SOLA in Cuba
The rich culture and history of Cuba attracts millions of visitors each year and there are no signs of stopping. Women can definitely cross this Caribbean island off their bucket list of places to travel alone. Before you cruise in a 1950’s Chevy through the streets of Havana, you’ll need to prepare properly for your trip. Our SOLA travelers are excited to share their favorite finds to keep you on your toes. Get ready to revel in the beauty of Cuba and embrace its charms without any surprises.
Top Places To Stay
“Loved staying at Yoanne’s place! During our 5 days, my gal pals and I never had any issues since our arrival. Plenty of places to eat and the best way we ended up finding one was tapping a local’s shoulder.” - Karen B.
La Casa de Conchita
“She is an old lady that rents two rooms in her house. A tv channel from Spain made a documentary film about her” -Monserrat Alfaro
“Puedes comprar tus tarjetas de internet y tienen casa de cambio. Esta super bien ubicado, puedes llegar a todo lado caminando.” -Silvia Fonseca
Top Places To Eat
El Del Frente
“El del Frente had the best cocktails and that garbanzo frito was probably my best bite in Havana!” -Chanelle Talisa
“Loved Mojito Mojito so much that I went twice! The nicest establishment I went to in Old Havana and the food was amazing. I had the paella the first night with a delicious pineapple mojito."
"If you want to feel like you’re dining like royalty (aka Beyonce and Jay Z when they visited the island), this is where to do it. Make sure to reserve in advance!"
Top Places To Dance & Drink
“The Daiquiris are amazing!”
“It is a nightclub in a big warehouse style art museum. You drink, dance, and travel from installation to installation.” -Sadė Sunny Calin
La Bodeguita del Medio
"Great for Mojitos"
Beyond the Capital
"Varadero is unforgettable. You can scrunch your feet in the white sands and swim in the turquoise water. A few blocks away, you can find craft markets and restaurants. If you want to freshen up after a beach day, you can find a public bathroom with showers at a price."
“As my tour guide Tito stressed, ‘this is the real Cuba.’ I totally fell in love with the scenery, people and everything in between. The best food I had during my entire trip was at a farm-to-table restaurant called El Paraiso. You gotta come out here and if you can spend an extra day, do it! Tito is an awesome guide who speaks English and Spanish. Don’t miss out on a private tour full of many activities with his group.” - Karen B.
For an old Hollywood dining experience, enjoy a meal in one of El Nacional’s extravagant dining rooms. El Nacional is known to be one of the most famous hotels in Cuba, boasting guests like Nelson Rockefeller, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, SJohn Wayne, Mickey Mantle, Walt Disney, and Lola Flores. After dinner, you can have a cocktail overlooking the ocean and browse through over 300 historic photos at the hotel’s hall of fame gallery.
“It’s beautiful and the food is good. It’s great for late-night drinks overlooking the ocean”
What to Know Before You Go
Spanish is the main language of Cuba and knowing a couple of phrases will be very helpful as you go about your day. Be patient and pay attention to what is going on to avoid any mix ups. If you already know Spanish, you’re in luck. You can usually bargain with locals to get a good price on a product or service. Plus, you can even join in the fun and have a pretty meaningful conversation.
- “Bring cash – cash is king in Cuba." - You will need to make sure you bring enough cash to last you during your trip. ATMs are not too dependable as they do not work with many banks. For a comfortable daily budget, plan to spend anywhere between $50-$100 CUC.
- “Convert from American to Canadian here in the US and then from Canadian to Cuban AT THE AIRPORT OR AT A BANK ONLY. by converting to Canadian, you miss the extra 10% conversion fee charged only for converting American money and you get the same fee as everyone else, plus American is up right now so you break even...The airport in Havana will give you the best exchange rate. After that, only exchange at banks, which will all give you the same state enforced exchange rate. Cadecas give you the next best rate but you lose a lot. Hotels just rob you but you can exchange at them if you need to. You'll need your passport to exchange at a bank” -Sadė Sunny
- Tipping: Make sure to have change everywhere you go. Leaving a tip of $1CUC goes a long way, but anywhere between 10-15% is generous. Try not to tip in your currency as it can be a hard time for locals to convert on their own
Internet access in Cuba does exist. Connect to the Internet via the ETECSA Wi-Fi network. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- “Buy your Wi-Fi card in the morning from kiosks or locals. They run out pretty quickly and you’ll have to wait until they have more. If you’re someone who needs to be connected all the time, buy more than one card to keep you at ease.”
- On the back of the card, scratch off your username and password.
- Make sure you’re in a hotspot area so you can connect to the Wi-Fi network.
- Don’t forget to sign out so you avoid wasting your minutes after us.
- “I traveled to Cuba with a group, but traveled around alone. It’s the safest place I’ve ever been, not a lick of street harassment. The most difficult thing will be not getting ripped off by cabs but that’ll be because you’re a tourist not because you’re a woman and if you are firm in haggling, you’ll be fine. Perfectly fine to go alone, people are nice and helpful. It will be a little tougher if you don’t speak Spanish though because the majority of people don’t speak English, but that’s a convenience issue, not a safety concern.”
- “Cuba is pretty safe when it comes to walking around. I went with a girlfriend and we did experience a certain degree of sexual harassment on the streets, we speak Spanish so we seemed “more approachable” I guess. Just make sure to go to touristy places and you should be good, negotiate with cabs and make sure to do research on where to eat so you can have a good experience.”
Can Americans travel to Cuba?
Yes. However, Americans visiting Cuba need to qualify for one of the 12 permitted reasons of general licenses required.
What reason should I select when I book my flight?
Remember, travel as a tourist is banned for Americans. Select the category that fits your purpose for visiting Cuba
How are most Americans visiting Cuba?
The people-to-people exchange option found under the Educational Activities category. This reason is intended for you to have a meaningful experience with the people and culture of Cuba. Though Americans have individually created their own itineraries, it looks like there are changes under the Trump Administration where you may need to travel with an organization.
What do I need to enter Cuba?
You will need to purchase the Cuba Entry Permit. You can buy one from the Airlines, but check with your carrier to confirm. Or, you can order one from Cuba Travel Services.
Will someone ask to see my itinerary during my stay?
At the present moment, no. Most of our SOLA travelers have reported that they did not come across anyone who asked to see their schedule. Yes. However, Americans visiting Cuba need to qualify for one of the 12 permitted reasons of general licenses required.
Have you been to Cuba?
Share your tips and contribute to our guide!