Traveling to Cuba is becoming easier in some ways and more confusing in other ways. We traveled to Cuba 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 ten days to explore Cuba, so we decided only to visit four cities. We didn’t realize how many amazing places there are 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
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
Old cars and Cuba go hand in 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 several Havana Hotels you can book online. This is what we did for two out of our four nights in Havana, or we booked in person and stayed at a Casa Particulares later on in our trip.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Havana check prices on Hotels.com. We’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.
3. Go On A Havana City Tour
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.
If you want to visit several Havana attractions, consider negotiating a rate for several hours. That way you can cover more ground with the same driver.
*TIP* Ask your driver to drop you off in a different part of town. That way, you can make an hour-long tour also into a free taxi ride.
4. Walk On The Beach
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 car, so for those renting a car, put Playa Jibacoa on your list of things to do in Cuba.
Related Article: Playa Jibacoa, Cuba’s Best Beach
5. Visit Morro Castle in Havana
This 16th-century fort sits across the bay from Old Havana and is a great place to get city views.
Don’t forget your insurance! You never know when you’ll need it. We suggest getting travel insurance with Safety Wing. Which coverage includes medical, trip interruption, lost luggage, and more. Often, rates are as low as $12 a week.
6. Drink A Real Mojito
No mojito will ever compare to the mojitos in Cuba! Warning: 1 mojito easily turns into 2 mojitos really fast. They are that addicting, especially at $2 a mojito.
7. Visit Hotel Nacional de Cuba
The most iconic hotel in Cuba is the Hotel Nacional in Havana. It was frequented in the early part of the 20th century by movie 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. Make sure to check out our where to stay in Havana guide before traveling to Cuba.
8. Get Lost In Trinidad
Trinidad Cuba, is a gorgeous Spanish colonial town, with the old part of the town being a UNESCO World Heritage site. 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!
Related Article: Ultimate Trinidad Cuba Guide
9. Swim In A Cenote
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
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 roadblock. Literally, thousands of crabs cross the road and making their way to the sea, some successful and many left smashed on the road…
11. Go Dancing
Cubans love live music and love to dance. One of our favorite bars in Havana had live music, and the street outside was filled with dancing & smiling locals.
12. Visite Topes National Park
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 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
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
If you know any Spanish, Cuba is a good place to put it to the test. Not everyone in Cuba speaks English, and the locals really appreciate you trying to speak Spanish.
16. Swim In Vegas Grande Waterfall
Don’t go chasing waterfalls, I lie… do go chasing waterfalls in Cuba. Go for a swim in the Vegas Grande waterfall while exploring Topes de Collantes.
17. Have A Meal In A Local Cuban Cafeteria
There are tourist restaurants, and then there are local Cuban cafeterias. Everyone should have at least one 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)
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 of a juice box-looking package sold at the walk-up window cafeterias/shops in the cities.
The local shops sell juice boxes, 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 locals
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 about their favorite things to do in Cuba!
20. Eat a real Cuban sandwich
Yum! a Cuban sandwich! Well, the Cuban sandwich you may be accustomed 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
Booking accommodation in Cuba before traveling there isn’t easy. The best and easiest way is just to 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 eight hotels listed in all of Cuba.
22. Go to the underground cave club
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
Have a daiquiri at El Floridita, the home of the daiquiri. This famous drink was invented back in the early 1930s, 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 off 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 alcoholic’s daiquiri: double rum and none of the sugar, now called “The Papa Hemingway”.
24. Eat fresh lobster
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 casas 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
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 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 Jibacoa
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.