Is Cuba Safe?
Yes. Of course, when you travel you should exercise caution and be mindful that you are in new place, but on the whole Cuba (including Havana) is extremely safe and very welcoming to foreigners.
Do we need a visa for Cuba?
A Cuban tourist visa/tourist card is required and is valid for 90 days after arrival and can be extended for a further 90 days. Tourist visas are not electronic/invisible and do need to be sent by post to you by our European office before travel.
One visa is required per passenger for each entry and each exit. If anyone is travelling out of Cuba and returning, please ensure your group travel with the appropriate number of visas for each passenger (and communicate to us how many you require if we are not aware of all your full travel arrangements).
Note that we are not able to supply tourist visas to the following nationalities:
Cameroon, China (Native Fejiu Province), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.
If your passport is from one of these countries, you must contact your respective Cuban Consulate directly to arrange your visa.
We strongly recommend that you complete your tourist card/visa as soon as you receive it by post. Should a group member make a mistake when filling out personal information, please contact our office immediately as you will need to purchase a new one as a mistake invalidates the card.
You may be required to show the completed visa at the airline check in before you fly. You must also have a return flight ticket (not just one way). You must retain your visa whilst in Cuba and hand to authorities on departure.
Immigration Passport Stamping
To assist passengers who may in the future wish to travel to the USA using the ESTA visa replacement scheme, the immigration authorities in Cuba will no longer stamp your passport unless you specifically ask them to. When your passport is not stamped, there is no record of your visit to Cuba and you will have the opportunity to decide to apply for an ESTA if you decide to travel to the USA in the future.
Cuban Tourist Visa Completion
Please ensure that you fill in your tourist visa well before travel, allowing enough time to purchase a new one should you make a mistake, as no errors are permitted. Complete your tourist card (one per person) in BLOCK CAPITALS with blue or black ink. Ensure you keep your visa safely with your passport during your holiday ready to submit to airport authorities when you depart Cuba.
Which nationalities are exempt from a tourist visa / full visa?
Citizens of the following 20 countries can visit Cuba without a tourist visa/visa
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
- United Arab Emirate
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
Can MICE Cuba arrange my tourist visa?
Yes, we are authorised to issue tourist visas and keep a stock in our own European offices.
How long should your passport be valid to travel to Cuba?
Your ten-year passport should have at least 2 blank pages and must be valid for at least 6 months on the date of your arrival home from Cuba. If your passport validity does not cover this, we strongly recommend renewing well before travel. Your travel documents must match the name on your passport exactly.
What clothes should I take to Cuba?
We recommend taking light cotton/natural fibres layers of clothing (with some warmer layers if you are travelling from November to end of February). In general, Cuba has a relaxed attitude when it comes to how people dress. If you plan on biking/hiking/walking/horse-riding do remember suitable comfortable footwear and appropriate protective clothing. We recommend taking comfortable walking shoes/boots if hiking/walking.
The Tropicana cabaret show, some restaurants (particularly a la carte restaurants in all-inclusive beach resorts and upmarket hotels in Havana) operate a dress code policy including long trousers/smart jeans for men, a shirt, and proper shoes so do pack accordingly. In case of delayed or lost baggage, we suggest packing at least one change of clothes in your hand luggage. Don’t forget your sunglasses and a sun hat! A rain mac and umbrella may also come in useful in rainy season (May – October).
Do I need to pay Cuban departure tax?
Effective May 2015 the mandatory Cuban departure tax of CUC 25 is included in the cost of your air ticket, therefore this is no longer paid in cash at the airport on departure from Cuba.
What is typical Cuban food?
The local food, which is predominantly creole style, is mainly chicken, pork, seafood, beans, fruit, and rice with many larger resort hotels offering a wide selection of international food. Unlike other nearby countries, Cuban food is not usually hot and spicy. Desserts are often fruit, pastry or cream/milk based. Please talk to us for advice about special dietary requirements.
What is the voltage in Cuba?
The voltage in Havana is usually 110V AC 60Hz, some newer hotels 220V AC 60 Hz. Cuban power outlets are often suited for use with the US American2 flat pin electrical plugs however the more modern hotels have 2 round pins. As the electricity supply can vary depending on the age of the building, we strongly recommend taking a worldwide adaptor.
What are the health and vaccine requirements for Cuba?
Visitors to Cuba should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters. These vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-polio, and typhoid and hepatitis A. Please contact your doctor or respective official travel advice website for more information.
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Yes. Do ensure that all members of your group have comprehensive medical and travel insurance, and accessible funds for unplanned treatment and repatriation. It is very important that you ensure that your insurance policy does cover you for travel to Cuba as some policies issued by companies with USA ownership or underwriters do not. Carry in your hand luggage policy details and emergency contact details of your insurer. Do check that any activities that you might do are covered (e.g. scuba diving, horse riding, cycling, zip wire, speed boats etc.). Note that some policies will specify that activities require safety equipment or qualifications such as safety helmets, riding hats, BSAC/PADI certificate etc. and you must make sure you take any appropriate precautions.
Can I use internet and WIFI in Cuba?
