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How to travel to Cuba on a budget

Wanna travel to cuba on a budget? Not an issue – with this article

travel to Cuba on a budget

Are you a person who simply LOVES adventures, traveling and exploring different countries, yet, on a budget? Then worry no more! In this article, we’re going to share some tips, costs, activities, where to stay, and more. If you’ve ever considered visiting Cuba in a budget, then read further! We’re going to show how to make the most out of your Cuba vacation at a low price!

Cuba is a country located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It is known as an archipelago with beautiful beaches. Spanish is widely spoken, and very few can speak in English. It is highly advisable to learn some Spanish phrases when visiting this country.

Table of contents:

Planning a trip to Cuba

Where to stay

Cuban foods & restaurants

Transportation (plane, buses, taxis)

Best things to do in Cuba

Budget travel tips in Cuba

Best time to visit

Internet & mobile services

Planning a trip to Cuba

travel to Cuba on a budget

The cost of living in Cuba is generally affordable if compared to other countries in the Caribbean islands. It is, however, more expensive than other parts of Latin America like Mexico or Central American nations. You will be given a special 2nd currency just for tourist and as one, you’ll be forced to pay using the tourist currency most of the time. Cuban Peso (CUC –  ₱) is Cuba’s main currency, while as a tourist, the 2nd currency is called the Cuban Convertible Peso.

As a budget traveler, you can survive at around $50 (or so) per day.

Where to stay

Travel to Cuba on a budget

 You can always find different fancy hotels in Havana, but when it comes to accommodations, the best option in Cuba is called Casas Particulares. Casas Particulares are like local guest houses. The Cuban government allows some residents to have their spare rooms in their homes for rent for their income. This also enables the traveler to get a more local experience, since you’ll be staying in an actual house, instead of a hotel.

Finding a casa is pretty easy – you’ll just need to walk around the neighborhood and ask if they have an available room for guests. There are, however, some homes with signage informing that they offer a room for rent service. Prices will vary. A double room can cost around $25 – 40 CUC with breakfast. However, if you don’t prefer to stay in the houses of the locals, there are other options too, only that it’s a lot costly.

Casas Particulares: $25 – $40 per night

travel to Cuba on a budget

Mid-Range Hotels: $90 – $150 per night

travel to Cuba on a budget

Resorts & Fancy Hotels: $200 – $400 per night

travel to Cuba on a budget

Cuban foods & restaurants

Cuban foods are pretty cheap and tasty. The cheapest is the Cuban sandwiches and Cuban pizzas sold in street-side stores and they call it “paladares.” These meals can cost as little as $1. On the other hand, if such things don’t satisfy you, there are lots of options in other restaurants that sell plates of lobster, crab, fish, and shrimp at the price of $7. There’s also a traditional Cuban cuisine called ropa vieja (old clothes) which consists of pulled pork with gravy, served with rice and beans for around $5.

Some other restaurants are costly, with tourist prices around $15-20 for each meal. Cubans prefer to cook at home using government rations called Libreta de Abastecimiento (rice, sugar and cooking oil). They prefer to cook at home because restaurants that cost around $15-20 is something that most Cubans cannot afford.

Transportation (plane, buses, taxis)

Plane:

There are two major airports in Cuba – Havana Airport and Varadero Airport.

Colectivos/Almendrones/Shared Taxis:

Colectivos, as Cubans call them, almendrones, are shared taxis that travel according to a fixed route. These are usually colorful, old cars from the 1950’s with a taxi sign.

On the other hand, there are also private taxis available in Havana such as:

  • Coco Taxi – Yellow coco taxis are designed for tourists (you’ll pay in CUC), while black and yellow are for locals (they’ll pay in pesos). The prices are negotiable ahead of time.
  • Cuba Taxi – These are state-run taxis. These taxis are negotiable if discussed ahead of time, but they can also use the meter if you’ll ask. However, negotiation of the price ahead of time can be cheaper than using a meter.
  • Grancar – These are old Chevy’s painted in yellow and are known to be the most expensive taxis. It can cost $30-50 per hour.

