Cuba – everything a tourist needs to know about Liberty Island
The first thing a tourist is interested in – where in general Cuba is on the world map, whether the trips are expensive and what are the prices of hotels. Of course, it is a bit expensive, but only because Cuba is too far away from us. Otherwise, the prices on the island itself ️ are not as high, but the beaches and the rest compensate everything.
“Cuba libre,” or Liberty Island. The white sand of sunny beaches, endless ocean expanses, vibrant nature, unique architecture, rum and cigars – all this and a little more will tell Good TAM about Cuba.
General information about Cuba
Where is Cuba
The Free Republic of Cuba is located near the shores of the northern and South American continents, separated from them by the waters of the Straits of Florida. The state occupies the islands of Cuba, Juventud, and about 1,600 smaller islands with a total area of 110,860 km².
The southern coast of the main island faces the Caribbean Sea, while the northwestern and northeastern beaches are washed by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
According to the Population Division of the “United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs,” the population of the republic as of 2017 is 11.4 million.
The national currency is the Cuban peso CUP, CUC. At the exchange rate of 1 peso = 1 U.S. dollar.
Useful Telephone Numbers
- Phone code of the country: 53;
- Phone code of Havana city: 7;
- Call from Cuba: 119 – your country code – city code – telephone number.
- Call to Cuba: 8 – international call code – Cuba code – city code – phone number.
- Russian Embassy: (+53 7) 204-10-85;
- Russian Consulate: (+53 2) 268 61 46.
Emergency services (Havana):
- Police: 116;
- Medical care: 40-50-93;
- Fire department: 78-85-41.
- National Police: 82-01-16;
- Fire Department: 81-11-15;
- Medics: 24-28-11.
Payment and exchange in Cuba
Convertible pesos are in circulation in areas designated for tourists. Because of the warm relations between the island’s communist state and the Empire of Good, which is jealous at the other end of the Florida Straits, it’s best not to fly in with evergreen presidents on vacation. When exchanging U.S. dollars from you can take a commission of 10 to 20%. This is why experienced travelers recommend coming here with Euros. Interestingly, the non-convertible Cuban peso (CUP) is almost unreal.
If you prefer to use Visa/MasterCard take into account that:
- Visa is accepted in more establishments than Mastercard;
- When visiting small stores or cafes, it is better to carry cash, as there may be no payment terminal;
- Card transactions are subject to a tax of 11.24%.
Staying in Cuba should be as colorful as possible, you may have to add colors to your everyday closet. You have every chance of becoming a Cuban cigar fan after visiting their homeland, but smoking in public places is prohibited.
If you encounter a cow on your way to the beach or during a tour, be extremely careful. This animal is sacred to Cubans, and the death of a cow in your presence can lead you to unpleasant conversations with the local police.
It is also important for tourists to know that it is forbidden to photograph government agencies, military equipment, soldiers, police officers. In addition, before taking a picture of a Cuban should always ask permission.
What are the Cuban people like?
Cuba is a multinational and multicultural country, where the blood and traditions of the peoples of Africa, Spain, Italy, Britain, Germany, Cuban and American Indian tribes, immigrants from China and France, as well as the Jews displaced during the First and Second World Wars.
Local, friendly people. Don’t be too quick to turn down an offer to play dominoes or share a meal. Do not be surprised if they ask you for a drink in the cafe at your expense. And if the hotel or hostel staff will ask you to leave your personal hygiene products (razors, shaving foam, etc.) remember that this is due to the high cost and inaccessibility of the latter for poor citizens.
Safety on Cuban soil
The people in a communist republic are friendly, but poor. It is better not to show cash and expensive accessories. Watch your belongings, so as not to become a victim of petty crooks and pickpockets. At nighttime walking around in poor neighborhoods is not recommended because of the high probability of being attacked.
Climate in Cuba, when to go
The most favorable time for recreation is from November to April.
Fans of windsurfing will enjoy the summer, when the rainy season raises the biggest waves. The holidays can be darkened by the domination of hurricanes between October and November, but in fact, you can plan a vacation in Cuba at any time of year.
Interesting cities in Cuba
Due to the small area you can visit Cuba within a few weeks of vacation. So you do not miss anything important, our website has prepared for you a list of cities and resorts to visit.
The capital Havana is a city of opposites. Here modern skyscrapers are next to colonial pre-revolutionary mansions, where ordinary people live. The city is full of architecture, monuments, and places of interest. Havana dazzles with its white beaches, gourmet cuisine, and salsa sounds. The El Floridita Bar, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spots, is worth a special mention. If you’re not interested in the bar, visit the writer’s house museum and then head to the Roma Museum. For those who aren’t tired of daytime excursions, it’s important to know that closer to night, the city turns into one big disco filled with unbridled energy. It’s a good time to visit the Tropicana show cabaret, which has been world-famous since 1939.
Santa Clara is a memorable place for the Cuban Revolution where Comandante Che Guevara derailed the armored train of dictator Batista. The wreckage of that very train remains at the site of the derailment to this day, it is a pride and a landmark for the people of the country. Also, there is a mausoleum named after Ernesto Che Guevara and if you are an American citizen, you might not be allowed in.
