Cuba Travel Guide

A comprehensive tour guide for Cuba, covering places to visit, hiking/biking routes, food and drink scene, where to stay, local culture, safety and health, transportation options and logistics, and nearby excursions.

Introduction to Cuba

Cuba is a vibrant and colorful island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, just south of Florida. Known for its rich culture, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and exciting nightlife, Cuba has long been a top travel destination for adventurers and tourists alike. Whether you’re interested in exploring the island’s history, hiking through its lush forests, or simply relaxing on the sand, there is something for everyone in Cuba.

List of Places to Visit in Cuba

Cuba is home to a wide variety of culturally important attractions and natural wonders. When planning your trip to Cuba, be sure to visit these top destinations:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Havana Old Town: The historic center of Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to many significant buildings and monuments.
  • Museum of the Revolution: Located in Havana, this museum showcases Cuba’s revolutionary history and is a must-visit for history buffs.
  • Che Guevara Mausoleum: Located in Santa Clara, this monument pays tribute to the famous revolutionary.
  • Palacio de Valle: Situated in Cienfuegos, this stunning building is a prime example of Cuba’s unique architecture.
  • Ernest Hemingway’s Home: Located in the town of San Francisco de Paula, this museum offers insight into the life of the famous American author.

Natural Attractions of Cuba: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Varadero Beach: This 20km stretch of white sand is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • Vinales Valley: Located in the Pinar del Rio province, this stunning valley is known for its tobacco plantations and gorgeous limestone cliffs.
  • Topes de Collantes: This beautiful nature park offers hiking and birdwatching opportunities as well as stunning views.
  • El Nicho Waterfalls: These beautiful falls are located in the Sierra del Escambray mountain range.
  • Sierra Maestra: The highest mountain range in Cuba is home to stunning views and lush vegetation.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Cuba

Cuba is an ideal destination for hiking and biking enthusiasts. Here are some of the top routes:

  • Pico Turquino: This challenging hike takes you to the highest point in Cuba and offers stunning views.
  • The Malecon: This scenic route follows Havana’s famous seawall and is a great spot for biking or walking.
  • La Farola: This winding road is a favorite of cyclists and offers beautiful views of the countryside.
  • Las Terrazas: This nature reserve features a variety of hiking and biking trails through lush forest and past beautiful waterfalls.
  • The Havana Greenbelt: This scenic route takes you through Havana’s suburban neighborhoods and offers a taste of local life.

Best Things to Do in Cuba: Activities and Tours

Cuba offers a wealth of activities and tours to suit any interest. Here are some top picks:

  • Salsa dancing: Take a salsa lesson or hit the clubs and dance the night away to Cuba’s lively music.
  • Tobacco tours: Visit one of Cuba’s many tobacco plantations and learn about the production process from start to finish.
  • Classic car tours: Take a ride in a vintage American car and explore Havana’s historic streets in style.
  • Rum tasting: Cuba is known for its delicious rum, and there are plenty of opportunities to sample the goods.
  • Snorkeling and diving: Cuba’s clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, making it a top spot for snorkeling and diving.

Week-Long Itinerary for Cuba

Planning a trip to Cuba can be overwhelming. Here’s a sample itinerary to help get you started:

Day 1: Arrive in Havana and explore Old Town. Day 2: Take a walking tour of Havana’s Revolutionary Square and learn about Cuba’s history. Day 3: Head to Varadero Beach for a relaxing day in the sun. Day 4: Visit Vinales Valley and take a tour of a tobacco plantation. Day 5: Explore the Sierra Maestra mountains and hike to La Comandancia de la Plata. Day 6: Take a day trip to Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum. Day 7: Relax in Havana and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Food and Drink Scene of Cuba

Cuba is famous for its delicious cuisine and refreshing beverages. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Ropa Vieja: A flavorful stew made with shredded beef, tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
  • Lechón Asado: Roasted pork, typically served with black beans and rice.
  • Moros y Cristianos: A traditional dish of black beans and rice.
  • Tamales: A cornmeal-based dish usually stuffed with meat, vegetables, or cheese.
  • Pastelitos de Guava: A pastry filled with sweet guava paste.

Local Beverages

  • Mojito: A refreshing cocktail made with rum, sugar, lime, mint, and soda water.
  • Cuba Libre: A classic cocktail made with rum and Coca-Cola.
  • Daiquiri: Another classic Cuban cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and sugar.
  • Coffee: Cuba is known for its strong, flavorful coffee.
  • Guarapo: A sweet sugarcane juice that’s a popular local beverage.

