Havana was a truly beautiful place. The people, the culture, the ambiance was amazing. I was a little hesitant to go after hearing the lack of what we consider necessities such as Wi-Fi and the ability to swipe a card. However, I pushed thru and went and thoroughly enjoyed my trip. Here are some 21 tips or ideas that can be helpful on your next trip.
1. It’s okay to check a bag. I had heard it took 2-3 hours to get your bag. I went with a group of 10 and over half of us checked a bag. The most one of us waited for our bags was 45 minutes. I think this was the case earlier when travel from the US initially opened, but not the case now.
2. Bring toilet paper. Your hotel/Airbnb will have some, most other places will not or you will have to pay to get some.
3. Bring enough cash. Your American credit/debit cards are useless here
4. Negotiate your taxi fare (from airport and anywhere else) before getting into cab. I paid $25 to travel from airport to Vedado and $10 to travel from Vedado to Old Havana. Anything more than that is a rip off. Go to the next cab until someone gives you a decent rate.
5. CUC’s and CUP’s are not the same. Make sure you know the difference between the two
6. Art is a budget on its own. If you are some sort of an art fanatic, you will love the San Jose Market. I didn’t bring enough cash to get all the artwork I wanted, but don’t worry, I’ll be back.
7. Speaking of the San Jose Market…best place to get souvenirs. Remember to haggle, haggle, and haggle. I paid 15 for the same bag my friend paid 35 for.
8. Paladars (private restaurants) are the best places to eat.
9. La Imprenta!! FAVE restaurant in Old Havana. $20 bottle of Rose that was out of this world amazing.
10. Take plenty of pictures. Your friends will want to know what CUBA looks like and having several pics will help.
11. Fabrica de Arte (FAC) is the BEST place for nightlife in Havana. The art, the music, the cheap drinks….
12. You do NOT have to pay a local to cut the line at the FAC. It’s only 2 CUC’s to get in. If anyone tries this con, move along in line. They are just locals trying to get a few dollars from tourist.
13. Hotel Nacional and the tobacco factory have the best prices on cigars. There is a woman in Hotel Nacional that hand rolls her own cigars. I bought my husband and few and he LOVED them.
14. Spend the 7 CUC’s and take the rum tour at ‘Museo de Ron’. Prob the best 7 CUC’s I spent and you get to try the rum.
15. Plan at least 1 day to explore Old Havana. There are lots to see and very picturesque buildings to capture.
16. On Mercades street, there is a local making and selling churros. You MUST find him and you MUST try them. They changed my life…Be prepared to wait in line at least 10 mins for these little jewels!
17. Wear comfortable shoes (Toms or Converse) while exploring Old Havana
18. Spend time interacting with the locals. They are very interested in Americans and their way of living. We came across a soccer (football) game and decided to join in. Despite them not having many of the things we think are essential, they are happy and content with life.
19. If you have time, a mini day trip to Santa Monica beach is a must (next time I’ll actually remember to bring my swimsuit!)
20. Get a Typhoid vaccine before traveling to CUBA. I was unaware that you needed to get a shot before traveling to Cuba. However, after coming back with a stomach virus and had several friends that were sick, I later learned that one should get the typhoid vaccination.
21. Bring snacks if you get hungry in between meals. In my case, I should have brought red bulls. Some places wanted as much as 5 CUC’s for 1! Will know better next time.
22. Be okay to veer off your itinerary. I’m OCD when it comes to my itinerary so when we veered off and added some stuff/remove other stuff; it took a second for me to be okay with it. It’s okay if you don’t get to everything on your list. You’re on vacation after all. Explore the country, embrace the culture. Don’t be defined by lists and bullet points on a piece of paper.
23. Arrive early at the airport when leaving. It took over 1.5 hours from the time I got to the airport to the time I arrived at my gate.
I hope that this list helps on your next visit to CUBA. Have a tip/trick that I left off? Leave in comment section.