Back in November, I visited Cuba for my best friend’s bachelorette party and so many of you have asked for my recommendations! I FINALLY got my blog post together to share with you all and I hope you enjoy reading a bit about this amazing country!
A few things to know before travelling there:
There ARE direct flights to Cuba from the US currently available and I would suggest taking these!
In order to travel to Cuba you will need to be able to prove that you are there for one of the reasons here: https://www.viahero.com/travel-to-cuba/getting-a-cuba-general-license
You must have a passport and I would suggest taking a photo of it as well so you have it in your phone.
There is NO internet. Data does work but it is extremely expensive! I made two calls to my husband in the four days I was there and my phone bill was $50 higher for the month. Check with your provider prior to traveling there.
You will be required to purchase a visa to visit and I believe mine was between $50-$75.
If you plan on checking a bag, it might be smart to have it wrapped in plastic prior to checking. Airport officials in Cuba have been rumored to stealing things from your bags and reselling them on the black market (this did not happen to me and in my opinion, this is very rare). Safest thing to do is just bring a carry on.
When tipping, it is customary to only tip 5-10 percent. Anything over that is looked down upon or considered “flashy” by the general public.
BRING CASH! There are zero ATMs in Cuba. We tried several different methods to get cash and we found that bringing Euros or USD was smarter than brining CAD. Many people would not exchange CAD or the rate was much higher. Not sure why.
Cuba is a poor country. The photos you see on the internet are not what the whole of Cuba is like. In fact, the majority of Cuba is quite run down. Just take caution while there and stay alert. I felt pretty safe there (at least by the end of the trip) but I would think prior to walking anywhere alone at night just as you would in any city!
Our experience with the people of Cuba was pretty positive! Most were super friendly and helpful but the couple of situations we ran into were that some women were not friendly to our group of women and we heard that some vendors on the beaches were not to be trusted (pickpocketing and such).
Okay, now that we are passed all of the technical stuff, let me tell you all of the reasons I LOVE Cuba!
Our Cuba Accomodations:
Villa Flora is an oasis located 15 minutes from Downtown Havana. In order to stay at the villa, you would need to rent the whole thing which is 7-8 rooms and a full staff available 24/7! It really is a place of luxury. The staff was absolutely lovely and to be completely honest, the food at the house was better than any food we had outside!
Driving tour of Havana:
I would definitely suggest finding a tour guide service to show you the town of Havana on your first full day. That way you can see the whole of the city prior to making any solid plans.
Daiquiris at Ernest Hemingway's favorite El Floridita:
This was such a fun experience! We did this after our driving tour and it was the perfect time to grab a refreshment and listen to some local musicians! Just FYI though, the crowds are intense here so be prepared to wait a few minutes at the bar for your daiquiri and know that it will be a tight fit but it is worth every minute!
This hotel is one of the most famous in Cuba. It really does look like it was a grand hotel back in it’s prime! We stopped here and had lunch on our first day. It was such a pretty place and it is where all of the fun colorful convertibles are so definitely stop by and check it out!
If there is one place you have to go to while in Cuba, it’s El Cocinero and Fabrica de Arte! They are right next to each other and they are definitely an experience!! El Cocinero has the best food (outside of our house) and it has amazing views! I would recommend sitting outside on the deck!
Fabrica De Arte:
After El Cocinero definitely stop by FAB (Fabrica de Arte). It is really unlike any bar I’ve been to! It doubles as an art gallery displaying local Cuban artist’s works and at night, every room has a different musical entertainment! The lines get long later in the night so you should get there before 10:30.
Playa Santa Maria:
It’s a 45 minute drive from El Malecon (City Center) but the water is crystal blue and it is worth the distance! Best beach on the island!
Tropicana, built in 1939, was a playground for the drug cartel and gambling types. It was closed and reopened as a Vegas style club. We went here on our last night and it was so amazing! This is the ultimate tourist destination in Cuba but I think it was worth the amount we paid to see the show. The dancers are so talented and so are the singers! I would definitely recommend going to this!
All in all, I think the trip to Cuba was amazing! If I’m being honest, I would recommend this trip to just anyone. If you like adventure and living on a bit of the wild side, Cuba is definitely that! The people were for the most part extremely helpful and friendly. The food was unimpressive accept for the places I mentioned above. I would say if you go there, embrace the culture, respect their history, and just have fun!