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Our 5-Day Havana Tours Explore Authentic Cuba

Our Havana tours are not affected by the June 4 policy changes as we operate under Support for the Cuban People. Read our full statement and learn more about traveling to Havana under the latest policies.

 
Our Havana vacation surpassed our expectations. The thoughtful planning and logistics by Access Culinary Trips afforded us an optimum experience in culture, history, cuisine and personal interactions.
— John & Susan H.
 

Havana travel is still possible! Escape with Access Culinary Trips on a legal, award-winning Havana tour. This vibrant gem of a city is everything you’ve heard about and more, from stunning architecture to sultry salsa, and colorful markets to classic cars.

On our 5-day tour of Havana you’ll discover authentic Havana and connect with the locals in a meaningful way. You will be invited inside the kitchen of one of Havana’s finest paladares, learn to salsa with incredibly talented dancers, and meet an Afro-Cuban artist whose work evokes the traditions of Santeria. A highlight of our Havana tour is a mouth-watering meal in a local’s home, with a lesson on how to make the perfect daiquiri. You’ll also have an opportunity to explore some of Cuba’s iconic sights, such as Finca Vigia (Hemingway’s house), Havana Vieja, and Revolution Square. Along the way you’ll dine at Havana’s top restaurants and stay in deluxe accommodations.

This year’s special November 14 – 18 departure coincides with the Havana 500th anniversary celebration. Contact us at info@accesstrips.com to learn more or reserve your space today.

 

Top Havana Tour Experiences:

  • Cuban cooking demonstration at a renowned paladar

  • Mojito class by master mixologist

  • Happy hour and daiquiri class in a local’s home with home-cooked tapas

  • Visit an agricultural market, ration store and supermarket for true insights into the daily lives of Cubans

  • Visit Hemingway’s home in Cuba

  • Dine at Havana’s top private restaurants

Don’t miss this opportunity to join one of our legal Havana tours during a pivotal moment in history. For more information, please call 1-800-567-9400 or email us at info@accesstrips.com today. Our Havana tours are operated under a license granted by the US Treasury Department.

Top Press Coverage:

Learn more about traveling to Cuba under the latest policies.

If you are looking for a longer trip, please check out our 8-day Cuba Culinary Tour!

 
 
 

Is a Havana Tour for You?

Our Havana tours offer access to authentic experiences that independent travel and other tours simply can’t provide. You won’t just taste the food, you’ll meet the people behind it – locals who proudly welcome you into their homes. This is more than just a culinary tour of Havana. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make meaningful connections across cultures, through shared food and experiences.

You’ll learn about the practices and traditions, handed down through generations, and the important role cuisine plays in Cuban culture, with its Spanish, African, and Caribbean roots. You’ll even discover how access to food is impacted by government regulations and geopolitics.

Please note that although this trip is not exceptionally active, there is quite a bit of walking, including some on uneven pavement, and the weather can get hot. Havana travel requires flexibility, and changes to accommodations and activities may occur. We believe this is a small trade-off for the rich and authentic experiences you will have as you get to know the Cuban people.

All of our food tours include a rich combination of delicious ingredients: expert cooking classes, visits to flourishing farms and vibrant markets, and world-class cuisine!

See all Cuba food tours

See all Latin American food tours

 
 

QUICK FACTS

5 days
Year-round
Max Group Size 10
Prices from $2,990 USD 

HIGHLIGHTS

Exclusive access tourists rarely get

Bustling markets & organic farms

Renowned chefs & mixologists

Deluxe, privately-owned lodging

Travel by classic car, no buses

Intimate & fun groups of 10 or fewer like-minded guests

Trip Details

Detailed Itinerarylearn more

Food: All breakfasts, 3 lunches & 2 dinners (including happy hour) … learn more

Accommodationlearn more

Travel infolearn more

Recommended Readinglearn more

Havana Tours in the Blog

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Your 5-Day Weekend in Havana Tour Itinerary

DAY 1: Weekend in Havana Tour Begins

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¡Bienvenido a la Habana! We will be waiting for you when you step outside the airport to take you to your upscale accommodations. Give yourself a moment to soak it all in first though – you are about to spend the next five days in Havana!

