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Practical Information about Cuba

Time Difference
6 hours behind all year round
compared to Paris
Flight time
10 h
Local time
UTC-4 in summer
UTC-5 in winter
Currency
Peso


Surface area
110 000 km2
Distance
7,500 km
(from Paris)

Population
11,3 million inhabitants (in 2013)
Langue(s)
Spanish


Capital 
Havana

Before leaving, you should equip yourself with:

 

  • An identity card or
  • A valid passport

Information about customs and police formalities is given as a guide only. Corsair cannot be held liable in any case if you do not comply with the requirements of the authorities.

Formalities

No visa is affixed to the passports of passengers travelling to Cuba. Instead, the tourist card issued by the consulate can be asked for at any time during your stay. It is essential to keep it safe and to photocopy it. This residence permit is valid for 30 days and can be renewed once.

On the return journey, if you are having a stopover it is essential to store drinks in the hold, especially rum, otherwise they may be confiscated.

 

N.B.

If you leave with more than 50 cigars, Cuban customs officers will ask to see the invoice. These cigarettes will be taxed on arrival in the European trade area. Be careful not to buy coral products as they are protected.

 

To prepare for your trip, we advise you to make contact with the Cuban tourist office:

C/O Consulat général de Cuba
14-16, rue de Presles,
75015 Paris

Dupleix metro station

 

E-mail : conscu@ambacuba.fr

Opening hours: the consulate is open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 12:00.

Tel. : 01.45.67.98.81 or 55.35
(from Monday to Friday from 14:00 to 16:00)

Good to know

As well as a valid passport, a tourist card obtained from the consulate and health insurance are required when travelling to Cuba. No vaccinations are compulsory, but it is advisable to update your DTaP/IPV, Hepatitis A and B and typhoid vaccines. As for all tropical countries, it is recommended that you drink mineral water. And for phones, tablets and cameras, it is essential that you bring an adaptor. Voltage in Cuba is 110 volts. The European flat plug requires an adaptor.

Other practical information about Cuba

Despite the apparent signs that the country is opening up, Cuba remains a country under the strict control of its central government. It is essential to scrupulously observe instructions and restrictions given by the authorities.

Shop opening hours


Businesses in Cuba mostly open at 10:00 and close at around 18:00. On Sundays, they shut at 13:00. The shops shut for several minutes when staff are changing over, which generally happens at lunchtime. Among the items you can buy are t-shirts painted by hand with the image of Che Guevara, artisan handbags and different products made using recycled objects.

Transport


It is easy to travel by bus in Cuba. This accessible method of transport also has the advantage of being safe. The Viazul company can be used by foreign tourists and serves the country's major cities. Its buses are often on time, but it is necessary to arrive at least one hour in advance for registration. In the high season, it is important to book ahead. It is possible to do this online at least three days ahead of travel.

 

A lot less comfortable, but more picturesque, the train serves the main provincial areas. Timetables are written on simple blackboards using chalk. Tickets can be bought directly at the ticket office several days ahead.

 

To travel as quickly as possible between the country's 13 cities, there are domestic airlines. Tickets are available from travel agents.

 

For total freedom of movement, hiring a car is still the best way to travel around Cuba. In addition to the price, you have pay for daily insurance. There are plenty of petrol stations and they accept the convertible peso. Don't hesitate to ask for your itinerary in advance.

 

In the cities, taxis are metered, even if some drivers do offer visitors a fixed price. Some non-official taxis do not have a meter and the price is negotiated directly with the driver.

Safety


In the seaside resorts, as in the cities, Cuba is a safe country, but, as with everywhere, it is a good idea to take some security precautions. It is inadvisable to go for walks late at night. It is important not to attract attention to yourself to avoid the attention of any pickpockets.

Services


Offices in Cuba are open from Monday to Friday all the way through from 09:00 to 17:00. Banks shut at 15:00 each day. Museums shut on Mondays.

Holidays


1 January: Liberation Day

2 January: Victory Day

Good Friday

1 May: Labour Day

25 or 27 July: Celebration of the Revolution

10 October: Independance Day

25 December: Christmas

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Must-sees

Lovers of Caribbean culture and Cuba's wealth of history will enjoy visiting Havana which seems to be frozen in time. The city centre's excellent state of conservation and old American cars have given it UNESCO World Heritage status. Other cities like Santiago, Cienfuegos and Trinidad also have their own beauty.

 

In the north, Varadero remains a reference point among seaside resorts. Turquoise waters, long beaches and coconut palms are among the elements of authentic tropical décor. Still mostly unspoiled, coastal sites like Cayo Levisa are a paradise for adventurers looking for some peace and quiet. In the centre of the country, the rural landscapes of the Viñales Valley give you the chance to rub shoulders with farmers.

 


Cuban gastronomy

 

Cuban gastronomy is the expression of rich soil, sea and an omnipresent sun which produce a combination of exquisite flavours. Food is prepared simply and uses the Creole culture's basic ingredients, i.e. rice and beans, especially black beans.

 

Considered the national dish, congri is a fried dish which is found everywhere. Dishes made with pork, like asado and ajiaco are more delicious but harder to find. Lobster is the other Cuban speciality not to miss. If you are passing through Caibarien, crab is lovingly prepared there.


Culture

 

Cuban culture enjoys several centuries of influences. As a result, its architecture is unique and well-preserved: there are majestic colonial buildings and houses weathered over time.

 

Music and dance are omnipresent at every turn and you will be positively charmed by the multitude of styles you come across. As well as salsa, cha cha cha and rumba, reggaeton is also in vogue.

Plenty of museums can be visited, especially in Havana, but the Museums of the Revolution and of Fine Arts remain the most striking. During a trip to Cuba, it is always amazing to see the popularity of baseball.


Climate

 

Cuba is a tropical country with a hot climate all year round. There are two main seasons.

 

From November to May, the dry season gives the best conditions for unforgettable holidays, with an average temperature of 25°C. During the rainy season from June to October, the temperature often goes above 30°C. The rain often comes at the end of the day. Between June and October, Cuba is threatened by hurricanes which rage through the Caribbean.


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A baby must be accompanied by an adult over 18 years (only 1 baby per adult).
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