This is the mother of all Cuba backpacking guides. We’ve squeezed absolutely everything you need to know in here, so pour yourself a Cuba Libre and get comfy – you’ll be here a while.

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Backpacking in Cuba is one of those experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life. This dreamy island has everything you could ask for; absolutely gorgeous beaches, vibrant culture, interesting history, and friendly locals. Add some mouth-watering mojitos and you’ve got yourself a winner, amigo.

Although things have changed a lot in recent years, Cuba still remains a truly unique country. Having been stuck in a time machine for more than 60 years, it’s now a curious mix of old and new. You’ll find Soviet relics and pastel-coloured cars from the 1950s as well as flat screens shipped over from the US. There’s so much to explore and understand that you can easily get lost here for weeks.

In this ultimate Cuba backpacking guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about independent budget backpacking in Cuba, you name it – it’s all here:

PS. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the guide, flick us a comment and we’ll do our best to answer any questions.

Where To GoItineraries Shit Bits

Money Situation In Cuba

Currency In Cuba

Cuba is a bit funny when it comes to currencies. Since 1994, there’s been two official currencies:

  • Convertible peso (also known as CUC)
  • Cuban peso (also known as moneda nacional, MN, or CUP)

The CUC is a tourist currency and the MN is the national currency meant to be used by the locals. The separation of currencies is an example of what some call the “tourist apartheid” in Cuba where locals and tourists are kept from mingling. Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • There are 25 MN per CUC
  • The CUC is pegged at 1:1 to the US dollar

As a foreigner, you are meant to mainly use the CUC. In theory, goods that are meant for tourists are charged in CUC and goods that are meant for Cubans are charged in MN. In practice, you as a foreigner are best off carrying both as some places only accept CUC and others only MN.

Oh, and not surprisingly, the CUC prices are generally higher than MN prices. For example, a fancy mojito charged in CUC costs the same as a bottle of national rum charged in MN.

Cost Of Backpacking In Cuba

Contrary to what you might think, backpacking in Cuba is actually not that cheap at all.

The biggest expense is accommodation which is easily 30 CUC per night for a room. Food, transport, and the occasional beer is another 15-ish CUC. If you’re travelling alone and don’t split the bill, that means your daily budget would be somewhere around:

45 CUC or $45 – and that’s even cutting it fine.

A good tip to save money in Cuba is to travel in a group of 2 or 3. Casas particulares and taxis colectivos charge you for the entire room or car, not per bed or per seat. That means you have an excellent excuse to team up with some other lovely travellers and pay less for the exact same thing. The more the cheaper, as they say. Or something like that.

Further Reading: 11 Tips To Travel Cuba On The Cheap

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Is It Safe To Go Backpacking In Cuba?

Cuba is one of the safest countries we’ve backpacked in and we personally didn’t experience any safety issues. No warnings about pickpocketing, no dodgy guys to look out for, no tricky tourist traps.

The only scam you need to look out for are the so-called jineteros. That’s the name of the guys that see you looking for a casa particular and offer to take you there. Once you arrive at the casa, you’ll then be charged the jinetero’s commission (usually around 5 CUC) on top of your room price.

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