Cuba Travel Information
Information to your trip to Cuba
Dear guests, we welcome you with pleasure on your Cuba trip. Following we will give you some important information to your trip in precise and open words. We would also like to inform you about basic situations and facts, so we can make a go of your trip.
Please read up on the prevailing entry and visa requirements for Cuba. You should definitely own an at least for another 6 months valid passport and also a chargeable tourist visa, which is essential for the entry in Cuba. You can get a tourist visa from us or from the Cuban Embassy in your country, in case you're not living in a European country.
Citizens of Germany and of other countries belonging to the Schengen Agreement, have free entering and leaving. Children have to possess their own passport.
For citizens of other countries other provisions might apply.
You're always responsible for having valid documents for yourself and also for your children and babies. But in case you're not sure if these rules apply to you, please address yourself to a Cuban Embassy. If you don't own the necessary documents for the trip, we will have to cancel or change the reservation, which will come with extra costs. Flight changes can occure due to the weather or other incidents. We offer flights on several transatlantic airplanes with friendly and good on-board services. For the check-in you should arrive at the counter about 2 to 3 hours before the departure. Depending on the flight route there might be stopovers also.
Animals and bulky luggage
Please inform yourself about the supplementary transport. Animals and sports equipment have to be declared at the airline you're travelling with. Bulky baggage and bicycles aren't included in the transfer to the hotels and so on, but we will gladly offer you an extra transfer, just ask us about it.
Before boarding the plane you sometimes have to pay the airport tax at a counter. But mostly the tax is included in the flight bill. The departure tax Cuba costs 25,- CUC per person at the moment.
You can only carry 20kg free luggage with most airlines, but there's always exceptions. You can take 30kg worth of diving equipment for an extra fee with the airlines Condor and AB.
For information about the luggage regulations for sporting equipment of AIR FRANCE, Air Canada or KLM please check the website of the respective flight company. Please also do not hesitate to ask us about specific regulations.
Flight changes can occure due to the weather or other incidents. We offer flights on several transatlantic airplanes with friendly and good on-board services. For the check-in you should arrive at the counter about 3 hours before the departure. Depending on the flight route there might be stopovers also.
For the entry in Cuba you will need a tourist visa. Be aware that this is not part of the touristic package or the tourist travel contract! You are welcome to buy the visa from us (price 25,-) or from the Cuban Embassy. We sell visa only in combination with a booking. The visa is valid for 30 days. For long-term bookings with a duration of more than 30 days, please address yourself to the responsible consulate or embassy. Our team in Havana is pleased with helping you.
Please fill in your personal data on both sides of the visa. The visa, passport and flight ticket have to be submitted to the Cuban authorities during entry. If the tourist visa is filled in wrong, a new visa has to be bought from the Cuban authorities.
The tourist visa has to be stamped on the back side by the travel business/tourist agency. Please fill in the visa carefully and correctly and keep it until you're back from your trip to Cuba. In case of loss or spelling mistakes, the costs for a new visa plus service and postal fee have to be paid by the customer.
International health insurance
Please consider the current entry requirements for Cuba. Since 1st of May 2010 an international health insurance is required for the entry in Cuba. You either already own one or you can book this with us or online. Please bring an International Insurance Confirmation of your covered insurance in English or Spanish from the insurance company and make certain, that the insurance is also valid for Cuba.
Arrival and customs procedures
Products for personal use, 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes or 250g tobacco, 1,14 liter of alcohol can be imported free of duty. Firearms and thrustings are generally prohibited, except for hunting weapons. Exporting jewellry, cultural goods, etc. is only allowed with the approval of Cuban customs. Because of the protection of species we request to not buy padded crocodiles, turtles, birds as well as shells and black coral. Exporting these to Europe is illegal! Animal and plant products also also illegal, although you can bring pets with you with corresponding documents.
Please inform yourself about rules that might apply to other countries.
Besides the carrying of pornographic articles is absolutely forbidden as well as the bringing of video- or DVD recorders.
It is not allowed to im- or export the national Cuban currency. The import of other liquid funds in a normal extent is allowed. You will already be asked in the plane for filling in a declaration of how much money you bring into the country. If you have questions about the form, just ask the aircrew.
