How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

With the upcoming changes in travel restrictions for US citizens to Cuba, a lot more people are now planning their visits to the island.

If you’ve got a limited budget but still want to see as much of Cuba as possible, then here’s my guide to travelling around Cuba on the cheap. And if you’ve already visited Cuba and have some tips to add, then please comment at the end of the article!

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

When you think of Cuba, what springs to mind?

For many travellers, it’s a classic image of holiday relaxation; sipping on piña coladas on an empty stretch of white sand beach with a luxury hotel just behind the sun loungers.

But when I imagined Cuba, I saw cramped streets hung with laundry, stray dogs and rusting antique cars. I saw a fascination with Che Guevara, an inclination for shots of rum and smiling at strangers, loud music, peeling paint and illicit cigars sold on street corners: the trappings of an entire country beyond the self-contained resorts on the north coast.

Last summer I spent a month in Cuba, trying to explore as much of the island as I could: from the sensory bombardment of Havana to the sleepy village vibe of Viñales, and a number of cities, villages and landscapes in between.

As a solo traveller, I also tried to budget as much as possible. Although Cuba certainly isn’t a cheap country to travel through, there were a number of ways I managed to watch my cash.

Visiting Cuba through a tourist’s eyes

By the time I reached Cuba, I had been travelling in Latin America for eighteen months, my Spanish was the closest to fluent that it’s ever been, and my confidence in both the language and Latino culture was soaring. When I was talking to Cubans by myself, speaking only Spanish and carrying myself with confidence, I managed to convince a number of locals that I was from Colombia.

While it wasn’t quite as good as being Cuban, the possibility that I hailed from a similar culture meant more acceptance. Prices decreased, conversation flowed more easily. The only issue was having to invent a hasty backstory about why my accent didn’t sound quite Colombian enough…

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Chatting about the important stuff: why so many people are carrying cakes in Cuba…

Both your appearance and your mentality can make a huge difference to how Cubans perceive you. Most foreign travellers I met had flown straight to Cuba from their home country for a two or three week holiday, and weren’t planning to travel elsewhere afterwards either. They spoke barely any Spanish, weren’t used to the street hustlers, and though they knew they were probably being taken advantage of they didn’t really know how to prevent it.

To be a tourist in Cuba means experiencing the country in a way that the local people will never usually do. Tourists are hustled on street corners for souvenirs and taxi rides and cigars. Tourists take their own particular type of public transport. Tourists are charged inflated prices for produce and services; they even deal with a different monetary currency to local Cubans.

So why are there two sets of rules for tourists and locals? Well, because there are two separate economies in Cuba.

The two currencies of Cuba

The economy the locals use is heavily subsidised by the state – there’s a free health service, cheap transport, and various items are rationed. Their wages are paid in the local currency, called Moneda Nacional (MN, usually referred to as pesos) and they receive around 400 MN a month (about £10 or $15).

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

The second currency is the convertible peso (or CUC, pronounced ‘cook’), which is what you’ll receive when changing foreign currency for Cuban. 1 CUC (fixed at $1 USD) is equal to 24 MN, and tourists will use CUCs to pay for their souvenirs, accommodation (in both hotels and casas particulares), restaurant meals and long distance bus journeys.

The CUC is the currency that most tourists will only ever deal in, because they’re are often told they’re not allowed to use Moneda Nacional. This isn’t exactly true: it’s just a lot more difficult.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

On my first afternoon in Havana, I paid with CUC for a bunch of bananas at a street stall and shyly asked the stall owner for my change in MN. He gave me a curious glance, then handed over a bunch of faded peso notes, silky to the touch with overuse.

Later that day, I boarded a ferry to go across the harbour and handed an MN note to the ticket vendor. He flat out refused to take it.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Throughout my time in Cuba, I only occasionally saw places that would accept MN. Most of the time it was a personal challenge to actively ask shop owners if they’d let me pay using it, and I often felt guilty for even trying, because many Cubans take offence at foreigners trying to exploit them.

