Methods to Expertise Cuba on a Funds

a classic pink car in Cuba on a busy street
Posted: 11/28/19 | November 28th, 2019

As a Cuban-American, Talek Nantes has had plenty of expertise touring round Cuba. There’s much more to the nation than simply all-inclusive resorts! On this visitor publish, she affords some an in-depth breakdown of how one can journey round Cuba like a neighborhood.

I’ve been touring between Cuba and the US since I used to be born. (Truly, even earlier than I used to be born: my mother got here to the States when she was pregnant with me. I prefer to say I used to be made in Havana and born within the USA.)

As a Cuban-American who wrote a ebook on the nation and runs excursions there, I’ve made it my mission to share my appreciation for Cuban tradition with everybody who needs to expertise it.

Individuals steadily ask me if Cuba is dear.

It doesn’t need to be. It may be fairly an inexpensive place to go to.

From apparent tried-and-true recommendation, like eat at areas at the least three blocks away from widespread vacationer websites, to little-known ideas solely the locals know, right here’s how one can expertise Cuba on a finances.

1. How to save cash on Cuban forex exchanges

colorful buildings in downtown Havana
Cuban forex can’t be bought abroad, as it’s not traded internationally, so that you’ll must get it on arrival.

Cuba has two currencies: the CUC, which is what vacationers and guests use, and the CUP, additionally referred to as the peso, utilized by everybody else. As a customer, all of your transactions shall be executed in CUC, which is roughly equal to 1 US greenback. There are about 25 CUP to 1 CUC.

In a rustic with 2 currencies, you will need to know the distinction between a CUP and CUC. For instance, you don’t need to overpay in CUC when one thing is priced in CUP. And once you obtain change from a CUC, make certain the change is just not in CUP. One of the simplest ways to maintain them straight is to do not forget that a CUC has monuments on its face and a CUP, or peso, has footage of individuals.

As soon as in Cuba, it’s best to trade cash on the airport “CADECA.” A CADECA is the official authorities trade location. Remember that you have to your passport with a view to trade forex.

Change solely sufficient to get you to your lodging, then change extra on the CADECAs on the town, as they’ve higher charges. Keep away from exchanging forex at banks and motels, as these supply much less favorable charges.

US residents must be conscious that bank cards drawn on US banks are usually not accepted in Cuba and ATMs can’t dispense cash from US banks, so you could carry sufficient money to final all the journey.

2. How to save cash in your lodging in Cuba

a green car driving by on a street in Havana
For one of the best worth on your cash, you’ll be able to’t beat a casa specific.

Casas particulares, or casas for brief, are the properties of native Cubans who hire rooms to guests like a B&B. You possibly can hire a room in a non-public dwelling for a median of 30 CUC per night time.

One of the best a part of staying with a Cuban household is which you can have an authentically Cuban expertise. You eat with them, hand around in their front room, play with their youngsters or pets. You’re handled like one of many household if you are there. That’s much more rewarding than staying at a sterile lodge.

It’s simple to ebook a casa. You possibly can reserve on Airbnb or any variety of comparable on-line websites (although Airbnb usually has the most important choice and one of many few websites Individuals can extensively use). You must pre-book a casa from dwelling at the least on your first night time’s keep in Cuba. As soon as in Cuba you’ll be able to ebook the next nights your self both by your host or simply by in search of a home with the casa signal (a blue anchor with a roof on a white background) and easily knocking on the door.

In any other case, hostels shall be the best choice for saving cash. Some top-rated Havana hostels embrace the next:

Costs per night time vary from round 5 to 15 CUC, although most are round 11 CUC.

I discover casas to be one of the best lodging choice. A hostel could also be cheaper, however there are various casas with hostel pricing, so that you get one of the best of each worlds: low price plus interplay with a neighborhood household. Isn’t the reference to different cultures one of many essential causes we journey?

