Below are some things I wish I’d had summarised concisely before I travelled to Cuba. They are totally based on my own experience, but I hope that they are easily digestible and, if you decide to go, help you prepare for a wonderful trip!
- Get a visa – this is required (you are also meant to enter the country with proof of travel insurance, and though I wasn’t asked to show this – better to be safe and have it anyway)
- Bring cash and exchange it into CUC (GBP, Euros are good, amongst others, US dollars are no good) – try and work out how much you’ll need, I think about CUC$40-50 per day (excluding accommodation) is about right, unless you want to drink a lot or do any special tours / excursions
- Wifi – for people to access the internet in Cuba they must purchase a wifi card and find a hotspot, lots of the hotels have their own hotspots but it is generally a bit of a nightmare. So firstly, treat Cuba as a digital detox, but secondly be really organised prior to arriving, as researching things to do whilst you are there is very difficult
- To the point above, plan your trip as much as you can in advance – get a guidebook (I used Lonely Planet and Wallpaper) in advance, get online and print out anything you want to have handy whilst you’re away
- Do your research and get familiar with Cuba, the country and it’s history
- Stay in Casa Particulars and eat at Paladares – these support local Cubans, rather than the government
- Brush up on your Spanish! People do speak English, but definitely not always well, so it can be useful to have a few conversational words/sentences ready to go
- Maps – I recommend downloading the maps.me app before you arrive. It’ll give you access to an offline map of Havana!
- Cars – if you want to drive yourself around, it is essential to book well in advance, cars are a bit like gold dust in Cuba so you really need to secure this 3+ months before you arrive.
- Arrival – to make your life easier, do plan ahead and arrange a car pick you up at the airport – the best way to do this is via your accommodation. The standard rate is about CUC$25 – 30
- Don’t jump in a taxi without negotiating the price first – official taxis have blue number plates
- Don’t drink the water, and be wary of ice cubes in restaurants
- Insect repellent – I came back covered in mozzie bites!