Your immediate Cuban costs

  • Entrance fee: $25 (25 CUC). Everyone arriving in Cuba has to pay a $25 entrance fee, whether it’s at their departure airport or on arrival in Havana’s airport.
  • Exit fee: 25 CUC. There’s also a 25 CUC departure tax when flying out of the airport, so it’s sensible to simply put that money aside as soon as you’re in the country.
  • Taxi to Havana: 20-25 CUC. The vast majority of tourists will take a taxi into Havana from the airport. There are lots of willing drivers waiting at the airport, and they’ll quote you various prices but the journey should never cost more than 25 CUC.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

In Havana itself, the capital of the country and most tourists’ first experience of Cuba, anything that can be overpriced will be. Knowing your budget from the outset is the best way to keep costs to a minimum – that, and getting out early to start exploring the rest of the country.

How to access your money in Cuba

There’s a slew of online resources warning how difficult it can be to actually access your money in Cuba – and although I didn’t have much trouble, there was a constant nagging worry that I would.

Almost every transaction in Cuba occurs with cold hard cash. Credit and debit cards are very rarely accepted, and even then it’s only in tourist-exclusive places like Varadero. As a result, it’s recommended to take as much cash with you as you feel confident carrying – although because of the US-Cuba embargo, changing US dollars into CUC incurs a hefty tax and it’s only possible to change a handful of hard currencies into CUC (the most commonly accepted currencies are Euros, Pound Sterling, Swiss Francs and Canadian Dollars).

You can’t buy or exchange CUC outside of Cuba either, so it all has to be done in-country.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

That means you need to be pre-prepared with a wad of cash if you’re planning to pick up souvenirs in bulk.

Of course, most people don’t want to carry much cash, which means they have to either exchange their traveler’s cheques or try to withdraw money. There are two options for the latter: visiting the bank, or going to a cadeca. Both require your passport as proof of identity, and it’s a good idea to check the exchange rate and count your money before leaving.

There are also issues with which cards the banks will accept. From different sources I heard that basically every type and brand of card might face problems; I had two debit cards which were MasterCard and Visa, and was able to withdraw cash from each. But it pays to check up on this specifically before you arrive in Cuba.

Finally, always change or withdraw a bit more than you think you’ll need. You don’t want to get caught with no money in a town where they’ve decided to close the bank on a Wednesday…

Budgeting on your accommodation

All the hotels in Cuba are government run and there are no hostels for budgeting travellers, so the government allows locals to rent out their spare rooms. The biggest benefit of staying in these ‘casas particulares‘ is that it allows you to actually spend time with Cubans in a pseudo-normal environment and hear their stories.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

I’ve gone into the casa system in much more detail here but in budgeting terms, most casas will charge you for the room, not the amount of guests staying in it – and there’s usually a couple of beds, meaning enough space for four or even five people in one room.

When you think that a night in a room can cost anywhere between 15 CUC and 30 CUC, there’s a huge saving to be made if you’re travelling with other people. The only sacrifice to be made is giving up the chance to sleep in the nude, which in the Cuban heat, I’d be unwilling to do.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

I only shared a bedroom for a few nights in my month of Cuba travel, but it was enough to see the benefits. Just remember to pack your ear plugs to combat the noise of the air conditioning and other people’s snoring.

Coping with the Cuban weather

Cuba is an unapologetically hot and humid country. Cars and taxis open their windows for ventilation; museums and art galleries are strewn with standing fans; and checking whether your casa bedroom has air conditioning is of the utmost importance.

One casa I stayed at only had a small tabletop fan and I spent the night sleeping an inch away from its whirring insides.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Visiting Cuba in June meant I caught the rainy season, enjoying a sudden downpour every afternoon. Depending on which part if the island you’re in it’ll happen at different times, but it’s quick and fierce, coming from nowhere and leaving just as suddenly.

The heavy clouds followed me around the island, and after the first few days of soaking hair and clothes I began to notice that many Cubans carried umbrellas around as a multi functional item: protection from the rain as well as the burning sun.

