Travel Requirements to Cuba, Health and Safety

Travel Insurance for Cuba & Tourist Visa Card

Cuba Travel RestrictionsDocuments Required for all travelers visiting Cuba: 1) Passport valid for six months after the date of your arrival in Cuba 2) Cuba tourist visa issued by the Cuban consulate in accordance with planned activities and the length of your stay on the island 3) Proof of travel medical insurance (valid insurance policy covering your medical expenses during the time of your stay in Cuba) 4) Return ticket from Cuba

Cuba Visa Requirements

Cuba visaYou need to get a tourist visa before travelling to Cuba, generally available from your airline, travel agents or direct from Cuban consulates located in many countries. A Tourist Visa for Cuba can also be issued on the spot once you've cleared customs. Do not lose this document, you’ll need it for departure. The tourist visa is valid for a single entry and allows tourists to stay in Cuba for 30 days or 90 days for Canadian citizens. For travelers, obtaining a visa extension once in Cuba is easy through your hotel reception or at the immigration office in most Cuban towns by presenting your documents + CUC$25 in stamps sold in various Cuban banks. 

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Things to do in Varadero - Cuba

varadero beach cubaVaradero is considered one of the world’s best beaches, Cuba's most popular tourist destination and largest resorts in the Caribbean. Immensely beautiful with perfect temperatures, miles of white sandy beaches and calm tourqouise waters, it makes an ideal spot for lovers of water sports, such as suba diving, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking and swimming. If you are planning a trip to this Cuban destination there's a great choice of hotel and private accommadation on offer. Here's a list of the best things to see and do, in and around Varadero.

Varadero is much more than just Sun and Beach

Varadero travel skydiveAround Varadero beach, there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy and get you away from the hotel. This Cuban town is quite different from the rest of the island and an excellent family destination with impressive tropical beaches, so you'll find no shortage of things to do in Varadero beyond sipping on a Cuba Libre by the pool. Varadero is popular with tourists who prefer to stay at all inclusive resorts, but boutique homestays continue to attract a growing number of independent travelers and those seeking a more authentic, colonial style of Cuban comfort.  

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Where to eat cheap when visiting Cuba

Cuban Tropical fruitCuba has more than enough culinary delights to rival any other tourist destination in the Caribbean. So it is impossible not to surrender to some of the marvellous Cuban dishes that seduce visitors so much year after year. Cuban meals are mainly influenced by Creole cuisine, an exotic mixture of Spanish, African and Caribbean food which can be easily found in local places throughout the island. As Cuba is a tropical country, one thing to seek out are stalls selling great fresh fruit-based drinks. Eating on a budget in Cuba is not hard and there is plenty to suit all tastes, eating habits and the pocket too - you just need to know where to look for the best food.

How and where to eat cheap in Cuba

Coppelia Cuban ice-creamTry out the different food cuisine all over the island and sample the various styles of Creole seasoning. Cubans also have a big appetite for ice cream, which is available everywhere in the large cities as well as near the National Hotel in Havana, where you will find the island's most famous ice-cream parlor - Coppelia, a huge temple to the art of making (and consuming) ice-cream. Upon arrival you will often see a long queue of Cubans patiently waiting their turn. Tourists (or those paying in CUC) are served from another counter without any waiting time.

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Tourist Activities and Outdoor Sports - A Sightseeing Tour around the Viñales Valley

Wall Mural in Vinales CubaViñales Valley is located in the Organs Mountain Range and covers 11,000 hectares of land, featuring many of Cuba's most popular tourist attractions. Visitors come to the valley looking for unspoilt terrain, it's very popular with nature lovers and bird watchers, while hiking, ecotourism, horseback riding tours, active travel, caving, wildlife observation, rock climbing, bike tours and other outdoor sports are also well catered for.

Swimming in Cuban beaches - Trip to the Cays from Viñales

Visitors to Viñales sometimes ignore the beaches but for lovers of the sun and sea lovers, the natural beauty of the Cuban Cayos should not be missed. White sandy beaches, tiny islands and warm waters make the coast perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling in crystal clear waters.

