It is estimated that more than one million Canadians visit Cuba every year, and there is a good reason why. The island is just beautiful and the Cuban people are genuinely happy, it is contagious from the moment you land. Well, there also is the part where the whole country is full of classic cars that you can ride at anytime you want.
Things to do in Havana
Old Havana reflects most of the original city of Havana. This was definitely the highlight of our trip. This part of Havana has the most beautiful art and it is where you get to meet all kinds of Cubans. If you are going to Cuba, make sure you spend a good amount of time exploring this magnificent part of Havana.
You will get the best views of downtown Havana from the castle. It is close to the structure of ‘Christo de la Habana’ so make sure to check it out too.
Museum of the Revolution
Located in Old Havana, the Museum of the Revolution is housed in what used to be the Presidential Palace of past Cuban presidents. Here you will learn so much about the Cuban revolution and Cuban history in general.
Fun fact: The museum still has the original furniture from 1950s.
The Malecon Walk
The Malecon is an 8km roadway that stretches on the coast of Havana. Take a walk along the Malecon with someone special and I promise you the breeze on your face, the views, the peacefulness and of course the environment will make you fall in love all over again.
Things to do in Varadero
Take an afternoon and go see this beautiful beach and you will not be disappointed. It has white sand and crystal clear water.
One of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen. It has bars and boat rentals. A must visit place if you are in Varadero.
Take a Horse Carriage Tour
The tour cost 25 CUC per person, about $30. This should definitely be part of your trip if you are heading to Varadero. Our tour left from downtown Varadero, to Josone Park, then to one of the Varadero markets, then to Varadero Beach, back downtown. Our tour guide was amazing and definitely went well beyond his job description to give us an amazing tour.
Buy Some Cuban Cigars and Rum to Bring Home
They are lots and lots of Cuban cigars everywhere. They all range in prices depending on what you want. Make sure you buy a variety to bring back home.
Take a Salsa Lesson at Your Resort Beach
Our resort had salsa lessons every day at 4pm by the pool. If you are not too shy to learn a few steps while everyone is staring, you should definitely go for it.
Getting to Cuba
I would recommend Westjet Vacations. Depending on when you are going, they always have some all-inclusive deals. Prices start from $1150 per person for an all-inclusive 7 day trip from Edmonton (The price depends on the kind hotel you want) . You could also try other sites but lately I find Westjet to be a little cheaper than other airlines.
- Take advantage of the all-inclusive drinks and food (By the end of your vacation, you will think you had enough rum for the year)
- The classic cars are fun to ride in, but use the local tourist bus for most of your vacation if you want to save money (It only cost 5 CUC to get a day pass on the local bus).
- Pay attention to your budget. If you are in an all-inclusive resort, you will probably just need about $400 each for your 7 day vacation. Unless you are planning to do lots of shopping and tours, you will not need that much cash.
- Definitely take a tour to Havana from Varadero.
Ride a Cuban Coco Taxi
Otherwise have some fun, go to your resort’s nightclub, spend a day at the beach, drink lots of rum and get lots of sun.
Myth Vs. Truth
Myth: Food is Bad
Okay, pretty much everyone I talked to before going to Cuba said ‘oh Cuba is amazing except that the food is bad’ or something like ‘I had a great vacation in Cuba but I got sick from the food’. Being the foodie I am, I wasn’t sure what to think of my trip. I am so glad I didn’t care about what most people thought of food in Cuba, I ended up having an amazing experience eating throughout the island. Their fruits are fresh from the farm and taste very natural. Actually, Cuban bananas reminded me of my grandpa’s bananas from his little farm, they were the best bananas anyone could ever want to eat. Cuban chicken? Oh man, I am not even a fan of any food with chicken but I thought their chicken was amazing. Overall, there are more than two restaurants at every resort. Our resort had four, and they had different themes every night and you could always choose to eat the ‘typical North American food’.
Myth: Havana is Not Safe
I have read on so many travel blogs that Havana is not safe. So, I was a little nervous to go to Havana and spend two nights in a B n B. Damn was I wrong? People in Havana are so friendly, no one will try to harm or rob you.
Myth: Cubans Don’t Speak any English
Just like most tourist places, Cubans will try and communicate in English. All tours are in English and almost all the resort staff speak and some degree of English. People on the streets speak some English too.
Truth: You can’t buy or sell Cuban pesos at Canadian banks
Cuban Pesos cannot be exchanged internationally. In fact, it is considered illegal to take Cuban Pesos out of Cuba. Therefore, check the exchange rates before you leave for Cuba and take just enough Canadian dollars for your trip. You can exchange Canadian dollars right at the airport, both at your arrival and departure.
Truth: There is internet in Cuba but some pages are blocked
To access internet in Cuba, you buy hourly vouchers. Each cost $1.50. I was able to access Instagram the whole time we were in Cuba but my Snapchat and Gmail wouldn’t work.