Travel Guide to Cuba from Canada:
Travel Guide to Cuba from Canada: Visiting Cuba should definitely be part of your travel plans for 2023. With its crystal-clear beaches, cigars, rum made from sugar cane, its ladies, Salsa and other Cuban dance styles, Spanish-colonial architecture, this destination is an experience everyone should have. We have provided the top attractions in attractions you should see when visiting Cuba, amazing things you can do there and how to get around once you are in Cuba.
Cuba is a Spanish speaking country and one of the largest islands in the Caribbean region. The country is situated in the western West Indies, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, south of Florida and The Bahamas, north of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Cuba shares maritime borders with The Bahamas, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, and the United States.
Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic, religious and national backgrounds. Majority of Cubans are white and most are christians. Cubans are some of the friendliest and most honest people on the planet. They will talk to anyone and everyone, and are generous with their time and money. Put simply, the people are what make this country special.
For many travelers, Cuba offers an unforgettable and unique experience. The visitor is greeted with strains of exotic rhythms such as salsa and rumba emanating from every corner, and an aquamarine sea laps the white, palm-fringed beaches all around the island. Cuba’s sensual and contagious rhythms have influenced musicians the world over, its cigars are legendary and the exotic cocktails are to die for. Cuba, with its mix of Spanish and African roots, is the largest, least commercialized, and most exciting island in the Caribbean.
The annual mean temperature is 79 °F (26 °C), with little variation between January, the coolest month, at 73 °F (23 °C) and August, the warmest month, at 82 °F (28 °C). The November–April dry season abruptly changes to the May–October rainy season. From June to November the country is often exposed to hurricanes, whose strong winds and heavy rains can cause widespread damage and suffering. So put these into consideration when visiting.
Cuban food includes many great dishes, but the political history of the last fifty years has historically taken a toll on the culinary arts here. Huge steps are now being made to get up to speed with other Caribbean nations and today Cubans enjoy a few flavourful dishes; rice, red beans, plantain, chicken and pork are everyday staples. Stews and soups are also common, where a Spanish flavor and origin is often evident. Ropa vieja, shredded beef in tomato, is a popular meal as well as tamales, corn-based doughy parcels filled with pork and other vegetables.
Tap water is not drinkable so you’ll need bottled water on your Cuban travels. Soft drinks and beer are also readily available. Rum is everywhere in Cuba, it’s inexpensive and an integral part of some of the country’s most famous cocktails – daiquiri (rum, lime, cane sugar), the Cuba libre (rum, Coke and lime), the mojito (rum, soda water, mint, lime) and a Hemingway special (rum, lime, grapefruit, maraschino).
The capital of Havana, the outdoorsy paradise of Viñales, and the colonial city of Trinidad are the top destinations in Cuba and very popular with tourists. Varadero is a popular Cuba beach resort destination with gorgeous beaches. Playa Giron and Playa Larga are other great beach options. If you want to visit places that many other tourists don’t, check out the fascinating town of Sancti Spiritus and the island of Cayo Levisa.
To travel around Cuba, you will likely start your trip in Havana. From there, you can travel around via the Viazul bus line or take shared taxis (colectivos), or more expensive private taxis, depending on your location.
Visiting Cuba: Attractions and Things to do in Cuba
Havana is the capital and largest city in Cuba. It is home to the country’s main port and the hub of commercial activities in Cuba. Unless you are flying to an all inclusive resort to Varadero or Holguin, Havana is likely to be your first stop in Cuba. From art and cultural events to historic monuments and neighborhoods, day trips, and much more, a visit to Havana is a must.
The capital of Cuba amazes, with its lively nightlife and music culture that flows from all the boulevards of life. Life in Havana is spectacular, where all the musical styles are represented and live with great frenzy. The city offers a wide range of live and impromptu concerts, and in many streets and plazas you will find great local artists.
Havana will earn a spot in your heart, with its countless dimensions and possibilities to offer you. Stroll through its lively and colorful streets, from La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) to Vedado, lose yourself between the centuries of colonial and contemporary history it offers, meet the old countrymen who rejoice in all the corners of the village with their tales, stories and puntos cubanos.