3. One of the best locations to eat in Cuba with out breaking the financial institution

vendors selling fruit on a street in Havana
One of the best locations to eat in Cuba are paladares. These are privately owned (vs. authorities owned) eating places. There are all kinds of paladares, from high-end institutions in renovated mansions to hole-in-the-wall stands.

Conventional dishes you’ll discover at paladares embrace arroz con pollo (rooster and rice), ropa vieja (shredded beef), and lechón (roast pork). Typical drinks embrace the basic mojito, daiquiri, and Cuba Libre. Fruit juices are additionally available. The native beers, Bucanero and Cristal, are excellent.

Any guidebook will level out the paladares. You may also discover them within the A La Mesa app.
Typical prices (in CUCs) for meals in paladares are as follows:

Excessive-end paladar:

  • Lunch: 10–25
  • Dinner 15–35

Mid-range paladar:

  • Lunch: 7–10
  • Dinner: 10–25

A few of my favourite paladares in Havana embrace Doña Eutemia, close to the cathedral; Los Mercaderes; and San Cristóbal, the place US President Obama had lunch. A typical meal at considered one of these will price about 15–20 CUC.

Avenue distributors are additionally discovered all through the nation and supply little sandwiches, pizza, croquettes, pastries, and different snacks for 1 to three CUC. The meals is just not nice, but it surely actually is budget-friendly.

4. Cuban transportation on a finances

a bicycle parked outside an art shop in Cuba
Transportation is more likely to be your greatest expense, with taxis being the commonest. Rule primary for getting round in Cuba is to barter earlier than getting in. Inform the driving force the place you need to go, or present him in writing and ask how a lot (“¿Cuánto?”). Regardless of the driver says, counter with a few CUCs decrease. The drivers are used to this; they often begin at a better fee, anticipating that they may find yourself with a decrease payment.

Yellow taxis are government-run (vs. privately owned). These are utilized by vacationers and are usually the costliest.

Coco-taxis are basically bikes with a canopy formed to appear like a yellow coconut (therefore the title), and they’re in every single place. They are usually cheaper however can solely take two individuals at a time.

Bici-taxis are rickshaw-like bicycles that’ll take you round Outdated Havana.

An alternative choice is the colectivo, or collective taxi. These are vehicles that journey busy thoroughfares inside metropolis limits, choosing up and dropping off individuals as they go alongside. A visit from one finish of a busy, central avenue to the opposite, or wherever in between, will price about half a CUC. The taxi is shared with as much as six individuals.

Buses are overcrowded, unreliable, and never air-conditioned however they’re very low-cost. They journey main routes principally outdoors Outdated Havana.

Typical transportation prices:

  • Yellow authorities taxi: 10 CUC inside metropolis limits
  • Coco-taxi: 5 CUC inside metropolis limits; solely suits 2 individuals
  • Bici-taxi: 2 CUC per individual; solely suits 2 individuals; not motorized
  • Collective taxi: Half a CUC per journey in a shared taxi
  • Bus: About 0.20 CUC

A enjoyable technique to discover a giant metropolis like Havana is by taking a tour in a basic American convertible from the ’50s, however at 40 to 50 CUC an hour, they aren’t very budget-friendly.

5. Staying related in Cuba with out paying a fortune

a tropical beach scene in Cuba with a palm tree
Web entry in Cuba is iffy. It’s not supplied in every single place, and the place it’s, it’s unreliable.

One of the simplest ways to remain related is to buy an web connection card, offered in increments of 1 CUC per hour, on the native ETECSA, the Cuban authorities’s telecommunications workplace with branches everywhere in the island. You employ the login and password on the cardboard to attach your cellphone or laptop.

You may also buy an web connection card at most high-end motels, however the price will be as excessive at 7 CUC per hour, so buying your card at an ETECSA is a large financial savings.

Upon getting your card, discover a location the place you’ll be able to join. Most parks have connectivity, as do areas round ETECSA places of work. Simply search for teams of individuals huddled over their telephones.