So when your casa owner offers you an umbrella in the mornings, for god’s sake take it.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

How to get around in Cuba

Each day, I left my casa in the early morning when it was still relatively cool outside, and walked around until midday or 1pm. I chilled in the a/c of my room until about 4pm and then carried on exploring when the hottest part of the day was over.

To actually travel around the island though, there are a number of transport options:

  • The tourist bus. The two main bus companies are Viazul and Transtur, and there’s little between them. Both have air conditioning, reclinable seats, take direct journeys, and they have connections in all of the major cities and smaller towns that tourists might want to visit.  Tickets should be booked ahead of time at the bus station.
  • The local bus. Whether tourists are ‘allowed’ to travel on the extensive (and much cheaper) Cuban bus network is a bit hazy. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get different answers – but regardless you’ll probably find it extremely difficult to actually board one. From the outside, these metal trucks look like converted cattle transporters, and are one of the most obvious inconsistencies between tourists and locals in Cuba.
How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

A local Cuban bus.

  • Trains. Train travel is a possibility, although I never managed to ride on one. The timetables change often and routes run on different days, and after I spent a long time researching the possibilities, I eventually gave up trying.
  • Bikes. Cycling is more accessible: there are a few casas that will have bikes for hire, and much of the country is flat with roads that aren’t too busy.
How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

These aren’t for renting, as far as I know. But I really wish they were.

Eating and drinking in Cuba

As a tourist, eating in Cuba is a strange business. Most casas offer to make their guests both breakfast and dinner for an additional cost, and the huge delicious portions they serve up each day make it a very sensible idea.

Most mornings I awoke to a groaning table of fresh fruit, eggs, bread, biscuits, coffee, and fresh juice. I’m not a big eater in the mornings, but I tried my best to eat as I didn’t want to waste anything.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Yep, that’s a breakfast for one .

In the early evenings I sat down to rice, black beans, plantain, salad and whichever meat I’d requested that morning: usually a choice between chicken, pork, fish, shrimp or lobster, at varying prices.

I’m not a huge eater so I was often unable to finish these platefuls. But when you’re confronted with a giant lobster, it feels almost insulting not to try.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

You might find yourself ordering lobster for dinner on a daily basis.

If you get peckish during the day though, the food on offer is pretty hit and miss. The tourist restaurants are overpriced, and I didn’t like eating three big meals a day.

I also noticed that Cubans don’t seem to eat anything other than peso pizza for lunch, and after trying a few alternatives I can see why. Try heading into an average looking diner, ordering tuna pasta, and seeing if you can stomach eating this…

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

I found it pretty easy to skip lunch as I breakfast kept me full for so long, but budget wise, you can grab a peso pizza and pick up fruit and nuts cheaply at market stalls. There are also numerous house fronts selling little cups of ‘tinto’ coffee.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Of course, the stifling Cuban heat tends to sap your hunger levels – it’s much more important to keep guzzling down the water. At least 3 litres a day is advisable – and if that sounds like a ridiculous amount, just wait and see how much you sweat.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

If I look sad and irritable here, it’s because we were up in a bell tower in Trinidad, hiding from the midday sun for about two hours. It was very, very sweaty.

Most tap water in Cuba isn’t potable so Cubans will boil all their drinking water first, and unless you’re able to do the same throughout the day, you’ll be buying bottled water.

This is where the costs can really add up: a 1.5 litre bottle will be sold so often for 2 CUC that you can easily assume that’s the standard price, however expensive it sounds. However, with a bit of searching, you’ll find the corner stores and little markets where it costs 1 CUC instead – and then you’ll strike gold when you find the first dusty mercado which sells a 5 litre water container for 1.90 CUC.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

I bought one of these every few days, lugged it back to my casa and decanted it into 2 litre bottles. The ‘Caribe’ chain of stores sell all kinds of products, segregated by store (ie. electronics in one, hair and beauty products in another) but all will usually sell 5 litre water containers.

Tip: Unfortunately, some places with fill water bottles from the tap then reseal them. If the water tastes strange then throw it out and buy some more.

