Information about Cuba
Capital: La Habana
President: Raúl Castro Ruz
La Habana (Havana), capital city of Cuba and its most populated one. It is seated on the north coast bathed by the Caribbean, which has granted her the name of “Blue City”. Havana is always a must when traveling to Cuba; just this visit will prove worthwhile. Even the most discerning traveler will find it enchanting, eclectic and bewildering. Allow yourself to fall in love with this bewitching amalgam of people, architecture, music and history. Strolling along its seafront wall, narrow streets or wide and clear avenues will leave you completely exposed to the emanating energy that in an indescribable way will make comeback.
There are few destinations as exotic and hospitable, safe, and fun as Cuba. Here, young, old and everyone in between are made to feel welcome, secure, and part of the pulse and social fabric.
In Cuba, people saunter rather than simply walk. Great cigars are available everywhere and at accessible prices, and the rum never runs out. Here, vintage cars are not gathering dust in garages or museums, but they are part of the daily landscape – the even work as taxis.
Cuba is a fascinating mix of cultures and eras, unique in the world. On a stroll through Old Havana, for example, you’ll be popping into 16th century colonial patios or admiring a 1920’s Art Deco façade as Dodges and Mercurys from the 1950’s transport the inhabitants. As so many travelers have discovered before you, there is only one Havana!
Airport Customs Regulations
To know more about airport and custom regulations in Cuba please check here: http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/CU-Cuba-customs-currency-airport-tax-regulations-details.htm or trought http://www.aduana.co.cu
Cuba's cooperative and favorable climate offers opportunities to visit the country year round. It is best described as a sub-tropical, seasonally wet climate. Instead of four seasons, Cuba has two: the dry (winter) season from November through April with average day temperatures of 21 to 28º C (average night temperatures are around 18 and 20 º C). The rainy (summer) period is from May through October, when average daily temperatures are around 30°C. This does not mean that it rains all day, but typically there will be refreshing tropical showers in late afternoon during this season, which is also characterized by high humidity. The hurricane season is between June and November (the most active storm months, when they occur, are September and October).
Cuba has two different currencies:
The Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC. (Coins that circulate in Cuba are show in the image below)
The Cuban National Peso or CUP. (Coins that circulate in Cuba are show in the image below)
Visitors pay mostly in Convertible Cuban Pesos. The CUC can be exchanged for a number of foreign currencies (and vice versa) – notes only, coins are not accepted - including the EURO, Swiss Franc, English Pound and US Dollar. Exchanging US Dollars in cash is charged with a tax of 10% on top of established bank commissions (not applied to credit or debit cards transactions). Almost every expense relevant to tourism like hotels, car rentals and fuel, restaurants, luxury goods, souvenirs, entrance fees ,etc. are paid in CUC.
There are banknotes of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 convertible pesos, coins come in 5, 10, 25 and 50 Cents and 1 peso.
The Cuban National Peso (CUP) is also called Moneda Nacional (MN; National Money). The Cuban Peso is used mainly by Cubans to buy fruits and vegetables in the markets, a pizza on the street, for city bus fares, and to pay gas, telephone and electricity bills. Most salaries are paid in Cuban Pesos.
There are banknotes of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos, coins come in 1 centavo, 2 centavos, 5 centavos, 20 centavos, 1 peso and 3 pesos. 1 Convertible Peso = approximately 24 Cuban pesos.
You can acquire 'Pesos Convertibles' at the airport, banks, various hotel lobbies and at money exchange offices, called "CADECA" (you can find these offices everywhere in the country). You can also get Cuban National Pesos (CUP) in the CADECA (exchanging small amounts is recommended). Do not exchange money on the streets. All Cuban money is only valid inside Cuba – importation and exportation is not allowed.
In tourist facilities and other service units, prices are in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). In Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Jardines del Rey (Coco and Guillermo Keys), Santa Lucía and Covarrubias Beaches, as well as in Holguín province (tourist resorts on the northern coastline), payments in Euros are generally accepted.
Health Care & Medical Insurance
As of May 2010, Cuba has required a health travel insurance policy to cover medical expenses for all travelers, foreign and Cuban, living abroad, in order to enter the country. The resolution states that the insurers issuing the policies should be recognized on the island. Cuban insurance policies are for sale at points of entry into the country for those unable to present an appropriate insurance policy.
In about 95% of hotels, a doctor is present to provide primary care to patients. Additionally, there are eight international clinics offering specialized treatment.
