Planning A Trip to Cuba Isn't As Expensive As You Think
Updated January 3, 2018
How much money do you really need for a trip to Cuba? While it depends somewhat on what you like to do and what type of lodging you prefer, there are some fixed costs, too. We break down both to help you understand the cost of planning a trip to Cuba. Some items below are listed in USD while others are listed in CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos). The value of CUC is always the same as the value of the US Dollar, but when you exchange money you'll be charged a fee so expect you'll get back .87 cents US for every 1CUC.
By the way, Americans can still travel to Cuba despite recent changes to Cuba travel policy. A legal trip is just a matter of making sure you know what's changed and how it affects your plans. ViaHero has you covered with the latest updates on Cuba travel policies in these recent articles:
And before your trip, make sure to check out:
Lodging is a major expense when you travel, so you need to factor it into your budget early. In Cuba, you can find a bed for as little as 6CUC per night or spend well over 500CUC per night. It all depends on your budget and the type of accommodations you prefer. We recommend casa particulares, which are rooms in private homes. They’re inexpensive and you get to spend time with local Cuban families.
Here are the average costs of accommodations in Cuba:
Casa Particular: 20-50CUC per night
Hotels: 100-400+CUC per night
Hostels: 6-14CUC per night
Getting from place to place is another big cost of travel. Plan your routes in advance so you can figure out the cheapest ways to get around while also managing your time wisely. These are average costs of the most common transportation methods in Cuba.
Flight to Cuba: $200-$500 roundtrip from most parts of the United States
Taxi from the airport to your lodging: 25CUC
Private taxi: Some of these taxis use a meter and some do not. Negotiate the price before getting in. Metered pricing should be 1CUC when you get in plus 1CUC per kilometer. Prices should be similar without a meter. Expect to spend between 3-12CUC within a city, depending on how far you’re going.
Private taxi between cities: Prices vary greatly by distance. Havana to Viñales is approximately 70CUC.
Shared taxi (almendrons) in cities: 0.50CUC for most rides along the specified route of any shared taxi (more info on these is available here).
Shared taxi between cities: Prices vary depending on distance. Havana to Viñales should be around 15CUC per person.
Viazul bus between cities: Plan on around 4CUC per hour of your journey. Havana to Viñales is 12CUC and takes about three and a half hours.
Car rental: Roughly 85CUC per day for a car with an automatic transmission plus car insurance.
Food and Drinks
Travelers with a bare bones budget can get by on just five dollars per day for food, but it’s fun to spend a little more. If you can swing 15-40CUC per person per day, you’ll be feeling great. More than that and you’ll be able to enjoy some luxurious dinners and a few more drinks. That breaks down to:
Home-cooked breakfast at your casa particular: 3-7CUC
Lunch or dinner to go from a street stall: 0.50-2CUC
Lunch or dinner in a sit-down restaurant: 8-20CUC
Alcoholic beverages: 2-5CUC
Cup of coffee: 0.25-3CUC
1.5 liter bottle of water: 1-2CUC
Snacks from street stalls: 0.50-2CUC
Depending on what you like to do, you could get by on the cheap in this category or splash out on luxuries and adventure activities. Here are a few sample activities to help you get an idea of what you might spend.
Museums: Free to about 10CUC.
Havana city tour in a classic car: 30CUC
Horseback riding in Vinales: 5CUC per hour
See a show at Cabaret Tropicana: 85+CUC
Salsa, son, or rumba dancing lessons: 15CUC per hour
Ticket to a baseball game: 3CUC
ViaHero travel planners can give you even more ideas for activities along with their costs. Learn more about them on ViaHero's travel planners' page.
It’s not easy to get online in Cuba, but if you really need to use the internet, it is possible. To get online on your own device you need a card from ETECSA. It will cost you 2-6CUC per hour. Then you can connect at any open wifi hotspot.
You can also get online using desktop computers in hotels or at internet cafes. Rates are 5-10CUC per hour. You’ll likely have to wait in a long line and the internet will be very slow.
Americans are required to have health insurance that’s valid in Cuba. It’s easy to get, just another cost to remember. Some airlines take care of it and include it in the cost of your plane ticket. If your airline doesn’t, then you’ll need to purchase health insurance in Cuba before you clear customs. There’s a booth in the airport where you can purchase insurance for about $4 per day.
The other thing you must have is a Cuban visa/tourist card. Most airlines will sell you this as well. Expect to spend $50-85 on your tourist card. It’s valid for thirty days of travel in Cuba.
Quick Currency Tips
When you exchange American dollars into one of Cuba’s two currencies (CUC and CUP), you’ll be subject to a 10% tax from the Cuban government. Plus, most exchange places add on a 3% service fee. Plan on getting 87CUC for every $100 American dollars that you bring. After that, it’s easy to keep track of how much you’re spending because you’ll mostly deal in CUC (the tourist currency) and its value is pinned to the American dollar at a 1-to-1 rate.
Whenever you pay for anything, double check the change that you get back. Make sure that if you pay in CUC, you get change in CUC or the right amount of CUP.
Don't forget to factor tips into the cost of planning a trip to Cuba. Locals really appreciate (and sometimes rely on) tips from travelers. Here are a few situations where it’s good to tip and how much:
Bathroom attendants: 25-50 cents
Tour guides: 2CUC
Restaurants: Service fee is often included, but if it isn’t then 5-10% is appropriate
Musicians in restaurants and on the street: 1CUC
You can find yourself jumping through one hoop after another when planning a trip to Cuba, so finding a bit of help is a great idea. For a few extra dollars per day, you can greatly increase the ease of travel and enjoyment of your experience. ViaHero travel planners can put your entire itinerary together for just $25 per day. They’ll cater to your personal preferences and needs as a traveler. Expect to get recommendations for places the locals like to go, which major sights you can’t miss, where to stay, what and where to eat, and more.