A practical guide to Cuba
National holidays and celebrations
There are seven national holidays in Cuba and almost all of them have some historical significance. The list of holiday dates officially observed nationwide is as follows:
- Triumph of the Revolution - 1st January
- International Workers' Day - 1st May
- Commemoration of the Assault of the Moncada Garrison - 25th to 27th July: three days of national celebration.
- Independence Day - 10th October
- Christmas - 25th December
Here are some other important dates and times in the Cuban calendar:
- Havana Canon Shot: takes place daily at 9PM.
- Santiago de Cuba Carnival: takes place in July and runs for seven days.
- Havana Carnival: takes place in August and lasts a full seven days.
- International Book Fair: in either February or March - a week-long festival.
Cuba currently has two usable currencies: the Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). As a tourist you will use CUC to pay for any goods and services you purchase. Take British pounds to exchange on the island for the best rates.
Be aware that US dollars are no longer accepted in Cuba and those wishing to exchange them will be subject to a 10 per cent commission fee. Credit cards and ATMs are also subject to charges of between 11 and 13 per cent. Consult with your bank at home if in doubt before heading to Cuba.
Travellers' cheques are also highly recommended and easy to use, so long as they have not been issued by an American bank. Please note that American Express travellers' cheques are no longer accepted, as is the case with any credit cards issued by American banks.
The 50-year-long US blockade limits the kinds of ingredients to which Cubans have access, which has affected (sometimes unfairly) the reputation of this island's cuisine. These challenges, however, have led Cubans to become very resourceful and creative in their cooking, which means unique dishes and flavoursome creations. A mix of Spanish, African and Asian cuisines, Cuban food is rarely spicy but always full of flavour.
The best and most authentic food is often found outside hotels and resorts. Try one of the famous 'paladares', which are restaurants created inside locals' home, for an authentic taste of Cuban life. We recommend La Guarida (so respected that many politicians, celebrities like Jack Nicholson, and even the Queen of Spain have dined here) and La Cocina de Lillian, regarded as the most beautiful paladar in Havana, with a beautiful garden setting and some of the best food in the city. The capital is also home to some exceptional restaurants, like Cafe del Oriente and El Templete.
Enjoying a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine and warm weather all year round, Cuba has an enviable weather. Gentle north easterly breezes take the edge off higher temperatures making it perfect for a spot or sunbathing or lazing by the pool.
- July and August are the hottest, most humid months, with average temperatures being around the 31°C mark.
- The dry season runs from November to April, with May to October being the rainy period.
- Even in winter average temperatures in January are between 21 and 24°C making it one of the most pleasant times of year to visit, with plenty of sunshine, milder temperatures and little rain.
- Like virtually everywhere else in the Caribbean, due to its geographical location, Cuba can be stricken by hurricanes and tropical storms. The hurricane season runs from June to November and most storms are typically seen between August and November, with October being the most commonly hit month.
Cuba Holidays Browse all
Relax on one of the best beaches in the world and enjoy the endless fun this the All Inclusive iberostar tainos
- Relax and unwind at the onsite spa with a variety of treatments and massages on offer
- Enjoy non-motorised watersports including: windsurfing, sailing and snorkeling
- Experience the all-inclusive delights with a choice of four restaurants and five bars
Unwind, relax and take it easy in Varadero before a truly Cuban experience in Havana
- Memories Miramar Havana is perfect for those wanting to visit the old Havana, yet stay in total luxury and comfort
- Miniclub for children from 2 to 12 years old at Blau Varadero
Discover the relaxing Varadero and sink into sublim tranquillity
- Experience the beauty of Varadero Beach where you can relax and unwind on the tranquil white sandy beaches whilst enjoying the 24-hrs All-inclusive offered at the Luxurious Iberostar Varadero
- Stay in Havana's most highly rated hotel, with an iconic location facing Central Park
- Discover Cuba whilst staying at the 2 Top rated TripAdvisor hotels in Cuba
Combine colourful and vibrant Havana with a relaxing beach holiday in an award winning resort on the shores of Varadero
- Book early and benifit from huge early bird summer discounts!
- Discover Havana by day visit the historial sites and by night you can listen to live music or dance to the Salsa beat
- Enjoy complimentary pool-based dive courses on offer for beginners and experience one free daily dive at the Royalton Hicacos
- Three freshwater pools including four whirlpools and signature swim-up pool bar at Royalton Hicacos ensure an unforgettable holiday
Fall in love with Havana and its captivating heritage before being dazzled by the pristine shores of Varadero
- This package offers little touches to make your holiday extra special including a Welcome cocktail and a bottle of cava on arrival in Havana and Varadero
- You will be staying in luxurious hotels in both Havana and Varadero that combine perfectly and offer the best of both worlds whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation
- Experience the best of the world famous Varadero Beach where white sand is lapped by the clear waters when staying at Melia Varadero
Ideal for trendy couples - stay at a chic and sleek hotel in the heart of vibrant Havana and then Stay next to Cuba's famous Varadero beach
- Blau Varadero offers something for everyone with as little or as much as you want to do on offer including a spa
- Exclusive Couples offer - Welcome Cocktail, 1 hour free Wifi Access in Havana plus a bottle of wine on arrival, 30-minute massage and a Romantic Dinner in Varadero
- Be swept away by the amazing views of Havana from Capri's rooftop pool
Combine exploring the old dimes of Havana with a refreshing beach retreat in Vardero on an unforgettable twin centre...
Travel to one of Cuba's hidden touristic gems, Varadero, where stretches of secluded beach await you at Blau Varadero....
One of Havana’s most historically popular mafia-run hotels of the 50s, the Capri is a legendary property with over...
Get the best of Havana and Varadero with this fabulous combination of city and beach in two of Cuba's finest hotels, the...
If you want to really feel Cuba's beating heart and pulsating rhythms, this is one of the best for an unforgettable...
Beyond its sober elegance of Mudejar roots and the presence of round arches and red clay tile roof, it is known for its...
Are you searching for an adventurous holiday filled with culture, authenticity and charm? Then why not enjoy a twin...
Club Kawama depicts a traditional hacienda type atmosphere, but in actual fact it's an All Inclusive resort. Beautifully...
Look out onto the day to day life of Havana's streets from the Casa Santy's balconies, with its great location and a...
Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for an 8-day dream holiday. Guardalavaca is known to host the country's most...
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