So in this post we are going to see how you can travel to Havana and save money on your stay.
Casa Particular: What you need to know
If it’s not the first time you travel to Cuba you’ve probably already heard this word. A Casa Particular is simply a private house a Cuban has decided to rent. He needs to have regular license and record all the people staying in the house or room.
Basically it’s like a small hotel but managed by Cubans.
The main characteristic is usually the chance to live like a local and have a better glance and feel of the Cuban life. You also save money and instead of going to a hotel you have (usually) an overall better experience.
This is because you also have the chance to talk and chat with Cubans and hear their point of view and culture.
If it’s true that you can save money, you also need to consider that most of the houses in Havana are not probably matching the American and European standard of a regular AirBnB. Maybe if you are in the 20′ you don’t really care about it but if you want to have a nice house/apartment sometimes isn’t that easy.
Don’t get my wrong! Things are slowly changing and the new apartments and houses I see on AirBnB are getting nicer and nicer!
We worked hard to make our places cozy and comfy and recently we also became super-host on AirBnB!
So how can you save even more money if you are traveling to Havana with AirBnB?
How to travel to Havana and save money with AirBnB
Well, the best way to save money is, of course, avoid the high season when prices are getting really crazy. Also, availability is limited and the city is crazy busy. We’ve been to Havana last Christmas and Havana was busy as I’ve never seen it before!
But here is the deal, especially if you have never booked a trip with AirBnB..
In fact, if it’s the fist time EVER you are using AirBnB, you can register through our referral link and get $40 off your first reservation!
2- Fill out all the information and confirm your account
3- Vist our listing or check out the apartments available in Havana
4- Enjoy $40 off your reservation! 🙂
That’s it! Pretty neat 🙂
Since AirBnB has landed to Cuba new business opportunities has arisen for Cubans and locals. So far the Trump administration has no affected the tourism or any businesses. Airbnb is working with Cubans not the government so the rules are not compromising this side of the tourism.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to let us know!
Hello! Today we are pretty excited here at Cuba2Day!
In fact, we are launching a guide to Havana called “Havana like a local”
What is Havana Like a Local?
It’s a ,mini-guide (a handy downloadable PDF) with tips and tricks to discover Havana like a local.
We have put together a mix of content of the blog combined with advice and list of the places we strongly recommend you to visit if you are going to Cuba for the first time and even if you are a frequent traveller.
In fact, this 39 page guide, has a cheat sheet included with a list of places, restaurants, shops, bar and services you can enjoy in Havana
Why a guide of Havana
Despite there are so many travel guides out there, we have decided to create a short list and easy to read guide to explore Havana like a local.
We recommend bringing your Lonely Planet with you together with our “Havana Like A Local”
What is the best period of the year to visit Cuba?
Cuba is a Caribbean island and the weather is the typical tropical climate. There’s not a really bad and a perfect time to visit Cuba since each season has its own pros and cons.
High Season (Winter/Spring)
The high season is generally between December and April. Especially December, of course, is a pretty busy period. You can expect higher prices pretty much on everything and trouble to book hotels, tours or apartment.
Hello! In this post I want to show you how to rent a car in Havana and have a safe experience in this amazing city.
Cuba is a hot travel location right now (especially if you are American 🙂
If it’s the first time you are traveling to Cuba you probably have a million of questions and things you want to know before jumping on your airplane. That’s why you have this blog!
Are you ready? Let’s start!
Rent a car in Havana: the city
Havana is a large city divided in four main areas: Vedado, Old Havana, Miramar and Centro Havana.
Especially if you are visiting the Old part of the city (which is the most fascinating and touristic one) you will have some trouble moving with a car. Most of the area is pedestrian only and there are not many parking.
Also, there aren’t many rent a car in Cuba and the prices are definitely high. Furthermore the Old City is pretty chaotic and driving in the city might be a little tricky especially during the night time.
How to rent a car in Havana: the solution
Since I think you don’t want to make your stay in Havana a problem the best solution I personally recommend is to have a private driver driving you around the city. It’s not that expensive and you don’t need to care about traffic and other dangers.