Travellers often expect when abroad, that internet access, Wi-Fi and roaming is readily available for free, however in Cuba the situation is very different. Internet access and Wi-Fi are still very tightly controlled by the state and whilst you can obtain access to the internet in most hotel lobbies, public areas and some hotel rooms, sometimes there is a cost to this access which is usually approximately 1.50 CUC – 2 CUC per hour (approx. £1.50). Access can be prone to very slow speeds (downloads take a long time), intermittent connection and often a frustrating experience. Please talk to our staff for the latest information, or see our information on hotels, which we have carefully selected as suitable for MICE groups.
Will my mobile phone work in Cuba?
As a rule, the mobile phone network in Cuba is focused on the main cities and resorts where coverage can be surprisingly good, but still liable to connection problems and delays in sending and receiving text message. With the lack of Wi-Fi availability outside of your hotel, opportunities for instant messaging or social media are very limited. In countryside areas when travelling in Cuba, you will find little or no coverage at all.
We suggest that you speak to your mobile provider before leaving for Cuba and arrange the best possible package of calls, texts and roaming. Making calls, receiving calls, and roaming charges are very expensive so check charges before you travel. Often stored phone numbers will not show when a call is received.
Is Cuba LGBTQI+ friendly?
Same sex relationships are legal in Cuba. Gay relationships are sometimes kept low key, so public affection may draw some attention however in Havan, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and other major cities, it is becoming much more widely accepted. Please talk to us for more information.
What shopping is there in Cuba?
Shopping mainly consists of souvenir items such as art, handicrafts, books, music, t-shirts, rum, and cigars. Cuba is famous for its excellent quality cigars which can be purchased at low prices. The majority of cigars come from the west of Cuba, in the Pinar Del Rio province. There are also cigar factories in Havana.
When is Cuba’s peak season?
Whilst Cuba is a year-round destination, and due to the huge influx of tourists is busy all the time, peak season is regarded as November to April, with low season being May to October.
What is the time difference in Cuba?
GMT -5 hours
What currency do they use in Cuba?
Cuba have very recently introduced a new currency system and abolished the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), which was used by foreign visitors in previous years.
The official currency is now the Cuban Peso (CUP), and you can change GBP/EUR/USD cash into CUP at money change outlets at hotels and banks or use a debit card to withdraw CUP from ATM machines.
However, as a visitor to Cuba you will not actually require the local CUP currency when you travel around the island, except possibly for a nominal amount for small purchases and tips. You can travel to Cuba and not need to change any money into CUP and only make use of GBP/EUR/USD in cash along with your credit/debit card. These currencies collectively are often referred to as MLC, a local group name for these main international currencies.
Clients can request our full money advice, please ask for more information.
Are there ATM Machines in Cuba?
The number of ATM machines are increasing in Cuba, especially in Havana, noting that they only provide CUP. Until very recently MasterCard did not work, however this is slowly changing, but as a precaution take Visa if you intend to withdraw cash. Before travel, we recommend checking with the provider of your debit/credit cards that they will be useable in Cuba. If your card is issued by an USA bank or a bank that has an affiliation with the USA (e.g., MBNA) they may not work in Cuba.
Are traveller’s cheques and prepaid cards accepted in Cuba?
Travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted in Cuba and the bureaucracy and paperwork related to their use can be time consuming, likewise pre-paid cash cards are also not widely accepted. Many of the new online banking cards such as Revolut, Starling and Monzo are not accepted in Cuba so if you do intend to take a pre-paid card or a card issued by an online bank check carefully that it will work before travel.
Should we tip?
Tipping is becoming a more recognised part of the Cuban society and generally with the economic hardships experienced on the island, local people rely on tips to be able to purchase the basic requirements for their families. It is not uncommon for a person to work in a MICE related activity and support through tips to extended family. In some parts of Cuba, the behaviour where tipping is a pre-requisite to service generally is now evident in these changing times on the island. Tipping is not compulsory and totally discretionary so please do not feel forced to tip.
What is the weather like in Cuba?
The driest months to travel are from November to April. December and January can get cool at night so warm layers or a jacket are recommended. In the summer months especially, temperatures are hot and it can get very humid. In the Caribbean, hurricane season is from June to November, with September being the peak time. It is impossible to predict when a hurricane may occur and groups visit throughout the year.
Average temperatures – Havana
|Min (°C)||Max (°C)||Min (°F)||Max (°F)|
Average hours of sunshine – Havana
Average Rainfall – Havana
What are the journey times around Cuba?
Approximate journey times by road without breaking.
|Cayo Santa Maria||Varadero||5|
|Cienfuegos||El Nicho National Park||1.5|
|Havana City||Havana Airport||0.5|
|Havana||Cayo Santa Maria||6|
|Las Terrazas||Santa Clara||4.5|
|Sancti Spiritus||El Nicho National Park||2|
|Santa Clara||Cayo Coco||4|
|Santa Clara||Cayo Santa Maria||2|
|Santa Clara||Sugar Mill Valley||1.5|
|Trinidad||Cayo Coco/Cayo Guillermo||5|
|Trinidad||Cayo Santa Maria||4|
|Trinidad||El Nicho National Park||1.5|