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
Enjoy a wide range of added values, fun activities or relax and lie under the sun on exclusive private beach area in Varadero
- Experience Varadero to the fullest with fantastic options for couples, families or singles as there is something to suit everyone
- Virgin Atlantic Sale, huge reductions sale ends 30th Apr
- Memories Miramar Hotel has a fantastic location and is only a 5-minute walk from the nearest beach
- Never waste a minute of your holiday and enjoy all fun activities from waters sports to golf lessons at Bella Costa
Delight in the best Cuba has to offer with this stunning beach and city twin centre holiday
- Add Havana half-day tour from £49pp, taking in Revolution Square, Malecón and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana
- Iberostar Tainos is designed in the style of a traditional Caribbean village with two-storey bungalows that comprise spacious and elegant rooms
- Enjoy a historic stay in Havana at the NH Capri Hotel, which opened in 1957 and was initially run by the mafia
A couples' special - enjoy the perfect mix of history, local culture and laidback beach retreat for the perfect romantic Cuban experience.
- Enjoy all kind of the Spa treatments, water and land sports at Blau Varadero
- Fantastic views to the ocean from the modern and elegant rooms with balcony or terrace
- The perfect location of Blau Varadero beside the pristine sandy beach
Delight in discovering the different sides of Cuba at two of Cuba's most stunning hotels
- Ideal setting of lush mountains, magnificent blue waters and pristine white beaches
- Gaze at the breath-taking panoramic views of Havana from NH Capri's rooftop swimming pool
- Explore Havana's historical gems and enjoy a comfortable and relaxing stay in your legendary Havana Hotel
- Activities galore at Memories Jibacoa from scuba diving to Spanish classes
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
- 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
- Blau Varadero offers something for everyone with as little or as much as you want to do on offer including a spa
- Virgin Atlantic Sale, huge reductions sale ends 30th Apr
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
One of Havana's most historically popular mafia-run hotels of the 50s, the NH Capri is a legendary property with over...
One of Havana’s most historically popular mafia-run hotels of the 50s, the Capri is a legendary property with over...
Combine exploring the old dimes of Havana with a refreshing beach retreat in Vardero on an unforgettable twin centre...
Start your holiday at The Melia Habana Hotel, located in the heart of the elegant Miramar district, overlooking the sea....
Discover the cultural and historical treasures of Havana as you're treated to 5-star service at the Iberostar Parque...
Beyond its sober elegance of Mudejar roots and the presence of round arches and red clay tile roof, it is known for its...
Club Kawama depicts a traditional hacienda type atmosphere, but in actual fact it's an All Inclusive resort. Beautifully...
Are you searching for an adventurous holiday filled with culture, authenticity and charm? Then why not enjoy a twin...
Escape to Cuba on your next holiday and book a stay at the Villa Tortuga Hotel in Varadero. It is an all inclusive hotel...
Managing to combine the charming atmosphere of a traditional hacienda with the modern amenities of an All-Inclusive,...
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