Havana Cuba – Everything You Need To Know

Looking to visit Havana Cuba?

Last year we traveled to Havana without doing much research ahead of time.

What a mistake!

When you think of Havana, you might only thing of retro cars and live music.

But visiting Cuba can be a culture shock.

Even though it’s only 106 miles from the US Coast, basic places & products we take for granted are impossible to find.

Why?

There are no supermarkets or pharmacies!

It’s safe to assume that if you don’t bring it, you won’t be able to get it.

Changing money isn’t easy either & it’s difficult to find internet access.

Before you travel to Havana Cuba, here is everything you need to know.

 

Havana Cuba - everything you need to know before you travel on vacation. Last year we traveled to Havana Cuba without doing much research ahead of time. What a mistake! Visiting Havana Cuba can be a culture shock. Basic places & products we take for granted are impossible to find. Before you travel to Havana Cuba, here is EVERYTHING you need to know.

Havana Cuba – Everything You Need To Know

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Leave a comment below & let me know what questions you have about Cuba & I’ll find answers for you.

Pictures of Havana Cuba

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7 Things NOT To Do When Visiting Havana Cuba

Planning a trip to Havana Cuba?

Wondering if it’s really possible to travel there from the USA?

At the beginning of this year my wife & I took a kid-free trip to Havana Cuba (thank you grandparents).

Below is what we learned during our time in Havana Cuba – specifically what NOT to do.

When you’re done with this, here is everything you need to know about Havana Cuba including:

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

You might be wondering HOW we were able to visit Havana Cuba from the USA.

Obama created 12 legal reasons US citizens can travel to Cuba.

Many of them are very abstract, such as “support for the Cuban people” (not sure how long these rules will apply under Trump.)

You just have to pick one and fill a form for the airline, but that’s it.

When you come back they may or may not ask in the airport where you just came from.

As bloggers, my wife & I simply visited as journalists.

We bought this travel guide & you want to buy it ahead of time (there are NO STORES there – more about that below).

This map is a life-saver too. 

You can view all our trip pictures are here: Havana Cuba pictures.

What NOT To Do When Visiting Havana Cuba

It’s easy enough to get there, but what we found when we arrived was TOTALLY different than we expected.

Here are 7 things you should NOT do when you visit Havana Cuba.

Don’t Check Your Luggage

I highly recommend NOT checking your luggage.

Why?

Our luggage didn’t arrive on our plane…

It arrived 36 hours later!

This is a BIG deal in Havana Cuba because there are NO shops – NONE.

Want to buy toothpaste? Sorry.

Forgot your deodorant? Too bad.

If you must check your luggage, at least pack a few toiletries & change of clothes in a backpack…

Whatever you can’t survive the trip without should be in your carryon.

Bring basics like these handiwipes and tissue packs.

You will thank me later!

Don’t Take Where You Stay For Granted

We stayed in an Airbnb in Havana Cuba – and Airbnb didn’t let us down at all.

They were fantastic actually.

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

Here’s a picture of our street.

The reality of life in Cuba means you might need a little extra support & our Airbnb host gave us a cell phone to use to contact him during our stay.

Now, he wasn’t able to help us with the missing toothpaste or deodorant, but I’m sure he would have if they actually had stores.

Don’t Forget –  You’re In A Communist Country

The propaganda was ridiculous.

In a beautiful square they played COPS-style videos to the crowds.

Related: Travel Photo Album – Havana Cuba Pictures

Meanwhile, the public infrastructure has been sadly neglected leading to falling down buildings & insufficient sanitation.

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

Some buildings being held up by sticks while families still live in them (notice the laundry!).

Others collapsing completely.

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

How beautiful these buildings would be if they’d been properly maintained.

Here’s hoping one day they will be restored to their full glory.

Don’t Assume There Are Stores

OK I know I told you earlier that there are NO stores in Havana Cuba.

Actually, we saw 1 store.

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

This is a picture of their version of a CVS pharmacy.

This strange shop (likely owned & operated by the Cuban government) had no essentials.

If you forget to pack your toothpaste, you’ll have to find someone willing to share (lucky for us, the family staying in the other room of our apartment had some to spare!).

There is no CSV or Walgreens or Cuban version of a convenience store.

The locals have to wait for their rations, so they don’t have any left to sell or share with you.

Don’t Skip A Classic Cars Tour

It’s a fun way to see Havana Cuba & if your driver/tour guide is half as friendly as ours, you’ll be all set.

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

You can book them for short or long tours & have them drop you off somewhere convenient for you.

Don’t Pass Up A Drink In Each Famous Bar

Yes, they’re packed full of tourists, but they’re also full of great music & serious bartending.

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

La Bodeguita Del Medio – Havana, Cuba

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.
 
 
The show & the prize!
 
Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.
 

El Floridita – Havana, Cuba

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

 

Crowds again, but so worth it!

Havana Cuba: looking to travel to Havana Cuba? Here’s what NOT to do along with tips & photography from our 2017 trip to this vintage destination. There are lots of things to do on your trip to Havana Cuba. Here’s everything from architecture to photography to hotel to food to decor. If Havana Cuba is your destination, here’s what NOT to do.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

This seems to be the motto of the people in Havana Cuba.

One good thing about visiting a communist country is that there is virtually no crime, so we felt very safe walking everywhere at night.

It’s a massive cultural shock to American consumers used to having “stuff”.

But WOW were we impressed with the resilient Cuban spirit.

More About Cuba

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Havana Cuba Pictures

Looking for recent Havana Cuba pictures?

I went to Havana Cuba in 2017 and all of the pictures below are from that trip.

Looking for Havana Cuba pictures? These are my unfiltered Havana Cuba pictures & travel photos from a trip to Cuba in 2017. Havana Cuba pictures show classic cars, military demonstrations, tanks, guns, architecture, and daily Cuban life in the streets.

Havana is just 106 miles from Key West in the USA, but it feels like suddenly we’ve gone back in time.

Some things I expected to see – like the beautiful classic cars & building that have been perfectly maintained.

Other views are less stunning – like crumbling buildings & dirty city streets.

There is a constant pull between feelings of nostalgia & realization of oppression.

The purposeful & visible government displays of weapons & tanks are a jarring reminder that a communist government still controls its people.

It’s hard to say whether it’s despite of all of this or because of all of this, but the Cuban people have a quiet strength & pride that rises above the oppression.

As a tourist in Havana Cuba, don’t let the pictures fool you.

There are things you need to know before visiting Cuba.

Such as, when our luggage didn’t arrive on the plane, we were 100% unable to buy basic necessities like deodorant & toothpaste because there are NO STORES!

Hint: don’t check your luggage when traveling to Cuba.

Here’s more about my trip to Havana Cuba in 2017.

Despite all of this, the people of Cuba are resilient & optimistic.

Havana Cuba Pictures

Havana, Cuba

 

Just click on the album above to see nearly 100 Havana Cuba pictures.

What else did I learn during my visit to Cuba?

Here are 7 things NOT to do when visiting Cuba.