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Cuba in 27 days: Itinerary, assessment, guide (budget, transportation, accommodation, Internet, practical advice)

We finished our world tour by Cuba. What a good decision! Cuba is one of our 5 countries, so authentic, beautiful, extraordinary. Discover our itinerary, budget and practical advice.


In 27 days, we could have pushed your trip to Santiago, but we prefer to stay in each city for a long time, being very tired after 11 months of moping. Healthy travelers will be able to do the same itinerary as us in 14-18 days.

Here is our itinerary, but if we had to do it again, we would have done it in the following order (see the picture on the left) Havana => Matanzas (by train) => Varadero (cab colectivo) => Trinidad (Viazul) => Cienfuegos (Viazul) => Playa Giron (Viazul) => Playa Larga (Viazul or turistic bus) => Havana (Viazul) => Vinales (Viazul) => Havana (Viazul)

  • Havana (3 nights): including one night with late arrival at 10pm at the airport. Visit of the old town and tour of the city with the hop-on hop-off bus.
  • Viñales (3 nights): 3 hours bus from Havana (Viazul bus). Visit of the Valley of Silence on horseback (including a cigar drying center). Massage and swimming pool at Los Jazmines hotel.
  • Cienfuegos (1 night): 7 hours by bus from Viñales (Viazul bus). Rest
  • Playa Giron (2 nights): 1h30 of cab colectivo from Cienfuegos. Swimming in Playa los Cocos. Snorkelling at Playa Petanque
  • Playa Larga (3 nights): 30 minutes by tourist bus
  • Cienfuegos (3 nights): 1h30 of cab colectivo from Playa Larga. Visit of El Nicho and flamingos
  • Trinidad (5 nights => but 1 to 2 nights are enough) : 1h bus Viazul from Cienfuegos. Visit of the old town and the Playa Ancon
  • Varadero (2 nights): 7h30 bus ride from Trinidad to Viazul. Swimming at the beautiful beach of Varadero of 20km of fine white sand. Visit of the Playa Coral.
  • Matanzas (2 nights): 30mn by private cab from Varadero. Visit of the city and return to Varadero for swimming
  • Havana (2 nights): 4h Hershey train + 10mn ferry from Matanzas. Visit of the Museum of the Revolution and purchase of cigars






Playa Giron

Playa Larga


How much money should I bring to Cuba?

We took 2400 euros in cash with us (for two people) for 26 days (Viazul buses being paid in advance, online) with the objective of not withdrawing anything on the spot. And we spent it all.

Broadly speaking, the main expenses are as follows:

(1) Accommodation: between 25 and 35 CUC per day for two

(2) Food
:- between 3 and 5 CUC the breakfast/person -> 10 CUC/day for two

20 CUC to 25 CUC/meal for two, tip of 10% included -> 50 CUC/day for twoThe
cost that street food represents is anecdotal: between 10 cents and 50 cents of Euro each time.
-> 71 CUC to 95 CUC per day for two without transport and activities (71€ to 95€)

(3) Transportation: Taxi (25 CUC to the airport, 5-7 CUC to the bus station Viazul), bus Viazul (6 CUC to 20 CUC per person depending on the destination), cab colectivo (20 CUC to 80 CUC per person depending on the distance), shuttles around Trinidad and Cienfugos (5 CUC/person)

(4) Visits: 1 to 3 CUC/person to go to the museum. 20 to 25 CUC the horse ride to Vinales. 25 to 30 CUC a dive in the surroundings of Playa Giron. 10 CUC/person the hop-on hop-off bus to Havana. 35CUC/person the excursion El Nicho. 20CUC/person to go to see the pink flames.

In short, this is the Caribbean, not Asia.

Cuba is a pretty safe country, so by hiding money well in your pocket near your body, or at the bottom of your locked suitcase, in an unexpected place (I hid some in sanitary towels), you should be able to avoid theft.

Transport budget

  • Bus Viazul Havana -> Viñales: 12USD/person
  • Bus Viazul Viñales -> Cienfuegos : 32 CUC/person
  • Cab colectivo Cienfuegos -> Playa Giron : 15 CUC/person
  • Tourist bus (a kind of shuttle hop-on hop off) Playa Giron -> Playa Larga : 3CUC/person
  • Bus Playa Larga -> Punta Perdiz -> Cueva de los Peces -> Playa Larga : 10CUC/person without equipment. 15CUC/person with mask and snorkel
  • Playa Larga -> Cienfuegos by cab colectivo : 10CUC/person
  • Excursion El Nicho from Cienfuegos: 35CUC/person
  • Excursion Laguna Guanaroca from Cienfuegos: 20CUC/person
  • Bus Viazul Cienguegos -> Trinidad: 6CUC/person
  • Bus Viazul Trinidad -> Varadero : 32CUC/person
  • Varadero -> Mantazas : private cab 25CUC
  • Matanzas -> Havana : Hershey Train 2,8CUC/person + 1CUC for the ferry

Practical advice

General Tip: The owner of your particular casa is the most motivated guide you’ve ever had. He can help you plan your entire itinerary, give you good tips on how to find a bus/taxi, book the next casa etc. Just finding a good casa at the start will make the rest of your stay perfect.