Usually to have a private driver for the entire day in Havana is about $100 (CUC, local currency). I have different contacts so I can help you to book a driver if you need one (check the bottom of the page)
Plus, often times, the driver can give you some precious tips to help you discover amazing places. If you arrive at the Havana airport
That said, you can hire a private taxi driver with a classic car (almendron) who will drive you around the city of Havana for a tour or for the entire day if you plan to have an excursionin Vinales or Varadero
Despite renting a car might be the best solution if you want to have a trip across the island, it is absolutely better for you if you move with touristic buses or with a private taxi as I’ve previously stated.
If you need help to book a car just click on the link below and you’ll be able to book your car in Havana.
Cuba is living a revolutionary period thanks to the diplomatic relationship recently established with the US. This will probably change many things and also the way to pay in Cuba and the currency available for business and travel purposes.
Today in Cuba there are two different currencies: The Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban peso convertible (CUC)
The conversion between CUP and CUC is around 1:24. This means than $1 CUC is 24 CUP. The most part of the Cubans are paid in CUP, or a small part of the wage is in CUC.
Supermarkets and shops selling basics, usually accept Cuban pesos and prices are way different from other types of stores where you can find other supply and products but you can only pay in CUC. For example for many Cubans is a problem to buy a broom just because the price is too high. It’s like buying something x24 more expensive.
Tourists generally have to pay in CUC almost anything. In fact, this is the primary reason why the Cuban peso convertible was introduced.
Why two currencies
In 1993, during the period of economic collapse known as the Special Period, the US dollar was made legal in order to encourage hard currency to enter the economy. This period concedes with the fall of the Soviet Union, the main source of supplies for Cuba at that time.
The US dollar became the currency used to purchase some non-essential goods and services, such as cosmetics, and even non-staple kinds of food and drink. US dollar was also used for tourism and Castro saw the opportunity to direct all this cash flow in the state coffers.
In 1994, the convertible peso was introduced at a par with the dollar but on November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdrew the US dollar from circulation. CUC was officially introduced as a currency.
How to pay in Cuba
The best way for you to pay in Cuba is to change your money. You can do it as soon as you arrive to the airport. Since you need to take a cab to go in the city center, it’s better for you to have already some CUC. Some drivers accept euros or Canadian dollars but it depends.
In the cities you can then easily change your money at the Cadeca for a better exchange rate. So don’t change too much money at the airport.
Also, in case you are not pay in the national currency, calculate in advance how much is the conversion to avoid leaving more money. If you want to book a taxi in advance, you can do it HERE.
Some places already accept US dollars but the CUC is still the most used currency and the best way to pay in Cuba.
How to pay in Cuba: credit cards
Also credit cards rules are changing. If you are housing in a hotel you can pay with your credit card, Mastercard or Visa. This is a recent news since before wasn’t possible to pay with any credit card issued in the US.
“Debit cards with the VISA logo are usually accepted by your tour rep to pay for trips as well as purchasing goods at outlets that accept debit cards. They can be used in ATM’s (if you can find one and it is working) or to draw money from a Cadeca or Bank. MASTERCARD will not be accepted in ATM’s but, as with VISA cards, so long as they are issued by a non US-based bank, can be used to draw cash at the counter of a Cadeca or Bank.” Source: TripAdvisor
Transactions rate is about the 3%, which is basically the exchange fee. If you make a withdrawal the 2.99% foreign exchange administration fee is calculated for every transaction abroad.
The best thing for you to do is to call your bank and ask information about fees on transactions and withdrawals.
Cuba is not famous to be the best place in the world for an internet connection. Many Cubans waited years before having finally a decent internet connection and communicate with the rest of the world.
But now things are changing fast and you can finally connect to internet in Havana and use your smartphone and laptop.
Here is how and where to connect to the internet in Havana.
ETECSA, the national telco company, has finally installed in July 2015 several hotspots all over Havana. Cubans can finally connect to internet and chat with their relatives in the US and surf online.
That’s a big news since an internet connection is more than an internet access: It allows Cubans to finally discover what happens all over the world and discover the latest news.
