Have you read the 5 reasons you should hurry up and book your trip to Cuba today?
Normally, I prefer to plan my travels myself.
I love the planning part of a journey. It gives me the opportunity to research the country. And figure out exactly what I would like to experience myself.
However, this was not the case with our trip to Cuba.
Instead of having to figure it all out ourselves, we let a Danish travel agency handel the difficult part for us.
We got to decide how we wanted to travel, what we wanted to see, where we wanted to stay etc. and then they handled all the actual planning of our trip.
They were really good at incorporating all our wishes into the trip, so we ended up having quite the dream result.
I would probably recommend this way of doing it if you are planning a trip to Cuba.
The travel agencies have a lot of good contacts and they know a lot of things that can be quite hard to figure out yourself.
For example figuring out the different areas – and things like where to stay and not to stay in each town can be quite hard if you dont know the country.
Also, a lot of travel agencies will be, like ours was, very flexible in letting you plan your own trip.
How to get around
Rent a car
Honestly, renting a car was the best decision we made on this trip.
It allowed us to travel the island without any restrictions and gave us the possibility to visit less touristed areas, which ultimately led to some really amazing experiences. For example our encounter with the Banana Man.
A lot of people had warned us against it for various reasons. But we had no problems whatsoever.
Of course, you have to be aware of the fact that the roads are not properly maintained, because no one uses them, this means that occasionally there will be big holes and weird bumps.
But as long as you keep your focus on the road (as you normally would when you are driving), it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Also, actually renting the car turned out to be more of a problem than the roads.
First there wasn’t any cars left. Then they found one. Then it wasn’t going to be ready before the next day. Then we told him quite firmly that it had to be. So all of a sudden it was.
Then they wouldn’t let me – nor my mom – drive the car. Only the two men in our assembly would be allowed to.
After a good 20-minutes arguing this with the little man behind the counter, he agreed to me being written as a 3rd driver.
But not before I had answered all types of questions about how long I had been driving for, how old I was, and my dad being made (VERY) aware that it would all be on his shoulders if I were to make any kind of mistake.
You also have the possibility of traveling around the island by bus.
From what I have heard, the buses are quite good, and since there aren’t that many people using them – you can often have the entire bus to yourself.
So if you dont have a drivers license – or the need to rent a car in Cuba, traveling by bus is definitely a possibility you should consider.
Where to stay
Honestly, in my opinion casa particulars are the best possible way of staying in Cuba.
In Casa particulars you get to enter private Cuban homes, and rent one, two or more rooms from them.
It’s organized by the state, but that does not make the Cubans any less real.
Having the possibility of entering private homes of ordinary Cubans, getting to be a part of their everyday lives is quite the experience.
It gives you the possibility of at least peeking into their culture.
We only had extremely positive experiences with our hosts.
They were more than willing to help us, and guide us to whatever place we wanted to see.
I still have a hand-drawn map from one of our hosts, showing us how to get to his favourite beach.
Beside from this, all the homes we got to stay in were in great conditions (great, when taking in to consideration that one is in Cuba and knows the standard within Cuba).
Especially our stay in Remedios blew us away.
It was a small house (or so it seemed), tucked in between two other bigger houses. But when we entered the small blue door, we were astonished by what met us.
A big, beautiful renaissance house, with two huge bedrooms for us, and a bathroom for each.
The house was obviously from a different, more wealthy time period, but the residents had managed to (almost) keep it in its original beautiful condition.
It was beautiful. And as if this wasn’t enough, the house had a beautiful yard in the middle that most of all resembled a jungle.
They even had a turtle walking around freely in the house.
You can definitely also choose to stay at the hotels around Cuba.
It will not offer you the same peek into the ordinary life of a Cuban, but it will still be quite the experience.
We stayed at a hotel in Havana, a beautiful old one, that was probably meant to be somewhat of a luxury hotel.
They had a restaurant on the top floor with a view over all of Havana. In the lobby there was a band playing happy salsa music, we were offered drinks upon our arrival, and there was a big pool, guarded by a big fence.
However, this all ended up feeling kind of out of place, since the hotel was an old building, and (this might sound stuck up) everything seemed kind of dirty and moldy.
My nose still had not gotten use to the smell of Havana and the dusty old rooms in the hotel.