Things to do in Havana
Visit to Old Havana
It is impossible to imagine a trip to Havana without visiting Old Havana. Old Havana is one of the most peaceful and safest areas in all of Latin America. It was also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The best way to get to know it is to walk through its streets, get lost in its alleys and create routes with your own senses. Spending time in any area of this iconic neighborhood will make your journey a fantastic experience.
Visit the National Theater of Cuba
This is one of Havana’s most important cultural venues, having opened in 1960 and reopened in 1979 after a thorough restoration. It promotes dance, drama, and theater for adults and children, as well as music and visual arts. One of the city’s largest theaters is the Teatro Nacional, which has two large concert halls, Avellaneda (2,500 seats) and Covarrubias (800 seats), as well as the renowned Café Cantante (240 seats). Gardens with ponds, winding paths, and sculptures by Cuban artists surround the structure.
Visit the Zoológico de La Habana
This is Cuba’s oldest zoo, having opened in 1939. It is also known as Zoológico de 26 and is a popular destination for Cuban families. And, despite the fact that there are numerous species, monkeys remain the most popular. A sculpture by Rita Longa, Grupo Familiar en el Zoológico Nacional (Family at the National Zoo), stands out for its simplicity and beauty near the entrance.
Explore the Cuban National Botanical Gardens
The National Botanical Gardens of Cuba are located to the south of the city, just east of Jose Marti International Airport. The gardens, which cover an enormous 1,500 acres / 600 hectares, contain large and important collections of exotic plants, trees, and flowers, some of which grow in vast glasshouses. A Japanese Garden with oriental features, seasonal flower borders, and plenty of seating are among the landscaped areas. Onboard a land train, guided tours are available, allowing you to see the main horticultural attractions and gardens in about two hours.
This is one of the most pleasant areas on the island. The Botanical Gardens have a wonderful collection of plants from all over the Caribbean, particularly Cuba. The Japanese Garden, complete with fountains and waterfalls, is a tourist favorite and a great place to rest. The facility includes a cafeteria, restrooms, and other amenities. The tour concludes with a stop at the ExpoCuba Exhibition Center, followed by a delicious traditional Cuban lunch at Don Cuba.
Walk on the Melecon
The Malecón is an 8-kilometer-long esplanade, roadway, and seawall that runs along the coast of Havana, Cuba, from the mouth of Havana Harbor in Old Havana, through the Centro Habana and Vedado neighborhoods, and ends at the mouth of the Almendares River.
The Malecon in Havana City is one of the world’s most beautiful promenades. Couples, friends, and Cuban families are known to congregate along this long avenue that overlooks the sea. It’s a romantic place for lovers, as well as a place for artists and musicians who want to smell Cuban history.
They usually highlight a piece of Mexican history or culture. The Malecon is a sensory overload. You will be able to gaze out at the ocean, smell fresh food, listen to Mexican music, and touch statues. Overall, you will feel more connected to the community and its people.
Go Snorkeling in Playa Bacuranao
The Playas del Este beaches begin inauspiciously at Bacuranao, 18 kilometers (11 miles) east of Havana’s city center, a sheltered scimitar of sand separated from its eastern neighbors by the Tarará River and feeling somewhat isolated as a result. This is the best spot on the east coast for snorkelers to dive beneath the waves. A coral reef and the wreck of the SS Olivette, an American cargo ship that sank in 1918 en route from Key West, Florida, to Havana, lie a few hundred meters offshore. Swimming is safe in the protected bay.
Places to Stay in Havana
Varadero is the closest place in Cuba to the United States. It spans a length of 30km of which 22km are beaches. Varadero is one of Cuba’s most internationally recognized destinations, largely because of its incredible fine sand beach and warm, crystal-clear waters, making it one of the best beaches in the world. The best known beach is Playa de Varadero, also known as Playa Azul, which is 20 kilometers long.
It also boasts an infinite number of activities for the whole family to enjoy. From exploring the local fauna, like unique starfish, to enjoying a quiet boat ride. Of course, if you are a scuba diving or snorkeling lover you can’t miss the wonders that this beach possesses, namely its coral reefs or exotic colored fish.
