Frequently Asked Questions
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 our friendly team or using our contact us page.
Flying to Cuba
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.
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 in Cuba
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.
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).
Credit and Debit 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
If you have booked private accommodation, then the car will collect you and drop you off at your casa or hotel.
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 are staying in an Old Havana hotel, then you the coach will pick you up or drop you off at the nearest accessible hotel to the one you booked (rarely more than a 5-minute walk).
These are approximate timings and will depend on whether you are travelling by car or by coach. Please note that travel times are a lot longer for those travelling by coach, as the coach will stop at several pick-up locations in the departure destination. The general travelling time guidelines for private transfers 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||5.5 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|
When you book your holidays to Cuba with us, our travel designers take care of all the transfers required for your itinerary and help you decide based on their extensive local knowledge the best or most convenient type of transfer, the most adequate transfer times to help you make the most of your time, and will take into account all sorts of factors, from travelling times to weather conditions, to help you build a rock-solid itinerary.
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. However, should you need insurance for your trip, Travel & General Insurance Services offers good policies, valid in Cuba, at competitive rates. Click here to receive a quote.
About Travel & General Insurance Services Limited
Travel insurance is a vital aspect to booking a holiday, giving you protection against unforeseen circumstances that could spoil your trip.
It’s not just while you are away on your holiday that you need travel insurance cover. Cancellation cover starts from the moment you buy your insurance and protects the cost of your holiday, in the event that you have to cancel for a range of reasons e.g. illness or injury.
It is important that you purchase travel insurance that meets your demands and needs and covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake on your trip. To provide you with an option to consider, we have arranged a competitive travel insurance scheme with Travel & General.
The scheme offers a choice of cover levels and excess so that you can choose a policy that suits your demands and needs. A wide choice of activities is available and there are also options to add gadget cover, travel disruption or an excess waiver.
Travel & General is a specialist provider of travel insurance policies. We believe that the service provided is as important as the policy itself, which is why our dedicated team will be happy to answer any queries you may have before and after your policy purchase.
Please click here or call Travel & General on 0330 880 3625 to discuss a quote.
Travel & General Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Registration number 304788. Registered office: 117 Houndsditch, London, EC3A 7BT. Company number 02527363.
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!
Please seek advice from your GP about vaccinations for travelling to Cuba.
Tourist Cards and Visas to Cuba
Visas are included in the price of all our holidays and will be sent to you 2 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.
In the unlikely event that you decide not to travel with us, please remember that you will still need Cuban visas for each traveller, including kids. To avoid the trip into central London and lengthy queues at the Cuban consulate, we recommend their official partners Visa Cuba (www.visacuba.com). Visa Cuba offers an online application service and delivers Cuba Tourist Cards anywhere in the UK, and abroad to all countries allowed by the Cuban Consulate.
General Travel Questions
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.
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
Most phones should work in Cuba, but we recommend contacting your provider before travelling just to make sure it does. Making calls and downloading data on your phone will be quite expensive. Text messages are a more economical way of keeping in touch.
Wi-Fi is available at most hotels and in many open-air plazas and city parks. In order to connect to Wi-Fi, you will need to purchase a Wi-Fi card from ETECSA (Cuba's telecommunications company). These are available at hotels and ETECSA establishments. Wi-Fi cards cost 1 CUC for 1 hour, though pricing is subject to change. Most hotels will also offer internet cafes where you can connect directly from the available computers.
Please be aware that the internet connection in Cuba can be quite slow. You may not always be able to connect to the internet where there is a Wi-Fi hotspot (especially when there are a lot of other people at the hotspot).
Electric Sockets and Plugs
Cuba uses US-style plugs. It is a good idea to bring a UK to US plug adaptor.
Driving in Cuba
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 the full-beam or an unlit horse and cart on the main road! Otherwise driving in Cuba is safe.
Safety while on holiday
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.
Cuba is HOT! Wear light, breathable fabrics and plenty of sun cream. It's easy to burn quickly without realising. It's important to stay hydrated, particularly during a long day of sightseeing.