In the afternoon you will check into your accommodations and get settled. Tonight’s welcome dinner is at one of our favorite restaurants in Havana, El Biky. Consistently ranked as one of the top paladares (privately owned restaurants) in Havana, this restaurant offers Cuban and Caribbean favorites for an excellent introduction to the culinary gems of Havana.

Meals included: Dinner

DAY 2: Santeria Art, Mojitos, and Salsa Dancing

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This morning it’s time to get to know Havana and the Cuban people. Climb into a vintage car (think ‘57 Chevy) and take in the sweeping ocean views as we drive along the malecon to Havana Vieja. Here we explore two of the four main squares: Plaza de la Catedral, named for the impressive 18th century Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza San Francisco de Asis, facing Havana’s harbor.

After our walking tour in Old Havana, we will head to Miramar, an upscale neighborhood whose expansive boulevards are lined with foreign embassies. Miramar is also home to one of Havana’s oldest and most renowned paladers where we will enjoy a delicious lunch, prepared especially for us, in a beautiful garden setting. But first, we will lounge at the paladar’s stunning bar to try our hand at making mojitos with an expert bartender. Don’t forget to ask what his favorite cocktail to make is! Then, bring your drink with you as the executive chef invites you into his kitchen for a brief cooking demonstration to learn the secrets to preparing classic Cuban fare with a modern twist, like paella – Cuban style.

After lunch, we will make our way to Centro Havana and wander through the street art gallery of muralist and painter Salvador Gonzales. Heavily influenced by the traditions of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, Salvador’s street art uses everything from bathtubs to car parts. As we stroll through the outdoor alley cum art gallery, the curator will happily answer any questions about Santeria or the artist’s interesting work. Keep an eye out for Salvador himself, relaxing around the gallery.

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Next up is a salsa class at one of our fabulous dance instructor’s home. Whether or not you choose to dance, visiting Johan’s apartment will be an eye-opening experience. Climbing two stories on a makeshift spiral staircase (the main one is always under repair), you will get a sense of how Cubans’ passion and optimism help them overcome many obstacles. Once upstairs, the dance troupe’s bright smiles, joie de vivre, and endless patience will have you dancing in no time!

This evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music can attend an optional jazz performance at the Jazz Café in Vedado or a cabaret show at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 3: Fuster Gallery & Hemingway’s Home

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Our weekend in Havana tour continues with a morning visit to the Fuster Gallery, where we will see José Fuster’s vibrant and colorful mosaic sculptures that he has created throughout his home and surrounding neighborhood.

We will then visit Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s house just outside Havana, and where he was inspired to write three of his most famous novels. We continue on to Cojimar, a small fishing village where Hemingway docked his beloved boat, Pilar, and the inspiration for his famous novel, “The Old Man and the Sea”. After a delicious lunch overlooking the water at one of Hemingway’s favorite watering holes, we’ll pass through Revolution Square on our way back into Havana.

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Once we arrive back in the city, the late afternoon is yours to explore Old Havana on your own or your guide will bring you back to your casa to relax. You could also continue on to the (touristy, but fun) El Floridita, as Hemingway surely would have, to enjoy another drink!

Later in the evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music might enjoy a visit to the Casa de la Musica in Miramar or the Buena Vista Social Club show at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 4: Peruse Farmer’s Market & Happy Hour in a Local’s Home

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This morning, we begin with a trip to a mercado agropecuario (produce market) where you’ll see what fruits and vegetables are available to local Cubans and chat with the friendly vendors. Then we’ll head next door to a ration store where you will observe how basic staples are procured in very specific quantities. Next up is a visit to the local supermarket. Cuban supermarkets are different than what you might expect and will give you a stark sense of what is, and is not, available to everyday Cubans.