Larger-end motels additionally supply Wi-Fi at outrageous charges.

In the event you don’t expend your web time, the leftover shall be saved in your card and it is possible for you to to make use of it once more.

A typical day by day finances
For a typical day in Havana, Cuba’s costliest metropolis, you’ll be able to anticipate to finances as follows:

  • Breakfast at your casa: 5 CUC
  • Avenue meals snacks: 2–5 CUC
  • Lunch at a paladar: 5–7 CUC
  • Dinner at a paladar: 5–10 CUC
  • Alcoholic beverage: mojito: 2–Three CUC, beer: 2 CUC, rum: 5 CUC/bottle
  • Room in a casa: common 30 CUC
  • Intracity taxi: 2–10 CUC
  • Museum entrance payment: 2–eight CUC
  • Entrance payment to a music venue: free or 2–10 CUC
  • Web connection card 1–2 CUC

To be on the secure aspect and go away your self somewhat room to splurge, finances 100 CUC/day. Remember it’s possible you’ll need to buy the world-famous cigars and rum. The native artwork you discover on the many galleries round city can also enchantment to you.

Touring outdoors of Havana
When touring outdoors Havana, you’ve acquired a few choices. Probably the most handy and costly is to order a taxi that may choose you up at your casa and ship you door to door. Your casa host or hostel or lodge employees can organize one for you.

An alternative choice is the nationwide bus service, which extends throughout all the nation. The buses are air-conditioned, and the costs are very cheap. Costs from Havana to widespread locations are as follows:

  • Havana to Viñales: 12 CUC
  • Havana to Trinidad: 25 CUC
  • Havana to Varadero: 10 CUC
  • Havana to Santiago, on the far aspect of the island: 51 CUC

You could buy your tickets on the Viazul bus station at Avenida Independencia #101, on the nook of 19 de Mayo. The buses will take you to the bus stations in your vacation spot metropolis, that are typically in very central areas handy to wherever you need to go.

There are automotive rental businesses all through Cuba with which you’ll be able to manage a self-drive tour. Nevertheless, remember that the roads outdoors Havana will be in very poor situation and tough to navigate. With simple transportation throughout the huge cities and handy bus service between cities, a automotive rental is probably not your most budget-friendly choice.

Home flights are fairly unreliable and I wouldn’t suggest it.


Earlier than touring to Cuba, US residents ought to verify the journey necessities. Odd tourism is prohibited for US residents. All US guests should journey to Cuba underneath considered one of 12 US authorities authorized classes. “Help for the Cuban Individuals” is essentially the most generally used class and will be chosen when buying the airline ticket.

Experiencing Cuba on a finances actually has its challenges, however it’s completely price it.

Cuba will get underneath your pores and skin shortly. It bewitches and beckons you to discover extra of it.

Irrespective of what number of occasions I return to Cuba I at all times discover one thing to amaze me; a brand new artwork venue, a exceptional piece of 18th century structure or an revolutionary tackle conventional Cuban delicacies.

Cuba is a secure, stunning nation with welcoming individuals and a captivating tradition. Put it in your must-visit listing and also you received’t be disillusioned.

Talek Nantes is an writer, digital content material creator and founding father of the journey weblog, Travels With Talek. She is a passionate journey fanatic and enjoys sharing her journey experiences with others. She lives in together with her husband in New York Metropolis and Miami. Talek leads excursions to Cuba and her most up-to-date ebook is Don’t simply journey to Cuba, expertise Cuba accessible on Amazon.

E-book Your Journey: Logistical Ideas and Tips

E-book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite search engines like google and yahoo as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe, so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
You possibly can ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use, because it constantly returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost motels. I take advantage of them each on a regular basis.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes mistaken. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that supply one of the best service and worth are:

Searching for one of the best corporations to save cash with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for one of the best corporations to make use of once you journey! I listing all these I take advantage of to save cash after I journey — and they’ll prevent money and time too!

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