Cuba 

If you speak to anyone about Cuba the first thing they will mention is the kindness of the Cuban people. The rest of the country is equally beautiful and welcoming as its people. Experience the heart and soul of Cuba by touring the tobacco farms, listening to beautiful jazz music, and riding in old cars down the Malecón. 

HAVANA

Things to Do

Befriend your taxi driver: Ask him to take you to Cafeteria. It's a local food joint that's about 1 dollar.

Callejón de Hamel: A crazy, colorful ally full of street art where it's claimed that some people practice Brujería (witchcraft). Sounds spooky, but it's a must-see.

Cigar Factory: An eye opening awesome experience into how Cuban cigars are hand made! If you have to choose one tour or museum, this is the one we recommend. Head to the Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas (if you only want to buy them, you can go here) and there should be someone who will offer to drive you and give a tour - this is better than showing up on your own.

Cruise down the Malecón: Find an old classic car or convertible taxi for around 5 dollars. It will take you to most places around the city, or you can rent them out for the day.

Fabrica de Arte: One of our favorite things to do in Havana! Grab a drink and walk around an old factory filled with music, art, videos, and so much more. Get there around 9 - it's open from Thursday to Sunday, and there's often a long line on weekends.

Fusterlandia: A must in Havana. This incredible park of mosaic art by the artist Fuster could occupy you for hours.

 

Hotel Ambos Mundos: A Hemingway favorite. Get a drink at the rooftop bar.

La Plaza Cathedral: Havana Cathedral is one of many Roman Catholic cathedrals in Cuba. Centrally located in Old Havana, it is work checking out. 

Morro Castle: An interesting historical site. Situated right on the water, this fortress has great views.

Santa Maria beach: Popular, but quiet, beach. Take a public bus from Park Central for 5 CUC.

Scubadiving: There's a couple of great spots all around Cuba. 4+ hours away is the Bay of Pigs, but within a couple of hours you can do some great dives at Playa Corales

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Take a day trip to Viñales and see the tobacco farms and caves. Can easily book through a hotel.

Tropicana Show: You can often arrange this with your hotel or host, but this is an over the top show with lots of dancing and flash outfits! You can get a table with a drink and cigar around 10 cuc per person. 

Obispo Street: This street is a bustling spot with some of the most beautiful, colorful, and well kept buildings in Havana. 

Places to Eat

A Mi Manera: Pizzeria in Cuba and the food is truly heaven sent. They lower their pizzas down several stories from their rooftop kitchen in a basket.

Al Carbon: If you're willing to try something new, their pig head is outstanding.

Artechef: A hidden gem in Vedado.

Atelier: Beautiful restaurant in a converted house. Great for dinner and be sure to make reservations.

Cafe Laurent: Amazing views of the city and water. Their appetizer sampler is bomb.

Casa Miglis: Swedish/Cuban fusion food.

De Cameron: Wonderful food and good service in Vedado. We recommend rhe Ropa Vieja!

Doña Eutimia: Lunch spot in Old Havana. You've got to order the mojitos frappe. Make a reservation if you can.

El Cafe: Great ginger juice and veggie options. 

El Dandy: Good sandwiches and amazing chicken tacos!

Gato Tuerto: Head outside for a great view of the ocean and a bustling plaza. Super affordable and delicious food. We loved the chicken and pork.

La Guarida: Famous upscale restaurant in what seems like an abandoned building. Frequented by the rich and famous, an Oscar-winning movie was filmed here as well. Make reservation ahead of time. It attracts quite the scene.

New George's: Dope spot with New York inspired decor. 

Places to Drink

Floridita Bar: Famous Hemingway bar known for live music and daiquiris. Perfect for a quick day drink.

The Art Factory: AMAZING. Our number one must-do in Cuba. Full of art, music, mojitos and the best people watching.

Espacios: Trendy bar in an old house. Grab a drink on the patio with a fresh wood-fired pizza or enjoy the live music in the living room.

El Figaro - Aguiar 18: 2 dollar cocktails from 3-10!

Jazz Cafe: Don't let the rundown mall deter you, this spot has great live music and tasty drink specials.

The House of Music: Energetic live salsa music every night and drink specials that can't be beat.

Meskede: Half off happy hour from 3-6, and the biggest daiquiri frappe you'll ever see.