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Excursions in the Viñales Valley in Western Cuba

vinales valley in Pinar del RioViñales and the surrounding area is an increasingly sought after rural destination filled with a spectacular diversity of nature and an ideal region for exploring the authentic Cuba with plenty of adventure and natural attractions including activities and outdoor excursions like trekking, climbing, horseback riding tours, bike routes and walking tours. You will find several excursions available from Havana to the area, which is one of the most important National Parks in Cuba, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its majestic natural beauty.

The Viñales Valley is located in the westernmost corner of the Cuban island, surrounded by a fascinating and wild natural landscape with the colorful town of Viñales at its heart. The huge hillocks (flat-topped mountains) around the valley are mixed with an intense red earth colour. This Cuban destination offers plenty of rural tourism and outdoor activities, where vivid colors dominate and a lively atmosphere rules with charming and very special people.

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National Parks in Holguín – Eastern Cuba natural beauty

Sierra Cristal National Park in HolguinHolguin and the region of eastern Cuba is an eco paradise for those who want to explore and visit the most beautiful Cuban landscape. The area stands out for its many natural attractions, a unique ecological environment and stunning green scenery exemplified by amazing national parks, mountains, nature reserves, beaches and cays.

Holguin is an important holiday destination in Cuba which receives international flights from Canada, USA, England, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The region is well equipped for visitors with excellent accommodation that's well suited for tourists and hikers, both in the nature reserves and on Cuban beaches in the Holguin area.

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What is the best time to visit Cuba on holidays?

Cuba Caribbean MapAny time of year can be a good time to travel to Cuba, which is fast becoming the must visit island in the Caribbean. Cuba's nature, colonial architecture, history, culture and pristine beaches set in a tropical climate make it possible to visit the island in any season and enjoy the warm waters with year-round temperatures between 24 and 29 degrees.

Preparing for your journey to the Caribbean not only includes planning where to go, how to travel and where to stay, but also what the weather in Cuba will be like during your vacation. As with any tropical destination, some months are more suited for fun, beach or leisure tourism, while others are better for exploring cities or enjoying eco-touristic activities. So it's relatively significant to decide which is the best time to travel to Cuba to fully enjoy your holiday.

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What to see around the Habana Libre Hotel and the National Hotel Cuba from your Casa Particular

casa del habano at Habana Libre HotelThe Habana Libre Hotel is possibly the finest classical example of modernist architecture in the city and displays a notable collection of photographs of various revolutionaries visiting the hotel in Havana after it was taken by Fidel Castro and his comrades. The Hotel Tryp boasts good shops, including La Casa del Habano (the Cigar Store) with a cigar lounge and fine bar serving excellent Cuban cocktails. Centrally located in Vedado at the famous 23 and L there are many shops and bars in the surrounding area, as well as several places of historical interest. Makes for an entertaining tourist experience on any visit to Cuba, with plenty of examples of the city's rich architectural tradition on display plus many prosperous homes.

Even if you don't stay at the Nacional Hotel Cuba at O and 21 St (declared a National Monument for its artistic and historical value) it's well worth sampling a drink in its beautiful gardens overlooking the sea (at very reasonable prices). The perfect spot to enjoy one of Havana's most popular picture-postcard views.

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The Best Dive Centers in Cuba

diving in cubaThere are more than 40 diving centers in Cuba, pefect if you love snorkeling or scuba diving and want to enjoy the some of the best reefs and clearest waters in the Caribbean. Most are very well equipped and have professional instructors endorsed with global (CMAS) or American and Canadian certification (ACUC).

For adventure and sport divers or anyone who love the water Cuba has more than 500 diving areas of interest well distributed around the tropical island. The waters are warm and with more than 4,000 cayos and small islands making up this idealic Caribbean destination the place is a water lovers paradise with remarkably clear seas which really are some of the best in the world.

