I loved traveling to Cuba. Waking up to roosters crowing, taking eye-opening photography tours, and experiencing old world architecture in a tropical paradise is hard to beat. The island nation, located in the Caribbean, is full of kind people, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and stunning landscapes. However, information on accommodation costs, meals costs, and the cost of transportation can be conflicting and confusing. So, if you are planning a trip to Cuba and are looking for budgeting information; look no further.
Here I will share with you the costs of traveling in three different cities in Cuba.
Cuba’s capital city located on the western side of the island is only a 60-minute flight from Miami, USA. Havana is a main cruise ship port and has a thriving tourist scene. The city is multi-cultural and many locals speak more than one language. Here tourist restaurants accept international currencies and travelers line up to take pictures with street performers. This city is active and never sleeps.
Located just west of the island’s middle point Trinidad, is where you head for old world charm. Here, the buildings have sagged with age and nothing is more than three stories high. The city is filled day and night with street music and travelers carrying Lonely Planet guidebooks.
Cuba’s agricultural heart, Vinales is the country’s main growing region and is the home of the best tobacco plantations. This small town occupies one main street and is surrounded by limestone mountains. Here, chickens wander in the road and children hitch a ride to school in horse-drawn carts. Vinales is laid back, easy going, and rural.
All costs are provided in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). This is one of the official currencies in Cuba and is the currency used by travelers. Nicknamed the “Tourist Dollar”, it is tied 1:1 with the American dollar (USD). For example, $1.00 CUC is equal to $1.00 USD.
All prices listed below are the average costs in Havana, Trinidad, and Vinales.
If you are staying in Casa Particulars (Cuban B&B’s) you will pay $15.00 CUC to $40.00 CUC per night per room. The average cost of a good Casa in a central location will be $25.00 CUC per night.
Breakfasts served in Casa Particulars will cost $5.00 CUC and are plentiful. Breakfasts usually consist of fresh fruit, juice, eggs, bread, ham, cheese, and coffee. Lunches in government-run restaurants or Paladars (privately owned restaurants) will cost $8.00 CUC to $15.00 CUC. Lunches in restaurants can vary from simple salads and soups to massive meals with chicken, beans, and rice. Dinners served in Casa Particulars and restaurants will cost $10.00 CUC to $20.00 CUC and will consist of a protein (chicken, pork, fish), a salad of fresh vegetables, rice, beans, and cooked vegetables. Like breakfasts dinners are plentiful.
Bottled water will cost $1.00 CUC to $2.00 CUC for one liter. Alcoholic drinks will cost $2.00 CUC $6.00 CUC.
The best way to get around Cuba is in collective taxis that can be organized by your Casa Particular owner. These taxis offer door to door service and cost the same as the tourist buses that operate between cities. From Vinales to Trinidad (a six-hour drive) a collective taxi will cost $40.00 CUC per person and from Trinidad to Havana (a four-hour drive) a collective taxi will cost $30.00 CUC per person. For budgeting purposes figure about $7.00 CUC per person for each hour of driving.
Guided day tours will cost between $20.00 CUC and $70.0 CUC per person depending on the activity you are participating in. Simple city tours will be on the lower end and 4×4 hiking tours would represent a more expensive tour. Entrance fees to museums will be $1.00 CUC to $3.00 CUC per person.
- Eat in Paladars. The food is way better than in the government-run restaurants and costs about the same
- Eat breakfasts in your Casa Particular. The amount of yummy food you get is staggering and will likely keep you full until dinner time.
- If you are looking for a cheaper lunch head into a Cafeteria (small restaurant). Here you can get a ham and cheese sandwich for about $3.00 CUC.
- Look for Casa Particulars a few blocks away from main tourist areas. These Casas will be just as nice (if not nicer) than the Casas in the center of town but, you will pay $5.00 CUC to $10.00 CUC less per night.
- Walk. Cuba is very safe and it is easy to walk around most of the cities. This will save you tons on taxi fares.
- Ask you Casa owner to book day tours for you. They will usually hook you up with a local independent guide who will likely charge less that the official tourist office.
Average Daily Costs
The average daily cost of traveling around Cuba (if you are sharing a room between two people) will be around $30.00 CUC to $40.00 CUC per person or $60.00 CUC to $70.00 CUC for a pair of you. For this amount, you will be able to stay in a beautiful Casa, take collective taxi’s, go on one or two guided tours, and enjoy dinner with a drink each night. Do note that transportation around the island will be one of your most significant costs. If you plan to visit more than two different cities during your trip your average daily cost might be higher.