HOME > Cuba
13 days ,
Kind of travel:
Me and my wife Elisa in an independent travel
23th April'12- 01th May'12
Do I need a visa:
No, but there's a Tarjeta Turistica that you need to have. (I
don't know if you can buy once landed); I bought at the airport
in Milan (25€), but it's not clear how is the standard
How many km:
How I moved:
The bus company dedicated to the foreigners (called Viazul buses)
is the only choice since you'll not manage to buy the tickets
of the Cuban bus company (Astro). There's a railway along the
whole country, we tried to buy the ticket, giving up after half
day for the crowd. Taxi is the only mean of transport to access
Major resorts (as Cajo Santa Maria).
Freezing or baking:
Colder than expected 20-25C, since often cloudy; a good weather
for backpacking but not for sunbathing. However this is the
best season for Cuba given the hurricane risk in July - August
and the chilly temperature (15 C) in December- January
Where I slept:
In Casa Particulares, namely private houses renting a room:
you'll find plenty of them, with fixed prices (24€), and
for 2 days we stayed in a boring resort in Cayo Santa Maria
that had nothing to do with Cuba. Generally forget hotels, they
are few (manly in Havana) and expensive.
What I liked:
The friendly, clean and original Casa particulares (a rented
room in a house): the dream of every backpacker since the best
way to enter in contact with Cuban families. The 50's atmosphere
of Havana with the sidecars, rundown buildings,....a movie set
feeling. The last but not the least the safety of Cuba, letting
you to feel tranquil even in the heart of the night
What I disliked:
the lack of freedom when it comes taking the Cuban means of
transport: the bus company for foreigners Viazul has good standard
but quite unfrequent (Santa Clara- Havana: 2 bus per day!).
Buy a train ticket and get the train is a challenge and the
all inclusive resort where we spent 1.5 day had nothing to do
with Cuba (and it was boring like hell)
How much daily:
Double room in Casa Particulares in Havana 30CUC (24€),-
outside Havana 25CUC (20€), eating in Havana nice restaurant
(ie: Nando: 15CUC (12€) pp); since there's no way to
take a shared taxi, the private ones might became a cost especially
to reach the resort in the Cayo's (Santa Calra- Cayo Santa
Maria (40 CUC (30€). In total the daily budget: 70 CUC
What you do need:
don't forget the tarjeta turistica before arrival (call your
air carrier for info) and the health insurance since it's mandatory
(from may2010) to show proofs of having one with a company recognized
by Cuba at the airport (I didn't hAve and nobody asked anything
IMPRESSIONS OF CUBA
First of all I'm warning you: Cuba it's not really a place
for backpackers since foreigners are forced to turistic channels
feeling always a kind of cut out the Cuban reality. Apart
of the Casa Particulares won't be that many the chances to
get in touch with Cubans. You will fell the country lives
of turism and they need your euros, this might spoil your
mith of the Cuban revolutionary society.
Having said it Cuba is a must for the curriculum of a traveller
since its past makes it a unique destination. There's no doubt
that Fidel, the LIDER MAXIMO, really believed in the revolution
and in the possibility to set up an ideal society: education
and health sistem free for everybody, and no forced overconsum
to substein the overproduction typical of the western countries.
We can discuss if and why such dream failed however if you
travell there, and don't just get your bat tanned, you can't
avoid to think about such alternative social system with the
pro and cons versus the western one.
Don't go there thinking to find everybody happy and fat; Cuba
it's not the paradise but still far from being a hell; if
you really want to compare the country with someother one,
you should always do with its central american neighbours
to whom Cuba has not that much to envy..
In short go there before it changes, because when it does,
for sure it'll loose its charm.
TRAVEL IN CUBA
with others, otherwise 25CUC
| 1,2 night
Mercedes Gonzales (Vedado)
||30CUC pp for
the place (clean and friendly but the location it's too
far from downtown)
||25 CUC x double
de Los Ingenios- Trinidad
||20 CUC pp
de Ancon- Trinidad
- Santa Clara
CUC x double room
Cayo Santa Maria
inclusive 35CC pp per night
Santa Clara- Havana
||40 CUC (private
taxi) + 20 CUC pp (shared taxi)
CUC for a twin room
Las Terrazzas- Havana
CUC (back and forth)
Thanks to a Milan- Havana direct fly we landed after 11hours
directly in the capital, right in the middle of a thunderstorm.
At the airport we arranged a taxi to downtown (17 CUC, sharing
with other foreigners) to the friendly Casa particular Gonzales.
Immediately Havana stroke me with his genuine 50's atmosphere:
car, houses, people, sidecars, movie like setting, politic propaganda...everything
as the time stopped when Fidel took to power in 1959.