How and where to connect to the internet in Havana: the places
Walking along the streets of Havana you can now find several hotspots. To get internet access you just need to buy a card which costs just $2 per hour and you can connect to wifi.
The most popular areas are in Old Havana. Most of the hotels now have the ETECSA connection and you can get in and ask for an internet card. They usually sell them in the reception or you can find the card at the ETECSA shops around the city.
Here are some spots where I have tested the wifi connection and where you can connect.
Along Calle Obispo (Old Havana) there’s a hotspot next to the hotel “Ambos Mundos”. You can usually understand where the hotspot is based on the people you see along the street with the phone in their hands.
Another place is in Calle Mercaderes, approximately at number 201. Also there, you’ll find people in the streets connected to the internet.
The third place is all along the Avenida 23, from the Malecon to the famous ice-cream shop Coppelia
In case you can’t find a place to buy the cards you can buy them in the streets from some street-vendors. You’ll usually pay it a dollar more but sometimes it’s better instead of passing hours in line to buy one.
As I said before, internet is relatively new in Cuba and almost nobody has an internet connection home. The situation might change by the next months since new agreements by USA and Cuba are in place in order to improve telecommunications.
As of today, just few American companies are operation in Cuba. One of those companies is AirBnB which allows you to book apartment and rooms from the United States. In case you are interested to know more about this topic or to rent an apartment you can visit the post below
The goal is to extend internet usage to the entire island by 2020.
Right now the cost to the internet access is pretty high but the fee will be halved from 4.50 CUC to 2 CUC per hour. The only places available today to connect are the hotels where most of the time you have to pay around 10 CUC per hour.
The new wifi hotspots will be able to hold about 50/100 connections at the same time.
“Ted Henken, a professor at Baruch College in New York who has studied social media and the Internet in Cuba, said the decision could mark a “turning point.”
“Their model was, ‘Nobody gets Internet,’ ” he said in a telephone interview. “Now their model is, ‘We’re going to bring prices down and expand access, but we are going to do it as a sovereign decision and at our own speed.’ ”
Government said that internet connection and communication development will be a main goal for Cuba.
Finally the island will no longer be so isolated 🙂
Internet connection should not be your primary need in a relaxing vacation in Cuba but I understand that you might need it to keep your communication alive with home!
So you may be wondering: How can I connect to internet in Cuba?
Well, in this post I’ll give you some options.
Wifi and internet connection
First of all I have a bad news: it’s not so easy connecting to internet. In the country, just 5% of population have access to the open internet and also for tourist is not so easy as you can imagine.
If you are staying in a good hotel in Havana there’s wifi but usually you have to pay it separately. Depending on the hotel you will pay around 10 CUC (dollars) per hour. Sometimes you can find it cheaper, like $8, but usually these are the average prices.
If you are thinking to solve the problem with a roaming data plan you are wrong. Right now, if you are american, it’s not possible for you to use your 3G.
Last time I went there I used an European SIM card with a roaming data plan but 3G connectivity was available just in the main areas of Havana but in most of other places wasn’t working properly (gprs, edge)
Also, you cannot buy a local SIM card. Just Cubans can buy it.
Solution for an internet connection
If you are going to stay in a hotel it won’t be a problem. You can use the wifi connection and, if they don’t have it, you can ask for the closest place where you can find it.
Also, consider that things are changing quickly in the last months and USA companies are already discussing potential partnership with the Cuban national telco company ETECSA.
Another recent news is that a famous Cuban artist, Kcho, is offering free wifi. So if you’re passing by his boutique you can connect for free.
Ok! May be you’ve just booked your travel to Cuba! Congratulations! So, you are now searching on Google the things to bring with you for your travel to Cuba.
Wise move! 🙂
Yes, because even if Cuba is a safe and easy-going country, you won’t find exactly everything you need in the stores. That’s why I have created a checklist of the most useful things to bring with you for your travel to Cuba. So, take a screenshot of this post and keep it with you when you’ll be out for shopping before leaving.
What it’s easy to find
Below is a quick list of the personal care items (relatively) easy to find in Cuba:
Toilet paper ( in the hotels but not always outside)
These are pretty easy to find, unless you are traveling without any tour operator.
