All posts filed under: Travel Tips

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Q+ A | Emily Miller from Trends on Trends

This week Emily Miller, the creator of Trends on Trends, took over our social feed to show travelers how to experience Havana like a local with Cuba Travel Network. We caught up with Emily after her trip to learn more about her experience.   Q: You recently travelled to Cuba on a tour with us. If you could describe your experience with three words, what would they be and why? Verdant – The people, the colors, the vibes, all are full of life. Malecón – The main freeway along the coastline is a constant reference point not only for directions, but for a local place to hang, sit on the wall overlooking the water while drinking bodega beers. Wanderlust – Cuba is a place where food, experiences, and friends are waiting to be discovered. With an open mind and empty stomach, the real Havana will reveal itself. Q: Was your experience dining at a Cuban paladar what you expected? Down an alley, through a front yard, in between buildings, up a metal staircase, every preposition …

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3 Best Beaches in Cuba

Travel sophisticates may say that the real authentic Cuba exists far away from the beach. But even Cubans appreciate the crystal clear waters and fine sands of the island. Here, we set out to find the best beach in Cuba. Varadero: Most Famous The longest and most famous beach in Cuba is Varadero on the north coast. It would be ambitious to walk the length of the beach in a day, especially after all the cocktails that you might find yourself drinking en route. Varadero has white sand, blue sea, masses of good hotels and plenty of friendly people to talk to. Playa Ensenachos: Most Chilled Out This beach on Cayo Ensenachos, is part of a group of  small islands off the north coast of Cuba. It is a totally different scene, and almost entirely deserted. The sand has a texture similar to talcum powder, and the shallow water is as warm and clear as air. Playa Pilar: The Winner This beach, on Cayo Guillermo, is the star of the show. It is perfect bliss, …

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How to Spend a Weekend in Soroa, Cuba

Thanks to heavy rainfall in the region, Soroa is known as the rainbow of Cuba. The gorgeous natural area is filled with green mountains, pristine waterfalls and several attractions perfect for nature lovers. Just one hour outside Havana, amidst tall trees and orchids, Soroa is the closest mountain resort to the capital. Here’s how to have the perfect weekend getaway in Soroa. Check in: Hotel Castillo en las Nubes This medieval castle-turned-hotel in Soroa is located atop Fuerte Hill, surrounded by spectacular views of the Valle de Soroa and the coastal plain. Originally built in the 1940s as a retreat from busy city life in Havana, Castillo en las Nubes was turned into a Creole restaurant in the 1970s before it was fully restored and reimagined as a boutique hotel. Enjoy on-site amenities like a bar with picturesque views and 24-hour butler service. Near the hotel, see the area’s beautiful orchid garden as well as unparalleled opportunities for hiking in Cuba. Cool off: Enjoy a mojito There’s plenty to explore in Soroa, but first things …

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When is the Best Time to Visit Cuba?

In 2016, for the first time in more than 50 years, commercial flights from Miami, New York and other U.S. destinations became bookable to Cuba, opening up the island  to a new generation of American travelers. As savvy travelers are already thinking of planning a trip in 2017, the big question might be: when is the best time to visit Cuba? Our staff at Cuba Travel Network is here to tell you. To enjoy the warm weather Some like it hot. For those who don’t, Helen Hernández, a Commercial Executive at Cuba Travel Network, tips us on when to visit for the weather-conscious: August is the hottest month of the year, while February is the coolest month of the year. Helen: “April is the best month to visit, because it’s not too hot, and it’s not too cold, and it falls outside hurricane season. Still, no matter what month you choose, my advice is to bring an umbrella!” To avoid tourists Luis Orlando, Cuba Travel Network’s Reservations Manager, recommends booking “as early as possible!” And …

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4 Overnight Escapes from Havana

