What you should know before you come to Cuba. Visitor's guide

1

You will find useful information when you come to Cuba as a visitor. Don't skip this part if you're planning a trip to the country.

1Cuban Currencies

50 PESOS, National Currency, CUP

50 PESOS, National Currency, CUP

50 CUC, Cuban Convertible Pesos

50 CUC, Cuban Convertible Peso

Cuba has two currencies in circulation at the same time, the National Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). Generally all tourist services are paid only in CUC, also called convertible currency. The CUP, also called national currency, is used primarily by the Cuban population.

The CUC is the currency exchangeable with various international currencies within the country. It is used to pay all tourism products and services, such as taxis, tourist buses, restaurants, hotels, international calls, airport taxes, shops and cafes.

Note

The exchange rate between the CUP and CUC has stabilized for years in 24 CUP to 1 CUC, and 1 CUC for 25 CUP

2Travelling with cash

Payment in foreign currencies it's not accepted in Cuba, except in some special areas, mainly tourist resorts like Varadero, Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo.

Visitors should change the currency of their country to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). There are many places where you can make these changes, such as, CADECA, the Cuban exchange houses that can be found at every step, from the airport or any Cuban municipality, it can also be found in large hotels and resorts. You can also make the change in national or international banks.

It is important to note that banks and exchange offices do not exchange small international coins. Changes are usually made from the unit value. Commission exchange rates in the banks and CADECA are generally between 3% and 4%.

3Bank cards in Cuba

The infrastructure required to pay with a bank card or withdraw cash has been developed in Cuba in recent years. But yet the service doesn't have the same efficiency and popularity it has in the rest of the world. Although you can find ATMs in all major cities, banks and exchange offices (CADECA) although is not recommended to rely on this medium to make payments in the island. Also it's important to remember that because of the economic embargo imposed on Cuba not can use the cards issued by U.S. banks.

For all these reasons, the best way to pay and the more widely used is cash payment.

It is recommended before traveling to check with your bank the list of countries included in the geographical coverage of their bank cards and commissions for operations in Cuba.

Note

Visa cards are the recommended option for Cuba because they are accepted at all ATMs. MasterCard cards are also widely accepted in banks but not the ATM. Diners Club cards, Banamex and Carnet are also accepted at some places. Maestro and American Express are not recommended.

Visa and Mastercard are the best option if you come to Cuba

Bars, restaurants and shops in major big hotels or resorts generally accept bank cards as payment, but most services do not, especially those who are not exclusively for tourism, as private restaurants (also called “paladares”), small hotels, museums, markets, bars and small shops outside hotels. Therefore, it is advisable to withdraw some cash to facilitate purchases.

4CADECA Currency exchange houses

They are distributed throughout the country and are among the best ways to exchange. Sometimes there are long lines at the entrance because the offices are also used by residents for changes CUP to CUC.

It is convenient to change an amount of CUC to CUP in CADECA if you are planning to use local transport, buying in fruit markets or in street cafes or kiosks.

In CADECA can also withdraw money from your credit cards and cash traveler's checks. When you withdraw cash in CADECA, your local bank will charge the equivalent amount in U.S. dollars based on the exchange rate between the USD and CUC. And you will be charged around 4% and 5% commission rate, in addition to their own bank charges.

5ATM

In Cuba there is a network of ATM machines distributed mainly in the central areas of Havana. Their service is not the best because there is much more demand than existing machines can cover that there are fluctuations in communications services causing service disruptions, although it is important to clarify that in recent years, thanks to improved communication lines, this problem has been dramatically reduced but still persists.

Generally the fee charged for cash withdrawals in Cuba is around 3%, plus your own bank charges. Besides the cash is delivered always convertible Cuban pesos CUC, regardless of the original currency. When the operation is done the bank will charge the equivalent dollar amount based on the exchange rate between the USD and CUC. And you will be charged a 3% fee (over the amount USD) plus your own bank charges.

Note

It is preferable to use Visa in Cubans ATM. It is also important to know that the Cuban ATM machines only have small bills and they limits the amount of money that can be removed in one operation (usually 400 CUC).

Visa cards are he best option in Cuba

6Transportation in Cuba

Public transport in Cuba has been hit hard by the economic crisis in Cuba. Demand is still well above the capacity of local transport companies, due to lack of modern equipment.