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Typical Cuban cuisine and food dishes in Cuba prepared by family Rental Houses

Cuban dishes at Casa ParticularFood in Cuba is a rich, varied and tasty experience. Its origins stem from a fusion of Spanish, African and native island cuisine which have resulted in a wide variety of ingredients making up what have become the most popular Cuban dishes.

Typical Cuban food is made from the many tropical fruits and vegetables found on the island. Pork, rice, beef, lamb and chicken feature highly on most menus and while fish and seafood dishes are less common, they are found in many private family homes in Cuba.

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Accommodation in Havana Vedado or Havana Miramar

Vedado and Miramar are the most exclusive districts in Havana, where you can find attractive colonial buildings and probably the most relaxed environment in the the city.

VEDADO

Vedado habanaVedado is an elegant neighborhood with wide avenues representing the modern centre of the Cuban capital. At the same time it is a residential area full of attractive villas with well presented gardens and some of the houses are real palaces.

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How to arrive or leave the airport in Havana, Cuba (Jose Marti)

Aeropuerto de La Habana en CubaJosé Martí Airport in Havana is the main gateway for most tourists to the island, so sometimes it may appear a little chaotic and the exit process or luggage collection may take longer than expected. We recommend grabbing a bottle of water in case you need some while you wait. This is all part of the adventure so welcome to Cuba! It is also advisable to change some of your money into CUC (convertible pesos) in the exchange houses (CADECA) at the airport before traveling to the city especially if you’re arriving late at night.

Next we look at the most popular and convenient options for getting to and from the airport and Havana city -  a distance of 18 km.

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La Canchanchara - The Flavour of Cuba

Vasijas Canchánchara en TrinidadWhen it comes to Cuban cocktails or drinks, the Mojito, Daiquiri, Cuba Libre and a few choice others are without doubt one of the things that make the island special. The Mojito is linked to the famous bar that proudly claims to have created the cocktail. La Bodeguita del Medio is a benchmark for Cubans around the world. However, the Daiquiri, can certainly not be separated from Ernest Hemingway’s character while The Floridita, a bar sometimes known as "Hemingway’s sip" which personally confuses me, since the literary master said in one of his writings that he was a regular at El Floridita Bar where he wet his letters with the Daiquiri cocktail. Ernest also made the Mojito popular by drinking it daily at La Bodeguita del Medio. I wish I had asked him which was his favorite.

Even though I have a passion for storytelling, it is not any of these cocktails I will focus on in this post. I prefer to talk of a Cuban drink that is not rooted in bars, pubs or entertainment venues of Havana, nor is it a beverage made by accident for the sake of mixing some ingredients. This most typically Cuban drink owes its birth to the Cuban Manigua in the eastern fields of the island, amid cries of war, revolution and struggle. A drink associated with the burdens of the machete and snap of the steels in the frenzy of battle. I am referring to the Canchánchara.

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Havana Accommodation: Old Havana vs Central Havana

central havana central parkChoosing where to stay in a particular part of Havana will be easier after we can understand how the city is divided up, by both its inhabitants and geographical area.

Havana is a large city, it spans a total of 728 km2 with a population of 2,1 million inhabitants in June 2015. Anyway, the Cuban capital is not a very populated city when compared with other European capitals such as Madrid (650 km2 y 3.2 million inhabitants).

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Around The Caribbean Beaches In Cuba

cayo jutias cubaSun and beach, music and entertainment, culture and history, past and present, myth and reality, a mixture of races. Cuba is all that and more.

We can contemplate Cuba’s splendid past in its countless buildings, cobblestone streets and squares, that despite more than 500 years of use, still remain intact in the main cities. Havana,Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santiago are good examples of our fascinating history, but they are not the only ones. Most beaches on the island are still undiscovered, even Baracoa’s waters, which were the first to welcome Columbus receive few visitors.

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A Seaside Stroll along the Malecon - Havana’s Seawall

maleconIf I had to name the simplest and at the same time most attractive and evocative spot in Havana city, I would certainly say the Malecon. It's probably the most famous and iconic seaside promenade in Cuba, a true reflection of the city's many lives, love, sadness, fun and of course, an outdoor meeting point for thousands of Havana residents every day. Everyone visiting Cuba should take a walk along the Malecon seawall as part of their exploration of the city. Take the route when heading for the old city, or simply stroll along taking in the many sites, sounds and smells.