The museums and towers of Cuba

Apart from simply wandering the streets and people watching in whichever places you go to, visiting museums is one of the most common pasttimes for tourists in Cuba.

Every city seems to have a number of dusty rooms filled with bloodstained uniforms and mysterious relics of Che’s era and the wars before. There’s also no shortage of creepy religious paraphernalia.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

It was the museum room attendant’s idea to take our photo with the terrifying Jesus. On three different cameras.

Most museums charge a nominal entrance fee of 1 CUC, and then charge again to climb the accompanying tower. I’ll inform you now: there are a lot of buildings with towers in Cuba, and sitting in the top of them is a wonderful way to catch a longed-for breeze.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Also bear in mind that visiting the bathroom in museums and galleries won’t necessarily be covered by your entrance fee – there are usually women waiting inside to stare you down until you place a few coins in their tip tray.

I’m not sure if they’re employed separately from the museum/bus station/restaurant staff, but I always felt guilt tripped into contributing.

The nitty gritty money breakdown

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You might also be after some hard numbers – so this is how my finances looked throughout my 27 days in Cuba.

  • Daily budget: 53 CUC (£35) 

Before arriving in Cuba, I aimed for a daily budget of 59 CUC (£40), and when I left, my daily average spend was 53 CUC (£35). I averaged 23 CUC (£15) on accommodation, and 13 CUC (£8.50) on food (5 CUC for breakfast, 8 CUC for dinner).

  • Amount spent altogether: 1435 CUC (£948)

After 26 nights and 27 days in Cuba, I left the country having spent a grand total of 1435 CUC (£948), excluding flights. Out of this, 300 CUC (£200) was spent on food, and 605 CUC (£400) paid for my accommodation.

Now, this was excessive budgeting. With the exception of often paying for a double or triple room entirely by myself, I was very careful with the food I bought and the sights I paid to see. It helped that I spent much of my time with a Swedish couple who were equally money conscious: we were working to averagely the same budget, and it became a game of sorts to keep costs down.

So did my budget travel in Cuba pay off?

I faced a few problems during my time in Cuba. First off, I didn’t bargain for casa prices as much as I probably should have (I blame my distinct inability to disappoint someone when I’m staring them straight in the face). Second, I completely underestimated how much things in Cuba actually cost, meaning the amount of cash I brought with me wasn’t enough.

A lot of my time in Cuba was spent worrying about whether I had enough money. There were days when I went way over budget, which were invariably followed by days where I barely did anything to try and make up the difference.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

On those days, all my food came from peso-accepting stalls like this one.

I was also overtly aware that many of the experiences I could have in Cuba were not available to Cuban locals. The prices were too high, the establishments too ‘exclusive’ – and that was very difficult to deal with. I started out attempting to see Cuba as locally as possible, but I soon realised it’s a difficult thing to manage.

Know before you go: what kind of trip do you expect to have?

Cuba is one of those countries where I’d actually advocate travelling with somebody else. I was lucky to meet a couple who wanted to travel with me, but when I was by myself I found it quite hard to meet anyone, and that made my costs – and my loneliness – go up.

It was strange, too, coming from a year and a half of travel in South America and meeting tourists who were enjoying two weeks of fun in the Cuban sun. While they obviously had more leniency with their money, they also behaved a lot more like they were on holiday – something of an alien concept to me by that point – and it took me a while to settle into the same frame of mind. Was I in Cuba to relax and actually enjoy myself? Seriously? Luckily the close proximity to beaches from almost every city in Cuba meant I could easily while away a day just basking in the sun if I felt like I needed an excuse to do nothing.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

There’s no doubt that Cuba is an excellent place to practice your budgeting skills. It becomes something of a challenge to find the cheapest ways of doing things, and you feel a certain amount of pride that you’ve somewhat beaten the system. Of course, you then run the risk of feeling terrible that you’re not providing Cubans, who are famous for living in a poverty stricken society, as much money as you potentially could.

