What do you need to know before going to Cuba?
Cuba is our favourite destination and we’ve been there more than once to get to know it as good as possible. Find information below on what we think may be a useful and valuable piece of information before you plan your journey.
There are no particular recommendations in terms of vaccinations. It is good however to consider a vaccination against Hepatitis B
Visa to Cuba
You need to have a one-time touristic visa which is valid for 6 months from the issue date. It costs approx. 100 PLN and can be obtained in three ways:
- personally in the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Warsaw at ul. Domaniewska 34A; please have the exact amount of 22€, copy of the passport, flight ticket and even confirmation of the first accommodation for the night with you;
- personally at Sigma Travel in Warsaw at ul. Marszałkowska, the cost is approx. 100 PLN; please have a copy of the passport with you (not mandatory);
- through the agency with courier mail; the cost is slightly higher – 100 PLN for visa + agency fee and courier mail (approx. 80-100 PLN, especially if it’s an express mail in case you’re in a hurry); it is mandatory to send a photo or scan of the passport and provide delivery address.
IMPORTANT: Passport expiration date shall not be shorter than 6 months on the departure date.
Zawsze warto posiadać dodatkowe ubezpieczenie podróżne szczególnie, że karta ECUSA nie obejmuje Kuby. It is always recommendable to have additional travel insurance considering the fact that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIS) is not valid in Cuba. We recommend attractive and affordable insurance offer in Signal Iduna. Please also consider travel cancellation insurance.
Medicines (never really needed them) 🙂
As some medicines are not always easily available in Cuba, it is a good idea to take whatever might come in handy in an emergency situation! In our case, despite numerous journeys no medicine was needed, but just like in any other travel, it is worth being prepared. 😉
We recommend that you take:
- anti-inflammatory medicines and anti-pyretic medicines, painkillers: Ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin;
- anti-diarrhoeal medicines: charcoal, Loperamide;
- electrolyte replenishment: Smecta, gastroliths;
- bowel protection: probiotics;
- antiemetic and anti-poisoning medicines: Nifuroxazide, Metocroplamid;
- antiallergenic medicines: Cetirizine;
- plasters, wound disinfectant, bandage;
- anti-influenza medicines: Gripex, Fervex;
- sore throat medicines: Strepsils spray, lozenges;
- regular medications in sufficient doses;
- hand disinfectants: anti-bacterial gel
- calcium, sunscreen (30-50 SPF).
Our offer is casas particulares – Cubans’ private houses. Our colleagues have rooms with bathrooms, air-conditioning, fan, and fridge and really want you to feel like at home. You stay there just like in a hotel: full privacy is guaranteed, rooms are cleaned and towels exchanged every day. If you feel like staying a bit longer and changing the place once our journey is finished, our colleagues will recommend you casas particulares of a comparable standard.
In Cuba, a lot of things are available through coupons and things are no different when it comes to the internet. During our journey you will receive one internet card from Flamingo Travel as a gift. All you need to do is to get a signal. You will get it in public places such as parks, hotels, in the vicinity of ETECSA offices and the closest spot is within 5-minutes’ walk from our casas particulares along Malecón. In order to connect to the internet, select Etecsa Wi-Fi on your device and a window will pop up automatically asking you to enter digits from the card you received or purchased. In case you do not reach the connection time limit make sure you DISCONNECT, that way you can keep reusing the card until you hit the time limit. In case you find this amount of time insufficient, there is a stall with cards very close to the Wi-Fi spot: 1 hour – 1-1.5 CUC, 5 hours – 5 CUC. 1CUC = 1 USD
In Cuba, cash for tourists is CUC (convertible peso). Once there, you can exchange euros to CUC in exchange office at the airport. In some restaurants it is possible to pay in euros, however this is quite rare. In case you run out of cash, the closest ATM is within 10-minutes’ walk from our casas particulares at Malecón. Important: notes that you are taking with you to Cuba should not be damaged, heavily folded and should not bear any inscriptions or drawings.
Flight + bus
Flights to Cuba are not cheap, however one may find quite a few interesting offers especially if it is done in advance. Flight tickets prices range between 1,600 PLN and 4,000 PLN and more. Visit www.momondo.pl for special offers. A definitely cheaper way to get there is from Berlin to Varadero by plane. It means you will have to go another 2.5 hours by bus from Varadero to Havana, however…buses are comfortable, equipped with air-conditioning and toilet and the price is merely 10 USD per person. This way you also get a chance to spend the night in Varadero which is a popular resort with wonderful beaches and luxurious hotels. If you find this interesting, make sure to book your bus tickets in considerable advance at www.viazul.com as usually buses are full and there will be no possibility to purchase tickets right after the arrival. If you choose this option, make sure you let us know so that our travel agency representative can pick you up from the bus stop (in case of a longer stay in Varadero) or welcome you at the airport and take you to our casas particulares.
Sockets in Cuba
There is a great number of sockets in our casas particulares which makes charging all types of devices much easier, however Cuban sockets do not match our plugs. We recommend that you take an American plug adapter.
Phone calls from Cuba ARE NOT cheap! It obviously varies, depending on your mobile network operator, however the approximate costs are:
– 2 PLN for a text message;
– 3 PLN for a multimedia message (MMS);
– 8 PLN per minute;
– 5 PLN per minute of an incoming phone call
Travelling in Cuba
Considering the diversity of travel offered by Cubans, for sure everyone will find something for themselves. We have at our disposal:
- tourist buses/autocar such as Viazul, ticket prices are very affordable, very comfortable travel conditions. Coaches are air-conditioned, adjustable seats, there are always seats. However, it is best to buy tickets in advance via the Internet on the carrier’s website Viazul
- coco taxi – it is a very expensive form of travel
- taxi coche colectivo – something like the Polish Ble Ble car, or private cars, whose drivers are waiting in certain places and waiting for tourists who are going in the same direction. When the entire passenger car is assembled, everyone is going on a joint journey. It is less comfortable (tight) but very affordable
- bike rickshaw – Havana itself is great to visit in this way. Rickshaws are 2-person + pedaling driver
- bus hop on hop off -when buying a ticket for the whole day, you can get on and off in all the places of interest and after visiting them again, hop on the bus and go further. If you manage to take a seat on the open floor of the travel experience, I will be even more interesting.
All Cubans speak Spanish. English is not quite common and in many restaurants will be served by waiters who do not speak it. Many Cubans speak Russian, as it used to be taught at schools until recently. Most of our crew speak English, so they will support you in your communication and contact with Cubans.
Prices in Cuba
As in any other place, you can get a meal for a decent price and get a heart attack upon receipt of the check. Find October 2018 prices below. Those are actual prices in shops and in a fantastic restaurant (very affordable) located very close to our casas particulares and a couple of very enjoyable restaurants in the center of Havana (slightly more expensive):
1 CUC = 3,77 PLN
- mineral water 0.5 – 1.5 CUC
- gas drinks, tucola (can) – 1 – 1.5 CUC
- drinks: mojito, piña colada, cuba libre – 2.5 – 4.5 CUC
- Cuban beer – 1 – 2 CUC
- 1l juice – 2 CUC
- cookies, biscuits – 1.5 – 3.5 CUC
- pizza – 2.5 – 6.5 CUC
- spagetti – 2,5 CUC – 6,5 CUC
- lunch: meat + rice (potatoes) + salad – 2.5 CUC and more if you want to go crazy:)
Food and small children
If you travel with small children, make sure you take powdered milk, porridge, desserts, and jar lunches with you, since finding and buying such products in Cuba may turn out to be impossible. Take your own cereal for older kids who love cereal with milk, as the latter is available in Cuba. 😉