Is Cuba safe?
Cuba, with its colourful streets, rhythmic music, and rich history, is a destination that has long captivated the imagination of travellers, but is it safe? While it may be off the beaten path for some, Cuba is in fact, a remarkably safe country for tourists. In this blog post, we’ll answer some burning questions and provide insights into what it is really like.
Is Cuba a dangerous place?
Cuba has one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere. Violent crime is rare, and petty crimes like pickpocketing are infrequent, especially in tourist areas. This peaceful environment allows travellers to explore with ease and without additional worry and stress. In addition, tourism is an important source of income in Cuba and the Cuban government places a high priority on ensuring the safety of tourists. As a result, you’ll find a visible police presence in major cities and popular tourist destinations. This provides an added layer of security and contributes to the overall safety of the country.
What are locals like?
Cubans are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness towards visitors. You’ll often find locals eager to strike up a conversation, share recommendations, offer assistance if needed or invite you to dance with them in the streets! This sense of community creates a welcoming atmosphere that helps travellers feel at home.
Are taxis in Cuba safe?
Yes, taxis in Cuba are a reliable, safe option. There are 4 types of taxis:
- Yellow taxis (the official ones). All you need to do is flag it and agree on the price before you go in (as most of them don’t use meters). Remember to pay in CUPs.
- Unlicensed taxis – just about anyone with a car could be considered a taxi! We don’t recommend it unless you are travelling with a guide or someone local.
- Coco taxis (in the picture) tend to be cheaper but make sure you negotiate a price before you jump in.
- You also have the option to use Colectivo taxis – these are taxis that are shared with other tourists heading to the same destination on the same day and run between all the main tourist destinations such as Havana, Viñales, Trinidad etc. The taxi makes stops to pick up passengers from their accommodations and drops them off individually at their new address upon arrival. If available, a Collectivo taxi is the top budget-friendly choice for travel within Cuba. Ask your casa particular owner (or Cubania Travel!) to help you organise one.
Cubania Top Tip:
There is no Uber or Lyft in Cuba BUT locals often use a Cuban app called La Nave to call cabs. Like Uber, you see the total price before confirming your cab. Unlike Uber, you pay in cash at the end of the ride #TheCubanWay
Is Cuba safe for female travellers?
Absolutely. It is a very safe country to explore. BUT like in other European countries, you might experience some unwanted attention, catcalling, whistling etc. Cuban men pride themself in offering elegant and romantic ¨piropos¨, the Spanish word for the compliments you’ll receive from passers-by. Remember to keep your wits about you too, if a random person comes to you and wants to invite you to go somewhere, or to be your guide and show you around, be dubious. You can always say: ‘ No gracias ‘ (= no thank you) or ‘Gracias, no me interesa’ (= thank you, I’m not interested) or even ‘Por favor no me moleste’ (please stop bothering me).
What are ‘jineteros’?
Cubans are famous for their charm and their friendly easy-going nature and most Cubans are genuine in their hospitality. However, it’s good to know that a charming young man offering you cigars on the street at a discount rate because his ‘cousin’ works in the cigar factory might not be telling you the truth! These kinds of ‘hustlers’ are called ‘jineteros’ in Cuban Spanish and they really do know how to convince you to eat at their ‘sister’s’ restaurant or persuade you that their exchange rate is better than the one on the official exchange office. Our advice is to say a polite ‘no gracias’ and move on! The cigars are probably made of banana leaves, the sister’s restaurant will cost you at least twice the average and you’ll almost certainly end up getting fleeced on the exchange rate…! All of this will be done with such charm you’ll barely notice!
Is Cuba safe for solo travellers?
Yes, it is! You can certainly go to Cuba and explore at your own pace. And because Cubans are so hospitable and welcoming you’ll make friends in no time! Having organised sustainable Cuban tours for over 20 years, we highly recommend hiring a travel company like us, not just for peace of mind, but for expert tips and to ensure you make the most of your time there! Booking a local guide for a day won’t cost the earth but it’d mean you’d get to experience Cuba like a Cubano!
Is it safe to go out in the evening in Cuba?
Yes! We highly recommend it too! In fact, if you haven’t, do have a look at our best clubs and bars in Havana guide. What’s the best way to go back to your accommodation? Your casa or hotel (or travel company!) would be able to advise on reliable taxi drivers that won’t cost you too much.
What are emergency services in Cuba like?
Cuba takes pride in its healthcare system, which is accessible to both locals and tourists. The country has well-equipped hospitals and clinics, and medical professionals are highly trained. There are International Clinics in the most popular tourist destinations too. In the rare event of a medical emergency, travellers can expect prompt and reliable care.
Is Cuba safe for Americans?
Yes, it is. Despite the strained relations between Cuba and the United States, it’s important to note that as a traveller, this won’t directly affect your experience. Most Cubans have family living in the States and their welcoming nature means they are happy you’ve chosen Cuba as your destination. You also don’t need to worry about guns or violence when you are over there, as they have very low levels of theft or violent crime. Have a look at our OFAC-compliant sustainable Cuba Holidays, specifically designed for the peace of mind of US travellers.
Basic travelling safety tips (for Cuba or any destination!)
- Do your research before you travel
- Book with a legit, experienced travel company (like Cubania Travel) who can support you and give you peace of mind should you need anything while you are in Cuba
- Don’t flash expensive items or money
- Always travel with travel insurance
- If a place or someone ‘feels dodgy’ just avoid it
- Learn a bit of local lingo so you can communicate with locals
- Have a photocopy of your passport or visa, just in case
- Don’t engage in illegal activities
- Be scam-aware
- Watch your belongings in busy areas
- Don’t carry all your money in one place
- Bring a small first-aid kit
- Always carry with you the business card of where you are staying so taxis can take you right back without even having to speak!
In choosing Cuba as your next travel destination, you’re not only immersing yourself in a world of vibrant culture and stunning landscapes but also entering a country known for its safety and hospitality. From the cobblestone streets of Old Havana to the lush valleys of Viñales, Cuba offers a truly enriching experience for travellers seeking a secure and memorable adventure. Contact us to start planning your 2024 holiday adventure. Your Cuban adventure awaits!