27 of the Best Things To Do In Cuba In 2017

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27 of the Best Things To Do In Cuba In 2017

Traveling to Cuba is becoming easier and easier every day. We recently went from Cancun, as we are Americans traveling to Cuba and flying from Mexico was the easiest way. Cuba is a huge country and we only had 10 days to explore Cuba, so we decided to only visit 4 cities. We didn’t realize how many amazing places there is in Cuba and tons of amazing things to do in Cuba. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Cuba that should be on everyone’s Cuba bucket list.


Things To Do In Cuba

1. Smoke A Cuban Cigar

2 girls smoking Cuban cigars in Havana Cuba - Things to do in Havana Cuba

Smoking a Cuban cigar in Cuba is one of the mandatory things to do in Cuba.

When in Cuba it’s a must to smoke a real Cuban cigar. Cuban cigars can be bought everywhere in Cuba, but some of the best Cuban cigars come right from the tobacco farms. We’ve seen Cuban cigars being sold for less than $1 on the streets of Havana, but we don’t think the quality of them is that great but they make for a great photo opp.

2. Ride In A Classic Car

girl on Playa Jibacao Cuba in a blue old classic car in Cuba - Things to do in Cuba

Beaches in Cuba are amazing and hitting a bunch on the coast was one of my favorite things to do in Cuba.

Old cars and Cuba go hand and hand. You’ll get your first glimpse of them right at the Havana airport. Our “taxi” from the airport was a 1950’s classic American car. There are a few Havana Hotels you can book online, book an Airbnb there are 300+ places to stay in Havana (click here for $35 travel credit) this what we did for 2 out our 4 nights in Havana, or book in person and stay at a Casa Particulares.

3. Go On A Havana City Tour

riding in a classic car on an Havana city tour

Our first day in Cuba we jumped in a pink classic car for an hour-long Havana city tour. Me and my friend Anna sat shotgun.

Shop around for the perfect classic car for your photos and then hop in for an hour Havana city tour. The going rate was $30-35 for an hour tour of Havana.

*TIP* Ask your drive to drop you off in a different part of town that way you make an hour tour also into a free taxi ride.

4. Walk On The beach

girl at the end of a bridge in Playa Jibacoa Cuba

Take a walk on one of the many white sandy beaches in Cuba. One of our favorite beaches in Cuba was Varadero, which is 20km of white sandy coastline. Another off the beaten path beach is Playa Jibacoa, which is only accessible by ca. so for those renting a car put Playa Jibacoa on your list of things to do in Cuba. There are over 200 places on Airbnb in Varadero so finding accomodation is no problem..

Related Article: Playa Jibacoa, Cuba’s Best Beach

5. Visit Morro Castle in Havana

Cuba Morro Castle - Things to do in Cuba

Classic cars at the base of the Morro Castle

This 16th-century fort sits across the bay from old Havana and is a great place to get city views.

6. Drink A Real Mojito

No mojito will every compare to the mojitos in Cuba! Warning 1 mojitos turns into 2 mojitos really fast they are that addicting especially at $2 a mojito.

7. Visit Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Entrance to Hotel National Havana - Places to see in Cuba

The most iconic hotel in Cuba is the Hotel Nacional in Havana. Frequented in the early part of the 20th century by movies stars and alike. During the Cuban missile crisis, the hotel was used as the base of operations from the Castros and Che Guevara. Even if you’re not staying at Hotel Nacional, they have a nice restaurant and bar overlooking the Malecón, and there is also a museum on site.

8. Get Lost In Trinidad

Classic picture of Trinidad Cuba a must things to do in Cuba

Trinidad Cuba is a gorgeous Spanish colonial town with the old part of town being a UNESCO world heritage site, and getting lost exploring it is one of the best things to do in Cuba. Just walk the cobblestone streets, around every corner another photo opportunity awaits you! There are over 300+ places to stay in Trinidad on Airbnb, the casa we stayed in was also listed on Airbnb.