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We then head to Old Havana to wander through the Museum of the City and Plaza de Armas. We will enjoy lunch at the famous La Guarida, renowned for its delectable cuisine and of course, its role in the movie “Fresa y Chocolate”. After a hearty lunch, you will be more than ready to walk around and explore the last of Havana’s four historic squares, Plaza Vieja. Dating back to 1559, most buildings have been lovingly restored to their former glory and now house art galleries, a coffee roastery, and cafes. Be sure not to miss the chocolate café, where you may choose to sip on a cup of hot or cold chocolate and taste their delectable chocolate treats. Feel free to wander around the cafe and check out the historic chocolate molds and artifacts. Afterwards, if you still have room, perhaps try some refreshing coconut ice cream from the ice cream street cart!

The perfect way to cap off your five days in Havana is happy hour at your guide’s home in Centro Havana. Your guide and his family warmly invite you into their home for tasty tapas and cocktails. Your charming host will show you how to make the perfect daiquiri. Then enjoy home-cooked tapas for dinner, great conversation, and more than a few laughs with our hosts before heading back to your casa or out to enjoy your last evening in Havana.

This evening is last of our long weekend in Havana. For those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music, tonight is another opportunity to enjoy an optional jazz performance or a cabaret show. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, (Happy Hour) Dinner

Day 5: Weekend in Havana Tour Ends

Alas, your weekend in Havana is over and it is time to head home. Your guide and driver will take you to the airport in time for your flight. Be prepared, good-byes may be tough, because at this point they are far more than just your guide and driver – they are your friends from Havana!

Meals included: Breakfast

In order to maintain our license for travel to Cuba, Access Culinary Trips provides a full schedule of activities during each day of our Cuba food tours, and our guests must participate in those activities with the group. This will not only give you the opportunity to explore Cuba through its cuisine, but also to see some of Cuba’s iconic sights that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Please also be aware that Cuba is an adventurous destination where things do not always go as planned. We urge you to bring a flexible attitude and a sense of humor. The above itinerary reflects our best planning, but there may be times when we have to substitute different activities and accommodations on our Cuba food tours. That is la aventura Cubana – the Cuban adventure!

 
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Best Restaurants In Havana

Introducing the Paladar
Havana’s food revolution began 20 years ago when private citizens were again allowed to operate family-run restaurants, or paladares. The rise of the paladar is leading to unprecedented innovations in Cuban cuisine and vast improvements in customer service. Many Havana restaurants are still family-run affairs offering traditional, delicious, down-home Cuban food. Some of the best restaurants in Havana offer eclectic Cuban cuisine using organic produce and a fusion of international flavors, served up in magnificent settings with stunning artwork and expansive patios.

On our Havana weekend tour for foodies we will dine at some of the best restaurants in Havana. You will also have several free nights to choose your own Havana restaurant options to sample additional Cuban cuisine.

Havana Restaurant  & Dining Experiences
Access Culinary Trips pioneered culinary travel in Havana by offering access inside local Havana kitchens at top restaurants for the first time ever. On our Havana tour you will have the opportunity to meet with talented chefs and mixologists as they share the secrets to making authentic Cuban cuisine and cocktails. One of the many highlights of this tour is a cooking demo, exclusively for Access Culinary Trips guests, in one of the best restaurants in Havana. 

Other culinary highlights in Havana that will give you insights into the way Cubans live include visits to a vibrant agricultural market, a food ration shop, a supermarket, and a farm-to-table lunch, which will all surprise you for different reasons. We will also be welcomed into a local’s home for a mouth-watering home cooked meal.