Things to do in Varadero
Relax in Varadero Beach
Playa de Varadero (Varadero Beach), also known as Playa Azul (Blue Beach), is one of Cuba’s most well-known beaches. In reality, what we call Playa de Varadero consists of six beaches, the three largest of which are Varadero, Rincón Francés, and La Alameda. Its crystalline waters and fine sand stretch for more than 20 kilometers in Cuba’s Penninsula de Hicacos, in the province of Matanzas. Furthermore, the warm temperatures are maintained throughout the year, making it an ideal destination at any time of year.
Every year, many visitors, both international and domestic, choose this paradisiacal destination. All-inclusive hotels dominate among tourist accommodations, providing complete facilities and services where you will find everything you need to enjoy an unforgettable vacation. If what you are looking for is time to relax and disconnect, Playa de Varadero is ideal for you.
Relax in a Luxury All-inclusive Hotel
One of the main reasons visitors come to Varadero is to relax in the hot Caribbean sun while enjoying the luxuries of a 5-star resort. Hotels in Cuba are significantly less expensive than on other Caribbean islands, so you get a lot more bang for your buck here. Resorts range in size from sprawling complexes with restaurants, entertainment, and swimming pools to small boutique options near the town center.
Explore the Varadero Downtown Area
While Varadero is a sprawling stretch of beaches and hotels, it does have a central town area near the tip of the peninsula. 1st Avenue is known for its bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife. It is also the location of a small market, public access to Varadero beach, and a few other attractions worth seeing.
Varadero Boulevard is the town’s main thoroughfare. On an evening, this newly renovated complex of shops, restaurants, and cafes comes alive! The chocolate café, rum and cigar shops, a drink at Beatles Bar, and a photo with the Varadero sign are among the top things to do here.
We recommend that your taxi drop you off at Varadero Boulevard. You can then walk down 1st Avenue, stopping at any restaurant or shop that catches your eye. You can also walk directly to the public beach from here.
Go for a Stroll in Josone Park
Josone Park, also in Downtown Varadero, is a small botanical garden with neatly manicured hedges, trees, and tropical flowers. It’s a popular gathering spot for locals and a pleasant place to spend a sunny day. Take a walk through the park, eat on a park bench, or rent a pedal boat and float along the lake. Josone is vibrant and tropical, and it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours.
Visit the Saturno Cave
Saturno is an intriguing cave located a short drive from Varadero, right next to the airport. The cave was carved out of the mountainside over thousands of years and contains a number of interesting rock formations. Descend the staircase to the cave’s heart, where you’ll also find a small pool of water. This ‘cenote-like’ cave pool has water that is a bright blue color, providing stunning natural scenery as well as a great place to swim.
Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving in Coral Bay Beach
Cuba, as a tropical Caribbean island, has an abundance of sea life. The waters near Varadero are home to manta rays, colorful tropical fish, and giant sea turtles. The sea at Varadero Beach can be quite rough and windy, as you will discover. As a result, you’ll want to snorkel and scuba dive on a calmer beach.
Coral Beach is ideal in this situation! The beach is a short drive south of Varadero Beach, in a more tranquil area with calmer seas. It’s ideal for snorkeling, but you can also go on a more intense scuba diving excursion. While you can go to the beach and swim 200 meters offshore to see the sea life for yourself, we recommend taking a guided tour instead. Underwater Cuba’s local guides have received rave reviews on Tripadvisor. They’ll take you to all the best spots while keeping you safe.
Visit the Mantazas Town
Matanzas town is the place to go if you want to see an authentic Cuban town away from all the tourists. It’s only a 40-minute drive from Varadero and is home to many locals who work in the Varadero hotels. With colorful colonial buildings, a scenic seafront, and several quaint churches and squares, it offers a one-of-a-kind sightseeing experience of Cuban life.
Sample the Local Rum and Cigars
Cuba is well-known for its cigars and rum, and it is one of the best places in the world to sample both. Stop by Casa del Habano near Varadero Boulevard if you’re a smoker or just want to try one of the country’s legendary cigars. They have a fantastic selection at a variety of prices. Another boutique called The House of Rum is less than 20m away from the specialist cigar shop. You can try a variety of local rums and purchase a few bottles to take home.
