7 Best Things to Do in Cuba for a Memorable Vacation
The island of Cuba is situated in the northern Caribbean at the confluence of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and the great Atlantic Ocean. Vacationing in Cuba is easy in many ways as well as perplexing in some other ways. It is a big country and you can explore its best cities and places of interest, which are very, very touristy.
Whether you want to see the museums exhibiting weapons or experience the ancient, historic Havana rife with age-marked Baroque structures and magnificent palazzos, Cuba has it all for every tourist. If you happen to be a party person, cabaret and lively jazz will keep you entertained after sundown.
There are loads of awesome things to do in Cuba that you must add to your bucket list.
1. Take a leisurely stroll on the Havana Malecon
This is an awesome place, where you can take a puff with cigars in style, Cadillacs bumping and bouncing on the jagged roads. See gloved boxers exchanging blows with the breezy tropical airs, while street amusers banding together with romantic souls amidst the saline tasting sea breezes rolling in from the Sunshine State of Florida as well as the Key West passages to the north.
The Havana Malecon drips with Art Deco and Baroque styles, beautifully painted in shades of Cuban yellow and pink, pulsating with Spanish gossip and liveliness.
2. Take a ride in classic cars
Cuba is almost synonymous to old, classic cars, and you catch the initial glimpse of these beauties right when you reach the Havana airport. You can hail a taxi right from this airport, which could be a 1950’s classic car of America.
The cost of a fun ride in any Cuban classic car is approx 30-35 dollars an hour. The cost is worth it because you will get to experience a slice of rich Cuban customs and culture. You can also ride in a classic car to tour the island of Cuba.
3. Smoke the famous Cuban cigars
A vacation in Cuba is not complete if you do not smoke the best Cuban cigars. You can buy them from anywhere here, but then choose the best quality cigars from the island’s tobacco farms.
Do not fall for the cigars sold below $1 on the Havana streets, as you will not like the taste and quality. However, you can buy these cigars and pose for a cool selfie with your friends.
4. Take in the beauty of the beach
You can relax, walk, or play with the water in one of the white, sandy, and pristine beaches of the island of Cuba. Do not miss the Varadero, which is a scenic spot, just 20 km off the sandy shoreline.
There is another offbeat beach Playa Jibacoa, however accessible through the Caribbean. Though there are not many activities for you here, you can unwind on Playa Jibacoa, laying on the white sand, or go diving or snorkeling among a few activities. You can see two shipwrecks, a military, and a sunken cargo ship.
5. Experience 20th-century history at the Museum of the Revolution
This magnificent museum houses in the elegant, neo-classical Presidential Palace right in the heart of ancient Havana, which is a must-include in your bucket list, if you are a history aficionado, traveling to the Pearl of the Antilles.
Witness the diverse museum collections including the unrefined yet mesmerizing first-hand objet d’arts from the political turmoil of the 1950s. The common artifacts are the guns used by Che Guevara as well as Camilo Cienfuegos, including the boat bringing Castro to the shores of Cuba during the Granma mission of 1956.
You will also find historical exhibits that record Cuba’s communist transformation back in the 1960s and 1970s. Be mesmerized with the exhibits detailing the independence battles against Spain.
6. Amuse yourself watching a cabaret at the Tropicana Club
Under the star-studded Cuban sky, between the Mariano streets, just on the western part of Havana, the cabaret shows at this club after sundown will keep you entertained. The cabaret performance is part of Cuba’s culture since the 1930s.
If you love to experience the nightlife of Havana, this is the place to be, though not that affordable, the entry fee is approx $60. Then, if you want to revel in the joy of pompous nightly cabaret performances and musical soirées, beautiful showgirls dressed in glossy sequins and peacock feathers, splurge!
7. Savor Cuban food at one of the cafeterias
Eat at one of the Cuban cafeterias if you want some tasty, fast food of Cuba at a pocket-friendly price. Try the food here if you would like to get the real taste of the local life of the country. You will find burgers, rice, and beans, as well as sandwiches at these cafeterias.
The prices are approx 20-40 CUP or 1-2 CUC. Some of the cafeterias operate round the clock, a great stop for your late-night snack cravings!
Weather in Cuba
The average annual temperature is 25.2 degrees Celsius, 8 hours of sunshine daily all through the year. The average temperature is 22 degrees Celsius in January, increasing (along with humidity) to about 27.2 degrees Celsius in July with rising humidity
The hottest is August with 31.6 degrees Celsius. There are two distinct seasons dry from November to April and rainy from May to October.
In winter, you can experience a little chilled weather with night temperatures dipping to 10 degrees Celsius in a couple of places.
The best Cuban cities
The best cities to visit in Cuba are Havana, Varadero, Viñales, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba. Include these cities in your bucket list to see the Capitolio, the Municipal Museum, the valley of Viñales, El Cubano National Park, The San Pedro de la Roca Castle, and more.
Top facts about Cuba
There are many interesting facts about Cuba that you should know if you are planning a vacation here.
- Most of the Cuban restaurants are government-owned.
- You will find two currencies in Cuba CUC and CUP
- Cubans were not allowed to use mobile phones until 2008.
- Medical and education expenses are free for all Cubans
- Coca Cola not sold officially in Cuba
- Cuba has nine UNESCO heritage sites
Dos and Don’ts in Cuba
When you are planning a vacation in Cuba, there are many dos and don’ts to know before you reach there.
- Dress casually: When it comes to clothes, you can wear any casual attire, be it in Havana, Santa Clara, or Trinidad. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a wide-brim sun hat because Cuba is extremely hot and sun-drenched. Bring some light poncho and umbrella to protect you from the intense summer spells of showers.
- Carry enough cash: If you traveling from the US, you need to carry sufficient cash because American credits are not accepted in Cuba. Even ATMs in the country will not dispense funds drawn from American banks. Leave all your jewelry in your hotel room.
- Avoid plush hotels: Most of the luxe hotels serve insipid food and are known for unconcerned services. Though these hotels have 4-start and 5-star ratings, they do not follow any globally recognized rating process.
- Interact with the locals: Cubans are the most sociable, gracious, and friendly people and so you must interact with the locals if you like. They will ask you about you as well as share details of themselves freely. However, do discuss anything related to religion and politics.
- Avoid taking photos of the police or military: You must avoid this at all costs. Taking photos of the police or military is unlawful in Cuba and a serious offense. You’ll not most probably, but still, you need to know this.
FAQs about Cuba
There are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) from first-time tourists in Cuba. These are:
1. Is Cuba safe?
Yes, Cuba is safe with the lowest rate of crime on the island. You will find police everywhere on the streets to protect tourists and help them if they need some assistance.
2. What is the best time to vacation in Cuba?
You can plan a trip to Cuba between March and April or October to November, the country experiencing pleasant weather and little rainfall. For Canadians, the best season is from December to February.
3. Is Cuba expensive like the Caribbean?
Compared to other Caribbean Islands, Cuba is not expensive. When it comes to hotel costs on the other islands, every daily expense will be covered in a Cuban hotel. Your flight fare would be expensive though. You will find 75 CUC that is sufficient for food, casa, incidentals, and transportation.
4. Where can I find affordable and decent dining options?
You can have the best options at Casa Particular if you are looking for delicious and affordable food in the island of Cuba.
5. Can I travel on my own?
Yes, you can travel throughout Cuba on your own without making tour reservations. Rent a cab or travel by train, bus, or domestic flight.
Pack your bags and head for Cuba to experience its rich history and culture. Puff away Havana cigars, walk on the beach, see museum exhibits, eat at cafeterias, and interact with the locals.