On arrival at the airport in Cuba you will go through the passport check and the tourist visa will be stamped and one half ripped off. The other half will be collected when leaving Cuba, so make sure not to throw it away and keep it with your other documents. We also recommend to make a copy of your passport before the trip and bring it with you. Sometimes you will have to declare that you only carry things for personal use, and for bigger presents you might have to pay import taxes. But all in all, everything is rather easy and unbureaucratic and if there are any misunderstandings, officials are mostly friendly and helpful on your arrival and departure.
Shipping of documents to customers
The travel conditions of Cuba4Travel and other operators, that were handed out to you before and with your booking are integral part of the contract. Our current travel conditions can also be found on our website: http://www.cuba4travel.com/en-us/index.php?terms-conditions
The conditions include amongst others obligations and duties of the customer, particularly in the case of cancellation and lacks of services:
We point especially to the following obligations:
- Immediate notification of lacks during your trip to the local contact person
- Setting of an adequate time limit for amendment before cancellation in case of a lack.
- Observance of the term of exclusion for the enforcement of claims.
- Observance of the period of limitation for potential claims (§§651c to 651fBGB – German Civil Code)
You will receive all important information in advance – individual for your trip.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please give your mobile number to us and the guide in Cuba to receive information about your itinerary during your trip.
Upon arrival, please hand over the vouchers you received from us at the counter of the partners written on the documents or give them to the guide, so they know where to lead you to. The contact person or guide will give you all further important information and will explain you how to use the vouchers for hotels, diving and other outputs or roundtrips. If you arrive very late at night or in Holguín, please go straight away to the counter of the partners written on the information sheet we sent you. Please consider, that you have already received the original vouchers - they do not have to be exchanged at the airport. Please carefully read all your travel information.
Please discuss with our partners, guides or contact persons about your departure day and the transfer from the hotels to the airports in Havanna, Varadero, Holguín or other sites immediately when arriving in Cuba. It is internationally known that hotel rooms have to be cleared until noon on departure day, no matter what time you checked in on arrival or if you have to catch a night plane. By all means, you have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure! Flight changes can always happen on short-term. Please inform yourself about this at the airline onsite or at the contact person.
Cuba: General about the trip
Havana is the capital of Cuba with about 3 million inhabitants. It is an absolute "must" with its incomparable air and it counts as one of the most beautiful capitals of the Caribbean. Visiting Havana it's something you definitely shouldn't miss while being in Cuba. Your last vacation day before departing from Havana (unless the departing is from Varadero, Holguín or Santa Clara) will surely complete your Cuban feeling if you do an interesting city-sightseeing. The evening before you arrive rather late with your transfer to your hotel. On the same night you can stroll around Havana's famous quayside, enjoy a Cuban Folklore night following dinner at a restaurant, visit the world-famous Cabaret Tropicana, do the daily harbor excursion on a ship, or simply go to a Salsa disco.
Please ask us about this or our partners on site. During the day you can either do a guided city tour or individually visit museums and historical buildungs, or stroll around souvenir markets or the city. Our colleagues will always be able to give you further advice.
The island named Cuba is 1,250km (780mi) long and is located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It is subdivided in 16 provinces, including Havana, which all together offer a Cuban paradise. With over 11 million inhabitants it is the biggest and most populous island of the Antilles.
The climate is tropical and almost all year warm. The abundant flora with over 8,000 different types of plants and also the species-rich fauna with 185 types of butterflies, 350 types of birds, 1,000 types of insects and the beautiful underwater world filled with corals and over 900 types of fish make Cuba an absolute natural paradise.
Information about Cuba
A tourist in Cuba should always bear in mind that he is in a Latin-American country and that he will be confronted with the predominating mentality, that does not know of either stress or hurry, nor direct criticism or European perfection. In Cuba, hecticness is unknown.
