Cuba's climate is tropical and temperatures are moderated by the trade winds. The average minimum temperature is 21 degrees Celsius and the average maximum is 27 degrees. The average temp in Havana is 25 degrees.The rainy season runs from May to October and the dry season extends from November to April. The hurricane season is June to November. Landslides and flooding are a risk during these months.
When to fly to Cuba
December to April is high season, when most travellers arrive on cheap flights to Cuba. Other high season times are July and August, Christmas and New Year, Easter and July 26 (the anniversary of the revolution). Havana and Santiago de Cuba are popular year-round.
Intrepid travellers could save money by visiting between August and October as this is when hurricanes are most likely. In general, June to November (hurricane season) is low season.
Getting around Cuba
AeroCaribbean links Havana with cities such as Santiago, Holguin and Cayo Coco.
Air-conditioned bus services are offered by Astro and Viazul.
The rail network is creaky, due to years of under-investment, and the trains can be sometimes unreliable. It's best not to take the train if you have to be somewhere at a certain time.
Cuba has an extensive road network and renting a car is an easy option.
Mopeds and three-wheel Coco-Taxis are available too, but travellers need to be aware that they can be dangerous. Local public transport is cheap, but like rail travel, is not reliable.
Cuba insider information
- A paladar is a Cuban concept, a restaurant run by a family in their living room. La Guarida is regarded as the best in Havana. The acclaimed movie Strawberry and Chocolate was filmed there. A casa particular is a family home that offers paid lodging. In Cuba, any other type of accommodation is government owned.
- Cuba has two currencies - the Cuban peso (CUP) and the convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is used by tourists to pay for pay for hotels, official taxis, entry into museums, meals at restaurants, cigars, rum, the departure tax at the airport etc. There is a limited range of goods that can be bought for local pesos, they're mainly used in street markets.
- The Malecón is the seafront promenade in Havana where you go to do a spot of people-watching. The Parque Lenin on the outskirts of the city is a quiet place to picnic and, if you feel like it, fish.
- At Artisan’s Market on Avenida del Puerto in Habana Vieja, you can find souvenirs such as guayaberas (traditional shirt), woodwork, leather items, jewellery, painted ceramics and handcrafted cigar boxes. Don't be afraid to haggle for the best price.
- When travelling around Cuba, always have a good supply of wet wipes and a pocketful of small change. You are expected to tip. Even the dirtiest of washrooms will have an attendant and you are expected to tip on your way in.
- The Museum of Playa Giron displays artifacts and information about the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Cuban mortars, Soviet-made tanks and a Sea Fury fighter plane stand alongside biographies and photographs of all 156 soldiers, police, and militiamen that were killed in the conflict.
- The house of song (casa de la trova) is the focus of entertainment in most Cuban towns. Fuelled by local rum and wild dancing, a night in a casa de la trova can be an experience to remember.
- For many lovers of literature, Cuba is associated with Ernest Hemingway, who spent most of his later life there. Finca La Vigia, his house, and now a museum, overlooks San Francisco de Paula, a village about 16km southeast of Havana. He wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls in the Hotel Ambos Mundos. The room - 511 - has been preserved, with a typewriter and copies of notes. The lobby too is full of Hemingway memorabilia.