As an American traveling to Cuba you will face some restrictions. I traveled to Havana, Cuba in January 2017 and these are the things you should know before booking your flight.
Americans Traveling To Cuba | 8 Things You Need To Know
- You don’t need to apply for a license to visit as long as the reason falls under 1 of the 12 categories the U.S. government has created. Click here for the list and explanation of each.
- You do need a tourist visa which I heard you can order online ahead of time but I bought mine directly from the airline (Jetblue) for $50 right before boarding the plane.
- Health insurance is required when traveling to Cuba however mine was already included in my airline ticket price so check yours beforehand!
- Exchange U.S. dollars to euros and then CUCs. Debit and credit cards will not work in Cuba. It’s better to bring cash and exchange your dollars to euros before you fly to avoid hefty fees for having dollars (about 13% fee).
- The Havana airport has an exchange station right outside but if you know a local ask them to do the exchange at the bank to avoid extra fees! To give you an idea, I brought about 150 euros with me for food/taxi/excursions/souvenirs for a 4-day trip and had about 15 euros left over. 1 USD = 1 CUC
- There are two types of currency. CUC = Cuban Coverable Peso, which is what you get at the exchange counter. CUP is Cuban Peso and can be used for street food and other small purchases. It is completely legal for tourists to use both currencies. 1 CUC = 24 CUP
- If you want a true experience of Cuba stay at a Casa Particular. They are home-stays approved by the government and it’s much cheaper than staying at a hotel. The average price is $20 a night. I found this website with listings online but you can also try Airbnb.
- I’ve also heard of people arriving to Cuba, walking up to casas particulars (they have a sign outside the door) and asking if they have any rooms available for the night but that is taking a risk.
- It’s true, no internet! So take time to enjoy yourself and detox from social media. Scratch off cards do exist but I had a hard time finding them. I also found this post which tells you how to find Free WiFi in Havana if you’re really dying for some.
- Pack hygiene products like soap, toothpaste and toilet paper because these are hard to come by in Cuba. You can also use this as gifts for locals, they are very appreciative of it!