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 the long list of fun options for all the family or bask on Varadero's pure white sands
- Sample a host of activities including snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing, golf and more.
- Located on a gorgeous stretch of Varadero beach.
- Enjoy 24-hour all-inclusive service.
Lifelong memories await for you in the pristine beaches of Varadero and one of Havana's most iconic hotels
- Indulge in a number of all-inclusive restaurants at Iberostar Tainos, from delicious Japanese cuisine to international fine-dining experiences
- Capture the 1950's swing vibe when staying at Habana Riviera Hotel steeped in history with the lobby bar in particular having a genuine 50's atmosphere
- Why not to upgrade your arrival transfer to an american vintage car for an extra £19 per person
Combine colourful and vibrant Havana, staying in the residence of the 'stars', with a relaxing beach holiday in Cuba's world famous resort, Varadero
- Nacional De Cuba hotel is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity
- Iberostar Laguna Azul offers 15 bars and restaurants, and worldwide cuisines
- Enjoy watersports including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, paddleboats, and snorkelling
Ideal for trendy couples - stay at a chic and sleek hotel in the heart of vibrant Havana and then move on the shores of Cuba's most famous beach
- Get the honeymoon package with late check out, turn down service, special room upgrade and other services
- Full range of spa treatments for a more relaxing break at Blau Varadero, or a selection of water and land sports to choose from for the more active traveller
- Be swept away by the amazing panoramic views of Havana from the NH Capri's rooftop swimming pool
Explore Havana, Viñales, Trinidad and Varadero this summer on an adventure of a lifetime
- Enjoy basking and rejuvenating upon stunning sandy shores
- Explore Havana, Viñales, Trinidad and Varadero within one holiday
- Enjoy mingling with delightful, local hosts whilst staying at privately owned Casas
Head to one of the Caribbean's liveliest cities, then move on to a luxury beach resort
- Bella Vista sits on Varadero's pristine stretch of beach with 24-hour all-inclusive services
- Rooftop swimming pool and Jacuzzi at Parque Central where you can look over the spectacular city of Havana
- Endless range of facilities and activities for the perfect stay in your beachfront paradise
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The Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is the perfect place to feel Cuba's beating heart and pulsating rhythms, and will...
Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...
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Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...
Spend a few unforgettable nights in the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares and enjoy the coastal treasures of one of Cuba's finest...
The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...
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Starting on Friday 12th January, Caribbean Airline Limited (CAL) will make inter-regional travel simpler as it begins operating flights to Cuba from four other islands: Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada and Guyana. In an attempt to promote the new route, CAL launched a campaign called "Hola Cuba" which is offering a 50 per cent discount on tickets.
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