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flag Cuba Cuba: Travelling

In this page: Entry Requirements | Organizing Your Trip | Visiting | Living Conditions | Eating | Paying | Speaking | Useful Resources

 

Entry Requirements

Passport and Visa Service
Visa HQ
Diplomatic Representations
List of Cuban Embassies abroad and foreign Embassies in Cuba
 
IATA Travel Center
 

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Organizing Your Trip

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
The country's major towns have relatively comprehensive urban transport systems however, they are very often lacking in essential elements (very old bus fleets, lack of spare parts and fuel shortages).  It is therefore preferable to travel in taxis instead of buses because of the loss of time caused by this.
Maps of Urban Networks
Maporama
UT Library on line
Mapblast

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Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Havana - Jose Marti Intl (HAV) 25 km / 14 miles CUC 20-25 USD 21.7-27 / 30 min Available - Available

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
Cuba has an adequate road infrastructure connecting the country's major towns.  However, a distinction has to be made between the quality public transportation by type: transport paid for in dollars being of good quality and the cheaper transport, of poor quality, usually used by the local population and paid for in pesos.  The Via azul bus company specializes in tourism transportation.  It has its own a modern fleet of buses with air conditioning and toilets.  It is a good way to travel on the island.  Even though the railroad network covers most of the country, the tracks and the trains have not been modernized and are a long way from the European quality of standards.

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Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Cubana de Aviación Major Yes Yes
Aerocaribean.com Charter Yes Yes
Aerogaviata Charter Yes Yes

You Can Consult the List of Airlines Banned Within the EU. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Traveling By Yourself

Recommendation
There are several car rental companies (Havanautos, Transautos, Panauto, amongst others).  A day rental costs around US $ 30. It is a good way to get to know the island however; it is advisable to be very careful on the country dirt roads where cyclists can be found even at night and very often without any light.  In the towns, Cubans usually use the urban bus network which is the most economical means of travel.  The use of this means of travel could be dangerous to tourists who have not been warned.
Road Maps
Maps of the Country and towns
Interactive map of Cuba
Find an Itinerary
Online maps of Cuba

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Visiting

Different Forms of Tourism

Historical
Havana is the biggest city in the Caribean. It is one of the most beautiful Spanish colonial cities on the New Continent.  Presently, Trinidad is a real museum town registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The "Isla de la Juventud" is a destination of predilection for diving enthusiasts.  The islets surrounding it are rare sanctuaries for tortoises, iguanas and pelicans.
Cultural
Carnival celebrations are part of Cuban traditions and they take place in several towns on the Island in August.  Cuba is also the birth place of several musical genres which the world dances to today: salsa, chachacha, mambo and rumba.
Nature
There are several places to go trekking in Cuba.  One of the most famous is the three day crossing, the Sierra Maestra, from Alto del Naranjo through the Pico Turquino to Las Cuevas.
Thermal
There are several spas in Cuba. The best known are Santa Maria del Rosario and Madruga.
Beach
The island has an abundance of beach resorts, the most famous being Varadero made up of a number of beaches stretched out over almost 13 miles.
Outdoor Activities
Beach, trekking, diving...
Tourism Organizations
Cuban Tourism Board
Cubamar travel agency
Havanatur agency

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Living Conditions

Health and Safety

Health Precautions
No mandatory vaccine.  It is advisable to avoid eating foods like seafood, meat and fish that is uncooked as well as salads, fruits that one has not peeled personally and to boil or filter water, or drink bottled drinks in order to avoid getting diarrhea.  Insect bites could cause diseases such as dengue fever, a viral illness transmitted by insect bites.
International Hospitals
There are international clinics in all the provincial towns.
There is a hospital in Havana which provides a specialised service for foreign tourists: Cira Garcia Hospital, Ave. 41 No. 4101, Miramar, Havana . Tel.: 204-2811/12/13/14
For Further Information on Sanitary Conditions
Cuban health network (Red De Salud de Cuba)
For Further Information on Safety Conditions
Cuba Linda - Safety Conditions
 

Emergency Numbers

Police 106 (Havana, Pinar el Rio, Isla de la Juventud, Cienfuegos)
Ambulance 55 1185 (Havana) 76 2317 (Pinar del Rio) , 62 3300 (Santiago de Cuba
Fire Emergency Services 105 ( Havana, Pinar del Rio, La Havana. Isla de la Juventud, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba)
 

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Time Difference and Climate

Time and Time Difference
It is %T:%M %A In Havana (GMT-5 in winter, GMT-4 in summer)
It is %T:%M %A In Santiago de Cuba (GMT-5 )
Summer Time Period
Summer time from March to October
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

Type of Climate
The Cuban climate is subtropical and comes from the gentle trade winds of the North East. The temperature variation during the course of the year is slight and there only two noticeable seasons. The "summer" which is humid and lasts from May to October and the "Winter" which is drier and lasts from November to April. The average temperatures range between 70°F (February) and 86°fF(July and August). The rainy season starts in June and ends in October/November: typically the rains are short and violent.
For Further Information
Weather information
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

Climate

 

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Eating

Food Specialties
Cuban food known as "Creole cooking" is always made from "congri" (rice and black beans), fried plantains and salad (tomatoes, onions, cucumber, grated cabbage and avocado).  The food served in Cuba is largely dependent on the available supply of the day.  Beef which is a state monopoly is hard to find and expensive.  Pork, chicken, eggs, cassava, potatoes, green beans, beetroot, pineapples and bananas are amongst the country's most consumed products.
Drinks
Cuban rum is famous as well at their cocktails (Mojito, Cuba Libre, etc).  The local beers (Bucanero and Cristal) are consumed in great quantities.
Dietary Restrictions
There are no food restrictions in the country.

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Cuban Peso
ISO Code
CUP
To Obtain Domestic Currency
There are two types of currency: the Cuban peso(CUP) and the Cuban changeable peso (CUC) which is the currency used by tourists (1 CUC = € 0.80)
Possible Means of Payment
Most transactions are done in cash: the Cuban changeable peso (CUC) is the currency of reference. It is possible to change Euros, Canadian dollars and Swiss Francs without a surcharge.  The "Cuban pesos" are used to buy food on the streets, pay for public transport and some cultural activities like the movies.  The "changeable pesos" are used for all the rest, concerts, out of town trips or taxis.
Card payments are often used to pay for hotels and car rentals.

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Speaking

Official Language
Spanish.
Other Languages Spoken
English
Business Language
Spanish
Getting Some Knowledge
See BBC Spanish lessons website.
Free Translation Tools
Babel Fish : Free English-Spanish-English translation of texts and web pages
Systran : Free -Spanish- English translation of texts and web pages
Diccionarios.com : Free Spanish-English- Dictionary
Reverso dictionary : Free online dictionary

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Useful Resources

To Find an Apartment
Online accommodation agency
Online accommodation agency

Travel Agency (Website in Spanish only)
Travel Agency
To Find a Job

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Last Updates: October 2014