Visitors should possess a valid passport, not due to expire for at least 6 months after departure, together with the corresponding entry visa or Tourist Card (valid 30 days), excepting those countries with which Cuba maintains Free Visa agreements. Tourist Cards can be requested at Cuban consular offices. Some travel agencies and airlines also issue tourist cards.
Although not holidays, the following are considered important dates:
January 28: Anniversary of the birth of José Martí, Cuba's National Hero, in 1853.
February 24: Anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, in 1895.
March 8: International Woman's Day.
March 13: Anniversary of the attack on Havana’s Presidential Palace by a group of revolutionary youths seeking to overthrow the tyrant Fulgencio Batista, in 1957.
April 19: Anniversary of the defeat of the mercenary attack at the Bay of Pigs, in 1961.
July 30: Day of the Martyrs of the Revolution.
October 8: Anniversary of the death of Commander Ernesto Ché Guevara, in 1967.
October 28: Anniversary of Commander Camilo Cienfuegos’ death, in 1959.
November 27: Commemoration of the execution of eight medicine students, by the Spanish colonial government, in 1871.
December 7: Anniversary of Antonio Maceo's death in combat in 1896, an outstanding figure in Cuba’s War of Independence against Spanish colonial rule.
January 1st – Triumph of the Revolution
January 28th - José Martí's Birthday
July 26th – Attack on the Moncada and Carlos M. de Céspedes Garrisons
October 10th – Abolition of slavery
The following dates are official public holidays:
January 1st and 2nd - May 1st - July 25th, 26th and 27th - October 10th - December 25th.
Opening hours for commercial activities
From 8:30 or 9:00am to 12:30pm and from 01:30pm to 05:30pm.
Payment Forms & Credit Cards
In tourist facilities and other service units, prices are set in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). In Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Jardines del Rey (Coco and Guillermo Keys), Santa Lucía and Covarrubias Beaches, and Holguín province (tourist resorts on northern coastline), you can also pay in Euros (change is mostly in CUC).
Credit cards - except those issued by US banks or their branches in other countries - are accepted. Among those, MasterCard and Visa International are the most widely accepted.
The CUC is not an internationally circulating currency. When withdrawing cash with a credit card, the CUC will be converted first to the US Dollar, the amount in USD will be deducted from your account, plus 3%. Example: if you want to withdraw CUC 100.00 cash with your credit card, USD 103.00 will be debited.
Cuban Convertible Pesos are legal tender everywhere in the national territory. Cuban convertible pesos can be exchanged upon departure at bank offices at international airports and ports in Cuba. Travelers Checks - as long as they are payable against banks that are not based in the United States - are accepted, although not recommended as they are subject to a commission and in case of loss, they cannot be substituted in Cuba.
There are only sanitary regulations for visitors coming from countries where yellow fever and endemic cholera exist or have been declared infection areas by the World Health Organization. In such cases, an International Vaccination Certificate is required. Products of animal and vegetable origin have entry restrictions. Animals may be imported, with previous presentation of the corresponding certificate.
Most electricity in Cuba is 110V/60Hz, although 220V is available in many hotels. Power outlets are mostly of the flat two-pronged type used in the United States (Type A). Hotels, however, often have power outlets for the European-style round, two-pronged variety (Type C).
Travel Budget for Cuba
Accommodations and restaurant rates vary considerably, as anywhere. U.S.-based home rental website Airbnb recently began operating in Cuba, offering more than 1,000 private rental houses from $10 CUC to over $1000 CUC a night. And bear in mind Cuban CUC is pegged 1-1 to the U.S. dollar.
Accommodation: Expect to spend around $100 CUC to $200 CUC per night at better hotels, sometimes considerably more depending on the travel season.
Transportation: State-owned taxis often charge a fixed fare of $10 CUC for a trip within downtown Havana, although you can try to opt to pay by meter. There are also bicycle taxis – slower but cheaper, that can take you anywhere in the city. Prices vary from $2 CUC to $10 CUC. The yellow coco taxis are slightly faster and charge around $4 CUC to $10 CUC depending on distances. Unless you’re assured of a meter fare, always agree on a price before your trip.
Meals: Lunch for two with starters and drinks in Havana generally costs from $30 CUC to $50 CUC; dinner for two from $30 CUC to $70 CUC, more depending on alcohol consumption. A meal for two at a private restaurant (paladar) on our top restaurant list ranges from about $25 CUC (Doña Eutimia is great value) to $70 CUC at La Guarida or Ivan & Justo.
Drinks: Drinks on most menus are around $3 CUC to $5 CUC, but some premium spirits, such as aged rums, can go up to $10 CUC a glass or more.