Cuba is a popular tourist destination right now, and especially so for US citizens. US tourism in Cuba has exploded and demand is higher than ever – with beautiful beaches and charming colonial cities, we can see why!
Although there has been a surge in popularity, Cuba is still perceived as a magical destination which is unknown and pretty inaccessible.
Last year was pretty historic for the relationship between Cuba and US, not only did Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro share two handshakes but the US Embassy in Havana reopened after five-decades. Find out why you should discover the magic of Cuba this year.
Can all American citizens visit Cuba now?
Short answer: no.
But new regulations have expanded the reason for which people can travel to Cuba. Americans can take a flight to Cuba if their visit falls into one of the 12 purposes: including visiting close relatives, academic programs, professional research, religious activities, professional event or competition or to create art (if they have experience in the field).
Cuba is not open for US citizens to visit for the sole purpose of tourism. Unfortunately, your dream to sip cocktails on the beautiful Playas del Este beach won’t fly with Cuba’s tourism officials as an appropriate reason to visit.
If you do manage to visit Cuba under one of the 12 categories, then you are required to keep travel receipts for five years after returning and they also expect you to have a full-time schedule of activities related to your category of travel.
The easiest way to travel to Cuba
People-to-people trips are the easiest and most popular way to visit Cuba. Anybody can join an organised trip and your itinerary is worked out for you; they jam pack your vacation with lectures, meetings, visit to artists’ studios or community projects. These trips can cost between $2,500 to $4,000 per week including accommodation and flights.
Where to stay?
If you don’t travel to Cuba via people-to-people trips then you may have trouble find hotel accommodation if you don’t book far in advanced. The country has a shortage of high-end hotels, there are around 61,000 hotel rooms in Cuba according to the tourism ministry. Bed and Breakfasts (also known as casas particulares) are a popular alternative to hotels as they give you the opportunity to make contact with Cuban families and often the food is very, very good. For these, your best bet is booking them through travel agents like Cubania Travel, or Airbnb from April.
Can I use my credit card?
Cash is key in Cuba, few establishments have the technology to process card payments and ATMs are few and far between.