Related Article: Ultimate Trinidad Cuba Guide

9. Swim In A Cenote

Cenote in southern Cuba - Things to see and do in Cuba

Jump in a cenote in Cuba and go for a swim to cool down on a hot day in Cuba. Swimming in cenotes is a unique thing to do in Cuba, as there are only a few places in the world that have cenotes.

10. Watch The Crabs Cross The Road

1000's of crabs migrating toward the beach - Things to see in Cuba

Thousands of crabs crossing the road near the Bay of Pigs in Cuba

You have to time your trip to Cuba right to see a million crabs emerging from the forest and making their way to the sea near the Bay of Pigs. We visited in April and came across the road block, literally thousands of crabs crossing the road making their way to the sea, some successful and many left smushed on the road…

11. Go Dancing

A singer dancing to the music in Havana - Things to do in Cuba

Cubans love live music and love to dance. One our favorite bars in Havana had live music and the street outside was filled with dancing & smiling locals.

12. Visite Topes National Park

view of Topes de Collantes Cuba outside of Trinidad Cuba - Top things to do in Cuba

Right outside of Trinidad is a massive nature preserve, Topes de Collantes. The park is full of hiking opportunities and waterfalls to explore. From Trinidad, you can visit the park by horse or there are large 4×4 vehicles that take tourists into the park to the various waterfalls. Tours can be arranged through locals in town, or take one of the big old Russian trucks through the park with Cubatur.

13. Go Diving

diving in Cuba - Things to do in Cuba

Diving in Cuba is not only really good but super cheap. For about $25 a tank we dove in Playa Giron just past the Bay of Pigs.

14. Learn how to roll a Cuban cigar

man rolling Cuban cigar in Vinales Cuba

For one of the most unique things to do in Cuba is to head to the tobacco fields and roll your own Cuban cigar.

Head to Vinales, the tobacco-growing region of Cuba and learn about tobacco farming and how to roll your own Cuban cigar.

15. Test Your Spanish

old classic car in Cuba driving down the road

If you know any Spanish, Cuba is a good place to put it to test. Not everyone in Cuba speaks English and the locals really appreciate you trying to speak Spanish.

16. Swim In Vegas Grande Waterfall

Things to do in Cuba - girl looking at Vegas Grande Topes de Collantes waterfall in Cuba

Don’t go chasing waterfalls, I lie… do go chasing waterfalls in Cuba. Go for a swim in Vegas Grande waterfall while exploring Topes de Collantes.

17. Have A Meal In A Local Cuban Cafeteria

Cuban pizza at a local cafetria in Havana - Things to do in Cuba

The infamous Cuban pizza, super cheap and better than it looks (but not by much)

There are tourist restaurants and then there are local Cuban cafeterias. Everyone should have at least 1 meal at a local cafeteria to get an idea of what the locals eat on a day to day basis.

*Note* The prices at local cafeterias are in the local currency CUP, you can pay with CUC but you may get CUP back which doubles as a souvenir.

18. Drink local rum (Sometimes out of a box)bottle of Havana Club rum and beach towel on the beach in Cuba

There is lots of good rum in Cuba. Havana Club is the rum of choice in most bars, but if you want a more local flavor try some rum in the box. Keep it classy in Cuba by drinking rum out a juice box looking package sold at the walk-up window cafeterias/shops in the cities. The local shops sell juice box like boxes of rum for roughly 50 cents USD. Party with the locals on the street with your juice box. WARNING rum out of a box may cause hangovers.

19. Chat with the localsTrinidad Cuba street and locals sitting outside

Cubans are some of the friendliest people we have met traveling. Everyone was willing to help us out when needed and even many just wanted to have a chat with us. Just sit down with a local and hear about their life in Cuba and how excited they are about the future of Cuba. Ask the locals their favorite things to do in Cuba!