General warning: In Cuba, you are going to be a walking ATM. It’s inevitable, so you might as well be prepared for it! The locals clearly take advantage of the purchasing power of the tourists to make them pay up to 25 times more than the locals, but we are talking about scams of 5€ maximum. The average salary is 35€! Everyday items are also expensive for them (1€ the soap) so to be able to afford them, they do small additional jobs and have access to the black market. No one can really live solely on their salary, they try to find money where they can.

Skip this inconvenience to make the most of your vacation and think of the children who will have food for the whole week. Cuba is a very poor country where life is cheap… except for tourists. The contrast with Southeast Asia is striking. Be prepared to break your savings plan. If you don’t have a lot of money, leave Havana quickly, skip Vinales and go to Cienfuegos, Playa Giron… Learn more about the 14 most popular scams in Cuba

Part 1: Accommodation

I wrote a long article about casas particulares: how to find them, how to book them, how much they cost. I invite you to read it here

You will find our opinions and addresses of the particular casas where we spent the night here

Part 2: Internet

Ditto, a long detailed article on how to access the Internet and where to buy ETECSA Wifi cards is available here.

Part 3: Money, exchange offices

Read my article here about the dual currency system in Cuba. How to get moneda nacional to pay up to 25 times less.

Part 4: Food

Check out my article here on private/state restaurants, food in casa etc.

Part 5: Transportation

A. Plane France -> Cuba

We used Skycanner to find the cheapest flight: it was with Iberia, with a 5h stopover in Madrid. It’s a rather low cost company, the food isn’t very good, the stewardesses aren’t very friendly, the seats are a bit small. But we had a price defying all competition: 500EUR/person in the middle of the Easter vacations. The 300 EUR saved allowed us to stay a day or two in Cuba (lol).
Because of the embargo, don’t take planes leaving from the USA, or stopping in the USA!!! I will explain the why and how at the end of the article.

B. Regional Transportation

C. Urban Transportation

I wrote a long article about Viazul buses, colectivos cabs and urban cabs here.

Part 6 : Other infos

Administrative information

It is up to you to buy the tourist card at the Cuban embassy or through an agency (Novela Cuba for example). Do not expect to be able to buy this card when boarding at Charles de Gaulle airport (even if it is possible in other airports e.g. Lima or Cancun). Without this card, you stay in France.

More information about this tourist map and the insurance certificate here.

To take with you

  1. A little QP for public restrooms (which never have any). But there will always be some in casas/hotels.
  2. A little sweater for the Viazul bus routes which are a bit too air-conditioned
  3. Always a bottle of water on you, it’s hot in the Caribbean
  4. Lots of sunscreen if you don’t want to end up with 2nd degree burns + sunglasses and possibly a hat
  5. Your medicines because it is a rare commodity here (the customs authorizes you up to 10kg of medicines), see our pharmacy around the world. At the end of the trip, leave them all your medicines, they will be very happy to get them back.
  6. Your beauty products, tampons, sanitary towels..
  7. Anti-mosquito cream to repel mosquitoes and many sand fleas
  8. If you like snorkeling: come with your own mask + snorkel. It will pay for itself quickly.
  9. If you want to give gifts to the Cubans, take samples of cosmetic products (perfume, face care, cream…), they love it – however, no need for soaps, there are some in the supermarket. Give them to the cleaning ladies, waiters… but don’t give out on the street, it encourages begging. Older smartphones will also be successful (many don’t have one and have to wait for hours to connect to their email in a government cybercafé). On the other hand, the pens I brought with me have flopped, the government distributes them at school.

Customs information

On arrival in Havana: prohibition to bring back animal products, plants, seeds… pornography, if you have more than 5000EUR, you have to declare. You can bring a maximum of 10kg of medicines with you.

At the beginning: it is better to change all your CUC, CUP etc. You can only change them in Cuba. You can leave with 50 cigars/person (with certificate of authenticity given by the seller). If you buy crocodile skin products, you must present the certificate that they are made from farmed crocodiles.

Information about the embargo

At present, there is still an American embargo on Cuba. This means that it will be very difficult for you to go to Cuba from the United States, or with a stopover in the United States, even if you are French. Tourism isn’t yet part of the valid reasons. Americans have to go through intermediaries who send them letters of invitation for their stay under the “education” reason.

On the other hand, if you leave from France, or any other country except the United States, you can travel to Cuba without difficulty.

Cuba can now import food and medicines, but the products of daily life (sanitary towels, handkerchiefs…) are either made locally or donated by friendly countries (especially Venezuela). Cuba still lacks everything, so come with gifts if possible.

If your casa seems to lack nothing, it’s because the owners are basically rich enough to have a nice house to accommodate you, hot water for your shower… but this isn’t the case for other Cubans.

Be responsible and don’t waste food, water..

The embargo in Spanish is called “bloqueo”. If you need to avoid talking politics to Cubans, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the “bloqueo”, how they’re doing… The answers are very enriching.

And above all, GOOD TRAVEL !!!

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