Cuba

Cuba, officially known as the Republic of Cuba, is an island country that also comprises Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. It is located in the northern Caribbean, south of both the US state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti, and north of Jamaica. The capital, Havana, is the largest city followed by other major cities like Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. This beautiful country has many activities to offer! You can walk along Havana’s Malécon during the early evening and take in some of the city’s culture, see an Afro-Cuban dance performance found at almost every neighborhood, or relax at the beach!

SAFETY INDEX

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Is Cuba a Safe or Dangerous Country?

Cuba is generally a safe country with almost no violent crimes, organized gang culture, teenage delinquency, drugs or dangerous zones. There is a strict and prominent policing known as the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) that keep the streets safe from violent crime. This does not mean you should let your guard down; it is still recommended to use your common sense as you would in any big city.

Crime and Scams

Most visits to Cuba are trouble free. Crime levels are low, and they are mainly in the form of opportunistic theft. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers are on the rise, especially in Old Havana, on public transport, at major tourist areas, and in nightclubs. Hi-tech items like phones and laptops are highly sought after in Cuba, so they are very attractive to thieves. Car-related crime and muggings occur rarely, not only in Havana but also in Santiago de Cuba and other areas. Be cautious in central Havana at night; it’s best to take a taxi than walking even if you are a few block away from your destination.

Transportation Safety

If you are taking, use a dial-a-taxi service instead of flagging down one as you may get in a fake/unregistered taxi. Licensed taxis have a visible company logo on the rear passenger doors. Public transport is badly maintained and roads are poorly lit and sign posted. Watch out for cyclist, potholes, and cars that stop without warning to pick up hitch-hikers.

Natural Dangers

Due to the country’s location, Cuba has a hurricane season that runs from June to November. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Cuba is overall a safe country. Taking normal safety precautions are recommended as you would in any other country. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other country. Watch out for pickpockets in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Pickpocket and bag and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. The theft of hi-tech items is increasing. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : LOW

Muggings have happened in urban areas. Though most victims are not physically injured, criminals usually do not hesitate to use force if the target does not cooperate; in case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables. Avoid walking alone after dark.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Bag snatching is common, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you. If you are booking a car, book it directly with an actual car rental company as there are reports of internet scams. Some rental companies in Cuba are Via, CubaCar, and Rex. Cigars are the most popular product for visitors. Make sure you buy cigars in official shops; do not trust the tobacco factory where you are taken to during your guided visit by your tour guide. Credit card scams are also common. Never leave your card out of sight, and withdraw money from reputable banks or hotels.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

There are unlicensed taxis, so make sure you pre-arrange a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

The hurricane season in Cuba normally runs from June to November. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Terrorist attacks are unlikely in Cuba. However, they cannot be ruled out. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Many women travel safely without any issues. Cuba is a country with a high degree of feminine integration into the society and there is little gender discrimination.

Carte

Useful Information

You are required to enter Cuba with an onward ticket, your passport must be valid for at least one moth beyond your departure date, proof of travel medical insurance, and evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. Regular tourists staying up to two months in Cuba do not need visas. Instead, you get a tarjeta de turista (tourist card) valid for 30 days, which can be extended once you’re in Cuba (Canadians get 90 days plus the option of a 90-day extension), which cost about CUC$25. You will need to present this card before you leave the country. Make sure you fill out the tourist card clearly and carefully as Cuban customs can be particular about crossings out and illegibility. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
There are two currencies in Cuba: Cuban Pesos (CUP) and Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). CUC is the currency most visitors use in Cuba as you can pay hotels, official taxis, entry to museums, meals at restaurants, cigars, and rum among other things. There is a limited number of things you can purchase with CUP. ATMs are somewhat rare in Cuba; most are in Havana and most of the ATMs will only give you a maximum of 40 bills in one transaction. Visa & Mastercard credit cards can be usually be used, but places that accept Visa as payment are rare. Make sure to have cash on you.
Since Cuba is located south of the Tropic of Cancer, the weather is tropical. Thanks to the Caribbean current, there is warm water brought from the equator. The average temperature is 21°C (69.8°F) in January and 27°C (80.6°F) in July. The drier season falls between November and April, while the rainy season is from May to October. The hurricane season runs from June to November.
Jose Martí International Airport, outside Havana, is the main gateway into Cuba. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page