Cuba is the place to go—for so many reasons! The latest political events add to the appeal of travelling to this great island, so here go a few tips that will help everything go right on your trip to Cuba.
· Electric sockets: In Cuba electric sockets are designed for flat pronged American style plugs. Some of the larger hotel chains have sockets for round, European style prongs, but your best bet if you don’t want to be frustrated is to take a universal plug with you.
· Include a first aid kit in your luggage: If you plan to travel anywhere other than Havana or Varadero, don’t forget to take everything you need in your suitcase or rucksack, and that means a good first aid kit. Sometimes finding a place to buy a simple toothbrush can be an odyssey.
· Mobile phones: Since the internet leaves a lot to be desired in Cuba (deactivate the data roaming on your cell phone—it’s useless and they’ll charge you an arm and a leg!), the best option is to buy a prepaid cell phone before leaving your home country (you can also try a local cell phone) and that way you can keep in touch with your family by phone or by SMS.
· Picturesque cars from the 1950s: Watching old cars from the fifties go by can be a lot of fun, but don’t forget they have no seatbelts or air-conditioning, the windows are often broken, the engines cough up a lot of smoke and the doors may suddenly open while the car is moving.
· The best tourist sites in Havana: The best tourist attractions in Havana include a walk along the Malecón, Old Havana, the Hemingway estate at Finca Vigía and the Museum of the Revolution, where they make fun of Ronald Reagan and the Bush saga. The National Museum of Fine Arts has an impressive collection including colonial portraits and reaching as far ahead in time as the pop art of the 20th century.
· Transportation on the island: Transportation on the island is a very complicated affair. Railway infrastructures are virtually non-existent or very old, buses for tourists (Viazul) are scarce and you can forget about schedules altogether! They have shared taxis where people agree to go somewhere together and reach an agreement on splitting the cost. Make sure to ask the cab driver directly because there are so-called travel managers on the streets who are eager to negotiate the price with you, and they can get you into trouble if you don’t watch out …
· Is Tropicana worth what it costs?: The show at Tropicana is on many ‘best of Havana’ lists. If you feel like spending a hundred bucks to see dancers in sequin dresses with huge ornaments on their head, then you go ahead. Otherwise, try catching the Havana musical scene at the Casa de la Música. It’s a whole different story.
· Always drink bottled water: In matters of hygiene, as in many other countries, you have to be careful when eating food from street vendors or if you go to a paladar (a small restaurant with homemade cooking). Aside from this, everything is adapted with tourists in mind. But you’ll have to buy bottled water (or drink filtered water) if you don’t want an pleasant surprise—be careful too with ice, soft drinks and cocktails!
· Climate: Cuba has two seasons: the dry season (from November to April) and the rainy season (from May to October). The purpose of your trip should be clear. If what you’re looking for is sun and beach, don’t forget that it can rain and even ruin your vacation. Normally the rainfall in the rainy season comes in the form of tropical showers that lift up after an hour or two and the sun comes out again, but it doesn’t always happen that way. The island is visited by tropical storms and hurricanes, which make the rain last longer. If you travel there in the rainy season, take a light raincoat with you.
“IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts has a number of hotels in several areas of the island of Cuba, ranging from well-known destinations such as Varadero to less frequented but equally attractive zones such as Trinidad, and of course the majestic capital city of Havana. The hotel surroundings are spectacular, with beaches of fine gold sand, areas with a lot to see in terms of nature and some of the most significant buildings in the history of Cuba.”