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Cuba On A Budget: The Ultimate Guide On How To Visit The "Revolucion" Island.

AMERICAS, BLOG, CUBA, LATIN AMERICA, USEFUL GUIDES 53 Comments

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CUBA


This guide is a Guest Post by Claudia, a Sardinian girl specialized in Central and South America. You know that I seldom publish any guest posts on my blog, but this guide is a massive resource of tips if you are planning a trip to Cuba, and since I’ve never been there (yet) I thought it was a good idea . I split it in chapters and pages so that you can skip from one to the other easily! Enjoy!


I travel. A lot. I have lived in 2 continents, I have visited 3. I have a passion – shall we call it obsession? – for anything Latin American. Needless to say, Latin America is where I normally aim to travel.

Yet, when I arrived in Cuba I quickly realized that this is not just Latin America, it is not just the Caribbean. There is much more to Cuba than just a specific location: travelers would be better off leaving all their expectations behind passport control.

It is a beautiful country, but more than anything else it is interesting, mysterious, difficult and challenging; it may test one’s patience and in some aspects, you may find it plainly strange. Yet, you cannot help but fall in love with it and wishing to eventually go back and uncover more of its charm.

If you want to have a “ready to go” One week itinerary for Cuba, check out my latest article: Cuba in one week!


cuba-colorful-vintage-cars

Colorful cars in Cuba. Source: Commons/wikimedia.org


Cuba is a poor country, there is a constant need for material goods and life is plain and modest there, yet culturally rich. It may be decadent, with buildings falling apart,  yet one ends up being charmed by it.

It is a perfect mix of lush nature, beautiful colonial cities, gorgeous beaches and crystal clear seas, mesmerizing countryside and tasty food. It can be plainly irritating, but it will teach one a good lesson.


LESSONS FROM CUBA

The history of the country is complex:

  • External influences
  • Internal fights
  • Foreign invasions
  • Slavery
  • Dictatorship
  • Revolution.

 

With this past in mind, you may expect to find a dark, sorrow totalitarian State, but will be surprised to meet its exuberant, colorful and lively people.


COLORFUL-PEOPLE-IN-CUBA


Despite the difficulties they face in their everyday life, Cubans always smile: you will see them enjoying a game of chess or backgammon, sitting on an improvised table right outside their home; they will walk around with a small radio playing their favorite salsa or reggaeton tunes, proudly fix their old cars made up of leftover pieces of old Russian Ladas or American vintage cars; or wait patiently sitting on a sidecar.

Cubans proudly wear hot rollers to curl their hair while going to work in the morning and prepare amazing meals by using simple ingredients. They are ingenious and pragmatic; they are survivors, lively, cynical and wise and you can learn a lot from just observing their daily struggle for life.





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Comments 53

  1. Such a great guide! I went to Cuba in 2014 and am glad I did. It was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to (my photos don’t do it justice).

  2. Hey Hey,

    we really liked your report on Cuba. It is an amazing country that is totally unique in the world. Everybody seems to be afraid of the change that the open politics will bring to Cuba. But we believe that the Cubans and their country will stay as they are – authentic and outgoing 🙂
    We have also been to Cuba for a couple of weeks and mostly stayed at casa particulars. Only there, you will get the inside information and get to know this country 🙂
    Maybe you would also like to read about our experiences:
    https://weareleavingtraces.com/2016/04/25/havanna/

    See you!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Glad the article was useful for you and that you had an authentic stay in CUba 🙂

  3. Hi Clelia, completely agree with your guest poster’s recommendation to stay in casas particulares, for exactly the reasons stated – cheaper, better, more authentic, friendlier! I also noticed that your guest poster says “What can be tricky about casas particulares is the booking system. Cubans mostly work via phone. They hardly use emails and internet to sort their business”. This is exactly why our small company exists – to simplify the booking process for independent travellers and to make managing the casa easier for the hosts. Please feel free to check us out and embed a link to us in your blog if you think our services might be useful for others

    Cheers!

    Admin Comment: Please note that adding links to the comments is not allowed as per our terms & conditions. Thank you for your understanding! Clelia

    1. Hi Clelia, not a bother, hadn’t realised that was part of your T&Cs. Would be good to provide your readers with a convenient means of actually booking casas though, so maybe worth linking in the main body of text?

      1. Hey Matthew, being this my full-time job, I usually have a paid service for the companies (or private) that want to promote their properties/business. If I had to add every link people ask me to, there wouldn’t be an article anymore, just a long list of links, plus (and this is even more important), I prefer to link to companies that I have either tried for myself and can personally recommend or that are somehow well known or someone else have tried them, hence I am sure I’m giving my readers some added value.

        I hope this clarifies the terms & conditions of my website.
        Kind Regards

        Clelia

  4. Amazing Cuba blog post! Going there in February! Can’t wait! Thanks for useful tips especially for sharing some casa particulares 🙂

    Kristina

  5. This is an awesome Blog. Wish I found it before I visited Cuba. In December of 2016 myself, my wife and 10-year-old daughter traveled to CUBA from Atlanta on Delta Airlines for 1 week. We stayed at a different hotel every night and traveled to a different location every day. I struggled gathering recent information when organizing our trip, like this blog, I wanted to help as many future CUBA travelers as possible by creating 15 short videos.

