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Practical information about Cuba

Practical information about Cuba

Practical information about Cuba

1. Climate

Cuba is a great place to visit all year round. It has a pleasant tropical climate with an average temperature of around 29 °C. The special shape and location of the island have given it a very distinctive climate. The winds from the sea can reach all parts of the island, blowing the worst of the heat away. The climate here is therefore much more pleasant than usual in tropical latitudes. The island has two seasons: the dry season (la seca), which lasts from the end of November until the end of April, and the rainy season (la lluvia), which covers the period from May to October. However, it is unusual for it to rain all day here; the rain usually falls in intense showers towards the end of the afternoon. Hurricanes are common in the Caribbean Sea, and they occasionally make landfall in Cuba. The risk is highest in August, September and October.

Weather statistics for Havana:

Day temp. 26 26 28 29 30 31 31 32 31 29 28 27
Night temp. 19 19 20 21 22 23 24 24 24 23 21 20
Precipitation, mm 64 69 46 54 98 182 106 100 144 181 88 58
JAN 26 19 64
FEB 26 19 69
MAR 28 20 46
APR 29 21 54
MAY 30 22 98
JUN 31 23 182
JUL 31 24 106
AUG 32 24 100
SEP 31 24 144
OCT 29 23 181
NOV 28 21 88
DEC 27 20 58

Weather statistics for Varadero:

Day temp. 26 27 29 30 31 32 32 32 32 30 28 27
Night temp. 15 15 17 18 20 22 22 22 22 21 18 16
Precipitation, mm 39 37 50 72 166 212 155 165 178 172 63 36
JAN 26 15 39
FEB 27 15 37
MAR 29 17 50
APR 30 18 72
MAY 31 20 166
JUN 32 22 212
JUL 32 22 155
AUG 32 22 165
SEP 32 22 178
OCT 30 21 172
NOV 28 18 63
DEC 27 16 36

Weather statistics for Santiago de Cuba:

Day temp. 29 29 30 30 31 31 32 33 32 31 30 29
Night temp. 18 18 19 20 21 22 22 22 22 22 21 19
Precipitation, mm 39 39 50 97 206 153 115 138 164 191 87 39
JAN 29 18 39
FEB 29 18 39
MAR 30 19 50
APR 30 20 97
MAY 31 21 206
JUN 31 22 153
JUL 32 22 115
AUG 33 22 138
SEP 32 22 164
OCT 31 22 191
NOV 30 21 87
DEC 29 19 39
2. Form of travel

Excursions and transfers are conducted in small, international groups led by an English-speaking guide.

3. When is it best to travel to Cuba?

You can travel to Cuba all year round. However, you should be aware that there is a risk of hurricanes in the period August–October. Hurricanes sometimes make landfall in Cuba, but they often bypass the island entirely. The temperatures and humidity levels are highest during our summer months. The peak seasons are from December until the end of February, and the whole of July.

4. Terms & Conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from llamatours.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to:www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

5. Mandatory travel insurance

Upon arrival into Cuba, travelers must be able to provide a certificate or insurance certificate indicating travel insurance cover. Travel insurance must be valid throughout the stay in Cuba.

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their trip.

In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. Learn more here.

6. Casa Particulares

Casa particulares, or casas, are “private homes” in Spanish, and as the name indicates, they are a kind of private accommodation where you stay with a Cuban family at their house. These have become a particularly popular form of accommodation in the last couple of years, as they are an excellent and affordable alternative to hotels. They can best be described as being like bed & breakfasts, like we have back home.

Cuban houses are often large, and include extra rooms that can be rented out. The rooms are simply decorated, but always have an en suite bathroom and air conditioning. There is also a dining area, where breakfast and, if applicable, dinner will be served. Cleaning is performed daily, and there are people at the house 24 hours a day, just like at a hotel.

Although you are staying with a family, you don’t need to worry about a lack of privacy during your tour. In most cases, the family’s rented rooms are in a separate section of the house. Sometimes the family owns
an annex building, where they rent out the rooms. But regardless of whether the family lives under the same roof or is close to you, they will be prepared to help you with any questions you may have, and will make sure that your stay in Cuba is an unforgettable one.

One of the benefits of staying at a casa particular is that you get a wholly unique insight into the Cuban daily life and lifestyle.

The family’s English skills are limited, but with just some simple phrases and a bit of sign language, they should be able to get the point across.

And as an extra bonus, you often get much better food at a casa particulares than at the big hotels.

Tipping is customary at the conclusion of your stay. It is this tourist currency that puts the bread on the family’s table, and they are forever grateful to you.

Staying at a casa particular is an experience guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your tour of Cuba.

Read more about staying at a casa particular here.

