Cuba Country Info – The Compact Cuba Guide

Welcome to our Compact Guide to Cuba. Here you will find the most important information for your holiday in Cuba.

Worth knowing about Cuba in general

How big is Cuba and how many inhabitants does Cuba have?

Cuba is 109,884.01 km²and has just over 11 million inhabitants.

Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands. Geographically, the island belongs to the Greater Antilles. It lies on the border of the Gulf of Mexico with the Caribbean Sea. As the crow flies, it is only 180 km from Florida and only 140 km from Key West, the archipelago that forms the lowest point of Florida and the southernmost point of the USA. To Mexico, it is 210 kilometres that separate the island from the eastern tip of Yucatan.

What language do they speak in Cuba?

In Cuba, Spanish is spoken. However, Cuba has its own dialect, which is somewhat difficult to understand even for people who speak Spanish.

What is the capital of Cuba?

The capital of Cuba is Havana. In Spanish it is called
La Habana. The city was founded by the Spanish in 1519 and today has about 2.10 million inhabitants.

What time is it in Cuba right now?

Cuba is 6h behind Germany. When it is 12:00 noon in Germany, it is just 6:00 in the morning in Cuba. Jet lag should therefore not be underestimated when travelling.

What currency does Cuba have?

Cuba has two currencies, the CUP (Cuban peso) and the CUC (convertible peso). The CUC is a separate currency especially for tourists in which everything is more expensive than in CUP.

More about the two currencies in Cuba

Flight Cuba

How long does it take to fly from Germany to Cuba?

The flight time from Germany to Cuba is about 11h, the flight time from Cuba to Germany is about 10h.

When are the cheapest flights to Cuba?

It is not possible to give a general answer to this question, as it also depends very much on current offers and above all on when you book. However, the flight search engine Skyscanner offers the possibility to show you the cheapest month at your current time (or to compare the flight prices within a whole year). The flight search engine Kiwi also offers the option of comparing prices over longer periods.

The cheapest flight in our sample in mid-April was return in May for a combined €320 non-stop from Frankfurt to Havana and back.

Which airlines fly to Cuba?

The list of airlines flying to Cuba is constantly growing.

Direct flights from Germany are offered by Eurowings and Condor. In addition, Air France, Air Canada, Air China, Turkish Airlines, SWISS-Air, American Airlines, KLM, United Airlines, Avianca, Aeroflot, Air Europa, Corsair, Iberia and Copa Air also operate flights to Cuba.

Climate in Cuba

What is the weather like in Cuba? How warm is it in Cuba?

During the winter months from October to February, maximum temperatures in Cuba rise only slightly above25°C. In summer, on the other hand – that is, from May to September – the temperatures often go above 30 °C. Daytime lows during the winter months are usually only slightly below 20°C, but can occasionally drop to below 10°C.

When we visited in October, we initially had a period of over 30 °C every day, but in the last week it was decidedly colder and we occasionally had to resort to long trousers and sweaters.

When is hurricane season in Cuba?

Cuba, like the entire Caribbean, is in hurricane season. Hurricane season is from June to November. The highest hurricane risk in Cuba is in September and October.

Travel and tourism in Cuba

When is the best time to travel to Cuba?

The most popular time to travel to Cuba is during the winter months in Germany, as the weather there is still pleasantly mild then. In addition, from November to April is the dry season in Cuba.

Which region is the most beautiful in Cuba?

Which corner of Cuba you will like best depends, of course, very much on your preferences. Therefore, below you will get a list of some possible holiday regions.

Colonial cities for your Cuba cultural holiday

  • Baracoa
  • Bayamo
  • Camagüey
  • Ciego de Avila
  • Cienfuegos
  • Guantánamo
  • Havana
  • Las Tunas
  • Las Terrazas
  • Manzanillo
  • Pinar del Rio
  • Sancti Spíritus
  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Santo Domingo
  • Trinidad
  • Villas Guajimico

Beaches for your Cuba beach holiday

National parks for your Cuba nature holiday

  • Alexander von Humboldt National Park
  • Cienaga de Zapata
  • Desembarco del Granma National Park
  • Viniales
  • Topes de Collantes
  • Peninsula de Guanahacabibes
  • Sierra Maestra
  • Turquino National Park
  • Caguanes National Park
  • Jardines de la Reina
  • Baconao
  • Cayo Saetia
  • Parque Nacional La Güira
  • San Luis Valley
  • Cayo Guillermo
  • Guama
  • Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra
  • Cuchillas del Toa
  • Parque Nacional La Mensura
  • Sabana Camagüey Archipelago

Transport in Cuba

Bus

Viazul is Cuba’s central bus company for individual travellers. in addition, there are a few other bus companies, but they specialise in package tours.

Tickets from Viazul can be purchased a few days in advance at the bus stations. It makes sense to buy tickets in advance, especially during the high season, when buses are sometimes fully booked. Even if you have already bought a ticket, you must be back at the bus stop half an hour before the departure of the bus and exchange your reservation for a ticket.

