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Cuba
Talk about a revolution… Here’s the low-down on what to expect when visiting Cuba.

Intoxicating rhythms, colourful cars, a unique landscape and a compelling history: Cuba – home to coffee, cigars and men’s high-heels – has a larger-than-life personality.

See All Holidays to Cuba

Our new hotel stay enjoys a tranquil, unspoilt location between green mountainous peaks and the wide, golden sandy beach of Arroyo Bermejo on the north coast of Cuba so it’s ideal for a relaxing break.

Cuba Libre

Escorted Tour Pace 2

This tour of Cuba combines stays in Havana, Vinales Valley and Cienfuegos with a four-night stay in the beach resort of Varadero.

Viva Cuba

Escorted Tour Pace 2

From Santiago de Cuba in the east to the vibrant capital in the west, this tour of Cuba introduces you to its highlights.

Viva Cuba for solo travellers

Escorted Tour Pace 2

From Santiago de Cuba in the east to the vibrant capital in the west, this tour of Cuba introduces you and fellow solo travellers to its highlights.

This tour of Cuba for solo travellers combines stays in Havana, Vinales Valley and Cienfuegos with a four-night stay in the beach resort of Varadero.

Language

Spanish; Castilian -

The official language is Castilian Spanish. Some hotel staff and many people in larger towns speak English.

Tipping

Tipping is very much part of life in Cuba, as wages are low. Gratuities are therefore much appreciated by drivers, guides and hotel staff and are left to your own discretion. Musicians who play during meal times also live on their tips.

Attendants at public toilets will also expect a small tip.

Although tipping is optional, of course, it can at times seem a little relentless in Cuba!

Population and size

Although Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands, it has a much lower population density than most nations in the region. Around 11 million people live there.

Cuba is half the size of the UK, and would fit 70 times into Australia!

Currency

Peso -

Cuba operates a dual currency system. Visitors use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) as opposed to the Cuban Peso (CUP) used by locals. You can’t buy or exchange CUC outside Cuba, but you can get your currency at the airport or hotel when you arrive.

Credit and Debit Cards: Check with your bank before you travel that your card will be accepted in Cuba. Don’t rely on this as your main source of currency though, as you’ll be charged a commission of 11-13% on credit card transactions and ATM withdrawals. That’s if you can find an ATM in the first place!

Cash: If you are bringing cash, make sure that it’s in sterling or euros: you won’t be able to exchange Scottish, Manx, Channel Islands or Northern Irish bank notes or British coins.

Travellers cheques: Commission for exchanging travellers cheques can be high and some banks and hotels refuse to change them at all.

American banks: American Express travellers cheques, credit cards drawn on American banks and US dollars are not accepted for payment.

Culture

Cuba is a multi-ethnic country where the people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins. These include the aboriginal Taino and Ciboney tribes, Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, a close relationship with the Soviet Union during during the Cold War and proximity to the United States.

Since 1959, the Cuban Revolution has had a great affect on local life. As a result, Cuban cuisine is a blend of Spanish, African and Caribbean.

Cuba has produced famous artists in many different disciplines, including literature, music, fine art, ballet, film and theatre.

At least half the doctors in Cuba are women and women constitute a substantial part of the workforce. Topless sunbathing is not allowed. The most popular game is dominos. Topless dominos is definitely not allowed.

Phrases

A few words of Spanish to get you started…

I don’t speak Spanish – no hablo espanol

Hello – hola

Goodbye – adios

Please – por favour

Thank you – gracias

Yes – si

No – no

Excuse me – perdon

Timezone

Cuba is five hours behind GMT.

Electricity

Cuba uses 110/120 and 220 volt AC (60 Hz), American-style flat 2-pin sockets and, in some hotels, European round 2-pin sockets. You should bring an international adaptor with you as you may not find one locally.

As power cuts and voltage drops occasionally occur, it’s a good idea to bring a torch with you. Air-conditioning may be switched off to conserve electricity.

Climate

The climate in Cuba is subtropical with cool trade winds providing relief from the heat and humidity. The average year-round temperature is approximately 27°C and there's plenty of sunshine.

Rainfall is common throughout the year, especially from May to October, and the island is sometimes affected by hurricanes and tropical storms. Temperatures can be quite low in the winter so pack a few warm clothes if you are travelling then.

Health

Mozzies and other flying insects can be a problem in this part of the world, so you may find it helpful to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin, particularly in the evenings. It is advisable to take a universal sink plug with you to Cuba.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre – see www.nathnac.org, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad at www.fco.gov.uk/travel.

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport. You will need a tourist visa to enter Cuba, but Saga will sort all that out for you.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in most public places in Cuba, although some hotels and restaurants have separate areas for smokers.

Flight time

It takes around 10 hours to fly to Cuba from the UK.


Jibacoa

Relaxation is the order of the day in the resort of Jibacoa