Check out the Varadero Nightlife Scene
Nightlife is not uncommon in Cuba. Music is one of its most important exports! Head to the Downtown Varadero area any evening of the week to experience the local nightlife scene. Live music, relaxed cocktail bars, and the late-night ‘Havana Club’ are all available. We recommend beginning your evening at Beatles Bar, which is themed after, you guessed it, The Beatles! From there, you can go to any bar that looks lively and exciting.
Pull up a chair in a casual rum bar, book a live show, or enjoy the entertainment at the hotel for a quieter nightlife experience. Many of the larger hotels have fantastic nightlife programs.
Places to Stay in Varadero
Santiago is the second largest city in Cuba. It is located in the south of the island and has witnessed historical events along since the times of the Spanish colonization.
It is well known for its traditional music, most notably son, from which salsa has been derived. The city celebrates Carnival in July, although it typically precedes Lent. With the city preoccupied with the holiday, Castro chose July 26 to enter undetected into the city to assault the Moncada Barracks.
Things to do in Santiago
Attend the Carnival de Santiago
If you can make it to Santiago in late July, you should go to one of Cuba’s top ten sights, The Santiago de Cuba Carnival, which is one of the events that Santiago de Cuba is famous for. It is regarded as the most lively of all traditional Cuban festivals, as well as one of the largest events in Latin America.
The festival, which takes place every year from July 18 to 27, is an explosion of dance, pulsating music, and elaborate costumes. People come from all over the country and the world to see, participate, and enjoy themselves. The city is draped in festive decorations, music venues celebrate with carnival specific shows and restaurants offer carnival specials.
Visit the Emilio Bacardi Museum
The Emilio Bacardi Museum in central Santiago de Cuba houses Emilio Bacardi’s collection, which has grown over time. The collection is housed in a lovely three-story building, with each floor displaying a different collection of paintings, sculpture, and archaeological artifacts, including a mummy on the first floor. The paintings are of exceptional quality, on par with the art in the Cuban wing of Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts. And that is quite a compliment! A visit to this museum is a must-do while in Santiago de Cuba.
Visit the El Morro Historical Park
Located 8.5 miles (14 km) south of Santiago, the El Morro Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Renowned Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli designed the fort in the late 16th century, but construction didn’t start until 1633 and finished nearly 30 years later. The fort was turned into a prison in the 1800s, and remained that way until it was restored in the 1960s.
The main draw is the Castillo de San Pedro del Morro, a massive cliff-side castle that overlooks the bay. The castle is intact and it’s easy to imagine it protecting the coast from pirate sieges during its heyday. Visitors enter the castle via a drawbridge and pass into its upper level. Exhibits are found in various rooms throughout the castle, with old weapons and cannons on display.
You can learn about the history of Spanish colonization and observe the types of torture instruments that were once used on prisoners here. All of the exhibits are in Spanish, so it’s helpful to have a guide if you don’t speak the local language. There are several fantastic lookouts from the castle where you can take in sweeping views of the coastline and Sierra Maestra.
There’s also a lighthouse, the Faro del Morro, which was built in 1920—climb to the top for unbeatable views. For a scenic dining experience, stop by the park’s onsite restaurant. The restaurant serves up criolla food, cold beer, and a wonderful view.
Relax in the Playa Cazona Beach
Enjoy the activities on a beach day in Playa Cazonal. Lay on the reddish and soft sand to sunbathe. Or if you prefer so, get relaxed in the shadow while you listen to the sound of the sea. The beach has a wide space to swim in Tropical waters without algaes.
Take advantage of the moment and practice diving at the Carisol International Diving Center – Los Corales, located right in the beach in the Club Amigo Carisol – Los Corales, or visit the nearby Baconao Aquarium.
Places to Stay in Santiago
Trinidad is a town in central Cuba, known for its colonial old town and cobblestone streets. Its neo-baroque main square, Plaza Mayor, is surrounded by grand colonial buildings. Museo Romántico, in the restored Palacio Brunet mansion, and Museo de Arquitectura Colonial display relics from the town’s sugar-producing era. Iglesia de la Santísima is a 19th-century cathedral with a vaulted ceiling and carved altars.