Private car services:

Booking a private car can be convenient enough to be worth the steep price, especially on short trips. Hiring a private car typically costs around 30-40 CUC per hour which is why it’s considered as one of the most expensive options for transportation in Cuba. The advantage of taking this ride is you can be completely flexible with your itinerary.

 Bici-Taxi:

 In some cities like Havana and Camaguey, pedicabs/Bici-taxis are available. They’re slower than riding in a car, but it’s a great option if you want to do a little sightseeing in Old Havana. These rides only cost a few CUC, depending on the distance.  

Intercity Buses

There are two bus companies available: Viazul and Astro. Travelers usually pick Viazul. They’re safe, reliable, air-conditioned, and cheap. It is advisable to book online in advance and print out the reservation confirmation so that it can be showed when you arrive there. Astro, on the other hand, are less reliable and are not air-conditioned.

Car Rentals

Very few travelers book car rentals because they’re generally expensive and impractical. They usually cost around $50 or so. These car bookings are mostly done online, so if you want to consider this, book one online. It matters to book online because availability is low.

Best things to do in Cuba

travel to Cuba on a budget
  • Havana – It’s unlikely for anyone to skip Havana, Cuba’s capital (a.k.a. Havana Viejo “Old Havana”). It is the historic city center and was declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Exploring Havana would be highly advisable, especially if you’re a fan of those beautiful, old architecture, interesting people, and classic cars.
  • Varadero – Located on the Hicacos Peninsula about 140 km from Havana. This place is a popular resort town for tourists. Not only that, but they have ivory-white sand beaches that are amazing! The beaches in Varadero are some parts of private resorts, however, there is also a large free public beach section too which is as beautiful as the ones in the private resort areas. Aside from the beach, you can also rent a kayak, sunbathe, and eat seafood in the available restaurants.
  • Viñales – If you’re a fan of green nature, then this spot is for you. Viñales is a lush green valley surrounded by mountains, located on the west of Havana. It’s a small town where you can explore nature, climb rocks, explore caves, and/or learning different things about cigar making. Fun fact: Viñales is Cuba’s tobacco capital, and is also the home of the best cigars in the world.
  • Trinidad – interested in seeing the history before your eyes? Trinidad is a picturesque colonial town lined with cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses. In the 18th century, it was the epicenter of the Spanish sugar trade and the place where sugar barons became wealthy. Old buildings have been restored, making it a good place to visit. Art and history museums are popular (Museo de Arquitectura and Museo Romantico), and there’s a bell tower at Iglesia de San Francisco that can enable the tourist to view the city from above. They also offer bike services to Playa Ancon, a white stunning sand beach, and lastly, you can go swimming under the waterfalls at Topes De Collantes National park.

Budget travel tips in Cuba

travel to Cuba on a budget
Tips For Travelling On A Budget In Cuba

As a 3rd world country, for the most part, Cuba can be affordable, but it’s not an easy place for an extremely tight budget. To spend less, try eating at locally run paladares (little restaurants in residential areas) whenever you can. Shared taxis can also make you save some money, or split a 1950’s tourist taxi with other travelers. Staying with locals in Casas particulares as much as possible can keep your accommodation costs down, too.

Best time to visit Cuba

travel to Cuba on a budget

The best time to visit is from December to May because climates are mild and the skies are often sunny during these months. Cuba’s wet season is between June to October, and the heaviest rains & hottest temperatures are around July and August. Hurricanes can also be a threat during these months, which makes it less desirable to visit.

Internet & mobile services

travel to Cuba on a budget

Wi-Fi spots are not available everywhere, but there are certain Wi-Fi spots available in major hotels, public parks and in some casas particulares. You might be needing to buy an internet scratch card from ETECSA (Cuba’s national telecommunications company) and they cost between $2-6 for an hour of service. These are sold in front of the airports in Havana, major hotels, ETECSA kiosks, and other locals. If you want to access messaging apps, you’ll need to install a good travel VPN before leaving your country.

You may also want to check this out for more places to visit. Click here!

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