But there’s a difference between paying what’s fair and being taken advantage of, in my opinion, and after my month was up, I felt like I understood the system well enough to gauge how to save a little. Not to undercut the money that many Cubans clearly need, but simply a way to make your money last longer.

How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

Instead of sitting on the road like this guy…

Have you been to Cuba? Did you travel on as a strict a budget as I did? If you have any tips for budget travel in Cuba then let me know in the comments! 

About Flora

Flora Baker is the founder and editor of Flora the Explorer, where she writes about her travels around the world, her volunteering exploits and her ongoing attempt to become fluent in Spanish by talking to anyone who'll listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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80 Responses to How to Travel in Cuba on the Cheap

  1. Andrea Anastasiou January 30, 2015 at 4:57 am #

    Really informative post, Flora! Sounds like Cuba would be a really difficult country to navigate if you cannot speak Spanish (and if your idea of it is cramped streets, stray dogs and rusting antique cars…). Would you say it would ruin your experience if you visited without being fluent in Spanish? I ask because I really want to visit but I don’t know a word of the language…

    • Mellisa January 30, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      I spent 4 months in Cuba last year and was surprised by how many people could speak English. For me, you don’t need to be fluent in Spanish, but I believe you should always have at least the basics when visiting a new country where the language is different to your own. It will always improve your time if you can interact with locals.

      • Flora February 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

        Wow Melissa, I barely encountered anyone speaking fluent English during my time there! Although maybe they realised I was trying to practice my Spanish and stuck it out with me :p

    • Flora February 9, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

      Thanks Andrea, glad you enjoyed the article! I think most travellers without any Spanish managed fine in Cuba – I guess I just have a bias and want people to experience the country to its fullest, which I do think requires some knowledge of the language. But definitely don’t let an inability to speak Spanish stop you from going!

      • Jeso December 30, 2015 at 5:16 am #

        Thanks for taking the time to get all this information organized and online, Flora! I’m an American going there next month and I’ve been trying to get as much info as I possibly can. It would be nice to travel cheap and I also want to get a “real” Cuban experience. Definitely staying in casas particulares and I need to get my butt into español mode!

        • Flora December 30, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

          I’m so glad you’ve found the article useful, Jeso! I can definitely recommend the casa experience – it’s honestly one of the quickest ways I’ve felt accustomed to a new culture :)

      • Amy June 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

        Flora, do you think the people would be appreciative or frustrated with someone who knows some Spanish and can speak ok (forgetting proper verb tenses often, though)? I’m not fluent by any means but always try to converse in Spanish when in Spanish speaking countries. Also, I keep reading conflicting “advise” about traveling in Cuba in September–hurricanes? no hurricanes?-etc. What do you think?

        • Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:44 am #

          Hi Amy – I think making the effort to speak Spanish is more than half the battle! As long as you’re clearly trying to practice I highly doubt anyone is going to be frustrated with you :)

          Alas I don’t know about potential hurricanes in September – I was there in early July and the weather was humid as anything but also occasional rainstorms (which was actually a relief!)

  2. JP January 30, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    Ooh Cuba looks ace, great post. That picture of the blue car and horse and cart is stunning. The humidity and bottled water issue sounds similar to parts of South East Asia.

    • Flora February 9, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

      Thanks JP – yep, the weather did feel pretty similar to India and Thailand at times!

  3. Ryan Biddulph January 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    Flora wonderfully informative post! I would like to visit one day; a bit hesitant with the money/currency exchange situation as I love doing the ATM bit BUT that’s some of what makes Cuba special, and less touristed. Little dance there for sure which intrigues me. As for the change situation and the confused look, I’ve been there in other countries where 2 or more currencies are used. Different experience, but kinda similar……We did a border crossing from Thailand to Myanmar and although they accepted Baht 4 times prior the border guard would NOT accept our Baht. He demanded USD. I stood my ground – politely, and with some light humor and smiling – and he bent to my good-naturedness and mule-like stubborness but happiness 😉

    Loving the share Flora, thanks and keep on inspiring!

