Climate & Key Facts

Cuba is full of surprises. Communism in the Caribbean is full of anachronisms. Fat cigars and good cocktails, the very symbols of Western decadence, but terrible coffee. Plenty of old American cars, but few old or young Americans. Statues of two very different revolutionaries, Lenin and Lennon. The highest literacy rate in Latin America and universal health care but your taxi driver may be a doctor and your barman possibly trained as a vet. Here, two old men with beards are venerated: Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemingway. This is a country that survives on rum, revolution and rationing. And extraordinary improvisation. Mix in some fantastic colonial architecture, no international chain stores, stunning beaches, friendly faces with a ready smile, music on virtually every corner and you have all the ingredients for a very unusual holiday.

The best time to visit Cuba is in the dry season from December to April. The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November but September/October are the most likely months when they might occur.

Visitors to Cuba must obtain a Tourist Card for entry to the country.  Tourist Cards are valid for one trip of up to 30 days and must be obtained before departure from the UK.

Tourist Cards cost £15.00 per person and can be obtained from the Cuban Consulate in London:

Cuba Consulate
167 High Holborn London WC1V 6PA
Tel: 0207 240 2488

The tourist card consists of two identical pages. The top page will be stamped and collected on arrival in the country. Your page will be stamped and returned to you for safe keeping until you leave the country.

Your passport may or may not be stamped. This rather appears to be at the discretion of the immigration official.

For up-to-date advice on any vaccination requirements and any health risks associated with visiting Cuba, contact your local GP. Additional useful Information is also provided at www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk, an NHS web site specialising in providing health information to travellers from the UK.

For any up-to-date travel advice relating to political and economic stability, safety and security if visiting Cuba go to the UK Foreign Office web site at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

We advise passengers to take funds in Euros or sterling cash and travellers cheques  rather than dollars and to change these into the Cuban Convertible pesos, the currency which is used by tourists throughout the country.

Money can be exchanged at the official Bureau de Change CADECAS, in airports and main cities, also in banks and hotels.

American Express travellers cheques are not accepted in Cuba nor any travellers cheques or credit cards issued by or drawn on US banks.

Debit cards are NOT ACCEPTED in Cuba. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted in the better standard of hotels and restaurants provided they have been issued by British banks.

Credit cards issued by US Banks are not accepted.

You will not be able to pay by plastic if eating or staying in private houses (casas particulares).

There are ATM machines in Havana and main cities but they should not be relied upon.

Credit card transactions, including withdrawals from ATMs, are subject to local commission charges of approximately 3% in addition to your bank transaction charges.

 

All goods and services in Cuba are priced in Cuban Convertible pesos only. You cannot obtain the currency in the UK before you go.

We advise passengers to take funds in the form of sterling or euros cash (or travellers cheques) rather than in dollars and to change these into the Cuban Convertible pesos, the currency which is used by tourists throughout the country. Euros or sterling  bank notes should be in good condition with no tears, rips or markings.

Money can be exchanged at the official Bureau de Change CADECAS, in airports and main cities, also in banks and hotels.

US Dollars are not accepted as legal tender; you’ll be charged 10% commission to exchange them.

You are advised not to change money anywhere other than at the Cadeca exchange houses, large hotels or banks, due to the prevalence of forged currency. You should always check transactions carefully and wherever possible ask for small denomination bills.

You cannot obtain Cuban Convertible Pesos in the UK before you go. Exchange rates are subject to change at any time but the following table provides indicative information for Cuba, Mexico, Central and South America:

GMT – 5 hours.

Cuba’s main airport is Jose Marti International, located at Bayamos, about 15km southwest of Havana.

When you arrive you will have to clear Immigration procedures where they will check your Tourist Card for entry to the country.

Travellers may also be required to show proof of insurance as this is compulsory for travel to Cuba.

11,210,064 (2013 figures)

Havana, approx. 2.2m

Santiago, approx. 450,000

Camaguey, approx. 300,000

 

42,803 sq miles

 

The power supply in Cuba is mainly 110 volts but most modern hotels have dual voltage with all the sockets in the room being 220 volts.     Usually in the bathroom there is an 110 volt socket suitable for shavers and charging batteries.

Power sockets usually take the two-pin round plugs favoured throughout most of Europe or two-pin flat plugs used in the United States.

You will need an adaptor.