Cuban Cocktails
Rum-based cocktails are a highlight for many people visiting the Caribbean, and Cuba, the original home of Bacardi rum is no exception. You will have a mojito class with the bartender of one of the original (and best) restaurants in Havana. We will also visit El Floridita, a historic bar famous for two things: being the birthplace of the daiquiri and being the favorite watering hole of Ernest Hemingway. You will not only get a chance to taste a daiquiri at El Floridita, you will also learn how to make the perfect Cuban daiquiri for your friends back home at the happy hour hosted by our local guide!

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Havana Hotels & Casa Particular Options

We have scoured Havana to find the nicest casas particulares, or privately owned guesthouses for our weekend tours. While many casa particular rentals offer simple rooms within the family home, the lodgings we use on this tour more closely resemble deluxe vacation rentals or boutique private hotels. Some of the Havana casas particulares we reserve are old colonial homes and others are mid-century villas with swimming pools. Unlike the large Havana hotels, there are only a handful of rooms in each casa particular in Havana. This means the accommodations will vary based on trip dates and group size, but will always be the finest available.

All of the bedrooms in our boutique Havana hotels and casas have en suite bathrooms, air conditioning, and are very clean and comfortable.

In the last 18 years, there has been a surge in Havana’s privately-owned guesthouses. We use these for our tours, rather than the large Havana hotels, because they are an ideal way to be immersed in the culture and engage meaningfully with the local community. Due to the generosity and hospitality inherent in Cuban culture, the private casas generally have higher service levels than the government-run hotels. Also, since the government controls Havana’s hotel inventory, rooms of international standard are extremely limited. We feel that we can better manage the quality of your Havana accommodations and the authenticity of your cultural experience by seeking out bouique Havana hotels and upscale casa particular options.

As with all travel to Havana, your flexibility is appreciated. Despite our best planning, things might not work as expected in your casa particular, as it might not in a Havana hotel. Power outages can occur, water pressure might not always be ideal, hot water might not be available sometimes, and if something breaks, your landlord simply may not be able to replace it in a timely manner due to shortages of most household items. We believe that these minor inconveniences are not just a small price to pay for an immersive experience into Cuban culture, but also an opportunity to get an authentic sense of what life is really like in Havana.

NOTE:  There will not be internet service or international phone service in any of the accommodations.  However, we have built a couple of times into the itinerary to go to internet access points.

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Havana Travel Information from Access Culinary Trips

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE TRAVEL INFORMATION

Arrival
On Day 1 of the tour, we will provide group transfers from the José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana for flights scheduled to arrive by 5:30 PM. A driver will be waiting for you with an Access Culinary Trips sign once you’ve claimed your luggage and cleared customs. Terminal 3 arrivals should exit the terminal and head left to the currency exchange kiosk, where you will find a driver with an Access Culinary Trips sign. Terminal 2 arrivals should exit the terminal and a driver will be waiting for you with an Access Culinary Trips sign. If you have any concerns when you arrive in Havana please feel free to have an airport official call the Local Operations Manager.

Note: We recommend arriving by 5:30 PM (or earlier) to be able to enjoy the included group welcome dinner on Day 1. If you arrive after 5:30 PM, we can arrange your transfer (at an additional cost).

Departure
On Day 5 of the tour, we will provide a group transfer to the José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana. Group airport transfers are generally scheduled for late morning and late afternoon. We will not know the final times until we have received the flight information from all guests. We will notify you in advance should there be a wait time longer than three hours from your flight’s scheduled departure time. In this case, you may choose to take the included group transfer or we can arrange in advance of your trip a private car and driver for an additional cost.

Pick-up & Drop-off Information
Group airport transfers at the specified airports/times in Cuba are included. If you require a private airport transfer, please contact us for more information.

Flights
If you would like assistance with purchasing your flight/visa or travel insurance, please let us know and we will forward your contact information and trip details to our travel agent partner.

TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Nationality
This is a licensed tour of Cuba that is legal for US citizens as well as citizens from other countries. In order to comply with the Support for the Cuban People license granted by the US Department of Treasury, Access Culinary Trips provides a full schedule of immersive activities each day designed to enhance contact and meaningful interactions with the Cuban people, and our guests must participate in those activities with the group.