    Ryan

    • Flora February 9, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

      Glad you found it useful, Ryan! I think as long as you have substantial cash hidden in various places and attempt to withdraw money from the bank on occasion you’ll probably be fine. The Cuban opinion about USD is a little more.. complicated than Thailand, shall we say!

  4. Anna January 31, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    As an American, Cuba has always been the forbidden fruit. Strangely, with the announcement of the U.S. lightening travel restrictions, my urgent desire has dwindled slightly. Funny how that works :) Looks like a really fantastically interesting place to visit, though!

    • Flora February 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

      I’ve actually been expecting a reaction like this from various American travelers, Anna, so I’m glad you’ve voiced it! It’ll be interesting to see how many Americans still visit Cuba once it becomes totally legal…

  5. Charlie January 31, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    Such a super useful article! We were thinking about heading to Cuba in June but we’re actually not sure if we’re really going to have time during this trip now. Also, we’re used to budgeting £40 per day for two people, so it sounds like Cuba might stretch our budget quite a bit, especially as we’re not the best at bartering (though we do try haha). Anyway, useful info, thanks for sharing :)

    • Flora February 9, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

      You’re more than welcome, Charlie! I do think Cuba’s quite a pricey country but there’s definitely ways to budget around that. Then again, it’s often more important to be able to actually enjoy what’s on offer – and while I did have a good time in Cuba, I couldn’t help noticing how many opportunities there were to splurge!

  6. All Graduates | Spanish Translation Service February 9, 2015 at 6:13 am #

    Great tips on how to stay in Cuba while on a budget. It’s certainly interesting to know that you can stay at a local’s house (if you’re lucky to get one that has a spare room). This is a rare opportunity for visitors to get to know what it is like to be immersed in the Cuban culture. No tour guide will be able to give you a close description on this kind of experience.

    • Flora February 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks, glad you found my tips useful!

  7. Jackie February 10, 2015 at 4:02 am #

    Flora, first things first, I love your blog, I’ve been following it for several months now!

    I just wanted to leave a quick note to say great post, but that I laughed my head off when I read that ‘Canadian Francs’ are accepted in Cuba. We do love to pretend we’re as cool as the Europeans but I assure you we deal in Canadian dollars, not francs!

    Thanks for the giggle and keep up the great writing! Best of luck training for the Camino, I’m set to do it this summer also!

    Un abrazo de Canadá!

    • Flora February 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      Ahh I’m so sorry! Definitely a little oversight on my part there – it’s been changed now :p Cheers for pointing it out Jackie, and I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the site! Y buen Camino :)

  8. Mary Mack February 21, 2015 at 4:19 am #

    A very insightful view of Cuba….especially for Americans. Thanks for all the helpful information

    • Flora February 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      Thanks Mary. Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. glitterandpassport March 22, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Cuba looks so exotic and gorgeous with all its greenery! Most importantly, why were so many people carrying around cakes? Hahaha, thanks for the tips!

    -Natalia
    glitterandpassport.blogspot.com

    • Flora April 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

      Honestly I have NO IDEA about the cakes! I tried so hard to find out the reason but the most enlightening answer was simply, “..Cubans like a lot of cake?” (obviously from a man holding a cake)

  10. twostraykiwi May 7, 2015 at 3:54 am #

    Great post on Cuba! We found it while trying to research our own potential trip there. Our Mexican visa is about to run out and we thought it could be an interesting place to go before returning to finish Mexico. The dual currency seems a bit tricky, any advice about how best to manage the two and which did you end up using the most? What town/city/area was your favourite?

    • Flora May 28, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed the article! I definitely used the tourist currency more – there’s not much opportunity to use pesos unless you actively hunt it out… Also I loved Viñales and Trinidad :)

  11. fordquarterman May 15, 2015 at 4:03 am #

    Great post Flora – just found your blog Googling “How to Travel Cuba Cheaply” as I took notes on how to do so during my 6 weeks I just finished in Cuba. Def planning on writing multiple articles about such an amazing country! I agree with you that speaking Spanish is a MUST in Cuba if you want to travel as cheaply as we did. Now I will definitely follow your blog after reading this well written article! Cheers

    • Flora May 28, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

      Great stuff, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my writings about Cuba! I still have a ton more than I have to write at some point too :)

  12. Leonie July 21, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    So you would not recommend to travel to Cuba on your own? I’d love to go there but I am travelling alone. Do you always need to pay for a double/triple room even if you are alone? There are no single rooms or dorms whatsoever?

