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Cuba

Cuba is brazen and beautiful, daring and decisive - and surely one of the world's most recognisable countries, its influence stretching far beyond the Caribbean. Whether it's Cuba's revolutionary politics, recalled in the gaze of Che Guevara, or its fizzling culture - the syncopated rhythms of Afro-Cuban jazz, the drifting smoke of the world's best cigars, the spicy rum and the carnivals it fuels - Cuba is a truly refreshing destination. [See Cuba itinerary ideas]

This complex and colourful nation comprises Caribbean's largest island and there is great variety across the land. For some visitors it's the fine old colonial streets of Trinidad and the son music of Santiago that form the basis of their Cuba travels.

For others is the rich greenery of the Viñales Valley, the stretching beaches of Cayo Santa Maria and Varadero or the political iconography on the streets and buildings of the energetic capital, Havana. Cadillacs and horse drawn carts, pulsating dance floors and silently swinging hammocks are other evocative images of the country, but there are plenty more besides. This is a multi-faceted and vibrant Caribbean destination and holidays here are always invigorating, always intriguing, always entertaining.

WEXAS Travel brochure for Cuba

Tailor-made worldwide

Our in depth guide packed with background information, sample itineraries designed by our experts and hand-picked suggestions for what to see and do, where to stay and when best to go.


When to go

The climate in Cuba is hot and sunny with an average temperature of 24C. However during the winter months of January-February temperatures can drop to 15C during the day and less at night. These months fall during the dry season, which runs roughly from November to April. The wet season in contrast runs from May to October. However, rainfall is restricted to a couple of days a week generally and although it falls hard and heavy, it rarely rains for long. September and October are the months most likely to be affected by hurricanes although these can strike from June to November.

The peak tourist season runs from mid-December to mid-March and again throughout July and August; these two months are the best times to visit in order to catch festivals in the main towns. Out of season prices are lower but places can feel empty. Of course, cities like Havana and Santiago are vibrant year-round. Christmas tends to be low key, whilst New Year, which coincides with the anniversary of the Revolution, is far more lively.

JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
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Essential Experiences

We’ve rounded up our list of recommended sites and things to do. Click on the map to enlarge it and see what we suggest or follow the links in the list to discover how to get the best out of your holiday.


Practical Information

Capital - Havana

Size -  109,884 sq km

Language - Spanish

Population - 11.2 million

Religion - Primarily Roman Catholic with a number of people practising Santeria, which combines the Yoruban religion of African slaves with Catholicism.

Currency - CUP (Cuban peso) or CUC (Cuban convertible peso) both shown as ($); locals tend to use the former and tourists the latter.

Time zone - GMT -5

Flight time from the UK - Typically 14-15 hours depending on airline and route.

Festivals

Cuba has some of Latin America's most celebrated festivals; many of the biggest, such as carnival in July, are unmissable.

Street parties and free concerts throughout the country mark the first day of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on Liberation Day, Jan 01. Late February sees the Cuban Cigar Festival take place, promoting the Cuban cigar industry with visits to factories and plantations and plenty of tastings. From late February until early March the Havana International Book Fair takes place with discussions, readings, concerts and a literary prize at its heart. In May, International Workers' Day, known by its date, Primero de Mayo, is vigorously celebrated in this communist country with parades and an outpouring of national pride. In late June there's a celebration of bolero in Havana whilst in Camaguey big music stars perform on over thirty stages throughout the city. Santiago's week-long celebration of Caribbean music and dance takes place slightly later, at the start of July. Cuba's most exuberant carnival kicks off in Santiago in mid-July and the costumed parades, congas, salsa bands and late-night parties last two weeks. Lasting around a week, the Havana carnival runs from late July to early August with many of the country's top bands playing and a huge parade along the Malécon. October features an International Ballet Festival and an International Theatre Festival, both in Havana. Late November is the time for a classical and chamber music events as well as a week of salsa concerts, classes and workshops. Early December sees film buffs descend on Havana for a ten-day film festival that combines Cuban, Latin American and Western films. There's a huge International Jazz Festival in the middle of the month before the year concludes with an unusual and exuberant pseudo carnival in Remedios, Villa Clara on December 24 that's full of floats, fireworks and partying.

Visas

Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.

Passport requirements

To enter Cuba you must have a valid passport that's good for at least two months after your departure date.

Money

Confusingly, Cuba has two units of currency, both represented by the $ sign. The Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Cubans earn CUPs but tourists almost universally spend CUC, which are divided into centavos. Both currencies are essentially worthless outside the country.

CUC banknotes are clearly marked wit the words 'pesos convertibles' and come in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. There are also 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c and $1 coins. The CUP, also known as the national peso is made up of 100 centavos. Banknotes come in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 50, with coins available for 1c, 5c, 20c, 1-peso and 3-peso.

Make sure that you always have some hard currency on you in Cuba; carry convertible pesos in small denominations as restaurants and shops often don't have change. Notes must be in pristine condition. Any sign of damage or a tear and they usually won't be accepted.

Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards are useful in upmarket hotels and restaurants. Other cards tend not to be accepted and American Express or Diners Club are certainly unusable. For many Cubans, bank cards are an unknown quantity so stick to cash if possible. The few ATMs there are tend to be associated with banks and will only work with Visa. Those in top-end hotels may take a slightly wider range although US issued cards will still never work.

Regions [8]

Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Cuba, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0616.


Itinerary ideas [11]

The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Cuba. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0616.

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