7. Language

Spanish is the language spoken on Cuba, but the people are very helpful and love the chance to use the English words they know. In more rural regions, English speakers may be few and far between, which is why we use bilingual (English/Spanish) guides. It is a good idea to end questions and queries with the words ‘por favor’, which mean ‘please’. Another good word to know is ‘gracias’ – which means ‘thank you’ and is sure to prove useful in many situations.

8. Conditions in relation to the Cuban self-drive tour

Cuba is a relatively easy self-drive country, and it gives you tremendous freedom to have your own car and to decide where and when you make a stop.

When picking up your rental car, you are required to present your passport and driving licence. A deposit of approx. 200 CUC is payable. This will be reimbursed to your credit card when you return the car.

You also have to pay for mandatory insurance, the first tank of petrol, any additional drivers and one-way rental, if applicable. This is payable either by credit card or cash in the local currency, CUC.

Please note that main roads in Cuba are often shared with animals, pedestrians, cyclists, horse-drawn carts, buses and lorries. So take extra care when driving.
Street lighting is poor and at times there are very big holes in the road, so we recommend that you don’t drive after dark.

The minimum age for renting a car is 21, and you must have held your driving licence for at least two years.

You will be given a map of Cuba by our local partner upon your arrival in Cuba.

We also recommend downloading the MAPS.ME app before departure and downloading a map of Cuba. You can use the app for directions in the towns and cities and on the country roads.

Road signs – or the lack of them – is a problem in Cuba. So, if you’re on a self-drive tour of Cuba, the app is a useful tool that will make your trip easier. The app can be used even when you’re offline.

Please note that there are some restrictions on downloading things in Cuba if you have an iOS operating system (iPhone). We therefore recommend downloading the app from home.


9. Vaccinations

We always advise that you contact a specialist, your GP or an authorized vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules for travel & vaccinations at the central NHS Fit for Travel website: here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another South or Central American country where yellow fever is present.

Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. So be sure to bring your vaccination certificate with you in these cases.

10. Visa

UK do need a visa to visit Cuba. The cost of the visa is included in the price of our tours to Cuba, and we make sure to take care of it for you.

We will need a copy of your passport for your visa application. You can also purchase a visa from the Cuban embassy in your home country. In the same way as for other international travel, you must be in possession of a valid passport. The requirements on the validity of the passport may vary, but as a rule of thumb your passport must be valid for at least six months after you return home.

The rules on visas can be checked on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Of course, you are also welcome to ask us.

If you are travelling via Canada, the following applies to British citizens:

To travel via Canada, you must apply for an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Without eTA, you will not be allowed to travel through Canada. Apply for the travel authorization in good time. eTA costs 7 CAD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp. You should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your eTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.

If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new eTA.

11. Currency

Cuba is unusual as the country has two official currencies: peso (CUP) and convertible peso (CUC). The peso is the currency primarily used by ordinary Cubans, while the convertible peso is the currency that tourists have to use. Most Cubans have their wages paid in pesos, and a small number of them in convertible pesos.

Please note that you will not be given the peso that cannot be used by tourists, and which is worth less than the convertible peso.

You cannot exchange to convertible peso (CUC) before arriving in Cuba. At Havana airport, there is an official bureau de change (called Cadeca), where you can exchange money before being driven into Havana.

Please note: As an additional service, our partner offers to exchange EUR 100 for you to convertible pesos (CUC), which you will receive upon your arrival in Havana. This way, you avoid having to queue at the bureau de change at the airport and can get into Havana faster. This service must be booked in advance (no later than 1 week before your arrival), and the EUR 100 is paid directly to our partner upon your arrival in Cuba. The currency is exchanged at the current exchange rate.

We recommend bringing cash for the first few days in Cuba. Please note that a fee of 10% is added when exchanging USD, so we recommend that you bring Pound or Euro. The banknotes must be intact otherwise the bureaux de change will not accept them. At www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ , you can check the exact exchange rate at any time.

Cash machines have arrived in most major cities, but do not all accept foreign VISA cards. The machines never accept cards issued by a US-owned bank. You can also take cash out at the banks or bureaux de change (Cadecas). Don’t forget your passport!
Please note that a fee of around 3% is payable when you make a cash withdrawal on your card + what your own bank charges for overseas withdrawals.

We recommend that you exchange to small banknotes, as the Cubans may find it difficult to give change for large notes.

When you fly home from Cuba, you can exchange any leftover currency at the airport. However, you will need to allow a little extra time for this, as there is often queue.

More and more larger hotels (not casas particulares) and restaurants have started to accept VISA cards, but you shouldn’t count it.

MasterCard is only accepted in a few places in Cuba, so always bring VISA cards.