20. Eat a real Cuban sandwichMust try foods in Cuba - The real cuban sandwich

Yum! a Cuban sandwich! Well, the Cuban sandwich you may be accustom to in America is not the same as a Cuban sandwich in Cuba. You’ll just have to add eating a Cuban sandwich to your list of things to do in Cuba and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

21. Stay in a Casa Particulares

things-to-do-in-cuba-breakfast-at-a-casa-particulares-cuba-1

Booking accommodation in Cuba before traveling there a isn’t easy, the best and easiest way is to just show up and check out local casa particulares. Staying with a local Cuban family in their Casa (house) is a great experience. Plus it’s affordable for you and it helps the local family out. You’ll find booking hotels online like Booking.com there are only 8 hotels listed in all of Cuba.

22. Go to underground cave club

Trinidad Cuba Travel Guide - Things to do in Trinidad - Club Ayala - Flickr-1

A Dance club inside of a Cave! – Photo by: James Emery – cc

Stay up late in Trinidad and head to Disco Ayala after midnight to go to a club inside a real cave. Every night they have a show with fire dancers, acrobats, etc.  It’s one of the coolest things to do in Cuba!

23. Have A Daiquiri at El Floridita

El Floradita Havana Cuba restaurant - Things to do have a daiquiri

Daiquiris anyone? The tastiest things to do in Cuba before heading out for a night in Havana.

Have a daiquiri at El Floridita the home of the daiquiri. This famous drink was invented back in the early 1930’s right here in Havana. El Floridita is located in Old Havana and is a great place to cool down and have a daiquiri while crossing of all the things to do in Cuba. This place was also one of Hemmingway’s favorite spots during his time in Cuba. You can even order his drink which is basically the alcoholics daiquiri: double rum and none of the sugar, now called “The Papa Hemingway”.

24. Eat fresh lobster

Fresh caught Caribbean lobster - things to do in Cuba

Some of the best meals we had in Cuba were the fresh lobsters. The meat was slightly sweet and had a ton of great flavor. All of our “house moms” from our casa’s offered to make us dinner and we took one of them up on the lobster dinner for about $5-10 each!

25. Ride A bull

Girl on a bull carriage in the tobacco fields in Vinales Cuba - Things to do in Vinales Cuba

Why ride a horse when you can ride a bull?!?

When given the option to ride a horse or a bull, always go with the bull. In Vinales go on a tobacco tour that will bring you through the tobacco fields either by bull and carriage or horseback.

26. Visit the Tabacco Fields and See Rural CubaTobacco farm worker in tobacco fields in Vinales Cuba - Things to do in Cuba

One of our favorite things we did in Cuba was visiting Vinales in the west of the country. Here is where the majority of the tobacco is grown and there is also some great hiking and caves to explore. Definitely, put Vinales on your list of best places to visit in Cuba!

Related Article: Best Places to Visit in Cuba

27. Visit Playa Jibacoagirl standing on a tree branch on Playa Jibacoa Cuba

Located between Havana and Varadero, Playa Jibacoa is a beautiful white sand beach that not many know about. A great alternative to Cuba’s popular beaches, Playa Jibacoa makes a great day trip or a relaxing place to spend a few nights at one of the three Playa Jibacoa hotels.

Have you been to Cuba? What were your favorite things to do in Cuba?


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35 Comments
  • Megan Jerrard
    Posted at 02:21h, 10 November Reply

    Ive heard so much about the nature in Cuba and the stunning landscapes which are down played and overlooked by tourism in favor of the cultural scene. While I would love to jump in a classic car, I can’t wait to get to Cuba for the beaches, waterfalls and spectacular hiking through National Parks 🙂

    • Hannah
      Posted at 04:10h, 10 November Reply

      Meg you would love Cuba! Cuba has so much to offer and I can’t wait until the rest of the world can go explore it.

