Cuba is not short of amazing surprises for first-time travelers. You will encounter famous worldwide beaches, breathtaking landscapes, historic cities, and the most welcoming people. Naturally, you will want to see it all.
However, with so many things to do and places to visit, the cost of a trip to Cuba can get out of control very quickly.
In this guide, we offer an updated down-to-earth holiday budget for Cuba. Unlike other articles that just display data scraped from travel websites, we will help you with a realistic trip to Cuba cost. Our breakdown includes expected costs of accommodation, transportation, food and drinks, entertainment, Internet, and even tipping. We close the article with helpful tips that will save you some bucks!
How Much Does a Trip to Cuba Cost?
A typical seven days trip to Cuba costs anywhere from 1200 to 3,000 USD, including flights, accommodation, and insurance.
Plan to pay at least 500 USD for your flight ticket, but it can be as high as 1,700 USD especially if departing from the US. On the other hand, accommodations in Cuba can be as cheap as 10 USD/night if staying in “casas particulares”.
Also, your trip to Cuba cost can go lower or higher depending on the season you choose to travel. Cuba’s dry season is more popular than the wet season, so expect higher prices during peak months.
Let’s get into more pricing details for flights and accommodations in Cuba.
Costs of flights to Cuba
Two major events have significantly increased the costs of flying to Cuba in the last few years:
- US restrictions on air travel to Cuba. Currently, US airlines are permitted to fly into the Havana Airport only.
- The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flights to Cuba are expensive and you can expect to pay at least 400 USD for a ticket from the US or Canada. If you are traveling from the US to Cuba, flights can go as high as 1,700 USD.
Many flight search engines like Expedia, Orbit, and Kayak don’t carry flights to Cuba from the US. Instead, use Skyscanner or book your flights directly through your airline of choice.
Accommodation costs in Cuba
Popular options for accommodations in Cuba include hotels, resorts, and private houses (known as “casas particulares” or “hostales”).
Renting a room in a casa particular is not only the most affordable option but also the most authentic and culturally immersive. Many casas also include a home-cooked breakfast each morning! You can compare listing prices on Skyscanner too.
Casas particulares: most casas particulares cost between 20 to 300 USD/night. Most people pay between 20 to 50 USD a night on average.
Hotels and resorts: most start at 100 USD/night and go as high as 800 USD/night.
As you can see from the prices listed above, accommodations are a huge factor in your trip to Cuba cost.
Besides the Cuba Tourist Card, all travelers are required to show proof of travel insurance in Cuba. Specifically, your insurance needs to cover medical expenses. Companies like RoamRight can get you covered for about 55 USD a week per person.
How Much Money Do You Need in Cuba?
Excluding flight tickets and accommodations, generally, you can expect to spend 40 – 120 USD/day.
However, the final price tag of your trip to Cuba will depend on the kind of trip you want. For example, loading your itinerary with guided tours and expensive restaurants will be pricier than eating at down-to-earth “paladares” and free walking tours.
Another factor that will impact your budget is where you stay. Big cities like Havana are costlier than more rural areas and smaller towns.
Finally, you need to consider that prices in Cuba for tourists are generally higher. For example, in a restaurant, they might keep aside a menu for tourists with prices 20% higher. Likewise, private transfers will try to charge 30 to 40% above the normal rate for a local.
Let’s break down these numbers.
First Things First: Understanding the Cuban Currency
The Cuban currency system can be tricky for first-time visitors. In all honesty, you can’t estimate a realistic cost of a trip to Cuba without understanding how to use the Cuban Peso. Let’s get a few facts straight.
There is no Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)
The island had two official currencies until January 2021: the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The CUC was just eliminated in 2021, and the CUP remained the only official currency on the island. So, ignore anything you have read about the CUC because it does not circulate in Cuba anymore.
The US dollar is devaluated
As a visitor, you cannot use US dollars at most facilities in Cuba.
Only Cuban residents can use it at the so-called dollar stores (“Tiendas MLC”). And yet, the US dollar is the most devaluated currency in Cuba.
We know it’s complicated. Check out our Cuban currency guide for a more detailed story.
All you need to know is that:
- Most facilities in Cuba, even private ones, won’t accept US dollars.
- If you manage to pay in US dollars, you will get less value for your money.
