Cities Visited: Havana and Trinidad
Type of Travel: Solo Travel
Money: CUC and CUP
Getting There: By Plane
Getting Around: Collective taxi and city buses are the cheapest ways to get around, both in the city and between cities. To get from Miramar to Old Havana it is about 1 CUC by collective taxi and 1 CUP (about 5 cents) for the bus.
Where to Eat: My personal favorites were actually my hosts cooking (seriously the best meals I had in Cuba), but the food at the Floridita was also good. Most places in Cuba will have good food.
Where to Stay: I decided to stay in AirBnB casas because I wanted a more authentic experience (also it counted as my visa requirement). I would highly recommend the following places in Trinidad and Havana, the hosts were both amazing and really, really good cooks.
What to See: Old Havana, the Floridita bar and Hemingway’s home (if you like Hemingway), the city via an Old Car tour (it can be a little more expensive, but it is fun), the FAC in Havana for nightlife/arts, and horseback tours through the countryside (I did mine in Trinidad, but I hear the one in Viñales is also amazing). These are my recommendations, but everyone will want something different out of their experience.
What to Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, light clothing, a jacket (it can get chilly at times), and items to donate to your host family or locals that may be harder for them to get (toothbrushes/paste, female hygiene products, shampoo/conditioner, sunblock, towels, toys for children). This is definitely a BYOTP county – believe me, you will want to have toilet paper with you at all times as most public restrooms do not have any toilet paper whatsoever (including museums, restaurants, and the airport).
Water: Do NOT drink water unless boiled or bottled.
Internet: Not always reliable, even when you can find it. In Cuba, you pay for the internet by the hour (you buy internet cards which have a login and password information).
Comfort Level: Moderate. Sometimes it is easy to forget that Cuba is a third-world country, and if you are staying in a casa versus a luxury hotel (which I can’t comment to0 much on since I only stayed in casas) then sometimes the level of comfort changes. There is no Internet in the casas (something I don’t mind) and there isn’t always hot water for showers (again, something I don’t mind – especially after a long day in the city). I think Cuba is a must see for everyone, but definitely, explore accommodation options depending on what level of comfort you require.
Other Essentials: Some essential apps to have already downloaded are maps.me (you can download the ‘Cuba’ map so you can use navigation offline) and Google Translate (you can download the Spanish dictionary, and believe me it comes in handy). I would recommend getting a collective taxi when traveling between cities because it is cheaper than a regular taxi and easier than getting the bus at times; however, it is important to book the collective taxi ahead of time (ask your host or hotel for help) because they will not depart until the entire car is full. It is a good idea to have both CUP and CUC on you because there are a lot of places you can use CUP (like when you order peso food, or when you are taking the city bus). It is a good idea to carry copies of your passport with you because when you change money or buy wifi cards you are required to show ID. Most public restrooms will not have toilet paper, so I highly recommend always having a little on you (I kid you not, the entire time I was there I only encountered one restaurant that had toilet paper).