A couple of weeks back, we were in Cuba for circa 10 days. We spent circa 5 days in Havana, one day in Vinales and the remaining days in Cayo Santa Maria – one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to. Below some photos I took in the old centre of Havana. Whilst Old Havana must have been incredibly beautiful once, today it is in need of a huge amount of restoration. A number of buildings and houses have been restored to their former beauty but the majority looks quite run down.
Some streets just off more pretty streets look quite dodgy and dirty. Nevertheless it is quite safe to walk around everywhere. If you don’t look Cuban, you will be approached by lots of people trying to trick you into a free drink or trying to get money from you by helping you with directions. My best advice is to just ignore them. If you need directions, just approach someone randomly and they will help you (speaking Spanish helps a lot here!). Almost all of the Cuban people we met were super welcoming and friendly.
Internet is not working well in Cuba. You have to buy internet vouchers which are usually sold in bigger hotels. These hotels and a few bars are the only places where you will get wifi. The prices are generally 4-5 USD per hour of internet excluding drinks in the hotel. In lots of wifi places the internet is so slow that you can barely get anything done. Also book your travel in advance as it is such a pain to book it once you are in Cuba given the internet situation. In the end we went to a travel agency and booked our beach and Vinales trip the old school way. If you do need internet in Havana, go to the hotel Dos Mundos which has a beautiful roof top terrace with working wifi or if you like some live music and bar atmosphere, go to the bar Floridita. Both locations are in Old Havana. Outside of Old Havana, Hotel Capri generally also had a good internet speed.
Overall Havana was more expensive than I expected and is comparable with non-metropole cities in the US or in Europe. For instance we went to Cancun and Mexico City straight after Cuba and you get so so so much more for the same amount of money. Also there are no supermarkets like that in Havana. If you need a few different items that you would generally get in one location at home, you might end up going to a few different smaller shops to get all.
Other than that, Cuba was great and really interesting to visit from an architecture, cultural and nature perspective. Cuba just has its own special vibe which it will likely loose gradually. So plan your trip in advance, get all things done online before you arrive in Cuba and you will have a great time :)