Travel to Cuba Frequently Asked Questions (Your Questions Answered)

So, you want to travel to Cuba…

But lately, as interest in Cuba has increased, so too have the number of questions, especially since Obama’s announcements about the thawing of US-Cuba relations.

So, here are some quick answers to some of the top 10 questions being asked about Cuba. If you’d like a longer answer, you can click on the link and hear the longer audio version of our answers (that we recently recorded for you at our office in Vancouver, Canada). We thought some things are simply better answered with full audio.



1) Can Americans use credit cards and ATMs in Cuba?

That one’s easy. NO.
American banks have not authorized their cards to be used in Cuba. So, American travellers are not be able to use their credit cards to pay for anything nor are they able to access ATMs with their debit cards.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here.

2) What currency is used in Cuba?

The standard trading currency for foreigners is CUC (Cuba Convertible Currency). Foreign currencies can be converted to CUC within Cuba. US dollars can also be converted to CUC in Cuba but with a 10% surcharge.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

3) Can travellers access internet in Cuba? Can people use international cell phones in Cuba? What are the connectivity options?

Generally speaking, no. It is very difficult to find reliable internet connections in Cuba. Most internet connections, when you do find them, are painfully slow. Hotels outside of the resorts rarely have internet connections. Also, international phones other than US phones may work, but coverage is not reliable. Texting usually works on most phones in Cuba better than phone calls. Phone connections on international phones are unreliable. American cell phones do not work at all in Cuba. Some people buy Cuba sim cards for unlocked phones to use while in Cuba.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

4) How can one book flights to Cuba?

There are various flight path options to Cuba. However, usually an agency is required for flight booking as the major booking engines such as Kayak and Expedia are US owned and will not allow you to search/book Cuba flights. Most travellers fly to Cuba from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

5) Is a travel visa required for travel to Cuba?

Yes, a travel visa (also known as a “tourist card”) is required for travel to Cuba and can be easily obtained, usually at the airport or through the airline at time of travel.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

6) Does everyone require medical insurance for travel to Cuba?

Yes. Every traveller to Cuba requires medical insurance. This is government regulated and you may be required to show proof upon entrance to Cuba. Americans will not be covered by their regular travel medical insurance plans in Cuba and will require purchasing separate Cuba travel medical insurance.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

7)  What hotel standards can one expect in Cuba?

The hotel standards in Cuba will vary from what you may have experienced in other countries. While standards are reasonable, many factors have affected Cuba’s ability to maintain the same international standards one might experience elsewhere in the Caribbean. To best understand this answer, listen to our full answer here.

Also, you can listen to one traveller’s comparison of the cultural experience and standards staying a week at a beach resort in Cuba with the overall experience while on a bike tour through Central Cuba here.

8)What can one expect in terms of restaurants style, standards and cuisine?

Outside of Cuba’s all-inclusive resorts and outside of Havana, the availability of international ingredients is limited. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are rarely available in Cuba outside of Havana or the resorts.

In the cities around Cuba, paladors are excellent, authentic dining options and some of the paladors in Havana offer excellent cuisine and an experiences that meet top international standards. Outside of Havana, however, restaurants and menus are more basic.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here

9) Is Cuba cheap? What costs can one expect in Cuba?

Cuba is NOT a cheap country. To better understand why Cuba is not a cheap country despite being a relatively poor country, listen to our longer answer here. 

10) Is tipping required in Cuba and, if so, how much?

Tipping is expected in Cuba. For a detailed breakdown of tipping costs in Cuba, listen to our full answer to that question here. 

And here is a link to listen to the full audio recording in Soundcloud, answering all of these questions and more… 

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