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.

Destinations 

Havana 

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.

Trinidad 

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.

Vinales

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.

Average Costs

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.

Accommodation 

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.

Food 

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.

Beverages

Bottled water will cost $1.00 CUC to $2.00 CUC for one liter. Alcoholic drinks will cost $2.00 CUC $6.00 CUC.

Transportation 

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.

Activities 

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.

Budget Tips

  1. Eat in Paladars. The food is way better than in the government-run restaurants and costs about the same
  2. Eat breakfasts in your Casa Particular. The amount of yummy food you get is staggering and will likely keep you full until dinner time.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Walk. Cuba is very safe and it is easy to walk around most of the cities. This will save you tons on taxi fares.
  6. 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.

Do you have any Cuba budgeting questions? Or do have any money saving tips? Comment below.

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8 comments

Reply

Your posts are very useful, thank you. My husband and I are planning to go for 15 days to Cuba the end of March. We will stay on the west side of the country. We were told that we could not travel on our own (American Passports) but had to have a program for every day of the stay. We contacted People to People but have not heard back from them. Any recommendations? Are we running out of time?

Reply

Hey,

Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for commenting 🙂

Unfortunately, I am Canadian so I do not have any restrictions regarding travel to Cuba. So, I am not going to be a massive help to you. I did, however, meet a few American’s while I was in the country and they all seemed to be traveling around like I was. Though I cannot be completely sure.

It might be worth looking into a guided tour. Something from G Adventures maybe. Otherwise, you could try contacting a local Cuban tour company to see if they can put together an itinerary for you. I used Discover Vinales while in Cuba for a day tour. On their website, they have multi-day tours as well; they might be able to put something together for you.

Otherwise, I would suggest joining a travel forum or two to connect with other American’s who have recently traveled to Cuba. They should have more information for you. Two forums I love are Lonely Planet’s and TripAdvisor’s.

Finally, if you are planning to go in March I say you have enough time to plan still. I would recommend having your itinerary set and accommodation booked at least one month before you go. Here are links to everything I mentioned above:

https://www.gadventures.com/
https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ForumHome
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/welcome
http://www.discover-vinales.com/

And here is the website I used to book my Casa Particulars (open it in Google Chrome so you can translate it if needed):

https://www.triptovinales.com/

Hope that helps 🙂 Have a wonderful time in Cuba!

Sarah

Reply

Hello,

Thank you for this helpful information.

Maybe you can help me. I am going on my first trip to Cuba shortly, on my own. (I am Canadian). I have booked some Casa Particulares online. One owner emailed back welcoming me, asking if I needed anything, etc. Is it a good or bad idea to ask if there is anything they need that I could bring from Canada?

Reply

Hi Ann,

Glad you found the article helpful and thanks for commenting.

To answer your question about gifting – there seem to be two trains of thought on this. Some people are firmly against it and others could not imagine not bringing gifts. I am personally on the fence about it and my time in Cuba did not help me make up my mind. I think many people believe that Cubans do not have access to everything that they need, and while this may have been true in the past, today (from what I observed in the places I visited) pretty much anything anyone could want or need is available for purchase in Cuba. I don’t think that it would hurt to ask your hosts if there is anything they would like from Canada. However, I think that the best way to go about gifting is to leave a monetary tip when you leave each Casa. This way your hosts can put your gift towards something they really want.

If you want to learn more about the pro’s and con’s regarding gifting I would suggest reading through the forums on TripAdvisor. Here are a few threads that might interest you: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g147270-c129786/Cuba:Caribbean:Think.Before.You.Gift.html / https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g147275-i99-k8850680-Gifting_in_cuba-Varadero_Matanzas_Province_Cuba.html

When I returned from my trip I decided that if ever go back to Cuba I would share my Canadian culture with my hosts instead of gifting. Many of the people I met just wanted to learn more about Canada. I had a few pictures of BC on my cell phone and shared those with people I met and they loved it. If I ever return I would step it up a notch and bring a few iconic Canadian items with me like maple syrup and smoked salmon (items you can get in the airport) to share with my Casa hosts along with my photos of mountains and lakes.

Hope that helps a little bit 🙂 Have a wonderful time in Cuba!

Sarah.

Reply

Hi and thank you for the helpful post! Can you elaborate a bit on the tours that you took in Cuba? You mention that Guided day tours will cost between $20.00 CUC and $70.0 CUC per person – but anything I see online it much more expensive than that. Did you ask the casa owners to arrange the tours instead?

Reply

Hi Marina,

I took one guided tour with Discover Vinales http://www.discover-vinales.com/excursiones/ I did the Three Valleys Tour with them and had a great time. I looked into hiking tours while I was in Trinidad and they cost about $60 CUC per person but, were all booked up when I was there. Each of my Casa owners was willing to book tours for me and they were a bit cheaper than the tourist offices. I would suggest emailing you Casa owners before your trip to ask what tours they can arrange and what the costs are.

Hope that helps. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any further questions.

Sarah.

Reply

Hi,
we are with a group of five adults, traveling from Habana to Vinales, Trinidad, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa. it sounds that all (casas and transportation) can be easily arranged once we are there. But is that also the case when we are with 5 people.
I’m considering to use taxis since we are with a group of five, but will we fit in to one care? (it worked very well in Indonesia ,Sulawesi)

thanks very much for your reply,
Michelle

Reply

Hey Michelle,

Since you are a group of five I would recommend booking all of your casa’s before you leave. Once you have your casa’s booked you can email the owners and have them arrange transportation to your next destination for you. There is a variety of differently sized taxi’s so I am sure one can be found that will fit your group. If you want to arrange all of your transportation before your trip I used Taxi Vinales and would recommend them.

Hope that helps! Sounds like you are going to have a great trip 🙂

Sarah

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