Trinidad is one of the most beautiful and most authentic colonial cities in Cuba. Declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1988. Today it is considered a city-museum with a magnificent colonial architectural heritage from the 18th and 19th centuries. Notably its narrow cobblestone streets, beautifully restored buildings, majestic churches and fantastic courtyards, which give it that typically colonial atmosphere.
Walking through its streets you will feel the authentic Cuban spirit. You will go back in time, when the streets were not so crowded with cars and life was much quieter. Let the charm of this town made city run through your body.
Things to do in Trinidad
Climb the bell Tower and the Municipal History Museum
While it could use a good dusting, the Museo de Historia Municipal is housed in a magnificent old mansion that is well worth a visit. The inner courtyard and surrounding rooms evoke a colonial past while being delightfully furnished with today’s communist budgets.
The real reason to go to the museum is to climb the rickety wooden stairs up to the bell tower. Take in the best views of Trinidad as the late afternoon sun washes the colorful town in soft pastel hues from the top. Arrive close to closing time for the best light for one of Trinidad’s most photogenic activities.
Explore the Beauty of Plaza De Santa Ana
The Plaza de Santa Ana church ruins are a relic of Cuba’s Spanish past. The church’s crumbling walls in the middle of the small square catch the late afternoon light beautifully.
Visit some of the very local bars on the outskirts of the small square to truly immerse yourself in the Trinidad scene. With no-frills restaurants packed with rowdy locals, it feels like one of Trinidad’s last unspoiled squares.
Hit the Beach at Playa Ancon
Playa Ancón, 12 kilometers from Trinidad, is one of the best beaches within easy reach of the city. Head to the beach to cool off as the temperatures rise on the rustic cobbled lanes.
It’s a lovely beach with long stretches of soft white sand. Umbrellas and chairs can be rented, allowing you to kick back and relax while sipping the best pina colada you’ve ever had. Lunch at Ranchón Ancón is surprisingly good for Cuban food, with your feet in the sand. Their red snapper and salad were inexpensive, fresh, and delicious.
Cool off Under a Waterfall at Topes De Collantes
Topes de Collantes is a nature reserve between Cienfuegos and Trinidad and an ideal spot to connect with the Cuban outdoors. Cool off in stunning waterfalls lined with ferns and hike through beautiful banana plantations.
Find the Real Cuba on the Backstreets
Trinidad is a popular tourist destination for a good reason. The colorful colonial architecture and rustic cobbled streets are full of atmosphere and history. But, it’s well worth escaping the main tourist squares and delving into the backstreets.
Here, chatty locals can be found engrossed in important games of dominos sitting out on the street. Rusty Soviet-provided Cuban cars being cared for by patient owners, and kids kick around causing mischief. Exploring away from the main tourist squares is an enjoyable and relaxing thing to do in Trinidad.
The best streets to explore are Calle Amargura up to Plaza de Las Cruces. Stroll along here and discover a vignette of local life unfolding in Cuba’s Trinidad.
Dance the Night off at Casa de la Musica
Just off Plaza Mayor, Casa de la Música is an outdoor entertainment venue, taking advantage of a prominent sweeping staircase. The evening salsa show attracts a mix of tourists and locals keen to be swayed by one of Cuba’s classic venues.
It’s one of the most fun things to do in Trinidad with bands covering a variety of genres aimed at getting people up off their feet. There are several different areas along the staircase including a bar and restaurant, and several dance spaces. Although you can stroll around during the day, at night sections are roped off and require a small cover charge to enter.
Places to Stay Trinidad
Cienfuegos is a city on Bahía de Cienfuegos, a bay on Cuba ‘s south coast. It’s known for its colonial-era buildings. On the central square, called Parque José Martí, Tomás Terry Theater has gold-leaf mosaics and ceiling frescoes. The Provincial Museum explores the city’s colonial history. The Arco de Triunfo commemorates Cuban independence. Ferries cross the bay to Castillo de Jagua, an 18th-century fortress.