The service, punctuality and cleanliness aren't always taken seriously and can't be compared to the European standard. It might happen that changing the towels in rooms is forgotten, or that common things aren't always available. The barkeeper sometimes forgets to order a certain kind of drink or has run out of ice. The service staff usually consists of friendly people, but they mostly didn't get the proper education in the hotel or service field. The tourist should always bring a certain amount of tolerance and understanding or sympathy. But the cordiality, hospitality and love of life of the Cuban people will make amends for all this.
People will repair, built or transport things, and also party or work, just like everywhere.
Occasional electricity and/or water cuts can happen. Disturbances by starting emergency generators might occur. Because of the humid and salty air you can find corrosion crusts on mountings and metal parts, but this doesn't mean it's not clean.
This is also the reason why you may find coat racks for your clothes instead of wardrobes.
After hurricanes, which can occur during summer months in the Caribbean, hotel facilities may be in need of repairs, which means that you will have to move to an alternate accommodation, but we do hope that you will understand this. Under certain circumstances, short-term and unexpected changes in hotel bookings, round trip routes (for example the Drive Cuba Program) or other outputs might occur.
In plenty of places the main streets lead through holiday areas. The Caribbean way of life and the partial lacking of isolation of the hotels add to the noise disturbance. The All-Inclusive holiday established itself in the past years in most destination areas. Of course, the hotels want to offer the All-Inclusive services only to house guests, so misusage can be excluded. The solution is a plastic band, about 1cm wide. The receptionist will put you the wristband on, which you will wear from arrival to departure. This will show every staff member, that you are allowed to make use of All-Inclusive facilities and services. The wristband loses its validation around noon on your departure day.
The air conditioning (if there is one) is operated centrally in all hotels and complexes. Because of the high temperatures in the Caribbean, high-capacity and often also loud devices are required. The noise of the old elevators in the colonial hotels can unfortunately reach into the rooms. The water supply can be disturbed during primary use time, which will make the water either very hot or very cold or the pressure won't be as strong anymore. Also, sea water is often desalinated and used for the water network, which means that it isn't the best quality we're used to and so it shouldn't be used for drinking.
The beaches are generally public, natural, sandy beaches and open for the community. Only a few sections are being kept clean. The offered water sports are seasonal and caused by the weather. Sometimes, bathing is banned because of the weather or other dangers. It can also happen that the hotel pool is empty of water or can't be used because of lack of spare parts. But since most of the pools are filled with sea water anyway, the Caribbean sea itself would be a good alternative.
You should just generally be rather tolerant and keep your holiday mood, the
natural charm of the Caribbean people will thank you for it. Different countries – different customs.
You will be a welcomed guest during your staying in your holiday. If you can put down some of your ideals during this time, and try to accept and understand the mentality of your host country, you will surely have some unforgettable days in Cuba. By the way, a small tip can sometimes be very helpful to raise the attention of the staff, plus a friendly smile and "Thank you!", and you will get to their hearts.
For most Cubans, life starts only after nightfall and they party very much, very cheerful and enjoying. In case you can't get your sleep because of this during the night, a short siesta would be a great alternative.
Building lots often aren't announced by local authorities. Sometimes they pause for months, only to suddenly start again, right when you arrive in your hotel. Unfortunately, we can't prevent this. We try to get information about new building measures as soon as possible, and if we do, we always inform our clients and agencies. It might also happen that a transfer is late due to technical breakdowns or other circumstances. Please show understanding for this and wait patiently. In case of a longer staying we will of course take care of you on site.
In foreign countries, food isn't always prepared the way we're used to and sometimes not served very hot. The change burdens the organism and at times leads to an upset stomach. In the first days after your arrival do not take ice for your drinks and be careful with unpeeled fruits and unwashed salads. But if something still happens, please visit the closes doctor. In case you didn't bring your own medicine, the medicine prescribed by the doctor should help quickly. We apologize that hotels don't offer single meals upon arrival or departure during late night or early morning. Also, you shouldn't compare the meals and accomodation in Cuban hotels to the international standard, since Cuba's always been an exception with its isolated provisioning.