  • Trails Unblazed
    Posted at 15:46h, 11 November Reply

    Lots of good suggestions. The crabs crossing the road looks crazy.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 19:37h, 11 November Reply

      There are so many amazing things to do in Cuba! You have to time your visit correctly to see those crabs heading to the sea though.

  • Ellie Cleary
    Posted at 21:02h, 19 November Reply

    Really enjoyed this post and loved your points about trying Spanish and chatting to locals in particular. How did you find driving in Cuba? Was it pretty safe or did it feel a little scary? Safe Travels, Ellie

    • Hannah
      Posted at 06:53h, 26 November Reply

      Driving in Cuba was easy, just keep your eyes out for pot holes. The roads in Cuba were in need of some repairs…We felt super safe everywhere in Cuba. Hope you have Cuba on your bucket list. Safe travels.

  • Bonita
    Posted at 04:05h, 20 November Reply

    I want to go to Cuba so bad. It is still in my bucket list! Nice post. Beautiful photos, nice summary.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 06:52h, 26 November Reply

      Cuba is amazing, there are so many things to do in Cuba you could spend several months there. Safe travels.

  • Daphne from Girlswanderlust
    Posted at 05:13h, 20 November Reply

    What a great list! Your photo’s look amazing. What camera or/and photo edit program do you use? Trinidad Cuba looks amazing. I am suprised to see the thousands crabs crossing the road near the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. Would love to see that one day!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 06:51h, 26 November Reply

      We use a Nikon D5300 we have several lenses, filters, etc. We edit mainly in Lightroom for photos. Safe travels.

  • Anna Kate
    Posted at 14:02h, 23 December Reply

    I’m planning a trip to Cuba soon and I’m really enjoying your photos and advice! Playa Ancon and Vegas Grande waterfall are definitely on my list now!!!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 22:38h, 24 December Reply

      Let me know if you have any questions. Def spend a week in Trinidad so you can visit the beach and the falls. Safe travels.

  • Rachael
    Posted at 10:43h, 27 December Reply

    Sounds amazing! I’m hoping to visit next summer but after reading this I just want to go right NOW!!! 🙂

    • Hannah
      Posted at 23:38h, 01 January Reply

      I do hope you get there this summer, Cuba is so amazing. Safe travels.

  • Meghan Ramsey
    Posted at 07:37h, 31 December Reply

    I need to go to Cuba before it really changes. Great ideas. Will have to use some of them!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 23:32h, 01 January Reply

      Cuba is amazing, we could have easily spent a month there. Are you planning a trip to Cuba?

  • Caria
    Posted at 14:50h, 18 January Reply

    your post is amazing! im planning on going in March with my family. how did you do the visas? its so confusing and the embassy website is no help…

  • Moschos Koupoukis
    Posted at 11:37h, 25 January Reply

    It was one of the BEST travels I’ve ever had, still remember everything, we started from Havana, then Varadero, Cayo Coco and all the way down to Santiago de Cuba it was super amazing and all the Cuban people were super friendly everywhere we went.

    Visit Cuba as soon as you can, you will be amazed !! Thanks

  • sherlys C.
    Posted at 22:31h, 27 January Reply

    this post its amazing! really hoping to do this very soon! do you have an itinerary of where you started in cuba and ended up (city wise)?? i feel like it would be very helpful! beautiful pics by the way !

    • Adam
      Posted at 07:13h, 31 January Reply

      Hi, we started in Havana then took a private old American car to Vinales which was great, then rented a car for the rest of the time to drive to Trinidad (another favorite), then to Varadero, and finished in Havana before flying out. This was for 10 days and it was about the right mix of time for the length of our trip. I enjoyed all of the cities we visited, and if you have time I would include as many as you can.

  • tim
    Posted at 01:28h, 12 February Reply

    what are options for getting to trinadad from Havana? and how long? thanks

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 08:15h, 12 February Reply

      There are a few options. We rented a car and drove ourselves but most people take the bus. You could also have a private taxi bring you there. The time really varies on mode of transport. You will for sure be glad you made the journey once you are in Trinidad.

