Cuba is an ideal location for holidaymakers looking to enjoy a unique part of the world. It’s famous for its music, cigars and beautiful beaches, and many enjoy soaking up its culture during their visit.

Cuba’s tourism industry is continuing to grow as more travellers’ head there and the country’s tourism board confirmed that there had been 4.74 million visitors to the island in 2018 and this is expected to continue growing over the next few years.

Holidaymakers looking to travel to Cuba for their next trip are required to have comprehensive travel insurance and you will usually need to present evidence of your policy when you arrive in the country. Healthcare can be quite expensive for foreign patients, particularly for more complex cases, while repatriation can also add to the costs. This makes it important that you have travel insurance in place before you travel so that you are protected if anything happens.

What travel insurance should I get for Cuba?

You would require worldwide travel insurance for trips to Cuba as it is in North America, and you can choose to get either single trip or annual multi-trip cover.

If your journey to Cuba is the only holiday you plan to have over the next year then a single trip policy is likely to be the best option. If you intend to go on multiple trips, then annual cover is likely to be cheaper, especially as a worldwide policy would mean that you will be covered for anywhere around the world throughout the one-year period.

All standard policies include 150 sports and activities that are covered for free, such as helicopter rides, trekking and zip-lining. You can also add extra cover to your policy to tailor it for your specific needs, including the adventure pack which adds various other activities, like high diving, white water rafting, scuba diving. There are also options for winter sports cover if you go skiing or snowboarding, and additional gadget protection for your phones and tables if they get damaged, lost or stolen.

Do I need other documents and vaccinations?

Visitors to Cuba are required to get a tourist visa before entering the country. You can apply for one online through the Cuban Embassy. Prices can vary depending on how you apply but you can expect to pay at least £25, and you will need to provide your personal details and information on your visit to the country.

Your passport would need to be valid for the duration of your stay in Cuba, but there are currently no other requirements for entry.

You may be required to complete a medical examination when entering the country if you show symptoms of the Zika virus or other infectious diseases.

Travellers should check that their boosters and standard UK vaccines are up-to-date, including MMR and the seasonal flu vaccine. You are also advised to get vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B if you are at high risk or are travelling in high risk areas, as well as rabies and tetanus.

Visitors to Cuba have also been known to contract Dengue Fever, which is spread by mosquito bites. The virus creates flu-like symptoms, as well as severe joint and muscular pain. Mosquitos can also pass on the Zika virus, which can be a mild illness, but has been linked to birth defects when a pregnant mother is infected.

Cuba street

Cuba travel advice

Cuba has a dual currency system, with visitors using the Cuban Convertible Peso, while the more valuable Cuban Peso is used by locals. You can’t exchange your money outside of the country as it is a closed economy, so you have to wait until you arrive. You should ensure that you have enough cash with you for your trip and that your debit and credit cards will work in Cuba. You should only exchange your money at banks or exchange bureaus (CADECA), which can often be found at hotels and airports

Spanish is the main language in Cuba, but you are likely to find English-speaking people in many of the main tourist areas.

There are various laws that travellers should be aware of before stepping on their flight. This includes regulations for exporting antiques and art, and you will often be asked to provide a receipt when departing with these sorts of goods, while some pieces will require a permit for you to be allowed to take it. The person selling the item might already have a relevant permit, so it is worth asking before purchase.

You might also need a permit to bring photography equipment into the country, and a relevant visa if you intend to take professional photographs during your visit. Meat and fruit are also prohibited from being imported into the country. If you want to take some Cuban cigars away with you, then it is worth checking the limits ahead of your trip as the restrictions can change regularly.

  Currency  Main language  Time Zone High Season Low Season Rainy Season
Fast Facts Cuban covertible peso Spanish GMT-5 Jun-Aug Dec-Feb May-Oct

Like most countries there are also strict laws that would see you face penalties if you are found with illegal drugs.

Homosexuality is legal in Cuba, but it remains a place where some LGBTQ+ people choose not to socialise publicly or show public displays of affection, despite some of the positive changes coming from the country. In 2019 the official annual gay pride parade was cancelled, which was met with disappointment by the LGBTQ+ community. However, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal, while there is also hope that same-sex marriage will soon be made legal.

Barack Obama had eased the ban preventing many U.S. flights from travelling to Cuba, but many of these changes have been rolled back under the Trump administration. Flights to Havana remain legal, but flights to other parts of the island are set to be banned. If you plan to travel to Cuba from the United States then it is advised that you check ahead of time that you are able to do so.

The British embassy is in Havana, and for urgent assistance you should call +537 214 2200. Emergency services and police can be reached on 106, while fire services can be called on 105.

Beach in Cayo Coco, an island near to Cuba

When is hurricane season in Cuba and when is the best time to visit? 

Some tourists avoid travelling to Cuba in August and September as this is usually when the island experiences the peak of its hurricane season. In September 2017 Hurricane Irma destroyed several parts of the Caribbean islands, and it hit Cuba as a category five storm. Hurricanes can still hit as early as June and as late as November, but the chances of experiencing one is usually slim. You can keep track of potential storms by using the National Hurricane Centre website.