Where to Stay in Cuba: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Cuba offers a variety of accommodations to suit any budget. Some top picks include:

  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba: This luxurious hotel in Havana features beautiful architecture and stunning views of the city.
  • Casa Particular: These privately owned guesthouses offer an immersive experience in Cuban culture.
  • Melia Cohiba: Located in the heart of Havana, this hotel is known for its beautiful rooms and excellent service.
  • Hostal Casa Blanca 1940: This charming guesthouse offers stunning views of the ocean and is located in the town of Baracoa.
  • Cubanacan Hotel El Colony: This hotel is located in the bay of Cocodrilo and offers beautiful views and a tranquil atmosphere.

What to Buy in Cuba: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Cuba offers plenty of unique souvenirs and local products to bring home. Some top items include:

  • Cigars: Cuba is known for its high-quality cigars, which make a great gift for the smoker in your life.
  • Rum: Cuba’s delicious rum is another popular souvenir.
  • Artisan goods: Handcrafted items such as pottery, textiles, and jewelry make great gifts.
  • Coffee and chocolate: Cuba produces some delicious coffee and chocolate that’s worth bringing home.
  • Music: CDs or vinyl records featuring local musicians make great souvenirs.

Local Culture and Customs of Cuba

Cuba has a unique and vibrant culture that’s worth exploring. Here are a few customs to keep in mind:

  • Greetings: Cubans usually greet each other with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek.
  • Dress code: Locals tend to dress conservatively, especially outside of tourist areas.
  • Tipping: It’s customary to leave a small tip for good service, usually around 10%.
  • Language: Spanish is the official language of Cuba, though many people also speak English.
  • Music and dance: Music and dance are an important part of Cuban culture, and you’ll often see people dancing in the streets and at parties.

Best Time to Visit Cuba

The best time to visit Cuba is between December and May, when the weather is dry and temperatures are mild. However, keep in mind that this is also peak tourist season, so be prepared for crowds and higher prices. June to November is hurricane season in Cuba, so travel during this time may be more unpredictable.

Do’s and Don’ts of Cuba

When visiting Cuba, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:


  • Try the local cuisine and drinks
  • Learn a few basic Spanish phrases
  • Take plenty of cash, as credit cards may not work
  • Get off the beaten path and explore smaller towns and villages
  • Respect local customs and culture


  • Take photos of military personnel or equipment
  • Try to bring Cuban cigars or rum back to the United States
  • Discuss politics in public
  • Give money or gifts to street children

Safety and Health

Cuba is a relatively safe country to travel to, especially compared to other destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America. However, as with any destination, it’s important to take commonsense precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.

Safety in Cuba

  • Avoid flashing large amounts of cash
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night
  • Use only licensed taxis and avoid taking rides from strangers
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport in a separate location from the original

Health in Cuba

  • Check with a doctor before traveling to Cuba to ensure you’re up-to-date on all vaccinations
  • Drink only bottled water and avoid ice
  • Use insect repellent to avoid mosquitoes
  • Bring any necessary medications with you, as they may not be available in Cuba

Getting to Cuba: Transportation Options and Logistics

Cuba is accessible by plane, boat, and bus. Here are some options:

Airports Near Cuba

  • Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) in Havana
  • Ignacio Agramonte International Airport (CMW) in Camaguey
  • Jardines del Rey International Airport (CCC) in Cayo Coco

Bus Stations Near Cuba

  • Viazul: This bus company offers service throughout Cuba and is a popular option for travelers.
  • Astro: Another bus company that offers service throughout Cuba.

Other Options

  • Ferries: A few companies offer ferry service between Key West, Florida and Havana.
  • Private boats: If you have access to a boat, you can legally sail to Cuba from the United States.

How to Get Around in Cuba

Getting around Cuba is relatively easy and affordable. Here are some options:

  • Taxis: Private taxis are common in Cuba and are usually affordable. Make sure to agree on a price before getting in.
  • Buses: Viazul and Astro are the most popular bus companies in Cuba.
  • Classic cars: Vintage American cars are a popular option for tourists.
  • Bicycles: Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore Cuba’s cities and countryside.
  • Walking: Many of Cuba’s cities and towns are walkable.

Where to Go Next from Cuba: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

When you’re ready to leave Cuba, there are plenty of nearby destinations to explore:

  • Mexico: Head north to the Yucatan Peninsula for some beautiful beaches and ancient ruins.
  • Jamaica: Another Caribbean destination known for its stunning beaches and laid-back vibe.
  • Bahamas: A short flight from Havana will take you to this popular vacation spot.
  • Grand Cayman: This British territory offers beautiful beaches and world-class diving.


Cuba is a unique and exciting travel destination that offers something for every type of traveler. From stunning natural landscapes to rich culture and history, Cuba is sure to leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re planning a week-long trip or a longer adventure, use this comprehensive travel guide to help plan your next Cuban escape.