O'Reilly 304: Super popular place for tapas and drinks. 

Places to Stay

Airbnb and Home Stays are great options. Meliá Cohiba  is also an upscale hotel in Vedado.

Transportation

Taxis are the easiest way to get around-make sure you ride around in style in an old car, though. The prices are similar to normal taxis, just don't forget to negotiate!

Expect to spend about 25-30 CUC getting to and from the airport.

General Tips

Get Wifi cards for 2 cuc - often in parks. However, it's often spotty, so we recommend pinning all of your locations and download all maps ahead of time so you don't get lost!


ATMs don't work in Cuba! Bring all the cash you're expecting to spend. If you can bring Euro or CAD, the conversion rate is better (less fees than USD). Exchange only a small amount at the airport, then change the rest at a bank or select hotels. Depending on what you do, spending 50-75 dollars a day is average.

You will transfer your cash into Cuban Convertible Currency, or CUC. Locals use Cuban Convertible Pesos - make sure when you're getting change you get CUC back and not CUP, the CUP is not worth as much and often not accepted if you're not Cuban.

It's easy to spend 4-10 CUC on a GOOD meal. If prices are rising above that, they're most likely ripping you off. 

Speaking of scams, it's very popular (especially for Old town), for Cubans to ask you where you're from (always saying they have someone they know in that city), then try and get you into a tour or to their family restaurant. These restaurants are often 5x the price and not as good. This happened multiple times with the restaurant La Familia, and we would steer clear.


Spend a few days at Varadero beach if you have time...see our section below.


It's cheaper to stay in Vedado and just spend time in old Havana, which is only a short taxi ride away.

If  you are a US citizen, there's still 11 types of Visa you can travel to Cuba under - the most popular being 'Support for the Cuban people'. You can buy this visa ahead of time or in select airports day of. It costs 75 dollars. Or, you can skip this and fly through Mexico or Canada.

VARADERO

Things to Do

Beach it up. Varadero has some of the most beautiful beaches with white sand and blue water! Get there early on weekends to grab a great spot! 

Catamaran Tours: Talk to your hotel or airbnb host to schedule a day long catamaran tour that takes you to a private Caye for snorkeling and access to an open bar.

Casa de la Musica: More legit and local than the one in Havana - it's 10 CUC to experience live music and dancing all night.

Saturno Cave: A cave that you can swim in! Outside of Varadero. There's also other caves near the tip of Varadero with old drawings in them to explore. 

Scuba Diving/Snorkling: We loved our experience with Barracuda Diving Centre! They arrange transportation and have a variety of trips to choose from. Ask if you can have Alecia as your dive master, he takes amazing photos underwater.

Places to Eat

Casa Azul: Some of the cheapest but best food we had in Cuba. Their ropa Vieja was amazing. They also have American options if you're homesick.

La Bodoquita: Known for their mojitos, but also amazing seafood paella. You can leave your mark by signing the wall!

Vicaria: HUGE chicken portions at low prices. Awesome outdoor seating area. 

Places to Drink

Beatle's Bar: Old school, live music. 

Casa de la Musica: For your salsa and live music needs.

Cerveseria: Their beer isn't anything to write home about (we get it, they're probably the first brewery in Cuba!), but you can get drink towers and on the weekends they have awesome live music. 

Places to Stay

If you want to support the Cuban people, our favorite airbnb is linked here. Betsy and her father were AMAZING - their breakfast was only 5 CUC and they were a block away from the beach. Great hosts!

Transportation

Taxis and walking are the easiest ways, but word on the street is that there's a local bus to take you up and down the length of Varadero for only 5 CUC for a day pass.

To get to Varadero, expect to spend about 50 dollars there and 80 on the way back. Ask your your hostess or hotel to schedule a taxi for you! The drive is 2 hours, so we recommend spending at least 2 days in Vardero - but the trip is so beautiful! Make sure to stop on the bridge to get a Pina colada. 

General Tips

Bring bug spray and sunscreen! It's more difficult and expensive to find in Cuba, and the bugs will eat you alive at 

Old City, Havana

Fusterlandia, Havana

Old City, Havana

Tabacco Fields, Viñales

Callejón de Hamel, Havana

José Martí Memorial, Havana

Fusterlandia, Havana

 
 

Varadero Beach

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