The buses go to all tourist centres in Cuba. However, the comfort is limited. The air-conditioning is usually too cold or doesn’t work at all, not a single passenger used the bus toilets on any of our journeys and the overall impression of the bus is also shabby in the first place.

Nevertheless, Viazul’s buses are the easiest and also most convenient method to get from A to B.  

Other methods to get from A to B are the colectivo and the taxi.

For more detailed information on transport in Cuba and the reasons why we would definitely not recommend colectivos, click here.

Accommodation and hotels in Cuba

Depending on the type of holiday you are planning in Cuba, you have a choice between hotels and casa particulares.

Hotels

Most hotels in Cuba offerall-inclusive packages and are just right if you want a beach holiday, maybe a few excursions but generally don’t feel like having to take care of much on holiday. Most hotels also have better supplies than the small supermarkets and pubs, so the food there is better quality.

Casa Particulares

Casa Particulares are the usual accommodations in Cuba. They are easily recognisable by the signs with the blue roof . Most casa particulares are rooms with private bathrooms that belong to apartment buildings. This gives you the opportunity to get an insight into the life of Cuban families. There are some online portals, where you can pre-book casas. However, it is cheaper and easier to walk around in the towns and ask around for casas or to be approached directly by the owners at the bus stop. Then you have the option of visiting the casa and taking it, or not.

We would like to give you some tips from our trip

Depending on the season, it gets very humid in Cuba. Air conditioning is therefore very pleasant. Make sure they are modern air conditioners, the old things that are built into the wall are hard to regulate, insanely loud and let mosquitoes in.

Look to see if there are window panes in the windows. If they are only metal louvres as usual, make sure there is a intact fly screen . The beasts also like to come into the rooms to the cracks around the door.

Casa Particulares cost, if you book them locally depending on the facilities, usually 10-30 CUC (roughly equivalent to the Euro)

In big cities, especially in Havana, it can be worthwhile to pre-book accommodation if you have a lot of luggage, as they are very decentralised and prices are generally higher.

Souvenirs from Cuba

What do cigars cost in Cuba?

If you buy cigars directly from the farmer, you get 5 for 20 CUC. In the cities, cigars are often much more expensive. On many excursions, the visit to a tobacco farm is automatically included and you even get afree test cigar as part of the guided tour. People over the age of 17 are allowed to import 50 cigars duty-free into Germany.

We visited a tobacco plantation

Cuban rum

What would Mojito or Cuba Libre be without Cuban rum. You can sometimes buy it very cheaply in Cuba. However, be sure to observe the import regulations in Germany. People over 17 have a free allowance of only 1 L for alcohol over 22%

Coffee & Chocolate

Cuba also grows and sells coffee and chocolate. Incidentally, when travelling by air or sea, you are allowed to importgoods with a total value of 430 euros into Germany,  travellers under the age of 15 have an allowance of 175 euros.

Tips for your Cuba trip

Vacation in Cuba what to consider?

Be careful with recommendations. Often, a recommendation just means that the recommender has a cashback agreement. You then pay more than you normally would if you had asked for the price yourself. We have had almost consistently bad experiences with recommendations in Cuba.

Prices in Cuba are flexible.It is perfectly normal there to be charged according to the whim of the cashier. Prices are often not advertised. No matter what service you use (taxi, food, etc.)always ask for the price beforehand. If you give unclear instructions, for example if you simply order a water in a restaurant, you will always get the most expensive water on the menu without any questions. By the way you can ALWAYS pay by CUC even if there is a sign on the door that only CUP are accepted.

Whether it’s street musicians, background music in restaurants, people showing you the way or the people who put your luggage on the bus, many Cubans believe that all tourists are extremely rich and are extremely insistent in demanding tips. Not tipping is unfortunately often not an option because people react extremely negatively to it. This went from loading our luggage at the bus to threats that they will lose our luggage on purpose. The good thing is that when you are expected to tip, you notice it.

There is internet in Cuba. At WLAN hotspots, the internet costs 1 CUC per hour and you buy access via cards to scratch free. Don’t rub too hard or the code will come off with it. As a tourist, however, you will be asked to pay three times the amount. Stick to official Ectesa sales points and insist on the price of 1 CUC per card. But expect to have to log in again every few minutes and the loading times are very very slow. Accommodation, by the way, never has free wifi, so even there you need Ectesa cards if it works at all – no matter what your hosts tell you when they show you the room.

Here’s another little foray into Cuban cuisine.

Nevertheless, the Cubans are really lovely people and we felt very comfortable in many host families and also made friends with one of our tour guides. The people don’t mean you any harm only they can use your money just damn well and that is unfortunately the main focus for many.

Our final tip on Cuba is not to romanticise thiscountry. Cuba is a very interesting destination with very pretty cities and great nature. But the economy is down and tourism has brought capitalism through the back door. Thanks to numerous embargoes, there is a lack of everything and everyone tries to make their fortune with the tourists. No wonder a taxi driver can easily earn three times the monthly salary of a doctor or teacher in one day.

Our conclusion of Cuba

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