Cienfuegos is known as the “Pearl of the South of Cuba” and not a surprise, since this small city has managed to seduce travelers from all over the world. Travelers come to see the elegant mix of its cultivated French spirit and its affable Caribbean style. In the bay itself you can read a sign that says “The city I like best”, quoting the words of the famous singer Benny Moré.
Cienfuegos is open to the sea and is situated right on Cuba’s largest natural bay. The whole city enjoys an enviable coastal environment, which, along with the tranquility that can be found in its renovated streets devoid of crowds of tourists, are some keys that have been declared a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2005.
Things to do in Cienfuegos
Walk along the Malecon
Each coastal town in Cuba has a Malecon – a waterfront where people can enjoy a walk in the late afternoon, once the heat of the day is replaced by the pleasant marine breeze. Cienfuegos’ Malecon is a good place to spot locals walking and at times even exercising at the end of the day, or on their way to Punta Gorda (more about this below).
Take in the sunset from Punta Gorda
No visit to Cienfuegos is complete without experiencing the sunset from Punta Gorda. This upper-class part of Cienfuegos is packed with gorgeous villas and beautifully kept buildings. It is located at about 3 km from the city center and you can get there by simply walking along the Malecon. If you are too tired to walk, just opt for a bici-taxi. Once you are in Punta Gorda, pick a rooftop bar for a sunset drink and just enjoy the view.
Go to El Nicho
If you just take a day trip out of Cienfuegos, make it to El Nicho, part of Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes. It’s one of the most beautiful places you will see in this part of the country. There, the Rio Habanilla jumps in a series of waterfalls and forms a set of natural pools with the clearest, coldest waters in the lushes of settings. There is a trail connecting the various pools, so you can see them all. The pools that are down from the main parking lot are less visited.
Spend an afternoon at the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Gardens of Cienfuegos are an incredibly relaxing place. This beautifully kept, vast park is home to an incredible variety of plants – the most spectacular are the giant bamboos. You can walk around by yourself or use one of the free guides onsite. Each day at 7:00 am there are birdwatching tours but you have to book in advance.
Dive in the Bahia de Cochinos
You just can’t go to Cienfuegos and not visit the Bahia de Cochinos, the famous Bay of the Pig. This is the place from which the Kennedy Administration memorably failed to invade Cuba in 1961. Other than its historical significance, this is a great place for diving and snorkeling thanks to the nearby coral reef and the incredibly transparent waters.
Go to the beach
There are many beautiful beaches near Cienfuegos. You should check out these ones:
Playa Larga – not a touristy place, it features incredibly clear waters;
Playa Giron – named after French pirate Gilbert Giron, who in the 17th century used to raid the area until he was caught and beheaded. It is a nice sandy beach with easy access to the coral reef;
Playa Los Cocos – on the eastern side of the Bay of the Pigs and also a nice sandy beach.
Caleta Buena – 8 km south of Playa Giron, it is not a beach proper but a tiny rocky cove with the clearest waters, blissfully protected from the currents and a perfect place for snorkeling. It is not free to access, but for a small fee you get a sun-bed, a lunch buffet and drinks throughout the day.
Places to Stay in Cienfuegos
Watch the YouTube video below by GO GlobeHopper to explore other various things to do in Cuba
Getting Around Cuba
You can get around Cuba efficiently using buses, long-distance taxis or planes and, within cities, taxis in their myriad forms. Some services still work on a two-tier basis. But getting around Cuba isn’t easy. Public transport isn’t well designed for visitors – you need to book ahead or know the intricacies of local transportation. Bumpy, potholed roads and nearly nonexistent signage are the norm.
Buses are the best option for interprovincial travel while hopping in one of the ubiquitous classic cars is great for a day tour. These top tips will give you the know-how to make the most of your journey around Cuba.
This is one of the most popular ways to get around Cuba. You can see the country at your own pace, stop off where you choose and avoid walking around with your luggage. It’s also hugely popular with families as it offers plenty of flexibility and an easy way to carry all those extra bags. This is not a budget option though – it is much more expensive than renting a car in Europe, for example.
