Despite being the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba remains largely undiscovered. Its charming colonial cities and white-sand beaches are yet to be overrun by tourists, making now the time to embark on a solo adventure. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered these top tips for solo travel in Cuba.
Learn a little Spanish
Although you’ll find many locals are keen to practise their English, the majority of Cubans only know Spanish. In larger cities such as Havana, English is more common. But knowing even just a couple of useful words will certainly go a long way.
This is particularly important if you’re looking to eat in local restaurants or stay in local accommodation. By knowing a little of the local language, you’ll maximise your experience with the Cuban people. So try and master a few simple phrases such as these while you’re on the plane:
Por favor – please
Gracias – thank you
Hola – hello
Adios – goodbye
Dónde está…? – where is…?
Me llamo… – my name is…
Venture out of Havana
Whilst Havanna is certainly a must-see, with its pastel-coloured buildings and cobblestone streets, there’s much more to Cuba than its charming capital. Explore the beautiful coastal city of Cienfuegos or step back in time in the UNESCO-listed colonial city of Trinidad.
To the west, you’ll find the breathtaking scenery of the Vinales Valley, where you can visit local tobacco farms and cycle among rugged mogotes. The Escambray Mountains also offer plenty of gorgeous hikes. And when you need a little time to unwind, the white sand beaches and islands off Cuba’s north coast are the place to go.
‘I had a blast travelling solo for two weeks through Cuba. I met incredible travellers and amazing locals alike, which provided an unforgettable experience. I had the chance to truly disconnect from the outside world while connecting with this beautiful country.’
– Ciara, Hey Ciara
Check out the nightlife
When travelling solo it can often be tempting to stay in your accommodation in the evenings. But if you haven’t experienced a little of Cuba’s nightlife, then you arguably haven’t really seen Cuba.
Dance is a way of life here, with jazz clubs, salsa bars and rumba halls found across the country. As a solo traveller, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practise your moves, whether that’s in a class or out on the dancefloor. Dress up like the locals and join in the fun, you won’t regret it!
Stay in a casa particular
Cuba’s casas particulars offer a similar experience to a bed and breakfast or Airbnb. Translating to mean ‘private homestay’, you spend the night in a local’s house or apartment and gain a fascinating insight into the local culture.
This is a particularly great way for solo travellers to find out the best things to see or do in an area, as you can get plenty of advice from your hosts. No two rooms will be the same and you’ll find a range of casas from the more basic to the more luxurious.
‘When I travelled solo in Cuba back in 2014, the only real accommodation option available to backpackers was the network of casas particulares, which meant I was staying in the private rooms of Cuban homes. Rooms always had at least two beds in them so I’d recommend finding other travellers to room with to keep your costs down. I did this a few times and it really helped with my travel budget!’
– Flora, Flora the Explorer
Enjoy being disconnected
Whilst many people like to document their travels on social media, Cuba offers the chance to get off grid for a while. Although you will be able to find WiFi, it most likely won’t be free or all that fast.
Being disconnected may at first seem daunting to a solo traveller. But, in actual fact, by being more present and not having the distractions of work emails or messages, you’ll be able to truly switch off and immerse yourself in the culture of this colourful isle.
‘Make solid plans with anyone you meet in Cuba. I met so many cool people while traveling and we always said “okay hopefully I’ll see you later” but then never did. I spent so much time alone because I didn’t make solid plans with people. Not being able to use Facebook or WhatsApp means you have to do things old school. So when you meet someone cool, make a plan to meet up later and confirm the time and place.’
– Claire, Claire’s Itchy Feet