Health & Travel Insurance
Cuban health insurance is mandatory for travel to Cuba and is bundled into the price of your airline ticket. Your boarding pass will serve as proof of your insurance, so please keep this with you throughout the duration of your trip. The insurance policy does not cover any pre-existing conditions. If you have a pre-existing condition or would like increased health benefits coverage, we recommend purchasing supplemental travel medical insurance that includes emergency medical evacuation. Please see more on pre-existing medical conditions under “Health Requirements”.

We require that you purchase a trip cancellation and interruption insurance policy that covers the entire cost of the trip, so that you will be covered in the event that you are unable to attend our trip due to injury, illness or other unforeseen circumstances. A “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) insurance coverage is strongly recommended for all of our tours and, depending on the insurance provider, must be purchased within 7 – 21 days of booking your tour. Please check with your travel insurance provider for specific guidance on what policy may be best for you.

You must purchase a trip cancellation insurance policy (we strongly recommend including CFAR coverage) and provide us with documentation within 14 days of booking your trip. If you need to cancel your trip, we will assist with any documentation needed to file a claim. There will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Please note: proof of insurance is due within 14 days of booking, and delay in receipt may result in late documentation charges.

Note: For residents of NY, some insurance policies (including CFAR coverage) may not be available, please contact us as well as check with your travel insurance provider for additional details.

We do not provide travel insurance for our clients. Additional details are on our website here.

Passports & Visas
Travel to Cuba requires a valid passport (with a minimum of 6 months validity) and visa. A travel visa (sometimes referred to as an entry card or tourist card) is required for all US citizens. This trip operates under the category of Support for the Cuban People, general license #515.574. You will need this number and the address of the accommodations in Havana (provided by Access Culinary Trips) to complete the visa paperwork. Each airline has its own process and recommendations regarding visas. Please contact your airline for more information.

To learn more about visa and entry requirements for Cuba, please check out the Cuba page of the US Department of State website at: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html or consult a travel agent.

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documentation.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Emergency Contact 
If your friends or family need to contact Access Culinary Trips due to an emergency while you are on the tour, please have them refer to the pre-departure email that is sent out approximately three weeks prior to departure, which will have specific contact information relevant to your trip. If you need to contact Access Culinary Trips while traveling, please also refer to the emergency contact information in the pre-departure email.

Health Requirements 
Guests with preexisting medical conditions are required to disclose this information prior to traveling with Access Culinary Trips, and all guests with preexisting conditions are required to provide a note from a doctor clearing them for travel to Cuba. The US Department of State recommends that travelers with medical prescriptions consider bringing small additional amounts of prescribed medicines as well as a copy of the prescription and a letter from the prescribing physician explaining the need for prescription.

We strongly recommend that all of our guests visit a travel doctor before embarking on international travel. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you receive any necessary vaccinations before traveling on your trip with us.

Please carefully review the following webpage for up-to-date health information, including information on the quality of medical care, the availability of medications and the necessity for vaccinations in the destination country, and the latest updates on the Zika virus: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cuba. If there is a chance that you may be pregnant during your trip, please discuss your travel plans with your doctor.

Fitness Requirements
Our trips are open to anyone who wants to explore our exotic destinations through cuisine. Unfortunately Cuba does not yet have adequate facilities for disabled travelers. The accommodations and restaurants may not have elevators, the sidewalks may not be even and we will be walking on cobblestone streets. We also engage in walking tours, some of which last several hours.

Age
Children ages 12 and up are welcome on group trips. Children under 12 are welcome on private tours. Please contact us with any questions.

Safety & Security
To maximize your safety during our tours you should exercise common sense and caution at all times. We recommend that you always stick to set travel arrangements and avoid unknown areas. We also recommend that you wear minimal jewelry and that you keep valuable items (including cell phones) safely stored. Always keep a copy of your passport, airline tickets, and credit card numbers separate from where you keep the originals.

