those looking for more complete coverage, a comprehensive plan is the best option. If you are looking for basic coverage at an affordable price, a limited plan may be the way to go.
Visas and Documentation
A visa or tourist card is required for almost anyone hoping to visit Cuba. However, if you are a passport holder of some countries, you will not be able to enter Cuba even with a valid visa/tourist card. These countries include Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Cuba is also the only country in North America that requires proof of travel insurance upon arrival. Acceptable travel medical insurance must cover medical emergencies, repatriation of remains and emergency medical evacuation.
Cuba has two different currencies, the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). The CUC is kept equal to the U.S. Dollar and is the currency that you will use most often as a tourist. The CUP is worth considerably less per bill, so it is frequently used to scam tourists. Always check to make sure that your bills and the change returned to you is in CUC rather than CUP. An easy way to remember which bills are which is that CUP all have faces of prominent people on them, whereas the CUC bills depict famous Cuban statues and landmarks.
ATMs are also notoriously difficult to find in Cuba, so it is a good idea to plan how much cash you think you'll need and exchange all your money before arrival.
Weather and What to Pack
Cuba is generally quite hot and humid. Hurricane season in Cuba runs from June through November and these tropical storms can make Cuba very wet and stormy during these months. Late fall, winter and spring are the best times to visit this island nation.
Shorts and sandals are perfectly acceptable to wear while visiting Cuba. If you forget any essentials, don't worry—you can always purchase them at your destination. However it is often more cost and time effective to simply bring your favorite supplies with you when you travel.
Common Words and Phrases in Spanish
- Yes: Sí [see]
- No: No [no]
- Please: Por Favor [por-fah-vohr]
- Thank You: Gracias [grah-see-ahss]
- Cheers: Salud [sah-loohd]
- Hello: Hola [oh-la]
- Goodbye: Adiós [ah-dee-ohss]
Etiquette and Cultural Norms
Manners and etiquette are generally very relaxed. Handshakes are a good way to greet someone new and cheek kisses are appropriate for people who are well acquainted. Although Cubans are generally very open and candid in conversation, they are usually not excited to talk about politics, especially not if it includes critiquing the government.
- Havana: Take a leisurely stroll through the pastel buildings of Old Havana or tour the city in a beautiful 1950s convertible. You can also check out a cigar factory and drink some authentic Cuban rum or a mojito where it was first created at the Mojito Mojito restaurant.
- Hemingway Museum: Finca Viga is the stately home where Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote while in Cuba. Just 15 miles outside of Havana, the house is now a museum where you can learn about the author and see where Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea and much of For Whom the Bell Tolls.
- El Morro: This castle is a fortress situated at the entrance to Havana bay was built in 1589. It has been used as a lighthouse, military fortification and prison at different points in history. However, today, it is now a tourist attraction where you can learn more about the history of the island.
- Viales Valley: This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the few places in the world where traditional farming practices have remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Here you can see tobacco being farmed and dried to make traditional Cuban cigars.
- Trinidad: This old colonial town is full of neo-baroque buildings and cobbled streets. Less busy than Havana, but just as beautiful, Trinidad is also a must-see stop for anyone with an interest in architecture.
Health & Safety Tips
Cuba is generally quite safe and pickpocketing is the only crime that is seen with regularity. Still, it is always a good idea to protect yourself, particularly against theft. A few good tips include never putting your wallet in your back pocket and only keeping a small amount of money on you at any given time.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for Cuba: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.