Cuba is not just about old cars. This is one of the most interesting travel destinations. Whether you are going on honeymoon or travel with friends great fun is guaranteed. Here are some interesting facts you should know before visiting Cuba.
#1 The best time to go to Cuba is between December and April, after hurricane season and before hot summer months.
#2 There is a double currencies economy, a tourist is only supposed to use Convertibles (CUC) and locals Cuban pesos (CUM).
#3 If you want to save money, go local and stay in private rooms, ‘casas particulares’.
#4 Famous non-Cuban ‘Cubans’ are Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Diego Maradona, Che Guevara.
#5 Most homes don’t have computers or flats – screen TVs. Local people don’t have internet access – they have to prove that is for business if they want to use it. Tourist can buy a card and it cost about 5 CUC for one hour of internet access.
#6 Havana Vieja is one of the most crowded quarters in Latin America.
#7 Cubans love their coffee (café Cubano) which is served strong, black and sweetened in small espresso-sized cups. ‘Café con leche’ (a mixture of strong coffee and hot milk) is more of a tourist drink and thus available in nearly all bars and hotels serving foreigners.
#8 Tap water quality is variable. To be safe you can drink aqua naturale (bottled water), you can also boil it (the local method) or buy chlorine drops. In Havana, it’s better to boil or buy bottled water. Don’t touch the water in Santiago, even to brush your teeth, it’s famously dirty.
#9 Restaurant opening hours are generally 11 am to 11 pm daily.
#10 Most popular local Cuban meal is rice with black beans.
#11 Havana Club is Cuba’s most celebrated rum, Silver Dry (the cheapest) and three-year-old Carta Blanca used for mixed drinks. Cuba’s finest rum is Matusalem Añejo Superior.
#12 Cuba’s rum cocktails are world famous. There are the minty mojito, the shaved ice daiquiri and the sugary Cuba Libres (rum and Coke).
#13 Cuba is synonymous with the palm tree. The national tree is the palm real (Royal palm). It’s believed there are 20 million royal palms in Cuba and local will tell you that whenever you stand on the island, you’ll always be within sight one of them.
#14 As soon as you arrived in Havana you’ll realize that air pollution is a problem. Airborne particles, old cars black smoke and byproducts from burning garbage are some of the culprits. On the bright side is the enthusiasm that the government has shown for reforestation and protecting natural areas.
#15 Havana is a remarkably safe city, particularly when compared with other Latin American capitals. But, scams do exist, particularly in the more touristy areas where well-practiced hustlers lurk outside the big hotels waiting to beg on foreign visitors. One popular trick is for the young man in the street to offer to exchange foreign currency into Cuban convertibles. A second scam is to sell fake, cheap cigars. It’s best to politely ignore these offers.
#16 Cuban cigars are very well known in the world. The most famous are Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas, Punch, Romeo y Juliet. But, be careful, don’t buy cigars from street vendors. I strongly suggest you buy them an official Cuban cigars stores, the ‘casa del habano’ shops.
#17 There is some debate over the exact origins of salsa, but many historians agree that this popular dance and music were born in Cuba. There are a lot of places in Havana where you can enjoy salsa and one of the famous bands is Buena Vista Social Club. You just have to ask your tour leader where the next one is.
#18 Cubans favorite sport is baseball.
#19 There are no animals or plants that are poisonous or lethal to humans.
#20 Last but not least – Cuba has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Varadero.