Currency: Cuban Peso
Time Zone: CDT/GMT-5
Tipping: Tipping culture in Cuba is different to what you would experience in other countries. Always tip in Cuban, never in another currency and make sure you are subtle when doing so. Don’t go overboard.
From dazzling white sands and Cadillac lined streets to colonial architecture and lush green tobacco fields, you'll find a little bit of everything in Cuba. This slice of the Caribbean oozes colour, charisma and life and offers a tempting cocktail of stunning beaches, Latin rhythms and a complex history lying alongside plenty of modern resorts. Places of interest are spread across the island, but escorted tours will help you get the most of the country without you having to negotiate public transport.
Capital Havana is a popular stop, exuding energy from its basic ration shops to gleaming colonial palaces and crystal blue seas. Time-warped Old Havana is a pleasure to explore, with its vintage American cars now synonymous with the city. Catch the stilt-walkers in Plaza de Armas and try out dance favourites of the locals - the Salsa and Mambo - then refresh with a cool glass of Havana Club rum and a huge Cuban cigar.
French-influenced Cienfuegos, colonial and classy Trinidad, palm tree clad Guardalavaca and Santiago de Cuba are also top spots on escorted tours of the island. For more outstanding scenery Vinales is the place to be where spectacular limestone cliffs, lush vegetation and a maze of caves lie waiting to be explored.
Travelling on an escorted tour means that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in unfamiliar lands. However, to help you have an enjoyable holiday in Cuba, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
It is always best to consult your GP before you travel to check whether you need any vaccines or medication whilst visiting a country. The medical facilities in Cuba are best in Havana, however you may be evacuated should you need specialist care. Medical care can be very expensive and you will be expected to pay for any treatment in cash; a hospital stay can equate to £200 per day plus medical expenses. Therefore make sure you have adequate health insurance before you travel and you are able to assess additional funds to cover any medical costs or possible repatriations. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
Many medicines are not available in Cuba, so ensure you take any prescription medication with you. It is also wise to bring a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP explaining your condition for customs officials.
If you require emergency medical assistance you should dial 405093/4 or 404552/3 and ask for an ambulance. If you need additional treatment you should contact your insurance provider immediately.
To avoid theft from your luggage when it is going through baggage handling, put locks on your cases, remove all valuables and if possible have them shrink-wrapped.
If you need to take a taxi, make sure it is a registered one and not a private one. There are a number of bogus taxis which operate around Old Havana Airport.
When in Havana at night time, don't walk - use a taxi instead even if you are close to your hotel. Beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers in Old Havana, especially on public transport and in major tourist destinations. Never carry large amounts of cash and avoid wearing expensive jewellery. Try to leave valuables in the hotel safe, including your passport – but do carry a copy with you. Mobile phones and laptops are sought after in Cuba and are a target for thieves.
Local Laws and Customs
As in the UK, possession and trafficking of drugs is a serious offence and Cuban courts will hand out severe penalties. The import of meat and fruit is prohibited and will be confiscated and destroyed on arrival in Cuba.
Always avoid military zones and restricted areas and be careful when taking photos and videos, especially as these areas are not always clearly signposted.
Homosexuality is legal in Cuba, however there are only a few places where gay people can socialise freely. Same sex couples should be cautious when showing public displays of affection, which can cause unwanted attention from local authorities and the police.
When visiting Cuba you will need the correct visa to suit the purpose of your trip. Prior to entering Cuba you will need to get a tourist card. Dual Nationals will need to contact the Cuban Embassy for further advise and information. Some tours offer a visa service for a small admin fee so always check at the time of booking.
Your passport must hold at least 6 months validity from the date that you enter into Cuba. UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit of Cuba.
Electrical items such as kettles and irons may be confiscated upon entering Cuba. GPS (Global Positioning Systems) are also subject to restrictions and may be confiscated. Items which are taken by Cuban Customs when entering into the country are normally returned on departure.
Any other nationality looking to visit Cuba must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
Cuba is a fascinating country to visit with beautiful beaches and a lot of heritage. Here are a few ideas of where to head:
The capital city and major hub of Cuba, Havana is a must do for anyone who visits Cuba. Havana is often described as three cities in one; Vedado, Old Havana and the newer suburban districts. Popular tourist attractions to visit include the Old Square, Gran Teatro de la Habana and El Morro to name just a few.
Take a step back in time and visit one of the most atmospheric places in the world. Known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Havana is famed for its baroque-style buildings. Popular places to visit when in the Old town include; Capitilio Nacional, Cathedral of Havana and the Plaza de la Catedral a la Habana.
Santiago de Cuba
The second largest city in Cuba, this is another popular destination for tourists. The Spanish American Military site of San Pedro de la Roca Castle has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is the best preserved example of this kind of architecture. The city lays on the coast and its bay is connected to the Caribbean sea, making it a popular destination and port.
This popular destination is used when exploring Cuba due to its quintessential red tiled roofs. Famous for its cobblestone streets, pastel coloured buildings and beautiful plazas and palaces, Trinidad is a great place to explore either on foot or by horse and carriage. Another great stop-off when visiting Trinidad is the Valley of the Sugar Mills, serving as a reminder of Cuba's economy over the centuries.