Travellers can usually enjoy warm weather throughout the year, which makes it a popular destination even in January and February as you can enjoy temperatures of 25 degrees or higher. If you want to avoid the rainy weather, it is often wettest between May and October so travelling outside of these dates is often the best time to get some sun. Heavy rain can sometimes lead to landslides and flash floods, which could affect some parts of the island.

Cuba is also known to have earthquakes, although in many cases they are not large enough to be noticed, with strong earthquakes being a rare occurrence.

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Where to go in Cuba?

Beach in Cuba

Havana is the capital city of Cuba and is one of the more popular spots for tourists, but there are many other places that you can go if you’re looking to experience a different side of the island.

Penar del Rio is a province in the western part of Cuba and it is known for its tobacco production. Visitors can get a tour around a tobacco factory, while there are also stunning beaches and natural scenery to enjoy.

Another popular spot is Trinidad, which is in the centre of Cuba. One of its biggest tourist attractions is the Plaza Mayor, which is the heart of the city and contains a 19th century cathedral called the Iglesia de la Santisima. There are plenty of restaurants that you can enjoy, and you are surrounded by impressive architecture wherever you go in the city. The area can be accessed by bus or taxi, depending on where you are travelling from on the island.

If you are looking to enjoy a holiday by the beach, Varadero is one of the best places to go. It has sandy beaches that stretch across more than 12 miles, and visitors have access to various beach bars and enjoy cheap food and drinks.

You’re also able to go scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking in the sea, and they are all covered in the 150 sports and activities that are included in all standard polices with Columbus Direct.*

Other places to go for white sand beaches include Playa Guardalavaca, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Sabinal.

Camaguey is another popular spot for holidaymakers, and it has plenty to see and experience. Cinema Street is a great spot for film fans as it hosts five cinemas, while there are also cafes and businesses that have tributes to various movies. The city also has great food available at cheap prices, while there is plenty of street art to see and churches to visit.

What to do in Cuba

Blue and orange buildings on street in Cuba

Old Havana has plenty for tourists to see and do, and the city-centre is where the original city walls of Havana were placed. It now forms the centre point of the 15 boroughs that form modern Havana. The Cuban capital was first established in the 16th century, recently celebrating its 500th anniversary, and it became one of the main destinations for ship-building in the Caribbean. The area was given World Heritage Site status in 1982 because of its unique character and architecture. It has continued to maintain its famous characteristics, which has put it top of the list for many visitors to Cuba.

El Capitolio is a popular tourist spot in Havana and it includes three museums and a planetarium for tourists to visit. Fusterlandia is another spot that is frequently visited in the capital, as you can walk around the neighbourhood where Cuban artist Jose Fuster has decorated many of the buildings, bus stops and benches. He is a well-respected artist who has had his work featured in various exhibitions and it is a unique opportunity to see his work close-up.

Along the waterfront there is also the Malecon, which has been around since the early 1900s and has some impressive, colourful architecture. It provides a good spot for a long walk or drive and can be a relaxing spot to head to if you are looking for something different from the more central parts of Havana.

If you travel to the eastern part of Cuba, it is worth visiting the Comandancia de la Plata, which was a camp established by Fidel Castro, a former Prime Minister and President of Cuba. It can be found in the dense forestry in Sierra Maestra. It became a headquarters for Castro and visitors can see some of the original equipment, as well as hidden entrances and tunnels that were used during the revolution.

*Scuba diving is restricted to 30 metres in standard travel insurance policies.

GET A QUOTE AND SAVE 10% NOW

Terms and conditions apply:

If you purchase travel insurance online you will receive a 10% discount off the price of standard cover.

Your Single Trip Travel Insurance comes with a number of benefits. These include:
  • Our policy can protect you from 1-365 days. Even if you only plan on having one trip, you can let your holiday last even longer.
  • Cover for up to £15 million provided for medical expenses. Including emergency medical treatment, repatriation and the services of a medical assistance company
  • Insurance may be available if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Let us know if you or any other insured parties require additional cover, and we will do our best to accommodate.
  • We provide cover for up to 150 sports and activities free of charge. Let you hair down and try your hand at some of the sports and activities which may be on offer.
  • Your baggage will be insured for up to £2500, including your valuables and delayed baggage. Should your luggage or personal belongings become delayed, lost, stolen or damaged during your trip.
  • Optional - Winter sports, ski and snowboard cover can be included. Which includes a whole lot more than just ski and snowboarding!
  • Optional - Gadget cover can be added. Add extra cover for your mobile phone, tablet or laptop with up to £1000 protection against theft, damage or loss on your trip.
  • You can be eligible for single trip insurance up to the maximum age of 85. Be free to travel the world whether you're young, or young at heart
GET A QUOTE AND SAVE 10% NOW

Terms and conditions apply:

If you purchase travel insurance online you will receive a 10% discount off the price of standard cover.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Am I covered for off piste and without a guide?

  • Why do I need a winter sports policy?

  • When should I purchase my ski policy?

  • Does my EHIC cover me for winter sports in Europe?

If you have any unanswered questions, please visit our Winter Sports FAQ’s page for more information.

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  • FREE airport lounge access if your flight is delayed for more than 1 hour
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