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Why Traveling to Cuba is Much Cheaper Than You Think

Updated December 14, 2021

How much money do you really need to travel to Cuba? While it depends on what you like to do and what type of lodging you prefer, it's actually really affordable. Like, really affordable. Here's a breakdown of the typical costs—once you've given it a read, feel free to message us any questions you still have!

Want to make the most out of your trip? Tap into our network of local travel planners—Heroes—who build unique, locally-curated trip plans, designed just for you. Get started.

Note: Cuba had two currencies, but now only has one: the Cuban Peso, or CUP. The Cuban government has recently made drastic changes to the USD-CUP exchange rate, so be sure you know what the latest rates are. It can be very helpful to have the assistance of a trusted local planner to make sure you're getting the best rate.


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 600 CUP per night or spend well over 50000 CUP per night. It all depends on your budget and the type of accommodations you prefer. Local experts recommend casas particulares, which are rooms in private homes (these days, they're all rented out via Airbnb). They’re inexpensive and offer the opportunity to connect with Cuban locals.

Here are the average costs of accommodations in Cuba:

Casa Particular: 20-50 USD per night

Hotels: 100-500+ USD per night

Hostels: 6-14 USD per night

Pro tip: to travel legally under Support for the Cuban People, you need to stay in a casa particular or an approved hotel.


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: 2500 CUP

Private taxi: Some of these taxis use a meter and some do not. Negotiate the price before getting in. Metered pricing should be 100 CUP when you get in plus 100 CUP per kilometer. Prices should be similar without a meter. Expect to spend between 3-12 CUP within a city, depending on how far you’re going.

Private taxi between cities: Prices vary greatly by distance. Havana to Viñales is approximately 7000 CUP.

Shared taxi (almendrons) in cities: 50 CUP for most rides along the specified route of any shared taxi.

Shared taxi between cities: Prices vary depending on distance. Havana to Viñales should be around 1500 CUP per person.

Viazul bus between cities: Plan on around 400 CUP per hour of your journey. Havana to Viñales is 1200 CUP and takes about three and a half hours.  

Car rental: Roughly 8500 CUP per day for a car with an automatic transmission plus car insurance.

cars in cuba

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 1500-4000 CUP 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: 300-700 CUP

Lunch or dinner to go from a street stall: 50-200 CUP

Lunch or dinner in a sit-down restaurant: 800-2000 CUP

Alcoholic beverages: 200-500 CUP

Cup of coffee: 25-300 CUP

1.5 liter bottle of water: 100-200 CUP

Snacks from street stalls: 50-200 CUP

Read on: 5 Delicious Meals in Cuba Under $1


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 500-1000 CUP.

Havana city tour in a classic car: 2500 CUP

Horseback riding in Viñales: 500 CUP per hour

See a show at Cabaret Tropicana: 85+ CUP

Salsa, son, or rumba dancing lessons: 1000-1500 CUP per hour

Ticket to a baseball game: 50 CUP

Our Heroes can give you even more ideas for activities along with their costs. Learn more about them on our travel planners' page.

greenspace in cuba


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 200-600 CUP per hour. Then you can connect at any open wifi hotspot (usually in a park). The easiest way to find an ETECSA card? From someone selling it in the park.

You can also get online using desktop computers in hotels or at internet cafes. Rates are 500-1000 CUP 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.

Currency Exchange

As mentioned above, the official exchange rate in Cuba is always 24 CUP to 1 USD, but the USD's actual value is over 4 times as much on the local (informal) market. This means the if you change 10 USD in an official exchange office, you'll get 240 pesos, and if you change it on the local market, you'll get over 1000 pesos! (And this number could continue to go up rapidly.) This discrepancy makes it hard to provide the USD equivalent value for items since depending on how you change your money, you could be spending a different equivalent amount in USD.

It's perfectly safe to change currency with an informal money changer, but it can help to have the guidance of a local to point you to the right people. We know that's confusing, so read our guide on Cuban currency.

Whenever you pay for anything, double check the change that you get back. 


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: 5-10 CUP
Tour guides:  200 CUP
Restaurants: Service fee is often included, but if it isn’t then 5-10% is appropriate
Musicians in restaurants and on the street: 50-100 CUP

Planning Your Trip

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 get help planning a legal Support for the Cuban People itinerary and greatly increase the ease of travel and enjoyment of your experience. Our 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.


Still have questions about the cost of planning a trip to Cuba? Cuban Heroes are here to help. Message us to get started. And before your trip, make sure to check out:


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