How much does it cost to travel to Cuba? Below you will find my Cuba travel costs per day / destination 😉
When I first thought about traveling to Cuba, the first question I had to ask myself was How much do things cost in Cuba? I had no idea of how much money I would need for a three week trip.
I started planning my trip and travel budget by reading blogs about where to go and the costs of traveling to Cuba, and discovered that prices were very reasonable.
So, I was expecting to spend around US$ 700 – 800 during the 19 days that I would spend in Cuba.
Cuba is a fascinating and very unique country! It has an interesting history, stunning architecture, gorgeous beaches, captivating countryside, beautiful colonial cities and friendly people.
But when planning your Cuba travel budget it’s important to know a few things:
– Cuba operates a dual currency system: the CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos), used by visitors; and the CUP (Cuban Peso), used by locals. The CUP is worth much less than the CUC. 1 CUC = 25 CUP.
– To make it easy to convert, you can work on the basis that 1 CUC = US$ 1
– Even though you can get only CUC when you exchange or withdraw money, it’s advisable to carry some Cuban Pesos to pay shared taxis (almedron) in Havana, take local buses, buy food in supermarkets and from street vendors (like ice-creams, pizzas, etc), and eat at non-tourist restaurants. You can get Cuban Pesos as change in shops and restaurants.
– American dollars are accepted but you will be charged 10% commission when you use them.
– Debit cards and cards from American Banks aren’t accepted so you can’t pay bills with American Express and Diners. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in hotels and travel agencies.
– However, casas particulares, restaurants and cabs only accept cash.
– There are ATM’s in most of the tourist destinations, so if your ATM card will work (check with your bank), do not worry about how much cash you need to take to Cuba. But bring some euros, pounds or Canadian dollars as a backup.
– During the time that I was in Cuba, the British pound was the strongest currency. Try to check the currency rates in forums or Facebook groups before deciding which currency you should bring to Cuba. Remember that US dollars are taxed 10% and the rates for the other currencies fluctuate daily.
PS.: To avoid confusion with the rates below and specially because the (*) in Euro and GPD makes the difference in the conversion, let me put some examples here based on March/2019 rates: 100 GBP = 128 CUC, 100 EURO = 109 CUC, 100 CAD = 73 CUC and 100 USD = 98 CUC – 10% = 88 CUC
How much does it cost to travel to Cuba?
After I posted some pictures of my trip to Cuba and published the 20 Stunning Pictures to Inspire you to travel to Cuba post, everyone asked me: “Is Cuba expensive?” and “How much money do you need to travel to Cuba?”. Cuba isn’t an expensive country! But of course your Cuba travel costs will vary according to your travel style.
If you only stay in hotels / resorts and take private transfers it will cost much more than staying in casas particulares and taking shared taxis or buses.
Before showing my Cuba travel costs breakdown, let me give you a hint of your main expenses.
A big part of your budget to travel to Cuba will be the cost of your round trip flight. In my case, almost 40% of my Cuba travel costs were spent flying from Sao Paulo (Brazil) to Havana with Copa Air lines. I bought the tickets not that far in advance and paid approximately US$ 700.
However, you can find flights to Cuba for as low as US$ 300 from New York and US$ 450 from London. But be aware that most of the cheap flights to the Caribbean are during the hurricane season, from June to November. Statically, the most risky period is from mid August to early October, so you should avoid travel to Cuba during this time of the year.
It’s required that all visitors have travel insurance in order to get a visa to travel to Cuba.
World Nomads is one of the most popular travel insurance companies among independent travelers, and usually my personal choice.
However, in this case, I got my travel insurance to travel to Cuba with a Brazilian Company, Seguros Promo, which had the cheapest option at US$ 37.
Cuba has a complicated visa policy with most countries’ citizens requiring a tourist card before entry. There are a few countries who are exempt but also a few where you have to get a full visa, so it will be best to check before it here you go.
Prices vary from country to country so don’t forget to put some money aside in your Cuba travel budget to pay for your visa/tourist card.
In Brazil it costs only US$ 17.
If you want an authentic experience and reduce your Cuba travel costs, you should stay in casas particulares, a type of accommodation common across the country and popular among budget travelers.
A casa particular is usually the home of a Cuban family who rents out rooms or even whole floors to tourists.
Most casas particulares charge around US$ 20 – 30 per night for a room with double bed (except in Havana and Varadero, where it’s more expensive). But if you’re a solo traveller, you can always try to get a discount.