  • Eleni Papadaki
    Posted at 08:41h, 19 April Reply

    Hello! Your posts are amazing and really helpful!

    Me along with some friends are planning to go to Cuba on the end of May. We will definitely visit some of the places your recommended.

    We are also thinking of visiting Cayo Santa Maria. Do you think is worth it? Or we shall spend our days somewhere more interesting>

    Thank you!! 🙂

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 20:22h, 19 April Reply

      It’s great to hear that are helping you plan your trip to Cuba. We didn’t visit Cao Santa Maria so we can’t really give any advice on it. If you do go end up going let us know what you thought of it. Safe travels and have a blast in Cuba.

  • Morgan
    Posted at 14:11h, 08 May Reply

    Hi,

    I am planning a trip for the end of June – early July, 2 females, not planning on renting a car. Just wondering how comfortable you felt with your camera/equipment while in Cuba. I was just planning on carrying 1 body + 1 lens for simplicity, and while I am not super concerned about it while it is on me, I am hesitant to leave it when we go out at night/don’t want to feel like I have to carry it on me at all times.

    Appreciate all the info you have – we have actually changed our plans to include Trinidad because of your posts!

    Thanks!

  • Nancy Haugen
    Posted at 21:21h, 03 June Reply

    I’m taking my grandson to Cuba for his graduation present. He chose the country. I’d like to avoid a tour, if possible.
    So am wondering about where and how you rented your car? Does one need some kind of insurance? What about gas? Are there enough gas stations conveniently located? Is gas expensive? What about parking at your various locations? Obviously only cash is accepted. Your website is wonderful and helpful Thanks so much.

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 19:46h, 05 June Reply

      What an amazing trip! Yes we rented a car right at the airport. If you are wanting to rent a car you need to arrange this MONTHS in advance. There were gas stations, I don’t remember the price it wasn’t anything too crazy, the car was about $100 a day (not cheap at all), we have travel insurance on our credit cards that covers rental cars, parking we usually parked on the street in front of the Casas we stayed in and a few of the cities you had to pay a local a few dollars to watch it.

      We are glad we rented a car as we found some of our favorite places this way.

      • James Towner
        Posted at 17:16h, 24 July Reply

        I have an American Express that had rental car coverage. However, if US credit cards are not accepted in Cuba, does the insurance really cover rental car? Did you actually hold the car with a US credit card… I know the first questions is probably for my credit card company, but thought I’d ask you as well.

        • Hannah Lukaszewicz
          Posted at 10:12h, 25 July Reply

          Typically credit car rental car protection only works if you used the card to book the car. I think the only way it would work is if you booked the car online in advance with the credit card. You won’t be able to rent a car and pay with a credit card in Cuba. We rented our car in Cuba at the airport in person (lucky to get one) so we had to pay cash.

  • Lisa
    Posted at 04:28h, 23 June Reply

    Smoking cigars… yuk 😛 Think I’m gonna skip that one:P

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 14:19h, 04 July Reply

      The boys smoked them but Anna and I just posed with them for a photo opp!

  • Cosset Echenique
    Posted at 10:46h, 29 August Reply

    Hello, I was wondering where the cenote photo (# 9) was taken? I would love to see it during our upcoming trip to Cuba! Thanks!!

    • Adam
      Posted at 07:45h, 30 August Reply

      Hi Cosset – #9 the cenote was on the southern coast between the bay of pigs and Playa Giron, closer to Playa Giron. We were driving this road and saw a sign for diving for $25usd and a cenote so we stopped. I don’t have the exact location, but it was pretty much one of the only things around so you shouldn’t miss it. There’s a small dive shop/store front on the side of the road opposite the beach. It was a random stop, but one of our favorite things to do in Cuba! Enjoy your trip!

  • Cosset Echenique
    Posted at 09:08h, 30 August Reply

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply! I found out it is called Cave of Fishes!!

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