12. Price level

The cost of living is lower in Cuba than in the UK. It is cheaper to eat out, however, there are food and drinks at all price levels. Prices in Havana are slightly higher than in the rest of the country.

Below are a few price examples:

Dinner at a casa particular: approx. 10–20 CUC per. person

Dinner at a restaurant: approx. 15–25 CUC person

Beer: approx. 2–3 CUC per person

Soft drinks: approx. 1–2 CUC per person

Water: approx. 1–2 CUC per person

Mojito (cocktail): 3–5 CUC per person

13. Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory but is expected by everyone who works in the tourism industry: hotels, restaurants, drivers and local guides. So it is a good idea to have a few small notes or coins ready.

We suggest the following guidelines:
Guide: 2 to 5 CUC per person per day.
Driver: 1 to 2 CUC per person per day.
Maid: 1 CUC per person per day.
Hotel porter: 1 CUC per item of luggage.
Waiter: 10% of the amount on the bill – at All Inclusive, 1 CUC per person per day.
Taxi: 1 CUC or round up the amount on shorter trips – more if the taxi driver took you on an excursion.
Stay at casa particular:  approx. 4 CUC per night.

14. Time difference

There is a six-hour difference between Central European Time (CET) and the time in Cuba, so when it is noon CET, it is 6 a.m. in Cuba.

15. Electricity

Mains electricity in Cuba is 110 V. Cuban plugs have two flat pins, so you will need to bring a travel adapter with you. However, the power supply at many hotels is 220 V.

16. Telephone and Internet

The international country code for Cuba is +53. It is expensive to send text messages and call home from Cuba, so check with your own mobile phone company regarding coverage and call rates before travelling.

Wi-Fi has gradually made its way to Cuba and it is available on the big squares in all big cities . You have to pay to use the network. You buy a small card where you scrape off a section to reveal a code that you use to log in with.

The card is sold in ETECSA’s stores, which is Cuba’s national telephone company, and costs around 2 CUC for 1 hour’s internet. Around the big squares where there is Wi-Fi, there will usually be a salesperson ready to sell you the card, though for a little more than it costs in the shops, so that he can earn a little on it.

Wi-Fi is also available in the lobbies of larger hotels. Do not expect to find Wi-Fi at casas particulares.

17. Safety

Whenever you travel to a poor country anywhere in the world, it is important to be discreet. It is not a good idea to flaunt your valuables or to leave them unattended. We work exclusively with properly trained, experienced and certified guides, who can always provide you with good advice about safety, and know precisely where it is safe for you to walk/visit. If you follow your guide’s instructions you should always be able to stay out of trouble.

18. Food and drink

Cuban cuisine relies heavily on ingredients such as rice, beans, cooking bananas, salad, ‘yuka’ (root vegetables), potatoes, chicken, pork, beef and fish. One of the very best dishes is Langosta – Cuban lobster. It is not common to find beef on the menu, and spices are a rarity in Cuban dishes. It is usual to drink water, beer or even rum with your meals. Wine is not commonly drunk outside of hotel restaurants.

19. Public holidays

It is always special to experience the traditions and celebrations of other countries. Below is a list of public holidays, important festivals and other special occasions.

Please note that some museums and attractions may be closed on these days.

20. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If you find any mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

21. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

22. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

The airline will assign you a seat on board the aircraft upon check-in. If you have specific wishes, you can make a seat reservation via the airline’s website. Most airlines have an area on their website named “manage my booking” or similar. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation, so it’s a good idea to have your payment card ready when starting a seat reservation. Airline seat reservations vary from company to company, but as a general rule, you can book seats from around 48 hours before departure.

Many airlines also offer upgrades with extra legroom or comfort seating, such as Economy Comfort with KLM and Premium Voyageur with Air France. You can check these details through the airline’s own website, along with payment information.

Please kindly note that airlines have full access to all seats on the aircraft and therefore always reserve the right to alter a reservation.

If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will issues your seating upon check-in at the airport.

23. Your luggage

We work with many different airlines to Cuba, so there may be variations in the amount of luggage you are allowed to bring with you as both checked luggage and hand luggage. Check the information about this on your airline ticket, and contact us if you have any questions.

You should also make sure you carry all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

You may find yourself sitting in a draught from the air conditioning in the plane, so make sure to pack a warm jumper or jacket in your hand luggage.

Bus services in Cuba have a luggage weight limit of 20 kg per person. If your luggage weighs more, there will be an extra fee payable locally.

24. Transfers to and from airports

On arrival at the different airports in Cuba, you will be met by our local representative who will be waiting for you in the arrival hall with a sign bearing your name. You will be driven to the airport again on departure. You will be informed of your pick-up time when you arrive in Cuba.

25. Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

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