Cuba’s buses are a very pleasant surprise. Viazul is the national bus company and it was designed to cater for tourists, although a few Cubans now use these coaches too, in preference to the rickety local options. The modern coaches are air conditioned with comfortable seats and toilets (of varying standards). They’re also incredibly affordable.
Cuba has two types of taxis: yellow taxis (which come in a number of vehicle makes and sizes) and the classic convertibles that every tourist takes a selfie with. Yellow cabs belong to state-own agencies or private drivers, but the rates are similar. If you’re traveling in a small group, you can book day tours or inter-provincial travels in an almendrón (the local name for the old American cars because of their almond-like shape). Fancier classic convertible cars – with AC, leathery seats and painted in bright colors – offer rides per hour if you rent it within the city. Always agree on a fare before renting one.
In Havana, you’ll spot yellow mini-vans and minibuses (known as ruteros and gazelas) that are used by locals and take payment in Cuban pesos. They operate on set routes from 9am to 7pm and routes anywhere in the city after hours.
At present, Cuba is the only country in the Caribbean with a functioning rail system. And, although trains are slow (average top speed is 40km/hr) and subject to long delays and cancellations, they nevertheless provide a sociable form of travelling. They are also a great way of getting a feel for the landscape.
You’ll need your passport to buy a ticket, which, depending on which town you’re in, you should do between an hour and five days before your date of departure. (If you show up less than an hour beforehand, the ticket office will almost certainly refuse to sell you a ticket.) You can only buy tickets in person at stations. Strictly speaking, all foreign travelers must pay for tickets in convertible pesos, but on some of the less-travelled routes you may get away with a national-peso ticket.
If you want to get to or from Havana quickly, then flying is a good way to go. Within Cuba you can travel between Havana and 11 regional airports, but the airports only have domestic flights to Havana and back. You’ll always have to transfer in Havana to get around Cuba by flying, but it can be handy to fly some of the longer distances. Flight schedules and prices vary but you can easily buy domestic flights at travel agencies in Cuba. One of the most common routes is Havana to Santiago de Cuba since it’s a long 15-hour bus ride to get to the East side of the island.
Canada to Cuba Travel Guidelines
Travelling from Canada to Cuba, you just need a valid Canadian passport, if your passport is from another country, you need your Canadian resident card or a work or study permit that includes a multiple-entry permit attach to your passport. For Cuba you need the tourist card (the tourist card is included in your plane ticket and is issued by the airline on board). All passengers arriving to Cuba from a direct flight from Canada, do not need to present a vaccination passport.
Medical insurance is required for Cuba, medical insurance must cover any type of medical emergency including covid, so in case of medical emergency the tourist is responsible for paying the costs, for this reason Cuba suggests to have medical insurance for all types of medical emergencies including covid. If you are unable to obtain insurance in Canada, you can purchase medical insurance in Cuba at the airport or visit www.cubatravel.cu for more information on what the insurance includes, contact the representative at the Insurance desk at the airport in Cuba.
Visit Caribbean latest travel requirements covid-19 update to get more information on the covid-19 guidelines.
Since January 1, 2022, travelers must complete the customs and health declaration form, this is done online and the website to visit is: https://www.dviajeros.mitrans.gob.cu/. All travelers must complete this information online 48 hours before traveling to Cuba. Once the form is completed, you will receive a QR code by email. You must show an electronic or printed version of the QR code to the authorities upon arrival.
If you have any problems and you can’t fill out the form online because you don’t have internet access, the printed form will be available on arrival at the airport in Cuba to fill it out.
Flight from Toronto (YYZ) to Santa Clara (SNU)
The flight time between Toronto (YYZ) and Santa Clara (SNU) is around 3h 39m and covers a distance of around 2356 km. Services are operated by Sunwing Airlines, Air Canada and Air Transat. Typically 10 flights run weekly, although weekend and holiday schedules can vary so check in advance.
On Thursday Sept 22nd, the Government of Barbados announced its changes to the travel entry protocols.
Barbados discontinued all COVID-19 related travel protocols. Therefore, there will be no testing requirements for entering Barbados whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
In addition, the wearing of masks generally will now be optional.
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Enjoy your vacation and stay safe!