What is NOT easy to find and it’s better to bring with you for a travel to Cuba
Ok, even if you won’t have particular problems to find everything you need in hotels or resorts, here is a list of things to bring with you. These things are particularly useful especially if you are backpack travelers or you are going to travel housing in casas particulares and multiple cities in Cuba:
Aspirins, antibiotics and tablets against diarrhea – International hospitals service is pretty good, but prevention is better than cure
Dental floss and mouthwash – supermarkets usually don’t have these products
Condoms – both if you are a couple or single traveller it’s better for you to buy it before your departure
Sun screen and body cream – you can find it in certain places but prices are way more expansive than in USA or Europe.
Insecticides – based on the season and places you have planned to visit, you might find mosquitos and other insects
Liquid for contact lenses
Washing powder – if you are traveling on your own.
Umbrella – If you are traveling in the period from July till December it’s better to have one with you.
Also, bring clothes with the idea that you won’t buy anything there. Maybe just a Che Guevara t-shirt as a souvenir, but nothing more. There are just a few clothes stores and the quality is not exactly the best. So be sure to put in your luggage:
Flip-flops and sneakers – especially if you are visiting Havana, be sure to bring with you close shoes. The city is dusty and dirty in certain area and will be safer for you.
Other useful items are:
Snorkeling kit – If you are going to Cayo Largo or in a beach resort you’ll need it.
Electric torch – Sometimes electricity is down and it’s better have it with you
Food and snacks – Food in Cuba is good, but during the day isn’t easy to find snacks except pizza, fried chicken and not really good ice-cream. You might consider to bring snacks bars, peanuts and walnuts, or any kind of food light but with an elevate energy content.
External Battery – internet data connection is not yet available everywhere, but you’ll use a lot your smartphone to take pictures. An external battery was very useful to me. I always recharged my GoPro, my smartphone and other tech devices.
Well, finally the relationship between USA and Cuba is recovering. For the first time after over 60 years USA and Cuba have started diplomatic relationship and new trade agreements.
Starting from July, new aerial routes and direct flights will be available and a lot of american tourists will be soon free to visit Cuba with no limitations. According to Forbes “..Ranging in price from $400-$500, except for the New York flights which are between $800-$900”
What is AirBnB
Among the American tech companies that are beginning a commercial relationship with Cuba there’s Netflix and AirBnB. AirBnB is a website where you can book private rooms or entire apartments. The company is one of the hottest startup in Silicon Valley and it’s today a billion dollar company. Actually it is evaluated over $10 billion!
You can literally book any kind of place (even tree houses) and anywhere in the world. The booking process is simple: you select your arrival, number of people, numbers of nights and you are done. The host will receive your request and will decide to approve or not your reservation.
It is very safe since each account is verified and AirBnB keeps the money as guarantee until you have successfully arrived in the place you have booked.
How you can book an apartment in Cuba with AirBnB
Well now you can finally book apartments in Cuba with Airbnb. This is something revolutionary first, because it’s a clear sign that the embargo is finally about to end, second because it opens a huge opportunity for Cubans to rent their casas particulares.
Many people are already confident with AirBnB and Americans will have now the chance to book beautiful and particular places paying less than an expensive stay in a hotel.
This is an example of a beautiful apartment you can book in Havana using AirBnB. -> SEE THE APARTMENT
If you need any info about the apartment or you want to book it please send me an email HERE.
I always stay in my wife’s apartment when I visit Cuba, but I have personally helped people book an apartment using AirBnB (the one above) several times without any issue. The best place to stay in Havana is the Old city.
I am an AirBnBafecionados and I have used it several times in the USA and Europe. Once you book your stay you can easily talk with the host and setup everything you need before your arrival.
Another good thing about AirBnB is also the relationship you can establish with the host. When I went to New York I stayed a month in a shared apartment and the owner became a good friend of mine.
A gift for you
If you are going to Cuba, and you want to book an apartment using Airbnb I have a good news for you . I am glad to offer you a promo-code you can use if it’s the first time you are using AirBnB. It gives you $25 discount on your first reservation.