It’s been one month already, but it still feels like a dream. The people, the music, the history. Find out what I loved about this beautiful Caribbean island in my Solo travel guide to Cuba for female travelers.
VISA (Travel Card)
Yes, to visit Cuba, you do need a Visa or Tourist Card. No, it is not as complicated as people make it out to be. If you are visiting Cuba from the USA, then you will have to obtain a Tourist Card before boarding your flight. Most US airlines will sell these cards at the airport through a travel agency. The costs of a Tourist Card are around $50 plus fees. After that, you will have to fill out a White House Cuba Fact Sheet, in which you share the reason for your trip. If you are flying into Cuba from Europe same procedure applies. However, Europeans don’t need to fill out the fact sheet.
Probably the most complicated thing to wrap your head around when visiting Cuba are their currencies. Contrary to most countries, Cuba has two currencies. The CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso), which is closely linked to the US dollar and exchanged at a 1 to 1 rate. And the CUP (Cuban national Peso), which is the unofficial local currency that has an exchange rate of 24 to 1 USD. While both currencies are commonly used in Cuba, you will oftentimes find price tags in only one currency. So when a price doesn’t make sense (aka 24 for one Coke) then the price is labeled in CUP.
The most important website you want to save from this solo travel guide to Cuba is www.viazul.com. Viazul is the official bus transportation company of the country and provides bus rides between the different cities and airports. Bus tickets can be purchased online, at Viazul offices or if available with the driver. If you are planning to travel around Cuba, you will most likely be using a Viazul bus at one point.
Another popular way of transportation in Cuba are Taxi Collectivos. In contrast to regular yellow taxis, Taxi Collectivos are often regular cars driven by locals. They provide short rides inside the big cities like Havana and Varadero for as little as $0.50 or shared rides cross country for around $30 per person. To find a Taxi Collectivo it is best to speak to locals and get hooked up with a Taxi driver.
Cuba is not a country where you want to stay in a hotel. Most of them are rather old and very overpriced. Common means of accommodation in Cuba are Casa Particulares, local-run apartments that are rented out to travelers. These apartments can be found all over the country and usually don’t even need to be pre-booked. In bigger cities, such as Havana, a room in a casa will cost you around $10 per night and most likely be shared with one other person. In smaller cities such as Trinidad, a room will cost you up to $30 per night but can accommodate 2 people. My tip: Only book your first one or two nights of accommodation in Cuba after that ask locals for recommendations. This way you often get a good deal and can visit the apartment beforehand. Click here to find a selection of Casa Particulares in Cuba.
For the very addicted Social Media fans on here, this will be a shock. The Internet in Cuba is NOT omnipresent. It is owned by the government and distributed to people at public Hotspots. To access the World Wide Web, you will need to buy an Internet Card that offers 1 hour of Internet connection, usually for 2 CUC. While it is easy to find stores that sell Internet Cards, you will have to ask around for the nearest Hotspot. These connection points can usually be found on big squares, in popular hotels, restaurant or cafes.
Unfortunately, the food in Cuba is very limited. Because the country only grows selected vegetables and grains themselves, Cuban food consists mostly of bread and meat. Traditional dishes such as rice, beans, and chicken are very delicious, however, you get quickly tired of eating the same food. That’s why I suggest you bring small snacks, such as granola bars and chocolate to change it up sometimes.
Traveling through the country is an absolute must! While I do agree that Havana is a breathtaking city, that will keep you dreaming for a while (trust me I know). I can also say that the rest of the island is worth a visit. In Varadero, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches and fun nightlife. In Vinales, on the other hand, you can relax in the middle of nowhere and explore the local tobacco plants. Finally, in Trinidad you will feel like a real Cuban Girl, dancing to beautiful Salsa and Bachata rhythms all night. But there are many more cities that you can add to your
My solo travel guide to Cuba
Before I went to Cuba, I didn’t know anything about the country’s history. Of course, like most people I knew of the embargo between the US and Cuba and had watched The Cuba Libre Story on Netflix. Clearly not enough knowledge. That’s why I was very happy when I found out about the Free walking tour Havana that takes place every day at 9:30 am and 4:00 pm. The tour lasts about two hours and tourists are guided through Old Havana where they learn everything about the city’s and nation’s story.
Cuban’s like to dance, sing and make music. Wherever you go, you will hear the sound of the Cuban flute, percussion or Bass. And if you haven’t taken Salsa classes prior to your visit, be sure to attend one there. You will not be disappointed by the authenticity of the Salsa class in the backyard of an old Cuban house. Salsa classes usually cost between $8-$10 and are available in popular cafés like La Casa de la Musica.
Last but certainly not least it’s on my heart to point out that Cuba is SAFE! I have never felt this safe in a country by myself like I did in Cuba. Sure, as a solo female traveler in Cuba you attract a lot of attention and need to thankfully decline at times. But people are very caring and friendly and will assist you however they can.
I have traveled to many places solo before and even though I don’t speak Spanish I can only recommend Cuba. So if you had doubts before I hope that they are gone after reading my solo travel guide to Cuba for female travelers.