Love Havana, but want to explore more of Cuba? Here are four ways approach an overnight trip outside our glittering capital that will satisfy even the most adventurous traveler. Topes de Collantes This expedition through central Cuba to Topes de Collantes, a nature reserve park in the Sierra del Escambray mountain range, features natural, historical and cultural highlights, including a chance to romp in the “El Rocío” waterfall Insider tips: Find the Mirador (viewing platform) for the best views; about 30 minutes from outside of colonial Trinidad. And while swimsuits are suggested, be sure to pack some warm clothing: the temperature in the mountains is much cooler than in Havana, especially at night and in the early morning. Cienfuegos Founded in 1819 by French colonists, Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has maintained its urban fabric. Not only is the city an architectural highlight, but it’s also a nautical city that boasts a beautiful bay: referred to as Cuba’s “Perla del Sur,” meaning pearl of the south, in reference to its elegancy and spirit. Insider tip: Visit …

Classic blue car on the beach in Cuba

How to Celebrate the End of Summer Like a Cuban

One of the best ways to gauge the true character of Cuba is to travel there, especially to the less trendy but popular restaurants, bars and cultural offerings. Beyond Cuba, however, there is plenty to admire. If a flight to the island nation isn’t in the cards before September 21 (the last day of summer), you can still enjoy the last of the warm weather in America like a Cuban. Nobody knows the season better than the Cubans, who live in year-round tropical conditions. So for some final summer inspiration, here’s what to see and do this September. Try the Cuban cocktail with “magical healing powers” Cuba is famous for its mojito, yes, but have you heard of the canchánchara? AFAR covered the various legends surrounding the origin of the drink, which is claimed by Trinidad in central Cuba. A landmark in Trinidad, Taberna de la Canchánchara serves its namesake drink, but if you can’t make it to the colonial Cuban city this summer, try the cocktail closer to home with this simple recipe: 2 …

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What You Need to Know About Flying to Cuba

For Americans, travel to Cuba is now legal but can be confusing. In 2016, several U.S. airlines were approved to resume commercial flights to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. While more than 100 new flight routes will offer regular service to the island nation, some U.S. travel restrictions are still in place. Cuba Travel Network’s Esther Heinekamp makes it simple. How can Americans legally travel to Cuba? There are 12 U.S. government-approved categories of travel for Americans to visit Cuba. Most Americans visit Cuba on ‘people-to’-people’ visas. To put it simply, legal travel is possible for Americans who book or design their own full-time schedule of activities that promote meaningful interaction with the Cuban people. Obviously, this can be interpreted in many ways, which has created confusion and placed legal travel to Cuba in a gray area. That’s why we suggest travelers arrange their trip through a provider like Cuba Travel Network, which ensures the legality of their trip through itineraries that fulfill the requirements of a people-to-people travel permit. With …

Tipping in Cuba

Tipping in Cuba 101

Tipping in Cuba is unlike anywhere else in the world, thanks to two currencies and lack of guidance. For travelers to Cuba, knowing when and how to tip on the island can therefore be a daunting task. Some visitors feel besieged on all sides by locals demanding money for services that had never really been asked for; others fall over themselves shelling out cash, thinking it’s the right thing to do. We suggest the following guidelines. (Note: All references to dollars refer to CUC, the Cuban currency used by travelers that is pegged one to one to the U.S. dollar.) Guide to Tipping in Cuba Restaurants (10 percent) Many restaurants (state and private) now add 10 percent service charge to the bill. Giving another 5 percent for exceptional service is common, but not required. If service has not been added, then 5-10% is reasonable. More than 10% is unnecessary. Staff in an all-inclusive resort ($20-30 per week) If someone makes a special effort for you (a gardener giving you a flower; a waiter getting you …

Morro Castle, in Havana Cuba.

When is the Best Time to Visit Cuba?

A trip to Cuba is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many Americans, so the timing has got to be right. So when is the best month to visit? First things first—never pass up an opportunity to explore Cuba, regardless of season. But if you have some flexibility in your schedule, here’s our guide on the best time to visit Cuba. Climate Cuba has a subtropical climate with traditional seasonal variations. November to April is the dry, cooler season, with daily highs averaging in the 70s and daily lows in the 60s. Between December and February, some days can drop to decidedly un-beachy levels. April to October is the rainy season, when temperatures soar, although not by too much in April and May. July and August are the hottest months, while September brings a higher risk of hurricanes. Accommodations During high season (November – March; July and August), hotels and casas particulares (Cuba’s take on b&bs) fill up fast. Make reservations early, particularly between Christmas and March, when much of the Southern Hemisphere is on summer vacation. …