In this article, we will use USD dollar for reference purposes, but you should not bring USDs to Cuba. Multiple the costs in USD by 24 to get values in CUP.
Euros and British Pounds will get you more
Today, the Euro and the Pound Sterling are the two highest-value currencies in Cuba. If you bring any of these, you will get more value for your money. They are also accepted almost everywhere in Cuba.
For example, the image below shows the value of the Euro, the USD, and other foreign currencies (MLC) in the black market. This gives you an indication of how much your home currency is worth in Cuba. Check El Toque’s currency tracker for updated information.
For currency prices at official exchange offices (CADECA), visit CADECA’s website for updated exchange rates.
You can’t bring Cuban Pesos
You can bring many things to Cuba, but you cannot bring Cuban Pesos. It’s not possible to exchange Cuban currency before you touch down in Cuba.
To stock up on Cuban currency, you can exchange your foreign money at official currency exchange centers called CADECAs (Casas de Cambio). You can find CADECA offices in Cuban airports, resorts, hotels, shopping centers, and banks.
With the Cuban currency out of the way, let’s get into your travel budget for Cuba.
Transportation costs in Cuba
Cuba’s transportation options include taxis, buses, rental cars, and domestic flights.
Taxis and city buses are great options for traveling short distances. You can cover longer distances by charter buses and domestic flights. Although more expensive, renting a car is also an option.
Private taxis: 1.50-3 USD/kilometer.
Taxi from the airport to your accommodation: 35 USD.
“Colectivos” or “almendrones” with fixed routes: 1-2 USD.
Bicitaxis: 3-5 USD short routes usually in Old Havana and Centro Havana.
Viazul charter bus for interprovincial trips: from 6 USD to 51 USD depending on the province you are going to. For example, the Havana to Varadero route in Viazul costs about 10 USD.
Rental car: starts at 69 USD per day.
Trains: 3-7 USD
Domestic flights: ticket prices can cost from 90 USD on the low-end to 140 USD on the higher-end. You can compare prices and book tickets here.
Private transfers: prices vary depending on where you are headed. For example, here is what you can expect to pay for these popular transfers:
- Havana to Varadero: 120 USD
- Havana to Viñales: 140 USD
- Havana to Trinidad: 215 USD
- Havana to Cienfuegos: 180 USD
Food and drinks costs in Cuba
The cost of food and drink in Cuba varies quite a bit depending on where you choose to eat.
Breakfast at your casa is often as low as 7-12 USD, while a meal at a sit-down restaurant is anywhere from 10-20+ USD.
Snacks from street vendors can cost you from 3 to 5 USD.
On average, prices of popular drinks in Cuba are as follows:
- 1.5 liter bottle of water: 3 USD (Pro tip – bring a water bottle with filter)
- Coffe: 1.50 USD
- Beer: 4 USD
- Piña Colada: 6-7 USD
- Daiquiri: 5 USD
- Mojito: 5 USD
- Cuba Libre: 4 USD
- Coconut water: 3 USD
Here is what you can expect to pay for traditional dishes in Cuba:
- Ropa vieja (boiled and shredded meat): 8 USD
- Arroz y frijoles negros (rice and black beans): 4 USD
- Arroz congri: 4 USD
- Arroz imperial (imperial rice): 10 USD
- Sandwich cubano (Cuban sandwich): 6 USD
- Pan con lechon (roasted pork sandwich): 6 USD
- Masas de cerdo fritas (fried pork chops): 7-9 USD
- Bistec de cerdo (pork steak): 7-9 USD
- Arroz con leche (rice pudding dessert): 4 USD
Entertainment costs in Cuba
Entertainment costs will, of course, vary depending on what exactly you have in mind. Here are average prices for a couple of popular activities:
- City tour of Havana in a classic car: 40-60 USD.
- Bike tour of Havana: 15 USD.
- Tickets to a baseball game: 3 USD /each.
- Admission to museums: from 2 to 10 USD/person.
- Show at Cabaret Tropicana: starts at 80 USD/person.
- Horse riding in Viñales: 5 USD/hour.
- Multi-city excursions: 175+ USD.
- Scuba diving in Maria la Gorda: 60 USD+ for a single immersion.
Internet costs in Cuba
Internet in Cuba is very unreliable, but you’ve got a couple of options to get WiFi in Cuba:
- Using a NAUTA card: 0.50 USD/hour.
