Welcome to your one-stop-shop for travel tips for Cuba for Americans, deals, and to connect with other travelers! Traveling to Cuba for tourism is still prohibited. Here are a few things to be mindful of for American travel to Cuba and to help you plan your trip.
Can Americans travel to Cuba?
As of 2020, your trip is automatically approved and does not need an additional application for a license if it falls under the following categories.
- Family visits to family members by blood, marriage or adoption and who are within 3 generations.
- Official business of the U.S. Government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activities
- Professional research or meetings
- Educational activities and exchanges-People to People Category was eliminated in 2017
- Religious activities
- Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions
- Humanitarian projects
- Support for the Cuban people
- Activities of private foundations, research, or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information material
- Certain authorized export transactions
Best Time To Visit Cuba?
Dry Season is November-April. Wet and Rainy Season is May -October. I suggest visiting during dry season and booking early due to the influx of people visiting during that time.
Popular events in Cuba
- Carnival (July/August)
- Days of Cuban Culture (October-November)
- Havana International Ballet Festival (October-November)
- International Festival of New Latin American Film (December)
- Havana International Jazz Festival (December)
As of August 1st, Due to Covid-19, Cuba is currently closed to international travel. When Cuba reopens, according to the Associated Press, tourists will be sent to smaller Islands within Cuba that include all-inclusive options.
Additional Cuba Travel Tips
- Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance and sells a temporary policy to those who do not have it. Check to see if this is included in airfare. Most airlines partner with Cuban health insurance provided by ESICUBA. Your boarding ticket is proof should you need to use it so save it!
- Authorized travelers may return to the United States with up to $100 worth of alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba in accompanied baggage, for personal use only.
- Two blank passport pages are required for entry/exit stamps (did you know you can no longer request additional visa pages for U.S. Passports after 12/31/15).These are just a few main points. It’s critical to know this upfront as you don’t want to waste money or get over there and be denied entry. Also, the Office of Foreign Assets Control can audit your trip up to 5 years after your trip.
In addition more details around entry and travel to Cuba available at the Office of Foreign Assets Control page of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Bookmark it for more updates to help you plan your trip.
Is it Safe to Travel to Cuba?
Per U.S. Customs website, visitors should avoid wearing flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of cash. U.S. visitors should also beware of Cuban “jineteros” (hustlers) who specialize in swindling tourists. While most jineteros speak English and go out of their way to appear friendly, e.g., by offering to serve as tour guides or to facilitate the purchase of cheap cigars, many are in fact professional criminals who may resort to violence in their efforts to acquire tourists’ money and other valuables. There is a Cuba Crime and Safety report available and updated annually.
Some U.S. embassy workers fell sick and the embassy is advising to avoid Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri.
A Cuban visa/tourist card is required for entry. Most airlines partner to provide this at around $50 in addition to the ticket cost. When I flew with Southwest they emailed a link to Cuba Travel Services (CTS) to purchase before arriving to the airport. If you purchase through them and you aren’t flying on Southwest it is $85. I would call to see where they will be located in the airport. For Southwest out of FLL, they were located on the 1st floor of the Southwest terminal. If available I would purchase through your airline’s partner so that you can pick up near the airline’s ticketing area. Be mindful of the lead time required to purchase the visa in time for your flight. When you receive be sure to be careful filling out, any mistakes and you have to purchase a new one. When you arrive in Cuba customs will take half of the visa and you retain the second half for the exit. Keep up with it!
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Which airlines fly to Cuba?
The following airlines fly direct from the U.S. to Havana!
JetBlue-JFK, FLL, MCO
Delta-JFK, ATL, MIA
The following cruise lines are approved for sailings to Cuba:
Cuba Hotel Alternatives
Hotels are quite pricey in Havana and many are prohibited to stay in. Airbnb has been in Havana since 2015. The cost savings are awesome. Especially if you are a first time user you qualify for my $35 referral discount. Check out a “First Timer’s Guide to Airbnb” if you need help!
How Much Money To Bring to Cuba?
There are two currencies in Cuba, CUC and CUP. CUC is the one that you will use the most. CUP is the local currency and you will occasionally be charged in CUP. $1= 1 CUP, however, there is a fee of about 13% to convert. Some people bring Euros or Canadian Dollars. Compare any costs to convert from USD to Euros or CAD and then to CUC vs USD to CUC and see which is better. Check with your bank for any savings on ordering currency in advance.
When exchanging currency, use state-run offices to convert dollars and avoid independent/street vendors.
Currency Converter by OANDA
Ways to Save Money on U.S. Travel to Cuba
- Connect or fly to FLL, MIA and TPA (compare with flying from your airport.
- Check to see if the airline offers health insurance in the ticket costs.
- Feeling adventurous? Try AirBnb or Casa Particular
- AirBnB: Receive $40 with my referral for new AirBnB user or refer someone that will travel with you to book.
- Search via calendar on airlines for the cheapest dates to visit.
- Book tours and travel far in advance due to high demand.
- Use points! Check out the Travel Well Hacks section for more ways to accumulate and use points.
Additional articles on tips for Cuba
Check out this article from Jason Butler at My Money Chronicles on frequently asked questions regarding Cuba.
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Art & Culture
Callejón de Hamel- A famous street filled with Afro-Cuban art and culture-Popular on Sunday Afternoons
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Edificio de Arte Internacional-Modern Cuban Art
Individual buildings: CUC 5; both: CUC 8
Address: Calle Obispo Esquina A S/N, La Habana 10100, Cuba
Band Monday-Sat 9pm
Habana Cafe at Hotel Melia Cohiba
Hemmingway’s Old Hangout
Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate,
Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana,
Calle Zulueta No. 252 | E Animas y Virtudes, Havana 10100, Cuba