For more information on safety and security in Cuba, please review the safety and security section of the following webpage: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html

Note: As a rule, do not drink tap water or use unfiltered ice in Cuba, even in hotels. We strongly recommend buying bottled water. Eating uncooked or unpeeled fruits and vegetables can also be a potential risk if they have been washed in tap (unfiltered) water. Please eat street food at your discretion.

CURRENCY, BANKING & SPENDING MONEY

Converting CAD or Euro to the Convertible Peso
The local currency is the Cuban Peso (CUP). Tourists are required to use an official tourist currency, known as the Convertible Peso (CUC). Cubans can use either CUP or CUC. The value of the Convertible Peso (CUC) is pegged to the US dollar, however when exchanging US dollars to CUC, you will lose 13% to Cuban taxes and exchange fees. Please consider bringing Canadian dollars or Euros to exchange instead, as they are not subject to the same taxes and fees as US dollars. Please see more below.

Cash vs Credit Cards in Cuba
Although there are some American banks that offer credit cards for use in Cuba, credit card service is still not widely accepted in private Cuban businesses. There are also issues with connection to servers (due to the lack of internet access). Therefore, please be prepared to bring as much cash as you need to cover all personal expenses. We recommend exchanging $500-$1000 US dollars (per person) into Canadian dollars or Euros which you will exchange into Convertible Pesos in Cuba. $500 is the approximate minimum amount needed for non-included meals (at moderately priced restaurants) and services. If you plan to purchase many souvenirs, rum, cigars, artwork, enjoy evening shows, or dine at higher end restaurants, you should consider bringing closer to the $1000 range.

Exchanging Money in Cuba
If the airport currency exchange office is closed when you arrive in Havana, your guide will provide you with local currency for your first evening in Cuba. The following morning the guide will bring the group to an exchange office to change money into CUC. There is often a long line at the exchange counters, so we recommend exchanging as much money as you think you will need for the entire tour at this time. If you choose not to, please let your tour guide know when you need to exchange more and the group will make another stop later in the tour. Please see above for spending money recommendations.

Spending Money
Please see above for specific recommendations on budgeting for spending money.

We provide bottled water during tour activities. In addition, bottled water and other beverages are usually available for purchase in most guest houses. Payment for any extra beverages is generally due upon checkout. We recommend keeping track of what you buy. At the end of your stay, if there are any discrepancies, please let your guide know and they will help clear up any possible confusion.

Meals: All breakfasts, three lunches, and two dinners (including Happy Hour tapas) are included. Please plan to budget at least USD $10-$20 per lunch and USD $20-$30 per dinner for those meals that are not included, as well as money for snacks, drinks, and bottled water.

Your guides are happy to help you arrange transportation and make reservations for restaurants once you arrive in Cuba. However, the average Cuban does not have the luxury of eating out and they may not be able to provide a multitude of recommendations. All of the paladars included in our itinerary and recommended for non-included meals are privately-owned. Some of our guests have expressed an interest in trying a government-run restaurant. These restaurants generally lack the service and quality of privately-owned paladars. However, if you would like to experience one, please ask your guide for a recommendation.

It is currently challenging to make advance dinner reservations at restaurants in Cuba. Even if it possible to make them before the trip, reservations frequently become “lost” as Cuban restaurants largely still take people on a first-come basis regardless of advance reservations. We recommend talking with your guide when you arrive in Cuba if you have any specific restaurants (including addresses and phone numbers) that you would like to visit. Also, the guides will have a much better gauge of when each day’s activities will conclude and how much time you will need before you are ready for your dinner plans.  At this point, we have not had any guests be unable to dine at their chosen restaurant, however, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Tipping
Restaurants: A 10% tip is appreciated in restaurants. Sometimes a gratuity is added to the bill in advance. Please check before adding an additional tip.