Usually I'm not fan of the capitals and 1 day for me it's enough...
but I've to admit that after 3 days in Havana we weren't fed
On top of it the safety is total and you can walk in the street
in the heart of the night without any risk.
From Havana we tried to buy the train ticket to Santa Clara,
but after one entire morning queuing at the station we gave
up and jumped on the Viazul buses to Trinidad. 5h later we were
pulling in the Cuban jewel: a very small town, characterized
by cobblestone, colorful buildings, people living outside the
houses.... Definitely the cutest place we have visited in Cuba.
The day after we took a steam train (2 trains per day) to reach
the Valle de Los Ingenios. It's a turistic stuff but at least
an interesting way to visit the Cuban inland characterized by
fazendas (former slave farm). In the late afternoon we reached
Playa de Ancon (10min by taxi from Trinidad). I found the beach
a convenient place to enjoy the Cuban sea in particular if you
don't have your own mean of transport: the sand is white, it's
very near the city, there'r facilities,... I found it much better
than the resort in Cayo Santa Maria. A looong way from Santa
Clara, perched in the middle of nothing, full of foreigner...
in short a place where you'll feel in a cage having nothing
to do with Cuba and the sea is not better than Playa de Ancon..
From Trinidad we went to Cientfuegos (1.5h by bus) where we
spent the most of the day. Nice town, much bigger than Trinidad
and without his charm, but still worth stopping by. From Cientfuegos
we got to Santa Clara in 3h. the town is the least interesting
among the one we have visited, but it's the symbol of the revolution
(including the Ernest Guevara mausoleum) and you shouldn't miss
the tobacco factory, where you can have a 2h guided tour.
We spent 2 boring days in Cayo Santa Maria (we can easily book
it in any travel agency as Cubatour) and then we fle back to
Havana by taxi to Santa Clara (40 CUC!) and shared taxi to the
The last days we stayed in the beatiful Havana also visiting
in a daytrip Las Terrazzas (2h by bus): it's an eco-village
where 2.000 people live in the wildlife in a eco sustainable
way (cultivating, recycling,...) you can have several walks
in the forest, enjoy the lakes, some hot springs and a great
Cuba travel tip
EU citizens staying less than 90 days
don't require a visa, but you'll need to buy a
tarjeta turistica otherwise you will run the risk
to be rejected at the check in at the departure, so
ask to the air carrier you flight with about such
tarjeta. In my case I got by the air carrier (BluPanorama)
at the airport for 25€. Honestly I don't know
what happens if you land in Cuba without the tarjeta,
it might be you can buy there but I cannot assure
DEL TURISTA - CUBA (2012)
Cuba has a double economy and here
it comes the confusion: there are two currencies
the CUBAN PESOS (CP) and the CONVERTIBLE CUBAN PESOS
At the time of writing the rate was 1€= 1,26
CUC, April 2012, while the rate for cuban peso is
fix with the CUC (1CUC= 25 CC).
Generally speaking the USD and CUC; CP have fix
rate, but watch out,as countermeasure
against the embargo, if you exchange USD you'll
have to pay a 10USD mark up.
What can you buy with a CUC and what with
In theory turists are supposed to pay only in CUC
but nobody will stop you in exchanging CP and using
them. Nevertheless I used very few times CP since
practically all of the things you'll pay (casa particulares,
Viazul buses, restaurants,....) are rated only in
CUC (no Cuban will never be able to afford such
luxuries!) While in CP you might pay taxis, tips,
food at the stalls,.... you can use CUC also in
these cases and it might be you'll get the change
I had the new version of the Cuba Lonley
Planet 6th edtion of October 2011. The new layout
is far friendlier than the old one, and the inserted
map very useful.
I had the usual vaccinations: ephatite
A, B, typhus and tetanus; there's no risk for malaria
so you can avoid any profilassys
- Which is the best season in Cuba?
November to February will be a little cold for
having a swim, since the temperature might be
around 15C. On the contrary July to August is
the hurricane season and it's very humid, so it's
better to skip it if you can. The best season
is March to May and Sept to October.
Insurance or not insurance?
From May2010 health insurance is mandatory of
every foreigner reaching Cuba, and you are supposed
to show evidences to be covered by a company approved
by the Cuban Government at the point of entry.
In the net you will find several cases of people
obliged to buy the insurance, but in my case,
as most of the times happens, nobody ask me anything.
My suggestion is don't do anything, at worst you'll
If on the opposite you have already your insurance,
bring with you the certificate, hoping it'll be
among the ones accepted.