Traveling to Cuba low cost

Traveling to Cuba low cost

Despite common imagination, I don’t believe that Cuba can be defined as a low-cost destination.

The fact that Cuban life is truly low-cost does not mean that tourists can spend as little as locals do, which is possible in other destinations around the world.

In fact, as far as I’m concerned 3 weeks in Cuba they were quite expensive, the cost also increased due to the fact that I was alone and unfortunately since it wasn’t very easy to negotiate here the discounts I managed to get kept my daily budget still higher than what I was able to spend in Central America, Yucatan included .

I also remember that in Cuba there are no hostels so forget about the fact that you can pay $8 a night but the cheapest and most characteristic solution is to stay in legal casas particulares so as to experience Cuba directly from the inside.
But even in this case the costs range from $20 to $35 per day, breakfast and dinner included. Houses in Havana cost more than other destinations while Varadero is the least Cuban city and there are only resorts, not recommended except for a one-day trip. The sea is worth seeing.

Furthermore, for those who don’t know, in Cuba there is double currency: The Cuban peso and the Convertible Weight (CUC) which at the exchange rate could be equivalent to the American dollar.
Be careful when you buy things to eat at the tiendas particulares (i.e. the little homemade shops), the costs are all in national currency so if a small pizza costs $10 it means that it costs 10 national pesos and not 10CUC (i.e. 10 dollars, but rather 0, $10).

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Read also: Visa and documents to go to Cuba

Here are some tips for traveling to Cuba at low cost or trying to keep costs as low as possible:

  • Always ask what currency the price of the thing you want to buy is in. In the private shops the prices are ALWAYS in national currency, which you can use and it is not true that it is only for Cubans. For example, if you stop on the street to compare a pizza, it generally costs between 5 and 10 national pesos, or 10 cents. Don’t pay in CUC. I made the mistake of paying 2 CUC for a slice of pizza in the center of Havana, I paid assuming it was in CUC and I was not told that the price was in national currency.
  • If you plan to stay for several days in a casa particular, negotiate and look for a discount for a long-term stay.
  • Don’t let someone you meet at the bus station take you to a casa particular, these people take a commission and you pay that commission. You will realize that there are many casas particulares (which you can recognize by the symbol on the door) and you can ask for the cost directly from you.
  • Give up the Internet for your stay in Cuba, it costs an arm and a leg. $10 for an hour. I must admit that it was a great experience to spend 3 weeks without the internet and it didn’t bother me at all even though I work with the internet. A real break.
  • To eat, instead of going to tourist restaurants, go to the tiendas particulares and buy sandwiches, pizzas or sandwiches on the street or get advice from some Cuban where you can eat and pay in national currency. You will save more than $10 a day.
  • When you negotiate with a casa particular, ask what they include in costs, whether dinner and breakfast or just breakfast. Unfortunately I found myself paying $8 a day more because the price she gave me was without dinner which she prepared anyway without ever asking me if I wanted it or not. Make things clear right away so you avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • There are some day trips that are best done with a private taxi, if you stay in casas particulares it is generally easy to meet other tourists, furthermore Cuba is full of Italians, make an agreement with them to join the trips and spend much less .
  • For long journeys you can easily use the buses. The two bus companies that work in Cuba are Viazul and Astro. Always remember a sweater or jacket when traveling by bus because the air conditioning is very strong and I got sick, twice.
    Traveling by bus costs 50% less than flying. For example, a bus trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba with the Viazul company costs around $60. Apparently the Asto company is only for Cubans and in fact I have never taken it or heard of it as a travel option. I know it’s there but I’ve never gotten it.
  • Private taxis. Ok it’s not legal as we tourists should take the official ones but who among us who goes to Cuba doesn’t want to get into the colorful 1950s cars that we’ve all seen on postcards or in books about Cuba? To catch them you have to be quick and speak Spanish. These are collective buses so with you there will be other people who will perhaps get off at some point that is also on your route.
    The only way to get from the station to Havana Centro is to take a taxi. Don’t pay more than $15 or $20. This is the price and anyone who asks you more wants to cheat you.

cars parked on parking lot near white concrete building during daytime

General costs of a day in Cuba

Private House: CUC15 – 30 per day with breakfast and dinner included
Museo: CUC1 -2
Taxi: CUC3 -4
Collective bus from Havana center to Playa dell’Este: CUC 3
Tourist bus on two floors to go around the city: CUC 5
Dinner in a Cuban restaurant which includes meat, potatoes or yuca, rice and beans and salad: CUC8
Mohito or Cuba Libre: CUC2, much more if you go to Bodeguita del Medio, the famous bar where Emingqay drank his Mohito
Bus ride from Havana to Varadero round trip: CUC20
Bus ride from Havana to Trinidad round trip: CUC50

I made these observations during my stay but if any of you have any other advice to give for traveling to Cuba at low costs please comment on this post. I would say that Cuba is not a backpacker destination….but it’s worth going there!

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