Havana, here are the things that you should know before traveling to Cuba. Hi, thanks for stopping by the blog today; I am sharing my long overdue travel post. I didn’t have much of an expectation going to Cuba and the reason why I vacationed in Cuba is because my husband, an amazing wedding photographer who takes my photos (you should check him out) had an engagement shoot and I decided to tag along, lol. Keep reading for tips on what to expect and how this beautiful city reminded me of my city Lagos and how it left me wanting more.
Havana reminded me of home in a few ways, from the amazing strangers (who were super helpful) I encountered along the way, the culture and the old buildings with it’s charm and the streets of Havana. I felt like I was transported back to Lagos, Nigeria, in the 80s. The low fences, the streets and seeing people walking around, school kids in their uniforms hanging out, children playing and seeing older folks sitting in the front of their homes. It took me back to my childhood:-) I enjoyed touring the city and taking photos for my blog too.
Seated with Raul, the father of our host Mario. We had an amazing conversation.
Me and Mario, I definitely recommend staying with him. Click the link HERE to see his Airbnb.
The state capital building
Plaza De La Revolucion
There is so much poverty in Cuba but I saw the pride in the people. Most people here depend on the government but their attitudes and appearance told a different story. They danced in the streets and smiled, and you could tell that they were proud of their heritage. This reminded me my home country and how there are lots of people who are living the same live with this amazing attitude.
Get ready to pay these ladies 3-5cuc for a photo
What you need to know when traveling to Havana, Cuba
Americans need visas to enter into Cuba and it’s easy process BTW. We purchased our tickets via Delta.com and called customer service afterwards and they handled the visa processing and all it costs you is $50. (when we called, we selected the “people-to-people” option as the reason for visiting) We picked up our visas at the counter just before we boarded our flight.
Things to note: Always carry your visa with you at all times. It’s just a paper and not stamped on your passport. Your ticket serves as health coverage, so you don’t need any separate health insurance.
Partagas Cigar factory, we missed the tour but I hear it’s an awesome tour
Foreigners spend CUC which is different from currency used by locals, I believe that is pesos but don’t quote me. The exchange rate is 1 CUC to 1 dollar. I know kinda high right? The great thing is that everything is affordable in Cuba. We went to one of the top restaurants in Havana, La Guarida (Beyonce and everyone in between have been here) we had a 3 course meal and it cost me and my husband $75! That affordable. FYI US Debit & Credit cards are not accepted.
We stayed in an Airbnb a first for me, lol. I am more of a hotel kinda girl but I had an amazing time due to our hosts. We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment and had the place to ourselves. (our host stays elsewhere) Here was why this was a great idea, we automatically had an insight into the places to see and eat from our hosts. Which, in turn, made it easy to know what we wanted to do. I don’t speak any Spanish, so they definitely helped with language barrier. We stayed about 20 mins away from Old Havana. Cab ride to the city was btw 10-15 CUC.
We didn’t rent a car since we didn’t speak Spanish but there is the option to pick one up at the airport. Getting around, with a cab isn’t that expensive so this is a fantastic option IMO. Your haggling game has to be on point though, lol cos that determines what you pay. Never accept the first offer, it’s a general rule of thumbs.
Cementerio Cristobal Colon
Take a city tour in a vintage car, like this 1940’s Fleetmaster. It will cost you 50 cuc for 1 hour.
The food is Havana was pretty good. There was only one time where the food was okay (a bit under seasoned.) Lobster is super affordable and a general stable in restaurants. I had my best meal in La Guarida, so definitely make reservations ahead and stop by. Everything we ate was amazing! I enjoyed the street food quite a bit too. It is so cheap lol. Definitely try the Churrios, Pizza and Ice-cream. They cost on average of 2-5CUC. I enjoyed their Daiquiris which is equivalent to what we call Margaritas in the US.
Playa de Este about 30 mins from Havana ( cab fare from Old Havana was about 15cuc)
This was my biggest issue here, the lack of internet everywhere lol. You need a scratch card which comes with an allocated time for you to access the internet. You can purchase the cards at most big hotels (we sat there and accessed the internet there.) in Old Havana and local spots too (you can ask.) The issue is not with finding the cards but the limited area where it actually works.
One of the hotels stars like 50 cent stay in
China Town in Havana
Havana, Cuba is safe and I never once felt anxious even when I walked the streets alone at night. We stuck to Old Havana for most of our trip and never had any issues with security.
Streets of Old Havana
Top Tourist attractions in Havana that I loved
One thing you will notice in Havana is the large amount of stray dogs and cats around the city. I am not a cat person as you can see, lol.
Street entertainment in Old Havana
I would visit again with my Children in the near future. Thank you so much for reading this long post! Enjoy the rest of your day.