Practical information about Cuba
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 October until the end of April, and the rainy season (la lluvia), which covers the period from May to September. 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:
Weather statistics for Varadero:
Weather statistics for Santiago de Cuba:
- Meals except those specifically mentioned
- Cancellation and travel insurance
Excursions and transfers are conducted in small, international groups led by an English-speaking guide.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 recommend that you contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic.
Visit the CDC website at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list for more information about vaccinations and Cuba.
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. However, as these regulations may change from time to time, we recommend that you visit the World Travel Guide website at www.worldtravelguide.net and study the visa information presented there. 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.
Cuba is quite special, as it has two official currencies: the peso and the convertible peso. The peso is the currency ordinary Cubans primarily use, while the convertible peso is the currency that tourists have to use. Most Cubans are paid mainly in pesos, with a small amount of convertible pesos. Therefore, make sure that you are not given pesos when you exchange currency or make purchases, as you cannot use these as a tourist. Go to www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ to view the currently applicable exchange rate. We recommend that you bring some US dollars or euros with you in cash, and then exchange these for local currency at an official bureau de change. However, you get a better exchange rate when using the Euro.
Also bring a credit card and make sure to memorise your PIN code. NEVER write your PIN code down! You can use most common credit cards at hotels and in many restaurants in Havana and Varadero. Be aware that MasterCards cannot be used in ATMs in Cuba. Once again, however, the farther out into the country you travel, the harder it may be to use your credit card.
Prices are generally lower in Cuba than in the UK. It is usually cheaper to eat out, although you can naturally find drinks and meals in all price classes. Prices are generally also lower outside the large towns and cities.
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.
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.
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.
The international dialling code for Cuba is +53. It is expensive both to text and to call home to Europe from Cuba. Ask your own mobile service provider about coverage and call charges. There are Internet cafés in some large towns and cities.
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.
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.
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 have any comments on the itinerary or find 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.
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.
We recommend that you make a seat reservation on the plane. Many airlines also offer to upgrade reserved tickets for seats with extra space and comfort, e.g. Economy Comfort at KLM and Premium Voyageur at Air France. You can do this through the airline’s website. Most airlines have a point in the menu called “manage my booking”. Please note that many airlines require payment for seat reservation, so you should have your credit/debit card to hand when you get started.
Unfortunately, rules differ as to when seat reservation is opened. We recommend that you try to make a seat reservation as early as possible and you will then know when you can make a seat reservation if it cannot be done right away. It is very common for seat reservation to be opened between 72 and 24 hours before departure.
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 and your travel companion should pack your luggage so that you can both make so without one item of luggage if the other is lost or delayed. While it is unlikely to happen, the problem may arise. If it does, it may take a few days before your luggage is delivered to the hotel where you are staying.
So make sure to carry all your important, indispensable items in your hand luggage: passport, visa, plane tickets, insurance papers, credit card(s), cash, prescriptions, information about any special medical conditions you may have along with essential medicine, allergy medicine, treatments for sudden stomach problems (such as Imodium) and pain killers (Panodil and/or Ipren, for example). You should also carry your camera, binoculars and other valuables in your hand luggage.
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.
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.