    • Flora July 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

      To be honest Leonie, I think accommodation choices are going to change now that the Cuban-US relations have levelled out. But when I was there last summer, every room had at least one double bed (if not two!) and I was paying for the room, not the bed. I think it’s absolutely fine to travel in Cuba alone but it effectively costs double the amount it *could* do.

  13. hairybikertourMat November 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Brilliantly insightful article and just what I was needing information about before booking a trip to Cuba with my girlfriend – we want to go as travellers not package holiday makers, so your breakdown is perfect! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your experience and advice!!

    • Flora November 9, 2015 at 12:10 am #

      Great stuff Mat – so glad you found the article useful! And I’m sure you guys are going to LOVE Cuba, it’s such a fascinating country and definitely worth spending a decent chunk of time exploring. Have a fantastic trip!

  14. Hooman January 2, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    thank you that was very useful!!!

    • Flora July 20, 2016 at 9:36 am #

      Glad to hear it, Hooman!

  15. Ted January 3, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    Hey Flora,
    I found your articles incredibly interesting and you tips really useful , thank you for your amazing work! I fell in love in Cuba when I was still a child and unfortunately, I still haven’t ha the opportunity to go there … That I why i had some questions about the way your planned your trip. I am a French student studying in the US and it’s been several years I am desperately trying to find flights to get there without success.. Now that the relations between Cuba and the US have improved, I wanted to know if there was any way to fly directly from here to La Havana or if I still had to go through another country? The few ones that I have found so far are just crazy expensive, especially for a student… I would be so thankful to get more info from you and thank you against for this blog that made even more excited to visit this beautiful island!

    Ted.

    • Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:22 am #

      Hi Ted, great to hear you’ve been enjoying my articles! Unfortunately as I’m based in the UK I don’t know much about the current flight situations into/out of Havana from the US, but I get the impression it’s a lot easier now. If you’re having trouble though, you could try looking into the groups that go out to volunteer with Cuban communities – that might involve subsidised flights. Hope you make it to Cuba soon!

  16. Zenobia January 28, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    This is def. my new favourite blog to read.

    I am planning a trip to Cuba in October / November with my mum, and this guide to finances is just perfect. I think I will forward it to her actually. I rarely turn up looking like a tourist anywhere, but from your description, I would have had a pretty decent chance of doing a few things like that before figuring it all out.

    Question: any experience dealing with vegetarians in Cuba? Shall I stock up on emergency biscuits or will it all work itself out?

    • Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:30 am #

      Thanks so much Zenobia – and sorry for responding to your question so late! I think finding vegetarian options in Cuba would be pretty easy, although you might need to look to the higher end restaurants for the most varied veggie meals.

  17. Steve Cuba Photo Tours March 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Flora!

    Great blog post. I get a lot of people that come to my photo tours in Cuba but I also get a lot of people who cannot afford the tour… I think this post would be great for them. I will definitely be sharing this blog post around. Great work! :)

    • Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Steve! Thanks so much for your kind words about my article :) I’d love it if you shared it around with people who want to travel to Cuba!

  18. Cheshirecat March 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    Thanks Flora, just got back from 2 weeks in Cuba, and I agree with you re: the language. I don’t speak much Spanish in spite of which had a lovely time with locals all over, some who spoke some English and some of whom I communicated with in pantomime and pictionary! I think it would have been even more fun if I knew a little more Spanish.

    • Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:37 am #

      That’s fantastic – I’m so glad you had a good time in Cuba! And pantomime pictionary Spanish sounds like a great effort :)

  19. Veronica Kegel-Giglio July 20, 2016 at 2:27 am #

    Pelease let me know the Best way to fly to Cuba and how to book accomodations at people’s houses. Yo hablo el idioma. Quiero saber más.