However for foreign travelers and local with good economic resources, there are tourist transport companies that have better services at prices higher than those prevailing for subsidized public transport.

Many old cars still circulate freely in Cuba, in the picture a 1955 Chevrolet

It is necessary to mention a curiosity that has become an identifying mark of the Cuban urban landscape, it also characterizes the island as a tourist destination. It is the extensive use of older cars in cities, particularly in Havana, where those vehicles that belongs to the 40s and 50s of the last century, are still serving as communal taxis or driven rented taxis.

Old cars in other parts of the world can only be seen in museums as collector's items, but in Cuba circulate freely and in large numbers on the streets. The association Great Car gathers owners of such vehicles that often operate as rented taxis. All these cars are kept in perfect condition, often with all original parts, including the engine.

7Mobile communications in Cuba

Using their own mobile phone in Cuba is possible depending on the company that provides service in your country of origin and the type of service that you have hired. So it is better to inquire with your mobile phone company if you are interested in using their mobile in Cuba. It is also important to note that rates of mobile communications are not cheap in Cuba.

The main mobile phone company in Cuba is Cubacel and works in: GSM (900 MHz) with national coverage and GSM (850 MHz) with partial coverage in Havana, Varadero, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo.

Customer Cubacel

Phone: +53 5 2642266

The mobile phone signal covers most of the Cuban territory including major cities and tourist places. It is also possible to buy mobile phones in Cuba and if you are interested, you can get a line with Cubacel.

Note

All mobile numbers in Cuba begins with the number 5, and have eight digits.

8Procedures to make phone calls in Cuba

Procedure to call from a landline to a mobile phone Cuban Cuban

  • Dial the number 0 (zero) if calling from Havana (01 from the rest of the country)
  • Dial the number

Procedure for calling from a mobile phone to a landline Cuban Cuban

  • Dial the number 0 (zero)
  • Dial the city code
  • Dial the desired phone number

Procedure call from a mobile phone to a mobile phone Cuban Cuban

  • Just dial the desired phone number

Procedure to call from a phone number to a mobile phone outside Cuban

  • Dial 00
  • Dial the country code for Cuba (53)
  • Dial the desired phone number

Procedure to call from a phone number to a landline outside Cuban

  • Dial 00
  • Dial the country code for Cuba (53)
  • Dial the area code
  • Dial the desired phone number

Procedure for calling from a phone number to a telephone Cuba abroad

  • Dial 119 or + (plus)
  • Dial the country code
  • Dial the city code if necessary
  • Dial the desired phone number

9Shopping in Cuba

Although Cuba is not a place that is known internationally for its products or souvenirs there are a few Cuban products highly recommended for visitors for its quality and who should not be miss after your travel. They are cigars, rum and Cuban coffee.

Cuban cigars

The Cuban cigars

It is the main product of the Cuban tradition and is world renowned for its exquisite quality. In Cuba there any specialty shops where you can buy Cuban cigars and other products related to it.

The Cuban cigars has many brands with different sizes, flavors and quality. Some of the best known brands are: Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upman, Partagas, Cuaba, Quintero, Vegas de Robaina and Bolivar.

For more information: http://www.habanos.com

 

 

 

Havana Club Rum

Cuban rum

Cuban rum is one of the best known worldwide for its exquisite taste and unique and exclusive quality.

Cuba produces many types of rum and brandy and each has different flavors, colors and degrees of alcohol. One of the most famous is the Havana Club, that it has becomed a symbol of Cuba worldwide.

There is a place dedicated to the promotion of Havana Club rum in Cuba, it is the Havana Club Foundation in Havana.

Havana Club Foundation and Havana Club Rum Museum

Port Avenue # 262, corner Sol, Old Havana, Havana City.

Phone: +53 7 8618051 / +53 7 8624108

Fax: +53 7 8621825

Note

It is advisable not to buy the rum offered by street vendors since in most cases it is a fake.

 

 

 

Cuban coffee, brands Turquino and Serrano

The Cuban coffee

Although it is not known internationally, the Cuban brands of coffe as Cubitas and Serrano have a very high quality. These brands are of strong espresso because that's how you take coffee in Cuban the traditional way. This product is recommended for a souvenir.

La Cabaña Fortress in Havana Bay