- Using a Cubacel Tur card: 25 USD/2.50 GB.
- (International roaming) AT&T: $3.00/minute for calls; $0.50/text; $2.05/MB for data.
- (International roaming) T-Mobile: $2.00/minute for calls; $0.50/text; $2.00/MB for data.
Tipping in Cuba
In Cuba, tipping is widespread, and you’re encouraged to tip people who have performed a service for you–especially if they did an awesome job! Who should you tip in Cuba:
- Hotel maids: 1-3 USD/night.
- Hotel bellboys: 1-5 USD at check-in and again at check-out.
- Restaurant waiters and bartenders: 10% gratuity.
- Tour guides: 5-10 USD.
- Street musicians: 1 USD.
- Parking valets: 1 USD.
- Bathroom attendants: 0.25-0.50 USD.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your final trip to Cuba cost. For more practical advice for your trip to Cuba, check out our best Cuba travel tips.
Stay in a casa particular
Casas particulares are the most affordable accommodations in Cuba. There are over 14,000 on the island to choose from!
Casas are run by Cuban families who offer great suggestions about exciting things to do and see in the area. Plus, they cook lovely home-cooked meals.
The price of renting a room in a casa can be as low as 10 USD/night and as high as 800 USD/night at luxurious casas. You can also snag breakfast for 7-12 USD most of the time. You can check out the latest listings here.
Keep in mind: it’s illegal to crash at someone’s place for free, even if they invite you!
Eat at paladares and cafeterias
Paladares (private restaurants) and cafeterias are restaurants where you can get authentic Cuban cuisine at an affordable price.
Thanks to Cuba’s relaxing restrictions on private businesses, there are now over 2,000 paladares to choose from. Paladares offer a wealth of menu options and great service at a reasonable price. Meals typically cost between 10-25 USD.
Take a look at some of Havana’s best paladares in the Lonely Planet Pocket Guide of Havana.
Share urban taxis
Shared taxis–also called “colectivos” or “almendrones”–are taxis that travel along a fixed route. They stand out because they look just like vintage American cars from the 1950s!
Flag them down by standing along the route and raising your hand. If there’s room in the taxi, the driver will stop and let you hop aboard. The standard cost to ride is 1 USD.
Book tours directly from local guides
Tours are an excellent way to learn about authentic Cuba from a knowledgeable guide. For example, Havana has so many things to do that you should definitely consider hiring a seasoned local guide.
However, hiring inexperienced or authorized “tour guides” is not only a waste of money but could also be dangerous. Although Cuba is generally a safe country, there is no need to put yourself at risk.
Instead, book all your tours through well-respected local guides available in marketplaces like Tour Republic. You can book experiences all over the country, ranging from museum tours to urban cuisine and horseback riding.
Haggling and bargaining
Almost anything you pay for in Cuba can be haggled or bargained. Exceptions are certain restaurants, casas particulares, and the Viazul bus.
You should absolutely haggle with taxi drivers (unless you’re comfortable paying full price, of course!). Talk to your casa host so they can fill you in on what a fair price is for the area.
Get a Cuban Phrasebook and learn some expressions for a better chance of success.
Cheapest time to travel to Cuba
The rainy season (June to October) is typically the cheapest time to travel to Cuba. If you are a budget-savvy traveler thinking of backpacking Cuba, you will save some bucks if you fly to Cuba during the rainy season, especially in September. However, keep in mind that this season comes with bugs and mosquitoes in Cuba so bring a strong mosquito repellent.
Is Cuba Cheap to Visit?
We can’t say that Cuba is the cheapest travel destination. Flights can get incredibly expensive, especially from the US. The price of high-end hotels is similar to those in other expensive destinations.
However, Cuba is generally affordable, especially if you book all-inclusive vacation packages from countries other than the US. It can get even cheap if you stay in casas particulares, eat at paladares, and share taxis.
But in all honesty, if you are traveling as a tourist, you may want to tour around in private cars, stay at least a day at a beach resort, and eat delicious traditional food other than rice and beans. Consider these things when estimating your trip to Cuba cost.
We put a lot of effort into getting updated prices in Cuba for tourists. If you liked this post, please share it with your friends traveling to Cuba! Otherwise, leave your comments and suggestions below.