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

Clelia Mattana AMERICAS, BLOG, CUBA, LATIN AMERICA, USEFUL GUIDES 61 Comments

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ACCOMMODATION/HOTELS IN CUBA:


 

In terms of bookings, the minute you sit down on your computer to start making your reservation and plan your trip, you will realize that it is all non-sense.

It is ok to have a good idea of the places you want to see, but don’t have a fixed itinerary as it may well happen that you fall in love with a place and decide to stay there longer than expected.

In any case, the good old Cuban system does not really allow for fixed bookings (although there are some booking websites for casas particulares and resorts), so it is better to have some recommendations on casas where you could stay, email them (or better, call them and test your Spanish) and see what can be sorted.


ACCOMMODATION IN CUBA: CASA PARTICULARES VS HOTELS.

 

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Casa Particular versus Hotels/Resorts

 

The main choice when traveling to Cuba is staying in casas particulares, which are private houses whose owners rent out 2, or at most 3 of their rooms (the standard is generally double beds with private bathroom), or state owned hotels and resorts.

My preference would have to be casas particulares. They are way more personable and give you an insiders’ look at Cuban life, not to mention that they are clean, the service is spot on, and they are considerably cheaper.

Doors are always open, people go in and out, they share whatever little they have, they will ask you to sit to have a chat, help you with information, arranging transportation and providing plenty of advice on what to see, where to eat, what to do.

They will arrange your laundry, instruct you on how to keep safe and avoid scams. Some casas are splendid colonial buildings that will leave you in awe for their beauty, and you’ll feel like you are staying in an oasis of peace even in the noisiest of cities.


BOOK ONLINE YOUR CASA PARTICULARES


If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to leave anything to chances but still wants to enjoy a truly genuine experience in one of the Casa particulares in Cuba, there is this very reliable website where you can book in advance trusted Casa Particulares. It’s called Cuba Casa and it has great reviews from travelers.


CHECK OUT THE AVAILABILITY AT THE “CUBA CASA” WEBSITE IN HERE:


CUBA_ACCOMMODATION__CASA_PARTICULARES,-HOW_TO_BOOK_THEM_ONLINE


BOOK HERE!




PRICES FOR CASAS PARTICULARES AND SAFETY STANDARDS:


The average price for a room in a casa particular would be between 15 and 50 CUC – so between 7.5 and 25 CUC per person. At 15 CUC per person (at the most) you can have a lovely, unique room, with your own bathroom and hot shower, towels, and that homey feeling of someone who is welcoming you each time you walk through the door. It is a real budget saver.

Casas are regularly inspected for health and safety reasons, so they will be clean. They usually are safe, but do lock your belongings and count your money each time you go out. Nothing ever happened to me, but you’d better be safe than sorry. And in the unlikely event something goes wrong at your casa, just use one word: “policia” – and you will receive profuse apologies, your belongings will magically reappear. Hotels are not as personable.


HOW TO FIND A CASA PARTICULARES IN CUBA:


What can be tricky about casas prticulares is the booking system. Cubans mostly work via phone. They hardly use emails and the internet to sort their business. If you find a house that does provide an email contact, be patient until they do reply. It is in their interest to make sure that they accommodate you.

Be prepared, however, to find out once you arrive that the room that you were supposed to have has been given away to someone else. Worry not! The owners will make sure that they put you in a different house, of a friend or relative of sort, usually right across the street, and the standards will be just as good.

In the unlucky event that you have no bookings at all, the minute you step off the bus you will be welcomed by an array of owners offering rooms for rent. This is the scene that expected me in Baracoa.


casa-particulares-cuba

Looking for accommodation in Cuba? no problem, you’ll have plenty of choices!


Landlords usually take an interest in making your reservations for your next casa. They will ask you where you are going next, and will suggest a casa of a friend or acquaintance in another city, and will be eager to make the phone call and reservations for you. It is that easy, really.


EATING AT CASA PARTICULARES:


One of the main advantages of casas particulares is that you can have all your meals and drinks there. If you think you are going to be too tired to go out for dinner that night, you can book your dinner in the morning. Do not expect anything less than delicious.

The average price for a full breakfast (including coffee, juice, bread and jam, fresh fruit, eggs and what not) is 5 CUC. There isn’t much variety: keep in mind there is only one kind of bread in Cuba, fruit is only seasonal so for as much as you may want to have a mango, if it is not in season forget it.

Some goods are hard to find (do not ask for yogurt!), but breakfast in casas is better than what you may have at a restaurant (take my word for it: I tried it!).


cuba-casas-particulares-Camaguey-Los-Vitrales

Casa Particulares. Source: www.viaggionelmondo.net


The price of a dinner varies between 8 and 12 CUC: it gets more expensive if you have lobster,and the meal usually includes a seasonal salad, a soup, a main course, rice and beans known as congri, tostones which are platain croquettes – in other countries called patacones – or fried bananas, fruit and a dessert. Portions are so big that they would easily be enough for two persons.

The meals you may have in a casa are more or less the same you would have in paladares (private restaurants). Let’s talk about food in Cuba, then.


HOTELS /RESORTS IN CUBA:

If you still prefer the comfort of the Hotels and Resorts, you can find some good deals on Tripadvisor (Including reviews for various places), check it out!

Read in: Italian German

Comments 61

  1. Was in Cuba a week ago and had the most incredible time. In Viñales, I really recommend the “Casa Dovales” amazing people, great hospitality, the rooms were perfect, and the food I ate in the house was very good as well. Definitely is a must go to if you go to Viñales.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion Marc! It’s always nice to have people recommending places they have visited themselves in Cuba!

    2. Hello! Thank you for your suggestion! Do you have e-mail address of Casa Dovales in Vinales, please? I would like to go there in 10 days. I am leaving to Cuba! 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Wow amazing post! I’ve been visiting Cuba on February and fell immediately in love. Also currently blogging about it. My first time solo travel ever and I’d do it again!!

    1. Thanks Asli! Glad you like it and you couldn’t have chosen a better place to travel solo, what an experience !

  3. 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).

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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

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

    Kristina

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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 🙂

  13. 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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  15. 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!

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

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

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!!

  23. 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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