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FAQs

Useful Information for Travellers to Cuba

Cuba Direct’s team of Cuba holiday experts have put together this handy guide based on questions our travellers ask us the most. If you don't find an answer to your question below, please don't hesitate to get in touch with with our friendly team on 020 3930 5053 or using our contact us page.

FLYING TO CUBA

LUGGAGE: The hold luggage allowance is 23kgs on Virgin, Air Europa, KLM and Air France. For hand luggage it is 10kgs on Virgin and Air Europa and 12kgs on KLM and Air France.

CHECKING IN: You can check-in online on your airline's website 24 hours before you fly (or, in the case of Air Europa, 48 hours). You will need to enter your full name and airline reference number which will be on your invoice. If you are flying with Virgin Atlantic, please ask your travel consultant for the check-in code.

MONEY

CURRENCY: Cuba has a dual currency system. Its two currencies are the CUP (Cuban peso or moneda nacional) and CUC (Cuban convertible peso, pronounced "cook"). The CUC is similar in value to the US dollar and is worth around 25 CUP. As a tourist, there are very few instances where you will have to use CUP as most products and services available to tourists are sold in CUC.

CASH: You can't get Cuban currency outside of Cuba. Take pound sterling with you – not dollars which are subject to a surcharge when exchanged. Change a small amount of money at an airport currency kiosk when you arrive (just enough for your first evening and morning). Then, to get a better exchange rate, change your money at a bank or use an ATM machine (but don’t rely on ATMs as they don't always work).

CARDS: Cash is king in Cuba as very few establishments accept debit or credit cards. You will not be able to use cards associated with American banks (such as American Express).

TRANSFERS & TRAVELLING TIMES

PRIVATE TRANSFERS: If you have booked private accommodation, then the car will collect you and drop you off at your casa or hotel.

COLLECTIVE TRANSFERS : Coaches are not permitted to stop at private casas particulares. If you are staying at a casa and have booked a shared transfer, the coach will drop you off at a central location (for instance in Viñales it will be Plaza Viñales), where your casa owner will be waiting for you. They make pick ups from central locations and various big hotels.

In Havana, the central area of the old town is pedestrianised which means coaches cannot access all the hotels. If you staying in an old town hotel, then you the coach will pick you up or drop you off at the nearest accessible hotel to where you are staying (rarely more than a 5 minute walk).

TRAVELLING TIMES : These are approximate (and will depend on whether you are in a car or a coach) but the general guidelines are:

Destinations Approx Distance Average Time
Havana Airport to Havana 11 Miles 30 Minutes
Havana to Varadero 87 Miles 2 Hours
Havana to Vinales 117 Miles 2.5 Hours
Vinales to Cienfuegos 275 Miles 4 Hours
Cienfuegos to Trinidad 50 Miles 1.5 Hours
Trinidad to Varadero 163 Miles 3 Hours
Cayo Santa Maria to Havana 240 Miles 6 Hours

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Insurance is required for travel to Cuba and you may be asked to show evidence of your cover at the airport. Please make sure you have the correct cover before you travel and bring a printed proof. We do not offer insurance.

TRAVEL VOUCHERS

When you have paid the balance of your holiday, you will receive a final e-confirmation. Attached to this email is all the information you need plus, very importantly, the VOUCHERS for each service you will be using. These are important because you will be asked to hand them in whenever you use one of the services, so please don’t forget to print them off and take them with you!

VACCINATIONS

Please seek advice from your GP about vaccinations for travelling to Cuba.

TOURIST VISAS

Visas are included in the price of all our holidays and will be sent to you 3-4 weeks before you travel. They are sent from our Visa Department by Royal Mail Special Delivery and, when they have been dispatched, you will receive an automated email with the Royal Mail tracking number.

The visas are very simple to complete but please don’t make any errors as this will make them invalid and you will have to buy another one. You’ll see that the visas are perforated down the centre and, when you arrive in Havana, the authorities will tear this and take half of the visa. Keep the other half safe as you will need to hand this in when you leave Cuba.

GENERAL

Mosquitoes

As a tropical island, mosquitoes are prevalent across Cuba. Although Cuba has not been greatly affected by the Zika virus, please still take precaution by applying repellent that will protect you against Aedes mosquitoes (the type that carries Zika) in the early evening. Whilst we do advise that you take precautions against mosquitoes, please do not feel alarmed. The Cuban government is very proactive when it comes to fumigating across the island and removing potential breeding spots.

Tipping

Salaries tend to be low in Cuba so tips are very much appreciated. We suggest leaving 1-2 CUCs per night for the cleaner in your hotel as well as giving taxi drivers 1 CUC after a short trip and tipping bar staff 1-2 CUC on a night out.

Phones & Internet

Using a mobile phone to make calls or download data (if you find a rare area with access) in Cuba is very expensive. Text messages tend to be a much more economical way of keeping in touch.

Plugs

Cuba uses US-style plugs. It is a good idea to bring a UK to US plug adaptor.

Driving

We advise all or self-drive clients to avoid driving at night. Roads tend to be poorly lit and you may come across other drivers with their headlights on full beam or an unlit horse and cart on a main road! Otherwise driving in Cuba is safe.

Safety

Cuba is one of the safest countries in the Caribbean. Obviously you should be careful, as you would travelling anywhere, but generally it is an incredibly safe place to travel in.

Weather

Cuba is HOT! Wear light, breathable fabrics and plenty of sunscreen. It's easy to burn quickly without realising. It's important to stay hydrated, particularly during a long day of sightseeing.

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