14 things I wish I’d known before visiting Cuba
If you want to visit Cuba, there are some things you should know about this country before. This will help you find your way through it easier and get acquainted with the rules and laws.
Exchange money at the airport
Although you may generally avoid doing this, things are different in Cuba. It is normal to exchange money at the airport here, as Cuban currency cannot be bought anywhere else. However, doing this is safe and not something to worry about.
Hotels have higher exchange rates
While it may be easy to exchange currency at the hotel, it is also more expensive. Search a bit in order to find an ATM down the street where the rates are better.
You will have to wait for your luggage
If you lose your luggage in the airport, you should expect it will take an hour or 2 for it to arrive. You should also not expect very pleasant conditions as Cuba is quite hot.
ATMs could be empty
The machines sometimes run out of bills in Cuba, so be prepared for this to happen when you are on vacation. Take a map with you in order to find your way to another machine if the one you visited is empty.
You may not find Coca Cola
Although you may think this popular drink is available everywhere, you might not always find it in Cuba. Hotels usually always have it, however it is not commonly found in bars or even stores.
Some shops are only for locals
Some smaller stores in Cuba are only available for locals, so shop at the larger stores instead.
Internet might not work
You may find it difficult to connect to the Internet in Cuba at times, so be prepared not to find it everywhere.
Cuba is a Spanish speaking country, and many locals do not speak English. Try to learn the most common phrases before your trip, in order to understand at least a little of what locals are saying. You will find this to be very helpful during your trip.
Nights are late
Cubans party all night long, so you may find it difficult to leave at a normal hour.
Some monuments are closed on Monday
Learn about schedules first, as some museums might be closed on Monday.
Take money to the toilet with you
You will find the public toilets in Cuba need a tip in exchange for paper, so bring some with you. While this is unheard of in the US, it happens often in Cuba.
Learn how to dance salsa
Salsa is a huge part of the culture in Cuba so you should learn at least a few moves.
You need to tip love bands
You will quickly learn you need to tip bands and players who perform in the bars in Cuba, as they come by the tables after the performance. Make sure you have some extra cash on you or only go see the performances you really do enjoy.