  20. Veronica Kegel-Giglio July 20, 2016 at 2:29 am #

    I want to know where to book the cheapest flights to Cuba and accomodations in prívate houses. Yo hablo el idioma

    • Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Veronica, I’m afraid I can’t help you with booking flights to Cuba. Your best bet is to search on some flight comparison websites and find a deal that works for you. As for booking accommodation in Cuba – from my experience in 2014, it was easiest to simply phone up different casas for the town I planned to go to next. People in Cuba are all very happy to help with doing that! I imagine there’s probably some online booking services for casas now though so you could also try that :)

  21. Flora July 20, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    Hi Steve! Thanks so much for your kind words about my article :) I’d love it if you shared it around with people who want to travel to Cuba!

  22. Hanan September 27, 2016 at 6:26 am #

    I’ve been wanting to go for several years but my main issue is the flight ticket which is more than a £1000. I’m flying from Cairo, Egypt. Any idea how can I cut it by half at least? I looked into volunteering programs but everything can take care of you once you’re there but not how you get there.

    • Flora November 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

      Hi Hanan, I wish I could help but unfortunately I don’t know about flights from Cairo. Maybe someone reading this article will be able to help, though? Otherwise have you looked into travelling overland from Cairo to another, less expensive airport then catching a flight from there?

  23. Georgia October 15, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    Hi Flora, great article. Thank you! Can you recommend any beaches that have lower budget accommodation options? I would like to spend a few days on the beach while in there but can’t afford an all inclusive place. Thanks!

    • Flora November 27, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

      Thanks Georgia! To be honest, I didn’t spend much time on the beaches in Cuba – but I also never headed to Varadero (where all the all-inclusives are!). When I was in Viñales I jumped in a hire car some friends of mine had and we drove to a nearby beach which was totally empty and absolutely stunning, but I wouldn’t know the location I’m afraid. I think if you hire a car and check a guidebook you’re more than likely to find some good spots!

  24. solturatravel November 22, 2016 at 8:29 am #

    This is such a good information and very useful for everyone.

    • Flora November 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks so much!

  25. Bill December 4, 2016 at 5:54 am #

    Flora, thank you so much for this great article. My wife and I are planning to visit Cuba in April and would like to stay with a Cuban couple or family. All the casas particulares I’ve seen online are unoccupied. How did you find the casa you describe here? Thank you!
    Bill

    • Flora December 12, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

      You’re welcome, Bill! This is more of a general advice article about Cuban travel (although I do go into more detail about the Cuban casa system in another article on the site) but all the casas I stayed in were found once I arrived, usually via word of mouth. Sometimes I asked my current casa owner for recommendations in the next town which they were more than happy to provide, as most casas are part of country-wide networks to allow for better business. I haven’t tried searching for casas online as when I went to Cuba in 2014 the internet was barely accessible! Hope you and your wife have a wonderful trip :)

  26. Nick December 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    What are the top 4 cities you would recommend?

    • Flora December 12, 2016 at 9:38 am #

      Hi Nick! I think Havana, Viñales, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba are all high on my list :)

  27. Jacqueline December 27, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    Hi Flora, great post! I have one question…How did you find all the private accommodation places? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Flora December 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

      Hi Jacqueline, I actually answered the same question a few comments up when replying to Bill! If you have any more questions feel free to ask though :)

  28. Agness of Tuktuk February 12, 2017 at 11:36 am #

    Sharing your experience in such an informative and organized well, great write up! I am pretty sure this will help a lot of travelers going to Cuba, and convince the lot that are a bit hesitant. Keep it up!

  29. Hailey May 23, 2017 at 12:47 am #

    Hello!

    Love your post on Cuba! It answered a lot of my questions so thank you! In regards to transportation, do you know if there are any overnight options available? I’ll be going to Cuba for a week and looking to minimize transportation time getting from one city to another. Also, did you do any hiking while in Cuba? Were the national parks easily accessible? Any tidbits of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

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