Restrooms: Most public restrooms are staffed and a tip of 0.25 CUCs are expected. Please ask your guide if you are in need of a small coin to tip the attendant.

Tour Staff: We pay all of our providers a fair wage for their services, however, tipping is prevalent in Cuba and most people in the hospitality industry view a tip as an affirmation of a “job well done”. If you receive exceptional service and choose to tip providers, here are some guidelines:

  • Salsa instructor: 3-5 CUC per guest

  • Bartender at the happy hour dinner: 2-5 CUC per guest

  • Discretionary Tips for Guides & Drivers: We recommend 10 CUC per guest, per day (50 CUC total per guest) for the guide and 5 CUC per guest, per day (25 CUC total per guest) for the driver. If you have more than one guide or driver, please divide the 50 CUC (guide tips) and 25 CUC (driver tips) between them as you see fit.

Other expenses: You should also plan to take spending money for incidentals such as taxi rides during your free time, internet cafes, souvenir shopping and nightlife, or for street musicians or people you take photographs of.

Helpful Hints
You will need your passport to exchange money.

Please keep all exchange receipts. You may need to show them when you convert back at the end of the tour.

For the latest currency exchange information please go to: https://finance.yahoo.com/currency-converter

There are no longer monetary restrictions on bringing Cuban alcohol and/or tobacco products (for personal consumption) into the US. There is no value limitation on bringing informational materials (including art, books, magazines, CDs, DVDs) to the US.

Please click here for more information on importing goods from Cuba on the US Customs and Border Protection website.

CULTURE

Cuba is known for its distinct Caribbean culture with influences from Spanish, African, and French traditions. The people are warm, engaging and passionate about sharing their culture with tourists as well as learning about other cultures. It is part of Cuban culture to serve an abundance of food at meals, in both homes and restaurants. It is one of the many ways that Cubans show generosity and hospitality to their guests. They do not expect that everything will be eaten and ensure that no food goes to waste.

Most people are open to being photographed but it is courteous to ask first. Also, if you are photographing a street performer or someone in a working environment, it is appropriate to give a small tip, 1 CUC.

Cuba is a communist society and many of the businesses are owned by the government. The government has allowed some recent entrepreneurial reforms that have led to a rise in innovation and customer service levels in privately-owned businesses, such as restaurants and guesthouses. With that said, there are still many things not available in Cuba as a consequence of both the US embargo and Cuban government restrictions.

Please keep in mind that Cuba is still a developing nation whose service standards, timeliness, available resources, and cultural norms may differ from our own. It is an adventurous destination where things do not always go as planned. We urge you to bring a flexible attitude and a sense of humor. The itinerary on this trip reflects our best planning, but there may be times when we have to substitute different activities or accommodations. That is part of the adventure of Cuba travel right now, and we believe this is a small trade-off for the rich and authentic experiences you will have as you get to know the Cuban people. That is la aventura Cubana – the Cuban adventure!

Language
Most Cubans speak Spanish only and occasionally some will speak English.

CLIMATE

Our Havana Weekend tour for explores the vibrant, bustling city of Havana.

Havana has two seasons, rainy (May-Oct) and dry (Nov-Apr). In the dry season you can expect sunny, warm and humid weather, with average daytime temperatures between 75F and 85F and nighttime temperatures between 65F and 70F. The rainy season is slightly warmer (average daytime temperatures between 85F and 90F, average nighttime temperatures between 70F and 75F) and more humid, with a greater likelihood of rain and thunderstorms.

You should be prepared for the possibility of unexpected, cooler weather in January and February and unexpected, warmer weather in April and October. Also, please be prepared for the possibility of rain on all of our Cuba tours, even in the “dry” season.

Notes:

June to November is considered hurricane season, with September and October historically seeing the highest number of hurricanes, although many years have no hurricane activity. We do run tours during this season and if you book a tour during this period you should be aware that, although unlikely, hurricanes could disrupt the normal tour itinerary.

