Cuba holidays

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Experience Cuba

Introduction to Cuba

Cuba is located where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It is the largest island in the Caribbean, with its main consumable exports being sugar, coffee and tobacco. Cuba holidays provide the ultimate beach experience, and with the north coast offering miles of powder-soft sand and crystal-clear waters, there is plenty of choice if you love lazing by the sea. However, go off the beaten track and you could find yourself in your own mini-adventure exploring dense forests, soaring mountains and disused coffee plantations.

Best Places to Visit

Visit Havana on your holiday to Cuba to see the best of the island. Here you will find remnants of Cuba’s colonial past in its whitewashed buildings, many of which now are quirky shops and street-side cafés. The Old City is well worth visiting for its stunning architecture, cobbled alleys, and superb restaurants.

Cuba package holidays are incomplete without a visit to Varadero Beach. Fringed by palm trees and lapped by sapphire seas, it is little wonder that Varadero’s beach is considered one of the best in the world.

Top Landmarks

In Havana’s Old Town you’ll find Havana Cathedral; a stunning, Baroque construction built in the 18th century. This Roman Catholic cathedral holds masses with all the theatricality and ceremony you might expect. In Baracoa, be sure to visit The Cruz de la Parra, also known as The Sacred Cross of Parra. It is a wooden cross which was erected by Christopher Columbus when he arrived on his First Voyage in 1492.

Cuba’s sugar-centric economy is best encapsulated with a visit to the Valle de los Ingenios. The plantation is peppered with abandoned sugar mills and dominated by the imposing Manaca Iznaga Tower, from which you can survey the spectacular scenery.

Entertainment in Cuba

If you are taking children with you on your package holidays to Cuba, you are going to need some entertainment to keep them happy. The Cueva del Indio, in Vinales, is a superb public park, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once home to the native Indians, these caves are now an underground adventure packed with atmospheric chambers, spear-like stalactites, and colonies of bats fluttering overhead.

If you are looking to experience Cuba’s famous nightlife, get dressed up and head to Vinales for live music and lots of salsa dancing. Havana is also a good place to visit if you enjoy the gentle sounds of jazz, with many of their clubs continuing on until the early hours.

Our best deals in Cuba

Need to know

Language

The official national language of Cuba is Spanish. However, take a flight to Cuba and you will be introduced to an ethnically-diverse country where lots of other languages are also spoken.

While Spanish is spoken by around 90 per cent of the population, you will also hear Haitian Creole, Corsican, Galician, and Lucimi. Many of the inhabitants have a reasonable command of English, but a Spanish phrasebook will quickly prove its worth.

Currency

Cuba operates a two-currency system. The main currency used is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). When you change up your sterling, this is the currency you will be given. For the best exchange rates, ensure you change up your British currency before flying to Cuba.

The second type of currency is the Cuban Peso (CUP), which is worth much less than the CUC. It is worth having a few in your pocket for those instances when the conversion rate isn’t clear.

There are plenty of ATMs in Cuba but, if you don’t happen to be near one, head for a bank, hotel, or one of the CADECA exchange houses. There is some forged currency in circulation and using these establishments are the best way to ensure your cash is legitimate.

Visas

In addition to a valid British passport, if you are flying to Cuba for your holidays, you will need a tourist card. These will need to be bought before you fly and can be obtained through the Cuban Embassy.

If you are in any doubt, check with your chosen airline to see exactly which documents you need and where to get them.

Climate

The climate in Cuba is consistently warm throughout the year, fluctuating between the late twenties and the early thirties. However, the country’s climate falls into one of two discernible seasons: wet or dry. The dry months fall between November and April. For the rest of the year, visitors can expect regular short, but intense rain showers.

Main Airports

Cuba’s foremost international airport is José Martí International Airport, located in Havana. The country is well served by a network of smaller airports, making it simple to fly from one end of Cuba to the other.

The José Martí International Airport has three terminals, with bus services running between each of the terminals. Terminal 3 is where you’ll find the duty-free shops, alongside a range of restaurants, cafés, and bars.

Flight Options

Typically, a flight to Cuba will take between nine and ten hours, depending on which airport you fly from. Most flights from the UK will include stop-overs, so expect your journey to be at least 13 hours.

Other Advice

The months between November and April are the warmest and, as a result, are the months in which the fares are the most expensive. Visiting in the wet season will still bring you beautiful weather and lower fares, but you will likely need to bring an umbrella along.

Havana is less than half an hour’s drive from José Martí International Airport and there are plenty of licensed taxis available from the airport. However, if you are thinking of making your own way, there are plenty of car hire firms on hand.

Bus

Buses in Cuba offer a cost-effective and convenient way to get around. If you plan to travel on a popular tourist route, it’s worth booking a seat in advance over the phone.

Many of the main tourist areas have ‘get on/get off’ bus tours, which encompass all the main sights and attractions, for a one-off fee (usually around $5).

Taxi

There are plenty of taxis in Cuba, although they tend only to be used by tourists. Owned by the government, they are only allowed to accept CUC as payment, but are surprisingly cheap.

To turn your journey into an experience, look out for the ‘almendrón’ taxis. These are 1950s cars that operate as taxis between the main suburbs and neighbourhoods.

Tram

There are no trams operating in Cuba.

Rail Services

Trains run between all the regional capitals. However, Cuban trains are regularly delayed and frequently break down. It is also worth taking your own toilet paper, as onboard loos aren’t always well stocked!

MAP

FACTS

  1. Cuba has only experienced snow once, in the 1800s.
  2. Over 11million people call Cuba their home.
  3. It is illegal to take photographs of Cuban police.
  4. Cuba is the natural habitat of the world’s smallest hummingbird.

FACTS

  1. Cuba has only experienced snow once, in the 1800s.
  2. Over 11million people call Cuba their home.
  3. It is illegal to take photographs of Cuban police.
  4. Cuba is the natural habitat of the world’s smallest hummingbird.

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