Before even leaving it is good to understand the two currencies in Cuba and why you need to bring cash with you. I detail everything related to currency - the two kinds, credit cards, banks here.
There are a couple of things you can book before your trip of course, to cut down on the amount of cash you have to bring with you.
Before you leave
Around $250 Roundtrip
I paid for my 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. Skyscanner tips and tricks here.
$75 (But have heard it can be as much as $100 or as low as $50)
The visa for Cuba was bought right before we checked into our flight. (Full visa process guide here) I can only speak for United but the process was quite simple. We applied and paid for our visa immediately prior to checking into our flight at the airport.
Budget between $30-50 a night for Casas or $100-600 a night for Hotels
I stayed entirely at Casa Particulars (Cubas version of AirBnB) and HIGHLY recommend it - you can see my full guide to Casa’s here. (coming soon) Luckily there are a fair number of Casas on the actual AirBnB website making it again easy to book. 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 have to bring with you.
Anywhere between $50-100 or personalized tours $$$ (sky's the limit)
Tours can be booked beforehand through AirBnB and other sites but I did not book anything before hand.
Once in Cuba
For simplicity, the prices in the rest of this article are CUC/USD (which are equal)
Of course, you can eat at the most expensive restaurants your heart desires or eat street food constantly on the cheap – but in Cuba, the cheap is much more common. And of course, different cities have varying prices but all in all you can usually find food listed for the prices below in any city. By the way here are my food recommendations while in Cuba.
If you are staying in a Casa, breakfast can be 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).
Again local less extravagant restaurants will have cheap food. Around $4 or $5 for a plate of food, which includes 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.
It is hot in Cuba and you can’t drink from the tap. Even still water prices aren’t too steep. Large 1.5 liters are between $1-2 and smaller 500ml bottles are typically $1 each.
Drinks are cheap in Cuba! Hooray! (Drink responsibly - know your limits)
Grab and go national beer is usually $1.
Beer at restaurants is between $1-2.
Cocktails in most restaurants are between $2-3.
Mojitos and Daiquiris are typically $3-5.
Important Tip: In all taxi's meters 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
Taxi Collectivos (Shared Taxis) in the city: $.50
Taxi Collectivos Havana to Trinidad ($25/person) Havana to Vinales ($15/person)
**Ask the infotur offices for more information and pick up points on Taxi Collectivos
City Bus: $.04 – yes only 4 cents but VERY packed and only certain routes. Use with caution.
Viazul Bus – Tourist bus with air conditioning. Runs between multiple cities. Typically $4-5 an hour depending on your journey. Here are some sample routes: Havana to Vinales $12. Vinales to Cienfuegos $35. Cienfuegos to Trinidad $6.
Scooter Rentals: $25/day
Attractions and Activities
Museums range between $5-10.
Riding in a classic car: $5-20 depending on where you are going and your bargaining skills
Horseback in Vinales: $5/hour – 4-hour trips are typical
Cave entrance fees: $5 per person
Ballet Tickets: $30 for orchestra $10 for balcony
Scuba Diving: $70-80 for 2 dives – tanks gear and transport all included (no lunch)
Tropicana Show: $85 per person – includes a cigar on entry, ¼ bottle of Rum and a welcome drink (typically champagne)
Buena Vista Social Club show: $60 per person including dinner and 3 drinks during the show.
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 if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out via comments below or email! (firstname.lastname@example.org)