Food Prices in Cuba – (How to Budget)

Cuba is an incredibly popular tourist destination, so we bet you can’t wait to get there for yourself! Whether you’re going to marvel at the architecture or enjoy the

Cuban dance culture, there is something for everyone. 

Food Prices in Cuba - (How to Budget)

One thing that you should be thinking about before your trip, though, is the cost of living in Cuba.

As with any holiday, it makes sense to budget correctly so that you can spend more time enjoying the country instead of stressing about spending. 

Today we’re looking at the average food prices in Cuba, as well as how you can budget to ensure that you’re not spending too much money out there. 

Is Cuba An Expensive Country?

First thing’s first, you need to know whether or not Cuba is expensive.

This will help you to determine how much money you are going to budget for your vacation. The more expensive a country is, the more you will need to save to add to your budget.

Cuba is an amazing country with plenty of history and energy. It has been removed from the western world for more than 50 years, and there is something for everyone to do out there. 

Cuba is not considered one of the cheapest tourist destinations in the world, but it is possible to manage a holiday with a small budget.

This would mean that you’d be paying for the bare minimum in terms of food and experiences. 

However, if you want to make the most of your trip to Cuba, you might want to add more to your budget so that you have enough money to splurge on nicer things. 

Cuban Currency

There are two types of currency in Cuba – CUP and CUC. The former is the National Peso and equates to around $0.04. CUC is equivalent to the US dollar, so one CUC is $1. You will get 25 CUP for each 1 CUC you have.

  • 1 CUC = $1
  • 1 CUP = $0.04
  • 1 CUC = 25 CUP

Don’t think that this means there is a tourist currency and a local currency, however. Locals use both CUC and CUP currency in their everyday life.

CUC is often used to pay for luxury items such as hotels and expensive restaurants by locals and tourists alike. 

On the other hand, using CUP can save you money by using it wherever you can. Street food stalls and some transport allow the use of CUP, so you can use these here.

Some food stalls will price their meals in CUP, which means that a meal worth 25 CUP will only cost you $1. However, if you only have CUC on you, some will make you use this instead. That’s $25 for one meal! 

It is wise to carry both CUC and CUP with you, and make sure that you know which currency you’re using for each purchase. This will ensure that you can keep track of your budget.

Food Prices in Cuba - (How to Budget)

Food Prices In Cuba

When going on vacation, the number one thing you should consider when budgeting is your food.

You’re going to need food for every day that you’re out there, three times a day – so it’s going to take up quite a bit of your budget! 

Unfortunately, food prices in Cuba vary quite a lot. Any restaurant or street food stall pricing their food in CUP will be cheaper for you to purchase, so anyone on a smaller budget should look for these. 

Food Paid For With CUP

Food paid for with CUP is otherwise known as peso food, so look out for this on restaurant menus.

This is an amazing way to save money, and you’ll be able to try a number of amazing street food dishes to enhance your Cuban experience. 

An example of peso food is peso pizza, which will cost you around $0.25 to $1 US. You could also find some rice and meat dishes for around $1.50 US.

You can even find stalls selling fresh juice for only $0.04 US, or an egg and cheese sandwich for $0.35 US! 

Food Paid For With CUC

Alternatively you can use CUC to pay for your meals at higher end restaurants. These will have fancier dishes such as pasta, steak, and seafood.

These meals will need to be paid for in CUC, and this means that they will cost you more in US dollars. 

A typical meal paid for in CUC will often set you back between $8 and $15 US dollars. These meals tend to be of higher quality and tastier, which is why they cost more and are paid for by CUC. 

Food From Casa Particulars

Cuba offers a very interesting form of accommodation in the form of casa particulars, which is otherwise known as a local homestay.

This is where you stay in the house of a Cuban local, usually in their spare room or adjoining apartment. 

If you choose to use this accommodation, they will often cook meals for you if you ask them to. This way you can request a meal and pay the fee that they give you.

The prices are often cheaper than fancy restaurants, and the food often tastes better! 

For example, you might ask your host to cook you a fresh lobster dish, in which they only charge you $10.

This is cheaper than the fancy restaurant, and you don’t have to wait for 100 other people to be served. 

How To Budget For Food During Your Vacation

The cost of food from Cuba differentiates greatly depending on what you’re eating and what currency you’re using. When using CUC, meals can range anywhere from 3 CUC to 50 CUC for a meal and a drink. 

Lunch meals tend to be cheaper, with an average price of 5 CUC per meal in Old Havana. This is for the cheaper restaurants however, so be prepared to pay more for a fancy meal.

Dinners are always more expensive, with restaurants in Old Havana charging around 10 to 20 CUC for the meal and drink. Bear in mind that some restaurants automatically add on a service charge of 10%. 

Overall, your budget is going to vary considerably. Think about how much you’re going to want to eat out at fancy restaurants.

If you’re on a tight budget, we might suggest sticking to one or two of these higher priced meals and using peso food for the rest of your time there. 

Many people find that $15 a day will be sufficient for their food budget in Cuba, with the idea that you’ll be eating peso food more than fancy dinners.

However, you can always add more to that if you want to eat fanciet food more often – try $25 a day instead. 

Summary

And there we have it – the average food prices in Cuba and how to budget for them. We always recommend withdrawing CUP and using this to spend on street food as it saves you so much money! 

However, be prepared for your fancier meals with enough CUC. A decent budget will be between $15 and $25 US, although this could be more or less depending on what you’re happy with dining on. 

Jim Stanton
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