  6. Hi, greetings from Estonia!
    I wanted to ask about accomodation in Cienguegos: how did you get touch with Olga and Eugenio? I cant find they contacts anywhere… any email would be very helpful 🙂
    BR Andres

  7. Pingback: (Recipe) Natilla from Cuba – travelandlipsticks.com

  8. So if the internet connection is Cuba is not as good as people say what would you recommend? do you think my local verizon would be more reliable during roaming mode then the service that they offer there, I plan to attend and I want to constantly send pictures to my family and friends so is important forme.

    Great post by the way.

  9. Wow Claudia! Now that I’ve booked my tickets to Cuba next month I read your article. WOW, WOW, Super-WoW. You spent a lot of time on this and it has a ton of juicy, useful info. Particularly the contacts for the Casa Particulares.

    I’m so psyched about this trip! Thank you so much for writing this.

  10. Thanks For all the great information Claudia. Myself and my teenage daughter are travelling to Cuba from Ireland at beginning of May and as 2 women travelling you’ve reassured me and we cant wait to go. Cuba just looks fantastic we’re going to stay in Casas and travel around. You’ve included loads of helpful information. Many Thanks and happy travelling 🙂

  11. Great post Claudia with nice image. After read this post I experience that you have been very closely touch with the Cuba cultures and their peoples. However next year I have a trip planning for Mexico and no doubt those we included the Cuba in our trip map. Already booked a private vehicle for our trip from a transport agency as “Dtourscancun”. Hope we would have an unforgettable trip from there.

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  13. Nice, Claudia! Cuba is on my list of must-see. Couple of months ago we went to St. Petersburg with Travel all Russia to see Mother Russia and how people are living there. Eastern Europe, Cuba and few other countries should be seen by everyone, they’re very different to our mainstream attractions! You can feel the charm of the past, it really is something special. Glad you’re visiting countries as such!

  14. Pingback: Interview With Travel Blogger Claudia Tavani Of My Adventures Across The World

  15. Great post! Cuba seems like an amazing destination. All the history there, it seems very interesting. And seeing your pictures make me want to visit and know more about this place! 🙂

    Best,
    Julie.

  16. Gah! Clelia, I’m so jealous. I want to visit Cuba so bad. I was in Haiti recently and I was planning on going but there were such infrequent flights from Haiti (only Mondays and Fridays at a certain time) and it just didn’t fit my budget or timeline. I need to go. It’s been a top pick of mine forever.

    1. I also want to go there one day, this massive guide is from another Italian girl who’s an expert of South America. I saw your pictures of Haiti…not bad at all! We are definitely lucky people!

  17. Cubans proudly wear hot rollers to curl their hair while going to work in the morning and prepare amazing meals by using simple ingredients.

  18. Hey guys, I have been planning a honeymoon to Cuba, and my wife and I purchased some attractions tickets, for the BonAppetour dinners (a dining experience with locals: here is the link: http://www.bonappetour.com)
    If you guys want it, please let me know, I can sell them to you for a cheaper price!

  19. Claudia-What a great comprehensive guide you’ve put together and certainly helpful for anyone traveling to Cuba-not just budget travel! I am going in February and was thinking of a visit to Las Terrazes as I write about sustainable living and thought it looked interesting. Could you expand on your comment. Feel free to email me directly if that makes more sense. Thanks so much.

    1. Well, there isn’t much ecology in there altogether. The place is strikingly at odds with the surrounding environment and clorex is used to wash everything – surely not environmentally friendly!

  20. Wow, Claudia, you certainly did put a lot of energy and love in this extremely complete guide to Cuba. I’m so inspired by it and I’ve been wanting to visit Cuba for so long, this might be the final push I needed!

    Thank you so much for such detailed info! You rock!

    1. It is a country of many contradictions. It makes you exhausted while you are there, but you can’t help falling in love with it. Anybody should go, and I want to make sure that backpackers have the best experience ever!!

  21. I knew about bringing cash but didn’t realize that there isn’t ANY wi-fi in Cuba! I’m going in early April so I guess this means I’ll have fewer things to recharge and will have to wait to do social media sharing until I get home! Thanks for the scoop.

    1. I’m a Cuban American who left the country 45 years ago, I’ve been back several times visiting family. It’s a unique country and the people do whatever they can to survive. Havana is nice but it’s not the real Cuba. It’s the capital city. To really experience the real Cuba you have to stay in the small towns. Like Remedios or Placetas. I’ve done a few write-ups about Cuba. Here’s one of them: http://carmensluxurytravel.com/2014/04/remedios-cuba/

    2. Thanks Kay, I will ask Claudia if this internet thing is 100% true everywhere… I guess that maybe you could work with social media in some places (like in the big cities?) but I need Claudia to answer as I have no idea!

      1. You do get to log onto social media. But why even waste your time to do that? Internet is SLOW. You won’t have wifi at all. You can only access internet at ETECSA places as a travellers, or some state owned hotels may have a computer but internet is slow. Just don’t waste your time: enjoy it now, post later!

    3. You can get on social media from ETECSA centres. But why on earth would you waste your time on it, when you can be sociable with the locals? In Cuba, do as the Cubans 😉

      1. Claudia you are right. Internet access is useless in Cuba. In October 2015, I spent 10 days, travelling to Habana, Vinales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santa Clara. I talked to many Cubans, in particular the wonderful chicas, they gave me a lot of insight views. I had a fantastic time in Cuba without internet access.

        1. Hello Wolfgang,
          We are looking to do the same route in Jan 2016, how did you travel between towns? transport is my biggest concern at this time and don’t know if it’s ok to leave until we arrive and rely on taxis,
          Any advice is appreciated
          Cheers

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