3 Essential Things to Know Before Traveling to Havana, Cuba

With the classic colonial architecture combined with the colorful buildings and cars in the surroundings, Havana in Cuba is definitely a sight you want to see in the Caribbean. 

Whether you plan to get a Cuban tourist card to explore the rest of the country or rent a car in Cuba and make the most of your stay in the capital city, it's best to prepare yourself with things to know before visiting Havana. 

This time, we have Claudia from My Adventures Across The World to share everything you need to know before you travel to Havana, Cuba. Let's dive in!

What to Know Before Visiting Havana, Cuba

Traveling to Cuba requires extra precautions, mainly for the US citizens as after the embargo in the 1960s Americans must have an extra travel license on top of the required tourist cards for international travelers. 

Even if you plan to arrange a trip to Havana with tours, chances are you will need to arrange it directly with the local companies as websites like Viator or GetYourGuide don't sell any excursions in Cuba. 

Alternatively, you can also choose to join an all-in excursion like the one offered by G Adventures. They have several packages you can choose for Cuba, like this Cuban Rhythms or Cuba Highlights tour

Regardless of how you want to explore Havana during your trip to Cuba, here's everything you need to know about traveling around the capital city of Cuba!

1. What's the Cuba currency?

The first thing to keep in mind if you ever plan to visit Cuba is that there are two currencies there: the Convertible Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP), also known as MN (Moneda Nacional).

Foreigners should only be using the CUC, though the small things such as street food and minor shopping they can also use the CUP. $1 USD is exactly 1 CUC, which is equal to 26.5 CUP.

classic car in Havana, Cuba.

2. Food to Try in Havana, Cuba

Havana isn't the cheapest of cities. $10 USD doesn't get you that far in terms of accommodation, as a room in casa particular (private house) costs anything between $25 USD and $40 USD, whether or not you sharing it.

However, the $10 USD is more than enough for a good meal, unless you go to the most famous paladar (privately owned restaurant), where chances are you'll be paying much more than that.

buildings in Havana, Cuba.

A drink at popular places such as Floridita or Bodeguita del Medio costs no less than $5 USD. However, you can get cheaper drinks in smaller, less famous bars.

3. How to Avoid Scams in Havana, Cuba

Museums and places to visit are rather cheap, while some other are even free. A $10 USD is likely going to be enough to visit the most famous and historical places in Havana.

A good thing to keep in mind when visiting Havana is that scams are literally around every corner, and chances are taxi drivers and even restaurants may try to charge you much more than the actual price.

The key to avoid scams is to learn to haggle, and stand your ground when you have a feeling that you are being overcharged. Ask the owner of your casa particular how much a taxi ride from his place to the attraction you want to visit should cost, and make sure not to pay more than that.

Also, don't trust overly friendly people who promise to take you to the best and most local bar or restaurant in town. Chances are, they are working for a commission, and you will be paying a very expensive bill.

Contributor: Claudia of My Adventures Across The World

Claudia is a former human rights lawyer and academic who abandoned her career to follow a life of travel. When she's not busy hiking volcanoes and mountains, she lives in her beloved Cagliari, Sardinia.

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