Staying in a casa particular will not only keep your Cuba budget down, but you will also have the opportunity to develop friendly relations with the owners of the house, get deeply involved in the local culture and contribute directly to improve the living standards of Cubans.
I spent a total of 277.50 CUC on accommodation, which was about 31% of my Cuba travel budget.
- Suggested Read: My Review of Casas Particulares in Cuba
Of course your Cuba travel costs will depend on how many cities you visit and how you will travel from one destination to another. The more you move, the more you will spend.
Even though there is only one bus company, Viazul, in the whole country available to tourists, travelling within Cuba isn’t expensive.
But many people, especially those backpacking in Cuba, opt for a taxi colectivo (shared ride) instead of taking the old and dusty Viazul buses.
You can get a taxi colectivo everywhere in Cuba. You can ask the owner of the house you’re staying to book one for you, or if you prefer you can go to the bus terminals as the drivers usually hang around there.
Taxi colectivos are generally the same price or sometimes even cheaper than the buses, but you will have to wait for the car to be fully occupied (4 passengers) before you can depart.
I only traveled by land in Cuba and took one Viazul bus. If you want to contain your Cuba travel costs I suggest you to take taxi colectivos and negotiate the rides with the drivers. More than once, my friend and I were paying less than the other tourists in the car.
I spent 191.50 CUC on transportation, about 21% of my total expenses in Cuba.
Food and Drinks
The food in Cuba is basically the same everywhere: rice with some beans, salad and meat (seafood, beef, chicken or pork). And the prices are very similar whether you eat at the restaurants in Old Havana or at the casas particulares: 10 CUC for dinner / lunch. Generally things are more expensive in Havana, so if you use my Havana prices as a guide, you’ll know you should be even better off in the other cities.
The breakfast served at Havana casas particulares is around 6 or 7 CUC and everywhere else around 5 CUC.
If you eat where locals eat, believe it or not you can spend less than 1 CUC on a meal. But be aware that those places are hard to find and you may not like the appearance of the restaurant or the food (as the friend whom I traveled with, did).
I’d suggest having breakfast at casas particulares because it’s more convenient, lunch in restaurants, and dinner in either casas particulares or restaurants.
Some days I had burgers and pizzas for dinner, which is even cheaper, so I did not spend much money at all on food in Cuba.
Similarly I’m not a drinker so didn’t spend much on alcohol.
But if you like to drink, you will be in heaven in Cuba. I found drinks for 1 CUC in Trinidad, soft drinks for 0,50 CUC in Varadero and the most expensive alcoholic drink I found was a daiquiri at El Floridita for 6 CUC.
Tours and Attractions
Of course once you’re in Cuba you’ll want to take tours, visit some tourist attractions and have wonderful experiences.
Sightseeing in a vintage car, dancing the salsa, horseback riding to a tobacco plantation and swimming in the crystal-clear turquoise waters of Playa Pilar, the most beautiful beach in Cuba, should all definitely be on your Cuba bucket list.
To have a better idea of how much money those things cost in Cuba, here are some examples:
– Entry to Revolution Museum, Havana: 8 CUC
– Vintage car city tour, Havana: 25 CUC / a car for a couple
– Fábrica de Arte Cubano, the best place to go out in Havana: entrance fee: 2 CUC, mojito: 3 CUC
– Taxi Colectivo from Havana to Viñales: 15 CUC
– Horseback riding to a tobacco plantation, Viñales: 17.5 CUC
– Hop on hop off bus in Varadero: 5 CUC
Now that you have a general idea of how much it costs to travel to Cuba, I’m going to break down my Cuba travel costs.
Breakdown of my Cuba travel Costs per Destination
I travelled to Cuba with a friend, but I’m listing only my own expenses below.
Accommodation: 90 CUC / 4 nights
Food: Breakfast 28 CUC + Lunch 22 CUC + Dinner 31 CUC + Snacks 7.75 CUC = 88.75
Transportation: Taxi from the airport 15 CUC + Taxi within the city 21.5 = Taxi colectivo to Viñales 15 CUC = 51.5 CUC
Attractions: Revolution Museum with guide 10 CUC + Museo Napoleonico 2 CUC + Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña 6 CUC + others 5 CUC = 23 CUC
Extras: Vintage car city tour 12.5 CUC + Donation 4 CUC + Miscellaneous 28.3 CUC = 44.80 CUC
How much does it cost to spend 4 days in Havana? 298 CUC / 4 days = 74.50 CUC / day
- Read More: 7 Best Things to Do in Havana
Accommodation: 37.5 CUC / 3 nights
Food: Breakfast 11.8 CUC + Lunch 15 CUC + Dinner 21 CUC = 47.8 CUC
Transportation: Taxi colectivo to Cienfuegos = 25 CUC (regular price 30 – Viazul bus 32)
Tours & Attractions: Horseback riding 17.5 CUC + Day tour 16 CUC + Day trip do Cayo Jutias 12.5 (regular price 15) = 46 CUC
Extras: 4 CUC
Total of my Cuba travel costs in Viñales: 160.3 CUC / 3 days = 53.50 CUC
Accommodation: 25 CUC / 2 nights
Food: Breakfast 2 CUC + Lunch 11 CUC + Dinner 4 CUC + Snacks: 2.1 CUC = 19.1 CUC
Transportation: Viazul bus to Trinidad 6 CUC
Tours & Attractions: 6 CUC
Extras: 6 CUC
How much money did I spend in Cienfuegos? 62.1 CUC / 2 days = 31 CUC /day
Accommodation: 37.5 CUC / 3 nights
Food: Breakfast 9.5 CUC + Lunch 20.6 + Dinner 12.50 = 42.6 CUC
Transportation: Taxi colectivo to Cayo Coco 25 CUC + Taxi to Playa Ancon: 4 CUC = 29 CUC
Tours and Attractions: 15 CUC
Extras: 14.6 CUC
How much does it cost to travel to Trinidad for 3 days? 138.7 CUC / 3 days = 46.20 CUC / day
Accommodation: 25 CUC with breakfast included / 2 nights
Food: Lunch 11 CUC + Dinner 7.8 CUC = 18.8 CUC
Transportation: Taxi from Cayo Coco to Moron 10 CUC (regular price 50) + Taxi colectivo from Moron to
Cayo Santa Maria & Santa Clara 30 CUC (120 / car) = 40 CUC
Tours: Full day tour to Cayo Coco & Cayo Guillermo = 15 CUC (60 a car with driver)
Morón Travel costs: 98.80 CUC / 2 days = 49.40 CUC / day
Cayo Santa Maria
Playa las Terrazas entrance fee: 5 CUC (1 drink included)
Lunch: 9.5 CUC
Extras: Internet 1.5 CUC
A day at Cayo Santa Maria: 16 CUC / day
Accommodation: US$ 10 / 1 night
Food: Breakfast 1 CUC + Lunch 6 CUC + Dinner 9 CUC = 16 CUC
Transportation: Taxi colectivo to Varadero 15 CUC (Viazul bus 11 CUC) = 15 CUC
Extra: 1 CUC
Total: 42 CUC / day
Accommodation: 52.5 CUC with breakfast included/ 3 nights
Food: Lunch 11 CUC + Dinner 12.6 CUC + Snacks: 7.3 CUC = 27.5 CUC
Transportation: Transfer Varadero – Havana Airport with Cubatour 25 CUC = 25 CUC
Tours & Attractions: Hop on hop off bus 5 CUC = 5 CUC
Extras: 10.7 CUC
How much does it cost to travel to Varadero? 120.7 CUC / 3 days = 40.20 CUC day
Havana is by far the most expensive city in Cuba and Cienfuegos the cheapest one that I visited. I spent under 40 CUC in Cienfuegos probably because I didn’t take any tours apart from a boat to visit a fortress, because we bought food at the supermarket to eat at home and also because the bus ticket to Trinidad was very cheap.
How much does it cost to travel to Cuba per day?
I was in Cuba for 19 days and spent a total of 887.2 CUC (783 euros or US$ 920), 46.7 CUC (41.20 euros or US$ 48.50) per day.
PS.: Remember that the American dollar has an additional 10% fee. It’s the reason I converted it all to euros, then dollars. Prices based on the currency exchange rates of November 2017 that are very similar to the March 2019 rates. In fact, the US dollar rate is exactly the same.
The total cost of my trip to Cuba with flights, visa and insurance was US$ 1674. I believe this is a very reasonable price for a 20-day holiday. Don’t you?
Of course I could’ve spent less money if I had found a better price for my airline ticket, taken the buses the Cubans take and eaten where locals eat, or travelled to fewer cities.
But I liked my itinerary a lot and was travelling comfortably without worrying too much about my travel budget and enjoying my time in one of the most precious Caribbean destination. So should you!
Safe travels and enjoy Cuba.
Watch Video: The Best Of Cuba
Have you ever traveled to Cuba? What do you think about my Cuba travel costs? Leave a comment bellow 😉