A country caught in a cultural time warp, Cuba is a bright snapshot of the mid-20th century; a true feast for the senses. Watch as Cadillacs roll down the coastal boulevards, walk through traditional tobacco plantations in Vinales and see cigar production in full swing, laze on the shores of the Caribbean on some of the world’s whitest sands, and feel the sultry and spicy vibes of salsa as you dance the night away in Havana. With all of this on offer in one of the world’s best climates, what’s stopping you from checking out Cuba’s kaleidoscope of colour and charisma?
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport – which usually have less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending what trip you're on while in Cuba, you may find yourself traveling by:
There’s Cadillacs, Ford Fairlanes, Chevy Bel Airs, and more colorful classics that coast down Cuban roads, crammed with old-school charm. Take a ride in one to become part of the picture-perfect scenery!
Traveling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavor to provide travelers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When traveling with us in Cuba you may find yourself staying in a:
Meet your friendly local family hosts in a Cuban guesthouse, indulge in home-cooked cuisine and brush up on your Spanish skills!
Cuba's subtropical climate is ideal for exploration, with most places catching the cool trade winds that blow in from the coast, providing pleasant year-round temperatures. June, July and August are usually the hottest months – the dry season runs from November to April and the wet season from May to October. Even in the rainy season, downpours are short and shouldn't impede travel plans. Tropical storms and hurricanes are more prevalent in September and October but rarely cause problems for travellers.
Tourists of most nationalities require a 'Tourist Card' which is similar to a tourist visa. These can be obtained through travel agents in your home country, or directly from Cuban embassies and consulates. Depending on the airline you are travelling with to Cuba, you may also be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport from the airline on the day of your departure – please check with your airline for more information.
If you are a US citizen, American permanent resident, or hold any type of American Visa and are considering travelling to Cuba, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website – travel.state.gov – for the latest advice. If flying with a charter airline from Miami, you can purchase your tourist card directly through the charter company. Passengers transiting through a third country can purchase the card at the airport where you connect to Havana. You can also purchase cards in advance through cubavisas.com.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
As most Cubans live modest lifestyles, leaving a tip for good service is a great idea and welcomed.
There is almost always free entertainment in bars and restaurants; the musicians and singers are usually not paid by the venue, so we encourage you to tip when you have enjoyed the performance. Tour leaders, restaurant workers, hotel porters, cleaning staff and taxi drivers will appreciate a small sum – but be sure to tip in Cuban pesos as foreign currency isn’t easily exchanged in Cuba.
It’s important to carry around small denominations of currency to leave tips during your stay, so you can tip an amount you feel comfortable with.
Internet access isn't widespread throughout Cuba, but availability is improving. The internet can sometimes be accessed from government departments and larger hotels, and main squares in many cities now have wi-fi accessibility. You will need to purchase an internet card from certain hotels and outlets to gain access in any location, including in public areas.
Please note that although connectivity is improving, the connection may still be slow, some websites may be censored, and the cost is typically quite high.
Your mobile phone may or may not work while in Cuba, depending on what type of phone you have. Before leaving your home country, ensure roaming is activated with your provider, but be aware that your phone may not get reception due to Cuba having the lowest mobile phone network penetration in Latin America.
If you intend to activate global roaming while in Cuba, be sure to check with your service provider to find out about any fees you may incur when using this option, as sometimes this can be expensive.
Public toilets are rare in Cuba, but western-style flushable toilets are available in hotels, bars and restaurants. Bringing your own toilet paper and hand soap or hand sanitiser is recommended as often these are not provided. Due to import restrictions, toilet seats can be considered a luxury and may be missing from some facilities.
Cuba's unit of currency is the peso. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
It's not advisable to drink water from the tap in Cuba. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable bottle or canteen with filtered water if you can – your group leader will provide larger and less disposable water containers for refills on private transport days when they have the resources available. It's also best to avoid ice in drinks and to peel fruit and vegetables rather than eating washed or unwashed produce.
Some credit cards are accepted in Cuba (Visa and Mastercard are usually more widely accepted), although some cards linked to US banking institutions won't be accepted. Debit cards (even Visa debit) generally have problems working. We recommend you bring multiple cards from different banks to be sure you have access to funds. Ensure you also have enough cash and other forms of payment, as credit card facilities may not always be available.
ATMs are accessible in large cities like Havana and Santiago de Cuba, but are rare and almost non-existent in other parts of Cuba. Ensure you have other payment options available in case you cannot access an ATM while travelling.
Cuba enjoys Caribbean vibes all year round, and sits below the Tropic of Cancer, so you’ll enjoy a tropical climate with north-easterly trade winds that blow year-round.
May to October is usually considered the wet season, with higher maximum temperatures each day (around 32°C or 90°F) and more sunlight each day, averaging 10 hours. September and October is hurricane season in the region, and this time of year is usually hot and overcast, with a higher chance of rainfall.
November to April is usually the drier season in Cuba, with maximum temperatures sitting around 26°C (79°F), and an average of 8 hours sunlight each day. The winter months are clearer, slightly humid and more comfortable than summer.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to Travel Insurance.
Other dates to look out for:
For a current list of public holidays in Cuba, go to worldtravelguide.net
Cuba has made some significant steps in recent years to ensure LGBTQIA+ rights in the country. Homosexuality is legal and accepted in Cuba, and there are some anti-discrimination laws in place for employment, service provisions and gender identity. However, same-sex marriage recognition is still pending, and stigma still remains in some parts of society, especially in rural areas.
The Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) works to support the LGBTQIA+ community in Cuba and hosts rallies to educate and advocate.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
As Cuba has not had the same infrastructure development as other countries, you may find some mobility challenges when travelling. Havana’s streets are often crowded, and sidewalks can at times be rugged or even non-existent. This is the same with other cities and towns around the country. Also, a lot of public transportation isn’t geared to travellers who use a wheelchair, so private travel may be the only option to get around.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
Intrepid is committed to traveling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behavior, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while traveling.
In Cuba, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travelers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.