A Week In Cuba

Old Aug 2nd, 2017, 06:37 AM
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A Week In Cuba

I'm heading to Havana, Cuba in 3 weeks and it's my first time. I'm very thrilled and also anxious. It's hard to book things in advance as most things are done in person which leads me to worrying that things might be booked. What things in Havana and surrounding areas do you recommend? What did you enjoy about your visit to Cuba, and what did you dislike? Did you manage to escape Havana and check out any other cities? If so, which ones? Any suggestions and tips are very appreciated. Thanks in advance travelers
heyyemggg is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2017, 10:31 AM
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Don't worry about booking lodging. Just book your first night(s) in Havana. The casa particular host can help with arrangements from there. Take a look at www.cubajunky.com for casas.

But a week is not much time to see much beyond Havana. "Escape Havana" is not the phrasing I would use, since I found it so interesting that more than one trip hasn't even scratched the surface of possibilities.

It's going to be extremely hot and humid; you'll be dripping most of the time you're not in the ac. It may slow you down. (Bring a washcloth to carry with you to "mop".)
But visiting Cuba IMO is not about rushing around to see sights, but slowing down to meet and talk to Cubans. That's what I liked best--- getting to know people there.

What I didn't like was the generally not very comfortable casas (the beds !), and the usual chance (unless maybe you make reservations at higher rated restaurants) of not great food, which gets more tiresome and unhealthy feeling as a trip goes on. Bring snacks (granola bars, etc).

Get a guidebook to see what appeals to YOU. Art? History? Dance? Try Real Havana and also a more general Cuba guidebook like Lonely Planet.
A week is very little time. You might get in a long day or overnight trip to rural Vinales (about 2 1/2 hours) with its tobacco fields and dramatic mountains.
Or spend a day at the beaches nearby Havana, reachable by bus. (There are also pretty beaches in Varadero, 3 1/2 hours by bus, but not worth it on a week's trip.)
Some people go to Colonial Trinidad (6 hours), packed with foreign tourists. Choose one or just stay in Havana.

Try www.lahabana.com for current music venues, shows, art galleries, and restaurants.

Bring twice as much cash as you think you'll spend (if you are from the US, because US based credit cards don't work); it's a mostly cash economy anyway.
Try to ask your casa host about taxi prices from a certain place to a certain place so you won't get overcharged.
If you are young and attractive, learn to deal with the "jineteros" who may mob you.

Post you questions also on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum for Cuba and on Trip Advisor. The same posters, who have been going to Cuba for decades and know all the ins and outs, post there. There are few regular posters here who have been to Cuba recently, and those for only one brief visit mostly.

Relax and enjoy.
SambaChula is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2017, 12:06 PM
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with only a week - [does that mean 7 nights and 8 days, or 7 nights and 6 days?] - you only really have time to see Havana and one other place, and I would make that Vinales as getting to Cienfuegos or Trinidad and back will just take too much time out of the limited time you have.

There are some nice casas in Vinales, but also some nasty ones; we started off in one of those but moved after one night to something nicer so it pays to be picky. but it's a lovely place to visit and makes a good contrast to Havana.

Depending on your flight time home, you could put Vinales at the end of your trip, as it's easy to get to the airport from there.
annhig is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2017, 12:52 PM
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With a week to spend in Cuba you will have chance to visit at least 3 cities. A good combination could be like this.

Havana - 3 Nights
Trinidad - 2 Nights
Varadero - 2 Nights

Also can do a full-day expedition to Viñales Valley while in Havana.

All these locations are easily connected by ground transport, the longer travel will be Havana-Trinidad which usually takes around 5 hours.
lovecuba is offline  
Old Aug 6th, 2017, 01:15 AM
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I have to disagree with you, lovecuba - IMHO that is far too much travelling in a one week trip. 3 nights in Havana is just two days, [which hardly scratches the surface], by the time the OP had got to the bus station, it would take more or less a day to get to Trinidad, where they would only have one full day before they come back, and then a long trip to Varadero just for one day there!

And you are suggesting that one of the days in Havana is spent on a day trip! [and a long one at that].
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2018, 07:49 AM
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Do not forget to take good photos and leave the standard tour

Excellent annotations to your question but I would add one more.
In my opinion, one of the best activities you can do in Cuba is to participate in a photo tour.
It does not matter if you have great knowledge of photography or not, the good thing about these photo tours (no matter the country we are talking about) that are usually very human-oriented, oriented to know the city, people, hidden corners, etc.
In general they leave the usual routes for tourism and this makes it a great experience.
Also see photo stories of the country is usually a good idea to know a little more about the country, beyond the usual blogs.
lluisalarcon is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2018, 06:57 AM
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Lluisalarcon: The trip was nearly a year ago . . . .
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