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Recommendations for Guidebooks for Cuba

We're heading to Cuba in a few months for a bit less than a week and I'm looking for recommendations on guidebooks. Are there any out there that you found very helpful? When we travel in Europe we use Rick's books (as well as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides) if that helps in terms of the kind of style I like.

Posted by
5891 posts

Look at your local bookstore like Books A Million.
People here are more into Europe--like the name implies.

Posted by
912 posts

I was on a tour in 2013, but I like to research where I am going for my free time. I used the Eyewitness Travel Guide (great photos) and the AA (UK version of AAA) Spiral Guide to Cuba. I recommend them both.

Posted by
5882 posts

Look at the reading list on the Road Scholar tours to Cuba. One of the books is a travel guide published by Moon. I'm reading through a few of the others now that were available from a local university library.

Posted by
3588 posts

I like Lonely Planet and I used their Cuba guide for research before taking a tour last year.

Rick Steves made a good Cuba video a few years back, I think it was an hour, maybe you can get hold of it without buying it on this website.

Posted by
29 posts

These questions go to all of you that have gone or planning to go to Cuba; 1. Is is possible to visit Cuba besides taking a cruse or going with a tour group? 2. Is anyone familiar with an organization besides Road Scholar (not in my budget) 3. How do we get the visa?

I have taken many RS tours and done solo trips before and after the tours. I even went to Turkey two months ago, past October, and enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend it. But this trip to Cuba is giving me a hard time regarding the planning. I don't even know where and how to start. I need help. Thanks for the books you are recommending to Marcus, I will keep them in mind.

Marcus, do you mind to share your experience in Cuba with us upon your return? it would be very informative.

Posted by
30020 posts

Marcus,

My usual favourite for places not covered in the RS books are the Lonely Planet guidebooks. You may also get some answers from this website - https://www.cubatravel.cu/en/ .

If you also wanted to consider tours, have a look at - https://www.gadventures.com/destinations/central-america/cuba/?aw_ag_id=63152899849&aw_kw_id=kwd-501718400592&aw_ad_id=320947286820&aw_nw=g&phonecode=PPC_SEM_Brand&gclid=EAIaIQobChMInPuptPm33wIVCg1pCh2ztwAQEAAYASAAEgKof_D_BwE .

One point to note is that Zika Virus is a concern in Cuba as well as Chikungunya, so be sure to pack along some DEET or other mosquito repellant.

This website explains the procedures necessary to obtain a Cuban Tourist Card - https://www.howtotraveltocuba.com/cuban-tourist-card-and-visas/ .

Posted by
148 posts

For a different kind of experience in Cuba, consider traveling with Global Volunteers. They have been taking volunteers to two different locations in Cuba for several years. Volunteers run English conversation groups, assist with gardening and sewing/knitting projects, participate in activities for the elderly and more. The cost for a TWO-WEEK trip is comparable to what most tours charge for a “six” day tour (I put that in quotes since many tours count the first and last days, leaving only four true tour days.) Besides the volunteering during the week, a weekend of typical tour activities is included (such as Hemingway’s house). Because accommodations and virtually all meals are included, as well as transfers to/from the airport, transportation for the touring and admission fees, you spend very little more once on the island.

Here is the website:

https://globalvolunteers.org/cuba/

I did this trip in 2017 in Havana. We stayed in “casas particulares”, similar to B&B’s, that were very nice and gave us a chance to get to know a local host. All our meals were included and they were delicious. We were volunteering a great deal, but also had free time to explore the neighborhood, see a sight, or whatever. We met many Cubans who were NOT in tourist-related jobs because we were more embedded in the community.

Posted by
5882 posts

For marsowarg: I hunted out a lot of tour organizations for Cuba, including Eldertreks (Canadian) and a French company (since I speak French). US citizens have strict guidelines they have to follow, so I opted for a specific US organization and itinerary. Eldertreks does follow US rules, but the French group takes an internal flight on a Cuban airline, and all Cuban airlines are owned by the Cuban military, so that’s a no-no for US citizens. Google and read the State Department guidelines to know what you can and can’t do. For example, the government owns a hotel chain, so US citizens have to avoid those.

There are a lot of companies offering short organized tours that stay at the west end of the island for iconic sights/sites: main plaza, Hemmingway’s house, biosphere, night club, old car ride...

Our trip is costing more than we usually spend per day, but it’s the price tourists have to pay. US citizens aren’t allowed to just go on vacation there, and it’s stricter now than two years ago, but if you read the TA forum for Cuba, you’ll see that Canadians have been vacationing there and even buying vacation homes for a long time. There are beach resorts, but we aren’t supposed to make that the point of our trip. US citizens have to have a focus to the trip: volunteering as Renee suggested, delivering supplies to community groups, people-to-people, professional conferences, etc.