Useful information : When to go, Getting around...
When to go
It all depends on what you want to do: summertime is more suited to seaside holidays as the temperatures can often reach 30°C/85°F, while winter is ideal for cultural excursions.
That said, the months of February, March and April make it possible to combine both activities, whilst avoiding the high tourist seasons (December-January and July-August). Another bonus of spring in Havana is the Festival Internacional de la Trova in March with numerous concerts programmed and, every other year in April, the contemporary art biennale. March, when the tobacco crop is harvested, is perfect for hiking, while Easter is generally very crowded.
The hurricane season runs from May to November. The drier wintertime is very touristy and prices rocket during the period between the Christmas festivities and Havana’s cinema festival!
Formalities and useful addresses
Generally speaking a valid passport and a tourist card (tarjeta del turista) provided by the consulate of Cuba on presentation of a passport and a return ticked. The card is valid 30 days and can be extended in the country. Tourists must have also booked a hotel night, proof of which may be requested.
You are however advised to contact the nearest Cuban embassy to determine whether and/or what type of visa you might need.
Official Cuban Tourism website – www.cubatravel.cu
Money and budget
Banks are generally open Mon-Fri, from 8am-3pm later and until Sunday noon in big cities). Outside these hours, money can be exchanged in hotel bureau de change (whose exchange rate is usually fair).
Currency - Two types of currency coexist on the island: the peso Cubano, the official currency, for small purchases (market, street vendors ...) and the convertible peso (CUC) stamped with "INTUR", for all other expenses (hotels, restaurants ...). Be vigilant on the markets where the price can be announced in convertible pesos but the change given back be in peso Cubano.
Exchange - Cuban banks, the "casas de cambio" Cadeca network and most large hotels all exchange most major currencies.
The only credit cards accepted are Visa International, Eurocard, MasterCard, Access and BanAmEx, and only as long as they haven't been issued by a US bank. You should make sure you have cash on hand however, as the machines are often out of order.
ATMs - Most cities now have a few ATMS, most of which only accept Visa cards.
Car rental for a week (category B): CUC 420.
1 double room in a hotel: CUC 50/120.
1 double room in a casa particular: CUC 25/35.
1 cafeteria meal or snack: 5 CUC.
1 meal in a good restaurant: from CUC 20.
1 museum ticket: 1/3 CUC.
1 bottle of mineral water: CUC 1.50 CUC
1 mojito: CUC 3.
1 beer: CUC 1.50.
Health and safety
"Before leaving, be sure to consult the British Foreign Office or U.S Department of State websites for any last-minute information:
Upsurge in petty crime, mostly purse snatches and the removal of spare parts from vehicles. Keep an eye on your bags and cameras, especially in historic Havana and on the Malecón, and even more in Santiago de Cuba. "
Police: [TEL] 116.
Fire Brigade: [TEL] 115.
Current is 110 V and 60 hertz; plugs have 2 slim flat pins, though 220 V is becoming more and more common. An AC adaptor is recommended.
January 1 -Triumph of the Revolution
May 1 - Labour Day
July 25-27 – Day of the National Rebellion
October 10 – Beginning of Cuba's War of Independence
Casas particulares (Cuban Bed & Breakfast) are the least expensive type of accommodation in Cuba and a very good way to meet Cubans. A white and blue logo can be found on every accredited guest-house's door.
Other forms of accommodation are constantly springing up from stark hotels in restored colonial buildings and swish international establishments to sprawling vacation resorts by the seaside.
Post offices are generally open everyday but Sundays from 8am to 6pm.
José Martí International Airport – http://havana.airportcuba.net
Coco-taxis and rickshaws are ideal for short journeys, especially in Havana (remember to bring change).
You won't have any trouble finding official taxicabs (Cubataxi) in the big cities, especially in front of the hotels. And don't forget shared taxicabs (colectivos), big American cars that follow fixed routes along the main roads (pay in pesos).