Havana

Havana is Cuba’s capital and major port as well as the leading commercial hub of the country. In May 2016, this city was selected as one of the so-called New7Wonders Cities along with Beirut, Doha, Durban, Kuala Lumpur, La Paz, and Vigan. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its history, culture, architecture, and many monuments like the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (a fort and maritime museum), the National Capitol Building (an iconic 1920s landmark), and the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal among others. Havana attracts over a million of tourists every year. Havana is quite safe. Since the country depends heavily on tourism, there is security everywhere, especially on tourist spots like Habana Vieja or El Malecón. Below, you will find more information on how to have a safe and fun trip to Havana!

SAFETY INDEX

See others cities in Cuba

Compared to other big cities in Latin America, Havana is very safe to walk around at night. Violent crime is rare. In fact, any crime against tourists is punished extremely harsh, and locals know it. However, it is important to always keep an eye on your belongings and remain alert for any suspicious activity.

Old Havana

Located at the eastern edge of the city, you will find the Old Havana or La Habana Vieja, which is the historic colonial heart of the city. This World Heritage Site is a dense collection of colonial-era and neocolonial houses, mansions, churches, seminaries, and apartment buildings speckled by a few charming plazas and parks. Moreover, the bast majority of the city’s greatest collection of museums and attractions are here, as well as a broad mixture of restaurants and boutique hotels. Today, it is one of the most beautiful restored colonial cities in the world.

Centro Habana

Picturesque and charming zone that connects Old Havana and Vedado. It is primarily a residential area, although it does have a high concentration of private rooms for rent. This district is not well maintained, so watch out for large chunks of brick, mortar, and stone that regularly drop off buildings here and sometimes injure passers-by below.

Vedado & the Plaza de la Revolución

This is the University/business district of Havana. It is a busy mix of middle- to upper-class houses and businesses. Calle 23, or La Rampa, is the principal avenue that defines this district, and it’s where you’ll find Coppelia, the Tryp Habana Libre (which used to be the Havana Hilton), and the Hotel Nacional. You’ll find here as well the Plaza de la Revolucion where the people of Havana used to gather to listen to Castro speak at annual Communist rallies.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Havana is overall a safe city. 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 major city, 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