If you’re a fan of Instagram or Pinterest, then you’ve probably scrolled past photos of people who have traveled to Cuba at some point. You know the Insta models who take gorgeous photos in vibrant-colored classic cars, while cruising around to breathtaking backdrops? ─Yeah, they were most likely in Havana (ooh nah nah.) I would know this because I recently had the pleasure of experiencing it for myself…and let me tell you, it was one hell of an experience!
A couple weekends before this past Christmas, my sister, her friend, one of my friends, and I packed up our bags for a weekend getaway to the beautiful island country of Cuba. Since it is only an hour and a half flight from Orlando, I felt compelled to take advantage of this opportunity. We stayed from Friday morning to Monday morning. For us, that was plenty of time to do a majority of the things we had planned for the trip.
Traveling to Cuba was a big deal for me in particular because this was my first international flight ever. The overall culture of Havana was something I will never forget. With that being said, I would definitely recommend that everyone travel to Cuba at least once in their lives, if they get the opportunity.
Here’s why you should travel to Cuba
1. It’s super safe
Not sure if it’s just an American thing cause of our countries’ tense histories with one another, but I feel like a common misconception about Cuba is that it is an unsafe place to visit. When I was there, I don’t think I felt unsafe even once. There were times I was uncomfortable, but that’s just because I was out of my element, in general, being in a different country.
As with any city, it should be noted, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk alone in the dark, keep your money safely tucked away, and lock up any personal belongings in your casa or hotel if that option is available to you. Aside from the usual security concerns that accompany travelers, traveling to Cuba is a very safe place to visit.
2. Cuban people are generally very friendly and helpful
From our plane landing to going through customs to meeting our taxi driver to checking in at our Airbnb casa and every interaction that followed─the people we encountered were incredibly warm and understanding. The very blatant language barrier made communication a little strained at times, but they all were so patient with us.
3. The food is incredible
Congri, shrimp, yuca con mojo, fish, flan…my mouth is watering just typing these things. Everything in Cuba is so freshly-made. You can really taste the authenticity of each dish. I noticed at many restaurants too that they offered vegan and vegetarian options, as well as were willing to cater to certain allergies. So if you have diet restrictions, it won’t be a problem when you travel to Cuba, just be sure to ask your server about your options.
4. The drinks are even better
One of the best things about Cuba is the alcohol. We tried a variety of drinks throughout the weekend to make sure we could get a taste of as much as we could in the short time we were there. We had mojitos, piña coladas, daiquiris, cocktails, etc. Cuba is well-known for their ron (rum) and I must say, it hit the spot. Collectively, our favorite drinks of the weekend were the coladas. Every single one of them we ordered was smooth and sweet and seasoned just right with a pinch of cinnamon on top. 10/10 would recommend.
5. There’s live music and salsa dancing on every street corner and rooftop
If you’re looking for a highly-entertaining, yet relaxing vacation, then look no further than Cuba! Seriously though. Havana, specifically, is such a lively place. Many bars and restaurants we went to had live music. Make sure you plan to check out one of the many rooftop bars there. At the one we went to, everyone had drink-in-hand and were salsa-ing the night away. Cubans don’t do dull.
6. Prices tend to be on the cheaper side
All-in-all, our trip was fairly inexpensive. A lot of the drinks we got were anywhere between 3CUC to less than 10CUC*. A hand-rolled cigar straight from the fields of an authentic Cuban tobacco farm only cost 5CUC (had to be purchased in a bundle of 10.) And while tipping is encouraged, only 10-15% is expected for excellent service. I’m tellin’ ya…bargains on bargains on bargains.
*For reference, $1USD = 1CUC.
7. Vintage cars are everywhere
Cuba is unique because for decades the people have been driving around in classic cars from the 1950s. They use them as daily drivers and even taxis. Honestly, it’s not uncommon to walk down the streets of Havana and hear “Taxi?! Classic car! Classic car!” shouted at you because they target anyone who looks even a little touristy, since they know those cars are a big draw for their tourism industry and why many people choose to travel to Cuba.
8. It makes for a great weekend getaway
If you’re from the states, you’re already such a short plane ride away from Cuba. And if you have a random three or four day weekend coming up that you’d like to fill, traveling to Cuba is such a good option for you. There is so much you can see and do in such a short amount of time and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
9. Havana is painted in history
The classic cars should tell you as much…but on top of that, the rich Cuban history can be found in every inch of the city. There are tons of museums, forts, and historical buildings you can plan to visit while you’re there.
I personally enjoy learning about other cultures and their histories, so it probably comes as no surprise that my favorite history lessons during our Cuban trip came straight for the mouths of the locals. Cubans are proud of their culture and want to share it with the world, so don’t be afraid to ask questions as you go!
10. The whole country is insanely Instagrammable
As many of us are well-aware, Instagram culture and travel culture have pretty much gone hand-in-hand for the better half of the past decade. In saying that, just know that Cuba’s got you covered on that front. The colorful architecture, the breathtaking oceanfront views, those classic cars again, the mountains of Viñales, the drool-worthy food and drinks. You’ll have pics for dayzzz. One thing’s for sure, you and your followers won’t be disappointed in the images you’re sure to capture on your travels to Cuba.
“Go to Cuba,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.
And by “they,” I mean me. I’m telling you to travel to Cuba. It will be fun. Listen to me. You won’t be sorry!
Be sure to check out the rest of my Cuba Travel Series─COMING SOON
Chat soon, my fellow travel bugs!