Santiago de Cuba
The home of street culture is Santiago de Cuba. Music can be heard on every street corner. It is rightly considered the cradle of Cuban melodies and rum, because Don Facundo Bacardi was born here.
If you want to see the island as it was in the eighteenth century, Trinidad is the best place to do so. The authentic ambience of the place is amazing. The cobblestone roads, colonial-style houses, sugar plantations, and slave houses are an echo of the old days.
Matanzas the capital city of the province of the same name is known for a large number of bridges, which was nicknamed the “Venice of Cuba”. The province of Pinar del Rio is interesting to visit, where you can visit the tobacco plantations and admire the views of the Viñales Valley, which received the title of “Cultural Landscape of Humanity” in 1999.
Varadero is the oldest of the resorts, a popular and truly heavenly place with turquoise ocean waters and snow-white beaches. The resort can be called a classic vacation in the Russian style, everything is always included. Hour bars, buffets in the restaurant with cuisines from around the world.
Holguin is a resort of elite business VIP class. The hotels are mostly five-star. People visit this place for luxury, tranquility, and sophistication.
Guardavalaka, one of the best resorts for diving, famous for its coral reef. Esmeralda is a place of emerald beaches. For lovers of the original party you can visit the Cayo Coco island’s cave disco.
Isla de la Juventud, known as the Youth Island (located 100 km. from the island of Cuba) is interesting with its natural reserves. It is said that R.L. Stevenson described the image of “Treasure Island” from the very landscapes of Juventud.
Speaking of pirates, it’s hard not to mention La Yana, an ancient tree located on the island of Cayo Largo. Legend has it that it served as a landmark for the pirates of the Caribbean Sea when they buried their looted gold.
This is just a small part of the places you can visit during your stay in the country. Even if you visit Cuba several times a year for several years you will always be surprised and captivated.
Entertainment and Recreation on Liberty Island
The one thing thousands of tourists come for each year on vacation is scuba diving. The underwater world is interesting not only beautiful coral reefs, but also a lot of sunken ships off the coast. Windsurfing enthusiasts can catch waves off the sandy shores, those who do not want to (or do not know how to swim) dive in a submarine into the arms of the ocean.
The main monuments of Cuban architecture are concentrated in some of the most famous among tourists cities. In Cuba’s capital, Havana, you can see many cathedrals, including St. Christopher’s Cathedral. And you better not brag that you’ve been to Cuba without visiting the Armory, Cathedral and Old Plaza of the nation’s capital.
The Che Guevara Memorial in Santa Clara, the cigar factory “Francisco Donatien” in Pinar del Rio, the caves with cave paintings of Mantanas. On Isla de la Juventud, the prison Presidio Modelo, which is a replica of F. Castro’s former prison, Joliet (Illinois). The natural landscapes and national parks more than make up for the small number of architectural sights, many natural areas of Cuba are protected by UNESCO.
When you come to vacation from July 15 to August 15 be sure to visit the carnivals that take place in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, because they are unforgettable colorful events full of music, dancing and colorful costumes. And for fans of smoking it will be interesting to know about the festival of Cuban cigars of international level, which takes place at the end of February.
And where to go without shopping, because you need to buy something really Cuban – cigars, rum and coffee. Popular among tourists black coral and products from them. In the malls of Havana or chain stores Casa del Habano you will not be cheated and sell goods of proper quality.
The predominant cuisine in Cuba is Creole. Basic national dishes are prepared from pork and chicken. Meat is prepared in many different ways. Among the dishes of national cuisine – “Creole Ahiaco” – one of the main. It is made of pork and vegetables with a good portion of spices. You should also try :
- lobster with lemon;
- crocodile meat;
- turtle meat and eggs.
Fresh fruit slices are often served with each dish. Tasty and strong coffee is brewed. The main national drink is rum, which is part of almost all local cocktails.
Restaurants are mainly concentrated in resort and tourist areas. It is recommended to visit them with cash. The cost of a meal for one person in a good establishment is from 30 till 40 pesos, simpler establishments will cost not more than 15 pesos, and in a eatery you will leave a maximum of 5 Cuban coins. The tip is 10% of the check and it’s better to give it in the hands of the waiters. And if you decide to eat at the bar, you are unlikely to succeed. In the colorful Cuban bars you have to drink, and the meal you get at most nuts or chips.
The most common hotels in Cuba are 4 stars, although for those who do not plan to linger within four walls sufficient number of hotels of class 2 and 3 stars. But lovers of luxury have nothing to choose from as 5-star hotels are literally one and a half. Most of the hotels on the island of freedom represent world-renowned networks, which work on an “all inclusive”. Check-in at the hotel in Cuba is at 15:00, check-out is recorded at 12:00. Cunning Cubans allow themselves three hours to clean the room before the arrival of the next guests, so you can safely make a claim if you find the unwanted traces of previous guests.