Please check specific weather for your dates before you travel. You may consider a website such as Weather.com.

ELECTRICITY AND COMMUNICATION

Cuba mainly uses the same electrical plugs and voltage as in the United States (110 V/60 Hz). However, there are a few guesthouses that do however use European style outlets, so it is a good idea to bring a universal adapter just in case.

Internet access is not widely available and you will likely need to visit an internet café or hotel to stay connected. Also, even with internet access, certain websites and apps, like Skype, may not be available.

Cable TV stations may not have US or international stations.

Most major phone carriers have expanded their cell phone service to include Cuba. However some may still not work in Cuba and even with coverage, service may be unreliable. Please do not expect to be able to make or receive non-emergency calls. Please contact your carrier for more specific information and fees.

WHAT TO TAKE

We strongly recommend using TSA approved luggage locks on your bags and to hand carry valuables on the plane.

Many of our trips require us to move our base several times, so we recommend that you pack as lightly as possible. There may not always be someone available to help you carry your bags so you should only bring as much as you can carry on your own up a flight of stairs.

Laundry services are available at most accommodations.

We suggest that you bring the following items:

Clothing & Equipment

  • Warm weather casual clothes (Cubans dress very casually and the emphasis is on comfort)

  • Slightly nicer clothing for upscale restaurants

  • Bathing suit (some guesthouses may have a pool)

  • A pair of comfortable walking shoes and sandals. Rainy season can be muddy so closed-toe shoes are a good choice.

  • A light jacket/fleece/raincoat (It can be breezy in Havana in the evenings and possible low temperatures in January and February.)

  • An umbrella (for shade and/or rain protection)

  • If coming from outside the US or Canada, power adapter for 110v, 60 Hz

  • Toiletries (Please bring all the toiletries you need, including shampoo and soap, as they are not readily available for purchase in Cuba.)

  • Toilet paper and hand sanitizer (for public restrooms) Note: No paper products can be put in any toilets in Cuba.

  • Hair dryer

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat

  • Bug repellent with DEET

  • Over-the-counter steroid or antihistamine cream for possible bug bites/stings (like AfterBite™)

  • First-aid kit with lip balm, aspirin, band aids, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea

  • An extra amount of prescription drugs you may be taking

  • Travel laundry detergent

  • Universal travel plug adapter

  • Optional gifts for Cubans: gum, pens, travel toiletries, batteries, or unopened over-the-counter medications (Advil, Tylenol, Antacids), dried spices & herbs

Travel Documents

  • Passport (with photocopies)

  • Travel insurance (with photocopies)

  • Travel visa (sometimes referred to as an entry card or tourist visa)


RECOMMENDED TRIP RESOURCES

We strongly recommend that you bring a map of Havana with you on your trip. Here are two suggestions:

Available on Amazon: Street Smart Travel Map by Van Dam

Available on iTunes and Google Play: OsmAnd Maps. (This is a free app where you can download a map to your phone for use offline.)

Click here to view our recommended reading list.

Also, you will be dining at La Guarida, which is featured in the film Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate). You might consider watching it before you go!

FINAL NOTES

Please keep in mind that Cuba is still a developing nation whose service standards, timeliness, available resources, and cultural norms may differ from our own. It is also an adventurous destination where things do not always go as planned – in fact they often do not go as planned. We urge you to bring a flexible attitude and a sense of humor on your Cuba tour. This trip reflects our best planning, but there may be times when we have to substitute different activities and accommodations. That is la aventura Cubana – the Cuban adventure!

This is a tool meant to help you decide what you should bring on your upcoming trip. It is by no means comprehensive. While we do our best to be as thorough as possible, we cannot foresee every possible condition. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The information contained in this document is provided in good faith. Due to the nature of travel, details in this document may change. You should thus use the above information as an indication only and not as a contractual obligation on the part of Access Culinary Trips.