This grand Havana promenade comprises a wide avenue of six lanes edged by a broad concrete sea wall along the northern coast of the city and the Malecon beach extends over 8 kms in length, making it the most popular meeting place in the Cuban capital. A must see if you are passing through Havana, the Malecon perfectly highlights the richness of the city's architecture, with countless historically important buildings in various states of restoration forming a stunning background that's been in existance since the start of the 19th Century and took more than thrity years to build.

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Varadero - Genuine Caribbean Tresaure

varadero cubaVaradero is the largest resort in Cuba hosting a huge amount of foreign tourists every year. The Cuban coastal city is a fantastic Caribbean destination to spend an unforgettable holidays ensuring plenty of fun and outdoor adventure coupled with its magical Cuban atmosphere and calm, pristine beaches. Considered the most popular holiday resort in Cuba and one of the best beaches in the world, not just the Caribbean, tourism is the town’s main source of income and along the postcard Varadero beaches you'll find a huge choice of all inclusive hotels and resorts.

How to get from Havana to Varadero

Varadero is located in Hicacos Bay to the north of the Island in the Matanzas region (35km from the town of Matanzas) and about 140 km reach from Havana a drive that takes around two hours by highway. This wonderful Cuban destination is home to the well-appointed international Varadero airport, hosting numerous weekly flights from Europe and North America, although not all Cuban cities have air links with Varadero city.

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Visiting Soroa - Cubaꞌs Rainbow

Soroa Waterfall, CubaContinuing the journey from Las Terrazas Resort to the rural countryside of Soroa is very simple and you have two options for extending your journey. You can do this either by leaving the San Juan river valley to take the mountain routes which are not in good condition and can be easy to get lost but are by far the quickest route; or by leaving the eco tourist resort and heading back towards the Pinar del Río motorway. Just 8 km down, you will find a gas station and small market with a road leading directly to the Soroa paradise eco resort.

This road will lead travellers through stunning Cuban nature environment, then back into the Biosphere Reserve Rosario Mountain Range and through Soroa village to finally arrive at the eco Cuban tourist attraction. Right at the entrance leading to Soroa waterfall, you will see El Salto restaurant and a parking area. From here onwards you will have to move forward on a walking tour along hiking trails with a varied natural environment to enjoy. The outdoor excursions and trekking options available around this Cuban landscape green scenery include:

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Visiting Las Terrazas Resort in Cuba: Journey to a nature green paradise

Las Terrazas Resort in CubaIf you're heading to Viñales, a sightseeing tour worth visiting in Cuba is the eco Las Terrazas Resort. There is the possibility to go on organised trips from Havana but if you prefer traveling in Cuba at your own pace, use this handy guide for visiting Las Terrazas Resort and Soroa on your own terms.

Briefly we aim to give you an easy guide on how to get the best out of Las Terrazas Resort and Soroa on a nature day trip to a tropical region with incredibly diverse nature, providing hiking and ecotourism lovers with some of the best Cuban countryside, beautiful sites and scenery of immense beauty, with wonderful views overthe nearby mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, rainforests, waterfalls and even a glimse of the Caribbean Sea on both sides of the island.

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A few hours to immerse yourself in Havana

Colonial Havana in Old Havana CubaNot everyone travelling to Havana has enough time to visit all the most important historical sites and highlights of the capital of Cuba. Many visitors will be moving on to one of the island’s famous Cuban beaches or Cayos and even more arrive on cruise ships with just a few hours to discover the joys of Havana.

After years strolling around the Cuban capital, my advice would be to make the most of your time in this vibrant city by exploring it on foot. While you won't have the chance to take in all the city's magnificent sights, wandering the streets of Colonial Havana is like stepping through time and you'll be absorbed in more than 500 years of history. It's worth noting that many of the museums in Old Havana are closed on Mondays.

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