Cuba is a great place to travel if you are on a budget. But, even if you aren't trying to travel cheaply it's a good idea to map out your budget and figure out what things cost in Cuba before you leave.
Cash is an issue if you are traveling to Cuba as an American. Please make sure you know the difference between the two Cuban currencies, how to exchange your US cash, and how to use foreign credit cards in Cuba. If you don't know about these things read this article for all the details.
What You Can Book Before You Leave For Cuba
Between $200 - $400 roundtrip
You can pay for your flight with a US credit card. United, Jet Blue, Delta, Southwest and a slew of other airlines now fly direct to Cuba which makes booking a flight easy. I have seen fares below $200 and up to $400 depending on what days you want to leave.
Read on: Skyscanner tips and tricks here
$75 (But have heard it can be as much as $100 or as low as $50)
You'll buy your Cuban Visa (or Cuban Tourist Card) right before you checked into your flight the day of. I can only speak for the United process, but found it was quite simple. We applied and paid for our visa immediately prior to checking into our flight at the airport.
Budget between $30 - $50/night for Casa Particulars, $100 - $600/night for Hotels
I stayed entirely at Casa Particulars (Cuba's version of AirBnb) and HIGHLY recommend it. To make it easy there are a fair number of Casa Particulars on the actual AirBnb website. US credit cards worked fine. I booked all of my accommodations before arriving but it would be very easy to book once you arrive as well. Just remember that is more cash you will have to bring, and carry, with you.
Anywhere between $50 - $100 for group tours. Personalized tours $$$ (sky's the limit)
Tours can be booked beforehand through AirBnb and other sites. But, I don't recommend booking anything beforehand. You will end up paying so much more money than necessary for the exact same tour. I did not book any tours (including my tour to Vinales) before arriving in Cuba.
What Things Cost in Cuba
For simplicity, the prices in the rest of this article are CUC/USD. Remember, the CUC (tourist currency) is attached to the US dollar.
Just like anything, eating is going to be highly variable. You can eat at the most expensive restaurants your heart desires or chow down on street food constantly to budget travel through Cuba. I will say though, cheap food is delicious and much more common. And of course, different cities have varying prices as well. But, all in all, you can usually find food listed for the prices below in any city.
Breakfast Prices in Cuba
If you are staying in a Casa Particular, breakfast is usually included, made by your host, and is typically $5 a person. Breakfast will include fruit, fresh fruit juice, coffee, two eggs, a small crepe style pancake, jamon, cheese and bread. Local restaurants will typically have tostada ($.50) eggs ($1.50) omelettes ($2.50) fresh juice ($2) fresh fruit cocktail ($2) and coffee ($1).
Lunch/Dinner prices in Cuba
Again, local less extravagant restaurants will have cheap food. You'll find plato de dia (special of the day) for around $4 or $5. This is a large plate of food including a meat, rice, beans and fried bananas. Nicer tapa style places will have dishes like croquettas ($3) to ceviche ($5) all the way up to tacos ($8). Tourist restaurants (specifically in old Havana) will have meals around $10-12 or plates of the day around $10. Fish is always the most expensive, usually around $9. Pizza places start at around $2.50 for grab and go pizza. Pasta dishes start around $5.
How much does water cost in Cuba?
It is hot in Cuba and you can’t drink from the tap. Luckily, water prices aren’t too steep. Large 1.5 liters bottles are between $1-2 and smaller 500ml bottles are typically $1 each.
Drinking and alcohol costs
Drinks are cheap in Cuba! Hooray! (Drink responsibly - know your limits) Just like in the states, the nicer the restaurant the more expensive the drinks.
- Grab and go national beer: $1
- Beer at restaurants: between $1-2
- Cocktails in most restaurants: between $2-3
- Mojitos and Daiquiris: typically $3-5
Taxi costs in cuba
Important Tip: Taxi meters in Cuba are never turned on and most cars don’t even have them – negotiate the price before you leave.
- Havana Airport to Havana: $20 - $25 (it's about a 30-minute ride)
- Havana to Varadero: $90 - $140 (private car)
- Havana to Vinales: $70 (private car)
- Private taxis within the city: $2 - $10 depending on distance
- Cycle Taxis: $1 - $3 depending on bargaining but be generous if it is hot outside
- Scooter Rentals: $25/day
Taxi Colectivos prices in Cuba
A taxi colectivo is a shared taxi. You can take them in the city or between cities. They are very safe but also very... rustic. Don't be surprised if you're sitting next to a chicken. Seriously.
- In the city: $.50
- Havana to Trinidad ($25/person)
- Havana to Vinales ($15/person)
Tip: Ask the infotur offices for more information and pick up points on Taxi Colectivos
Bus prices in Cuba
- City Bus: $.04
- Yes, only 4 cents but VERY packed and only certain routes. Use with caution.
- Viazul Bus
- Tourist bus with air conditioning that run between multiple cities.
- Typically $4-5 an hour depending on your journey.
- Sample routes
- Havana to Vinales: $12
- Vinales to Cienfuegos: $35
- Cienfuegos to Trinidad: $6
Attractions and Activities
- Museums range: $5-10
- Riding in a classic car: $5-20
- highly dependent on where you are going and your bargaining skills
- Horseback tour in Vinales: $5/hour
- 4-hour tours are typical
- You can read the full guide to getting from Havana to Vinales here
- Cave entrance fees: $5 per person
- Ballet Tickets: $30 for orchestra or $10 for balcony
- Scuba Diving: $70-80 for 2 dives
- Tanks gear and transport all included (no lunch)
- You can read all about scuba diving the Bay of Pigs here
- Tropicana Show: $85 per person
- Includes a cigar on entry, ¼ bottle of Rum and a welcome drink (typically champagne)
- Here is an article about how to get tickets to a Tropicana show
- Buena Vista Social Club show: $60 per person
- Includes dinner and 3 drinks during the show
Final Thoughts on Cost of Cuba
As you can see, like any vacation spot, Cuba is as expensive or as cheap as you make it. I hope this gives you a clearer idea of how much to bring and helps you make a budget for Cuba.
Also, even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
Also, a super common question I get asked constantly is what camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D3300 and I mostly use this wide angle lens made by Sigma. It's awesome for travel photography - I am seriously obsessed with it.