When preparing and planning for a trip to Cuba, it’s important to think about your budget and how you’re going to pay for things while gallivanting around this incredible island nation. With internet and wi-fi being scarce and a total hassle to find & use, you must have your finances and your budget sorted out beforehand. It’s not as easy to check your bank balance online and deal with acquiring currency as it is in other countries. We backpacked around Cuba for 3 and a half weeks earlier this year we’re here to give you a full breakdown of what things cost and how much you can expect to spend while travelling there. (For more information on preparing and planning for your trip to Cuba, see our article here)
Check out our video where we sample peso food around Cuba! Contrary to belief, the food in Cuba is pretty good! Don’t believe us? Check out our article about Cuban cuisine.
First Things FirstBefore even figuring out how much money you’ll need in the bank, it’s important to understand the Cuban currency (of which there are two) and the rates. 1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) = 1 US Dollar 25 National Pesos (CUP) = 1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)
The National Peso (CUP)This currency is what most of the local people are paid their salary in. Using the National Peso, you can purchase smaller items, and the “basics” that one needs. It’s important to realize that this isn’t the “Cuban people’s currency”, foreigners can use this money as well, and buy the following items with CUP:
- Rides in the local inter-city buses (jam-packed full, no room to breathe)
- Fruit and vegetables from the markets and side-of-the-road stands
- Street snacks such as popcorn and fried plantains
- Rides in a collectivo (shared) taxi
- “Peso” food such as: pizza, ice cream, sandwiches, rice & bean meals, and other smaller meals (pork & rice, spaghetti)
- Fresh fruit juice
- Basic groceries and produce
- Meals at a sit-down restaurant
- Cocktails and beer
- Bottled water
- Tourist bus (Viazul) tickets
- Hotels and casa particulares
- Scuba Diving, horseback riding and other excursions
- Car and scooter rentals
- Anything you want to buy, you can with this currency
How Much Does Cuba Cost?Cuba is very strange in that it can simultaneously be one of the cheapest travel destinations in the world, and one of the most expensive, depending on how you travel. Here’s a breakdown of what things cost in the country:
Accommodation$20 – $60+ / night for a double room in a casa particular. Solo travelers can get a discount. $25 – $380 + / night for a hotel room. For authentic Cuba travel, Casas Particulares are the way to go! They’re affordable, comfortable and you will enjoy a more local stay while in the country. This is the best way to get to know the locals – feel free to chat with them about their life in Cuba, and practice your Spanish! The food served by the casa owner is also very good. We highly recommend eating at least a meal or two at your casa particular. Check out this video where we give you a tour of a casa so you can see what it’s like. Another option is to just show up at each city and look around without booking ahead. Many casa owners will greet you at the bus station and offer you a room (or sometimes lie and pretend that they are the casa that you booked with).
Food & DrinkThe cost of a meal out varies greatly. Some cities are cheaper than others, such as Camaguey, while some are much more expensive. The cost of alcohol varies as well depending on where you choose to drink. Cocktails at your casa are often cheaper that at a bar. Expect to spend $3+ for cocktails and $2+ for a beer. At a nicer restaurant or bar, cocktails and beer are often similar in pricing – $7 – $15 each. Go for a mojito, trust us, you’ll love it! Bottled water is what you need to watch out for. It’s hot in Cuba and you’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated. The cost of a 1.5L bottle should be $0.90, however, most shops charge tourists $1.50.
RESTAURANTSPizza – $2.50 Tapas – $1.50 – $3.00 each Beef stew with rice and salad – $10+ Spaghetti – $5.50 Fish in sauce with rice and salad $9+ Lobster/fish with sides at a restaurant $8-$15+ Fish, pork or chicken meal at casa (too much food to finish) – $7 – $12+
PESO FOODEgg sandwich w/cheese – 9p ($0.36) Cheese pizza – 6p – 30p ($0.24-$1.20) Fresh fruit juice – 1 – 2p ($0.04 – $0.08) Ice cream cone – 1p ($0.04) Grilled pork & rice – 35p ($1.50)