If you are wondering whether you can enjoy Havana on a budget, the short answer to this question is yes!
We won’t lie to you; Havana is one of the most expensive cities in Cuba, and Cuba is one of the most expensive countries in South America. However, compared with other parts of the world, such as the United States, it is still pretty cheap.
Plus, there are plenty of different ways to make your money go further, as we will reveal in this blog post. You may also want to check out our post on the cheapest time to visit Cuba to reduce costs even more.
So, how can you keep costs as low as possible when visiting Havana?
Be as flexible as possible with your travel plans
There is only one place to begin when visiting Havana on a budget, and this is with the cost of travel itself. Flying is the only practical option if you are visiting Havana from outside of Cuba.
The great news is that many comparison websites and booking portals nowadays make it a lot easier to find a great deal. Plus, you can book a hotel and flight together to make your money go further.
If you are willing to fly at an inconvenient hour and/or you are flexible in terms of your travel dates, you will be able to cut a few hundred dollars off the price of your trip.
Get around for less than $1 on a Metro bus
If you hear someone use the term “wah-wahs” (spelled gua-guas), they are referring to the metro buses in Havana.
These buses run on 17 different routes throughout Havana, branching out into the suburbs.
Tourists do not tend to use them, as the bus stops aren’t always evident, and the buses tend to be pretty busy. Nevertheless, if your budget is tight, you won’t pay more than $1 for a journey, so it’s worth considering this option.
Just make sure you watch your bags!
Enjoy local sports and performances
Theater performances and live sports have become very expensive in places like the US, UK, and Canada. However, that’s not the case in Cuba!
There are plenty of options in Havana. After all, it is the country’s cultural hub. Some top picks include the following:
- Live dance at Fábrica de Arte Cubano
- A game of basketball at Estadio Latinoamericano
- Live salsa at Casa de la Música
- Chamber music or top choral concerts at the deconsecrated Basílica Menor de San Francisco de Asís
Life is lived out in the open in Havana – embrace it!
One of the reasons why you can do Havana on a budget is because the city itself is entertaining. It is a visceral city where people live out in the open.
Centro Habana and Habana Vieja are rammed with a cacophony of street life. From yodeling street criers selling fruit and bread to hotly contested games of dominoes, the city is bustling with life!
Limit your visits to private restaurants
There are a number of options when eating in Havana. For good food at a low price, eating at your casa particular whenever possible is a wise idea. Hearty home-cooked dinners start from approximately $10, and you should be able to get a good breakfast for as little as $5.
If you want to branch out a little bit, state-run restaurants are the cheapest option. Their low price tends to mean a limited menu, lower quality food, and lesser-quality service. So, if you have room in your budget, you may prefer to explore the excellent private restaurants. If you don’t, because you have a very strict allowance, state-run restaurants make sense.
Be careful when getting in a taxi
A taxi is a taxi, right? Wrong! In Cuba, not all taxis are the same. You will no doubt notice contemporary-looking taxis, stationed outside hotels. They are state-owned and expensive in comparison to the private yellow-and-black Ladas. However, you will have to go without air conditioning.
If you choose a private Lada taxi in Cuba, negotiate the fare before you get in. You may even be able to pay with foreign currency, which is always a plus!
An even cheaper option is to use a shared taxi service, known as ‘almendrones’ or ‘colectivos.’ These old American vehicles run across fixed routes daily, taking up to five passengers at once. You simply flag these vehicles down. You will share them with others unless you are already in a group of five, and that’s what makes them cheaper.
Stay in a ‘casa particular’
Finally, one of the best ways to make your money go further is to stay in a ‘casa particular’ instead of a hotel. This is basically a private homestay.
Not only is private accommodation like this much more affordable, but you can enjoy a comfortable, informal, and warm stay. Plus, you will get a much better insight into true Cuban life, rather than only having a tourist experience.
If you stay in one of the city’s hotels, you can expect to pay between $100 and $400 per night, depending on the star rating. However, a decent double room in a casa particular only costs around $35.
Another benefit is that you don’t have to miss out due to the exchange rate, as a lot of owners are willing to accept payment in British pounds, Canadian dollars, or euros.
Enjoy Havana without breaking the bank
So there you have it: a number of different ways that you can make your money go as far as possible while visiting Havana.
As is the case with any country, visiting Havana can be expensive if you dine out at the finest eateries and choose five-star accommodation. However, on the whole, Havana is a lot cheaper than many other majority cities worldwide, so it’s certainly somewhere you can visit on a budget and still have a great time.