In november-december this year we went to Cuba – Havana, Viñales, Varadero, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.
We’d like to share some tips and our experience of this trip.
Things to bring:
- stomach medicine.
- mosquito oil.
- girls: bring menstrual stuff, it’s so hard to find! 😮
- euro to exchange at the airport. The cuban currency CUC can only be exchanged in Cuba. 1 CUC ~ 1 €
- toilet paper or tissues! Always good to have in your handbag/backpack! And of course a bottle of hand disinfection.
If you go to Cuba it’s good that you or someone knows at least some spanish. Easier for cubans to understand you and Easier for you to haggle etc.
Not like we imagined, but still a pretty cool city, it’s enough to stay for five-six days.
The city is pretty historical and interesting, for example Plaza de la revolución, Habana vieja and Malecón. Malecón at nights is a place where people get togheter for drinks, music and dance.
Living in Havana you can choose either cheaper ways like homestay, that we did, or be more fancy and stay at a hotel. The best choise, according to us, is to stay in a homestay – casa particular – to get more contact with the cubans and their reality. Homestays you can find through homestay.com or the app.
Since it’s warm in Cuba and kind of polluted air in Havana, because of all the old cars, it can be nice with a city break and go to the beach! One beach close to Havana is Playa del este, where there are five different little spots, like Santa Maria, Tropicoco, Tarara and our favorite location La teraza. On the beach you can drink rom in a coconut and listen to cuban amature musicians playing their instruments and singing. You get the real cuban atmosphere.
Three cheap ways to get to the beach:
- Take the local bus for less than 1 CUC, it’s the longest and hardest way, you don’t know the time schedule, no AC and always full… so not recomended.
- Transtur from parque central directly to the beach, 5 CUC roundtrip. That’s what we mostly used, the only bad thing was that the last bus back to the city was at 6:30 pm.
- American car. We paid 20 CUC (three people splitting) roundtrip. And the driver picked us up whenever we wanted to go back.
- Café ballerina – in calle Galliano – italian café and restaurant. Pasta is al dente and yummy.
- El dicho – small cuban restaurant in calle Obispo mostly for locals, here you get only a main corse (big plate) for 1-2 CUC.
- La lluvia de oro – live music in Obispo, one of the most famous spots where to listen to salsa live music.
- Parque central hotel – 5 star hotel with a really nice skybar. Don’t miss during the sunset!
- Mojito and Piña Colada! Especially good Piña outside La teraza beach for only 1 CUC.
Things you don’t need to do:
- Go in a bicycle taxi.
- Scooter taxi – just expensive and noisy.
- Eating papaya or guayaba – you think tropical fruits are nice…
Things you should never do:
- Buying cigars on the streets, it’s fake!
- Buying tickets to Buena vista social club concerts on the street, because it doesn’t excist.
- Go in a horse carriage.
A really nice experience! Calm and beautiful nature. Nice to escape the pollutions and noise in Havana. We think you could stay for two-three days (we were only there for a day).
Best way to get to Viñales from Havana is to reach the central bus station – Viazul – and wait for a bus, or to find an “organisation” of taxis to get you there and back. It’s around a two, two and a half hours trip from Havana.
- Horseback ridning with a guide in the nature. One-two hours ridning with different stops. Discovering the making of cigars, the plantations of cane suger. Even if you are afraid of horses, like Hanna, you can do this! As the cubans said “los cavallos semiatomatico”
- Buying handmade eco cigars.
- Cayo Juitas – we were never there, but they say it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba. Around one hour from Viñales.
- Cueva del indio – really turistic, expensive and long queue. The nature was beautiful though.
If you’re looking for clear turquoise water and white sand this is the place. Taxi or bus from Havana, we chose taxi to go and then Viazul bus to go back. (Varadero is around two and a half hours away from Havana).
Our favorite place! Really positive energy, cute village, really traditional with all the colors of the buildings. A turistic village, but still nice. We spent two nights in Trinidad in a casa particular of course.
Trinidad is around four-five hours away from Havana and to get there we shared a bigger taxi with some other travellers. This is a really nice road trip as well! The nature is fantastic! So try not to fall asleep in the car 😉
- To stay at casa particular Don Omar. Really helpful man that speaks english with a really cute and nice wife. Spectacular breakfast and Omar makes a really good Canchanchara – Trinidad’s local drink.
- Horseback ridning for five hours in the mountains of Trinidad. Oh my God what an experience! Many stops and a lovely lunch (costs a bit extra).
- Waterfalls – you get to them by the horse, it costs an extra natural park fee, totally worth it!
Things you don’t need to do:
- Some of the restaurants are really turistic and have bad food! Better to ask the casa particular for advise or ask them to make you a dinner for some extra money!
A city one-two hours away from Trinidad, five hours away from Havana. First impression; it felt like a more modern city and more clean than Havana. Smaller of course but we thought it was nicer than the capital. We were there for one night, but you can easily do two-three nights if you plan to do city tours or go to the beaches, pigs bay or the flamingo laguna.
- Playa rancho luna. Fantastic caribbean beach, the sunset is to die for!
- Casa particular Carlos and Odalys – once again a fantastic breakfast and a lovely couple.
- Mexican restaurant. Unfortunately we don’t remember the name, but ask some teenagers at the street and they’ll help. This is a place where a lot of teens hang out. It is close to the calle el Prado. This one is a Jewish restaurant with Mexican food + kebab 🙂 Make sure to order the milkshake!
- Malecón. Like Malecón in Havana but smaller; a place for hanging out with friends, drinking, listening to music and dancing in the streets. Really nice spirit there.
Overall we enjoyed Cuba, even if some things were not like we expected or imagined, but of course we don’t regret this trip and if you want to go….GO!