Cuba's highways and streets are mostly good, apart from some potholes. After sunset, be very aware of tractors, cyclists, carriages and wild animals, it's probably best you avoid driving toward the evening. You should always carry a street map and study it carefully, since markers and information signs are still rather rare on Cuban streets and you can easily lose your way. Stop from time to time and ask the natives for the right way to go, the friendly people can always give you information and directions with few words and a lot of gestures.
Travelling to Cuba also means improvising and approaching unscheduled events with
cheerfulness. Under certain circumstances, short-term changes of booking can occur. We will then offer you an alternative on site.
The time difference to GMT is -5 or -6 during winter season.
Time of day
Cuba is like Europe situated in the northern hemisphere. For this reason, please consider, that the length of the day-time is the same as in Europe. In the winter months it is getting dark at around 5 pm or earlier. It is not recommended to drive after dawn.
We recommend bottled or mineral water.
Across the country you will mostly find 110 Volt. In most hotels you can also find 220 Volt. You will need an American flat plug or adapter.
Taking photographs is generally allowed, but it is prohibited on airports, harbors, stations,bridges and military sites.
The public and cheap interurban bus service should be booked in advance for longer routes.
Local traffic buses are cram-fulled. All big cities in Cuba can be reached by train, but this is somewhat adventurous, and have absolutely nothing to do with Western comfort.
Tourist taxis (you can recognize them by the taxi sign) have fixed prices. If you have a rental car, you won't be lacking fuel, since you can find gas everywhere in Cuba. You can gladly ask us about rental car fees for the rental offices on site. A driver's license is required and the driver has to be at least 21. One litre gas in Cuba is about 1,30 CUC, but it's subject to daily change.
Flight changes of pre-booked inbound flights can occur due to the weather, technical problems, short-term cancellations or other incidents. Cuba does also have only a few planes. For this reason inbound flights can only be confirmed for the day of the flight, but not for the exact departure time.
Flight times on your booking confirmation, voucher and/or offer are under reserve and will only be confirmed 24hours in advance of the flight. We ask for your understanding, if flight changes might occur during your stay. We, as a travel agency, can unfortunately not exert influence on the political and economical conditions of your holiday destination.
Most of our offered trips are organized and arranged by ourselves. Some of the round trips, mostly group round trips, are arranged by one of the state-run Cuban service provider (such as Cubatur, Cubanacan, Havanatur, Gaviota, Cubamar and so on) In this case, we only book the program for our customers and act as a travel agency and not as a tour operator. For this reason we have only limited liability. This belongs also to the booking of flights. The booking of services as a travel agency are subject to our General Terms and Conditions as a travel agency.
Special attention for round trips
Possible changes of the tour programm are subject to change. Excursions, programm sequence and individual travel services are subject to change due to weather conditions and visibility, but also unpredictable technical conditions or incidents which can lead to changes during the programm or even partial cancellation. We ask for your understanding.
Luggage storage in hotels/ private houses
In each hotel or even in private houses, there is the possibility to store the luggage in luggage rooms. Many offer this service as included service, other ask for extra charge for this, this tax can be requested and paid locally at the reception/ at the hirer. Please pay attention that the luggage storage is excluded of liability. Article of value should be always carried with you. A receipt for the luggage storage can be received on request from the hotel/ hirer.
The national currency is the Cuban Peso, but tourists do generally pay with the Peso Convertible (CUC). Euros and other currencies can be exchanged in banks, offices, the airport or hotels. American credit cards like American Express or Visa aren't accepted. Other kind of credit cards, like Eurocard for example, are accepted in plenty of touristic facilities. The EUR is accepted also in some hotels in Varadero, Havana, Cayo Largo and Guardalavaca. We recommend you always carry a certain amount of small banknotes, so that you don't have any problems when changing money in Cuba.
Since 08.11.2004 the US-Dollar is not any longer accepted as official instrument of payment and has to be exchanged into the Cuban Peso Convertible.
Cuba definitely isn't a shopping paradise. But you might be interested in rum and cigars. Cuba is the No.1 country when it comes to these two. In Havana you can find some interesting art and souvenir markets with private salesmen. Drinks, sanitary products and cigarettes can be found in the hotel shops.
