A guide for how much you should budget for your trip to Cuba whether you’re looking to splurge or looking for a bargain.
If there’s only one thing to know before visiting Cuba, it’s to BRING CASH.
The next question I always get is,
How much cash should I bring?
Well, that depends on too many factors to give you an outright answer. To make it a little simpler, I limited my estimates to Havana and have broken my recommendations down based on the following 3 groups of people: the budget traveler, the luxury traveler, and the in between traveler.
The Budget Traveler
Your cheapest option for a place to stay will run you between 20-30 CUC per night at one of Cuba’s many Casa Particulares. If you share a room with your travel buddy, that’s only 10-15 CUC a night!
Your cheapest option is definitely street food. Most street food is pretty safe to eat, but just as in any underdeveloped country eat meat especially at your own risk. You can usually find a ham and cheese pizza for 10-15 CUP ($0.50 CUC). Alternatively, you can eat at Casa Particulares. The price and quality of the meal will depend on your host, but they usually range from 1-5 CUC for breakfast and 5-10 CUC for dinner. You can even get a mojito or El Presidente (local beer) for 1-2 CUC!
There is plenty to see and experience in Havana without spending a dime! You don’t have to pay a cent to see the beautifully colored buildings, walk by El Capitolio, stumble upon live music and dance in the street with the locals, watch the sunset on El Malecón, or see the architecture and people watch in Plaza Vieja or Plaza de la Catedral. You can even spend a free day at the beach (once you pay for the taxi or bus to get there)!
Obviously the cheapest option for transportation is to strap on some comfortable shoes and walk. If you’re looking for a cheap option to travel within Havana and can speak enough Spanish to communicate where you are going, you can take taxi colectivos (shared taxis). Each ride is 10 CUP (you’ll pay $0.50 if you pay in CUC). To flag one down you stand on one of the main roads with your arm out (not above your head like you’re flagging a cab in NYC, but closer to your hip) with the number of fingers for the number of seats you need. Since it is a shared ride, you join the route they are already going so you’ll have to determine the route before hand and have an idea of where you need to get off at (ability to speak Spanish highly recommended here).
Grand Total per Day:
If you stay in Casa Particulares with your friend or spouse, walk everywhere, take advantage of all the free activities, and take advantage of the street food and meals at Casa Particulares, you’re looking at spending:
20-30 CUC a day
*This average doesn’t include the 25-30 CUC for the taxi ride to and from the airport each way so make sure to factor this in or be prepared to become a permanent resident of Cuba ;).
The Luxury Traveler
If you consider yourself in this group, take my suggestions on exactly how much to bring with a grain of salt because your funds are likely unlimited and your expectations are high.
Word of advice: don’t expect Cuba to be like every other luxury vacation you’ve been on before otherwise you will be grossly disappointed. That being said, Cuba is the one place in the Caribbean you can live like a king/queen for the least amount of money.
I would highly recommend checking out Melia Habana in Miramar. For only $250-300/night you can have a waterfall in the lobby, extravagant pool, and even a swanky piano bar at your fingertips!
Even at the most expensive tourist restaurants, you should spend no more than 15 CUC for breakfast and 40 CUC for dinner. Even the most expensive mojito I saw was only a whopping 6 CUC – I’d kill for those prices in NYC!
I still would recommend taking advantage of all the free things there are to do in Havana because this is where you’ll experience the culture and admire the beauty of the city, but here is a list of some of the admission fees for attractions around the city not otherwise mentioned:
- Havana: Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution) – $8
- Havana: Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana (Fort of Saint Charles) – $7
- Havana: Museo de Bellas Artes – $5
- Cabaret Tropicana – $75-110
If you have the funds, I would recommend arranging one of the pristine vintage cars to be your personal chauffeur each day. You can pay 90 CUC for a private 3 hour Hemingway tour of Havana or 150+ CUC for a regular full day rental (3 day minimum). Check out these links for more info!
Grand Total per Day:
If you share your hotel room and taxi rides with your travel buddy, that brings you to:
300-350 CUC a day
*Not including shopping and souvenirs
The “In Between” Traveler
This is the group I found myself in. I wanted to experience all that Havana had to offer (without any shortage of mojitos), while still being realistic and not running my bank account dry.
We stayed in a private one bedroom apartment Airbnb for 60 CUC per day.
Most of our meals cost between 10-15 CUC per person including a few mojitos or daiquiris.
We chose to fill our days with a mixture of free sight seeing and paid attractions, but averaged around 10 CUC per day for activities.
Transportation is where we consistently spent most of our money each day. We took mostly private taxis found outside of some of the more touristy areas. For a ride from Plaza de la Revolución (close to where our Air bnb was) to Old Town, which is about a 15-20 minute drive, we paid about 15 CUC each way.
Grand Total per Day:
With splitting the Airbnb and taxi rides, my sister and I spent on average:
75-80 CUC a day
Not bad, for a quick vacay to the Caribbean!
There you have it! Hopefully this post gives you an idea of how much you should bring with you on your visit to Cuba. If you found this post helpful, let me know in the comments and if you have any further suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
And if you haven’t seen it already, check out my full Guide to Money in Cuba.