Mail and telephoning
Postcards and stamps can be bought at the post office or hotel shops. The mail delivery time is variable. Rule of thumb: You're already at home again when your mail finally arrives (more than 4 weeks mostly).
Making calls and faxing is possible, but very expensive. Buy a phone card and call from a phone booth, both nationally and internationally. But you can also use the public phones in hotels. Where there is reception, you can normally also use your own mobile phone brought from Europe.
Prefixes from Cuba:
to Germany is 119 49,
to Austria is 119 43
to Switzerland is 119 41, and so on...
Prefix for calls to Cuba from other countries is: 0053
There has been an all over the country phone network which you can rent for a few years now, and for a short time also a GSM-network with European standards for different roaming partners. This network is still and always in development, but it is already available in Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago, Varadero and a few other locations. If you want to call home with your mobile phone, you can find information about the costs online.
Internet and E-Mail
You can find internet in most hotels made for international tourists. In Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago and Varadero you can also find several internet cafés.
Cuba is a rather safe country, but still, don't ever leave your belongings alone or uncovered in your car. Burglary increases in Cuba more and more. Please use the rental safes in the hotels.
Generally speaking though, Cuba doesn't have many problems with security. You can freely walk around the city during the night without fearing for assaults, but you shouldn't exactly challenge the people either.
Medical care in Cuba is exemplary and there are plenty of hospitals. In case you need anything, please talk to the hotel receptionist or give us a call. A lot of hotels and houses operate day and night. Cuba is free of epidemics, so vaccinations aren't a must. You should take enough medicine for personal use and sanitary products with you. A protective agent against insects should be among the products, since there are many mosquitoes and chiggers roaming around during the night and evening. For a proper precaution information please seek advice from your doctor.
For native Cubans, tips are often the only way to get to CUC, and this contributes to the monthly finances of a family, so they will gladly receive tips. We recommend something between 1 and 3 CUC, depending on the price of the bill or the service. A maid should receive about 10,- CUC for a 14-days staying in the hotel, and bellboys expect about 1-2 CUC. Let yourself not be put under pressure or be cheated by the staff. Listen to your gut feeling. We do not take on responsibility for cheating.
Hoisted flags mean: red - bathing prohibited, yellow - bathing at your own risk, green – bathing safe. Nudists aren't common and disagree with the Cuban morals, although there are some beaches free to nudism.
Cuba is located near the equator, which means that there is a high UV radiation. We strongly recommend you a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor.
You can protect yourself from mosquitoes and chiggers with unguents and sprays, and using various antrycides at once is often the most helpful against the resistant biting midges. In restaurants and hotels you are protected by the air condition. In the sea there are sometimes the so called "Caribbeans", which are micro-organisms of the anemone, and it causes itching and a small burning sensation, but can also cause allergies. Please consult a doctor about this.
Cockroaches, spiders, fleas, geckoes, frogs or toads aren’t a rarity in the hot and humid tropical climate of the Caribbean. You can find these undesirable guests even if you’re staying in the best hotels.
Embassy of Germany in Cuba
Embajada de la República Federal de Alemania
Calle 13 No. 652 esq. a B
Vedado, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba
Tel.:(+53 7) 8332539, 8332569
Fax:(+53 7) 8331586
Calle B No. 652 esq. 11 a 13
Vedado, Ciudad de La Habana
Tel: (+53 7) 8333188
Fax: (+53 7) 8331586
Embassy of Austria
Embajada de Austria
Calle 4 No.101, e/1ra y 3ra
Miramar, Playa, Havana
Tel.: (+53/7) 204 23 94, 204 28 25
Fax: (+53/7) 204 12 35
Embassy of Switzerland
Embajada de Suiza
5ta Avenida no 2005e/20 y 22
Miramar-Playa, La Habana
Tel.: (+53 7) 2042611, 2042729, 2042989
Fax: (+53 7) 2041148
In case of loss of your passport you will have to apply for an alternative document. Please consult the contact person in case this happens.
You can contact us by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone in Cuba: ++53 541 89264 or ++53 52847726
Phone in Germany: ++49 9131 970 677 1
“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo,
going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your
feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien -