Category Archives: Cuba

11 Fun Things to do in Trinidad, Cuba [Updated]

Trinidad Cuba Things to do in Trinidad

Pastel houses, cute cobbled streets, crumbling Colonial buildings, killer sunsets, jumping nightlife and salsa! There are so many things to do in Trinidad, Cuba including sightseeing, cycling and a day trip to a turquoise water postcard-perfect beach. Trinidad, Cuba is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the province of Sancti Spíritus. It can be reached easily from Havana by bus and taxi colectivo (Cuba’s private taxis service). There are a variety of accommodation options including hotels and the local Cuban casas particulares. So let’s dive into our trip to Trinidad tips, try saying that after a few mojitos!

Trinidad’s Top Things To Do

1. Wander Around Plaza Mayor

The palm tree-lined Plaza Mayor is the main square in Trinidad. You literally can’t miss it as you wander about the city as this is where the striking Church of the Holy Trinity is located.

The pale yellow Church of the Holy Trinity (Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad), was built in the late 19th century, replacing the previous 17th-century building. It is free to visit but difficult to catch open!

Church of the Holy Trinity | Trinidad, Cuba
Church of the Holy Trinity at Plaza Mayor

2. Visit Brunet Palace

Brunet Palace (Palacio Brunet) is the large yellow building with tall arches to the left of the church. The ex-family mansion has two floors, the upper floor is where you can see nice views of the square.

The Romance Museum (Museo Romatico) can be found at the Palace and houses a number of colonial decorations and artefacts.

Multi-language tour guides explain the items in exchange for payment. A wee glimpse into how the other half lived in Colonial times!

Trinidad Cuba Sunset Brunet Palace Palacio Brunet

3. Climb the Bell Tower

While the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos does have an exhibition, the main attraction is its bell tower which you can see to the left of the church and mansion.

360 views of the city and beyond can be enjoyed from the top for a couple of USD.

Church of the Holy Trinity Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad Bell Tower

4. Stay in a Casa Particular

Casas Particulares are private Cuban houses with rented rooms. Casas are popular forms of accommodation and a great way to meet locals.

Many of these homes are beautiful colonial buildings with stunning gardens. We ate breakfast every morning among the flowers at Casa Yaquelín.

Most casas provide a private room with en-suite. Breakfast is offered at an additional $5 USD (approx) which is generally worth it.

You can read more about staying in a casa here.

Casa Particulare Trinidad Cuba | Casa Yaquelin

 » Don’t travel without insurance: Read our comparison guide

5. Take a Salsa Class

There are a variety of dance classes in Trinidad but the most touristic is at Casa de la Musica. Group lessons are accompanied by a teacher and live band. You go book a class with your friend, partner or pay extra for a dance partner.

Barrio Cubano salsa classes also come highly rated.

6. Casa de la Musica

Show off your new moves the nightlife hotspot Casa de la Musica.

Everyone in Trinidad flocks to the steps or seated tables of Trinidad’s most popular tourist attraction at nightfall. Just follow the music to this bouncing corner of the town and join the groups of visitors of all ages as they chat, drink, dance and enjoy the live music.

As to be expected, the cocktails are a little pricier than other places but it isn’t hard to find a 1 USDc cocktail stall closeby. You can pick up some top-up rum from a local store too.

We hung out at the streets close to, and the steps under, Casa de la Musica. It was honestly so much fun, energy levels were high!

Here we swapped Cuba stories and scams, you’ll have lots to share too, and arranged to meet new friends at future stops on our Cuba itinerary. Two of the friends we hung out with in Trinidad not only met us in Varadero during our Cuba trip but also in Scotland for our wedding party!

Casa de la Musica may be the institution but it isn’t the only club in town. Disco Ayala ‘the rave in the cave’ is popular if you can handle sweaty crowds and Cubaton (Reggaeton). 5 USD entry includes one drink. Avoid high heels as the walk there is apparently rocky. Ayala was closed when we visited.

We did, however, pile into a salsa club. The lines were long but we’d latched on to a local who managed to get us in. The doors slammed shut and we were witness to what could only be described as the muse for Dirty Dancing. Mature Western women dancing with young talented Cuban men, I’ll let you use your imagination. I was pulled to the floor but deemed not good enough to keep up.

For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the club. You’ll just have to go and find your own version! Tell us in the comments below if you do.

Cocktails Trinidad Cuba

7. Drink Cocktails

There is no shortage of bars and restaurants selling cocktails in Trinidad. Canchanchara cocktail is one of the popular choices native to the town. Canchanchara is made up of honey, lime and of course, rum!

La Canchánchara is the original bar which claims to have invented them. Reviews are mixed.

La Canchanchara Trinidad Cuba

8. Eat Cuba Ropa Vieja

In Cuba, there are private restaurants and government-run restaurants.

The government-run ones are notorious for slow service, poor quality and a lack of variety on the menu.

We, unknowingly, ate in one government-run restaurant for lunch and it became apparent which type of restaurant we were dining at after an hour’s wait for Ropa Vieja.

As they say, good things come to those who wait and now his Cuban dish has become a staple meal for us back home in Scotland.

Cuba time is not the same as Western time! You just have to go with flow, tranquilo.

Other Trinidad restaurants worth checking out include:

  • Restaurante San José: top-rated by tourists but genuinely a great option. Go before 7pm
  • Taberna la Botija: pork skewers, live music at night, we had lunch here

Trinidad - Salsa and Cycling

Ropa Vieja

9. Day Trip to Playa Ancon

This Trinidad beach is perfection, it’s exactly what you would expect of Cuba with its blue waters, white sand and palm trees. Strangely, I’ve heard other Cuba visitors say it is definitely not the best beach in Cuba. Nonetheless, for us, it was a much needed day away from the Cuban hustle in the city.

You can hire bikes in Trinidad and pedal to Ancon if you want to stretch the legs. The cycle there is relatively easy and takes you past a couple of shops for drink stops. The ride back is brutal, I was ready for giving up. Do not underestimate the heat! Especially after a day of sunbathing and cocktails. Dehydration warning.

How to Get to Playa Ancon By Bike

  • Pre-arrange bike hire so you can collect first thing to avoid the sun
  • Cycle down and along Simon Bolivar (6 miles)
  • Stop, take photos, enjoy the ride which should take less than an hour
  • Bikes are not permitted on the beach, we were charged to lock them up at the side which is pretty typical
  • Wear your swimming gear as there aren’t any huts to change

Playa Ancon near Trinidad Cuba

How to Get to Playa Ancon By Bus/Taxi

There are public buses which go from Trinidad to Playa Ancon throughout the day but the times are not reliable.

Our friend did manage to catch it, you just have to have a relaxed attitude and not be confined by time.

  • When you arrive in Trinidad ask your casa/hotel what time the buses leave and return
  • Expect to pay around 5 USD per person
  • The bus ride takes around 30 mins and stops at Hotel Ancon at the beach
  • Alternatively, enquire about a taxi. Even better if you can get a group together to keep costs down
  • You can ask your casa host about taxis or at the bus station

Playa Ancon Trinidad, Cuba

Playa Ancon – beaches near Trinidad

10. Day Trip to Parque el Cubano

Parque el Cubano is the second most popular day trip from Trinidad and ideal for those who like a short hike surrounded by nature.

The hike includes jumping into swimming holes and views of Javira Waterfall which is perfect because Trinidad can get quite stuffy and dusty.  Note, there are no changing huts.

Visitors contend with forest paths, stones and manmade bridges during this day tour.

As always, arrive early to beat the heat and also the busloads of tourists. This is a popular stop for group tours.

Entry is 10 USD or book a taxi/guide/lunch tour in Trinidad.

Salto de Javira Trinidad Cuba

11. Day Trip to Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos literally means 100 fires and it is known as the Pearl of the South. From Trinidad, you can visit the colonial city to see the highlights such as the central Parque Jose Marti, the unique architecture of Ferrer Palace and the mansions of Punta Gorda.

There are two ways to do a Cienfuegos day trip. Firstly, by pre-booking a seat on the Viazul bus. Secondly, by booking a taxi colectivo when you arrive in Trinidad. See our ‘getting around’ section for more details.


Essential Trinidad Travel Information

Getting Around Trinidad

The best way to get around Trinidad is on foot. As the city is small, there is no need for public transport unless you are taking a day trip to the beach or to hike.

Accessibility will be an issue for those in chairs as the streets are often uneven.

Getting to Trinidad

How to Get From Havana to Trinidad

Buses leave daily from Havana to Trinidad. The journey takes around 6-7 hours, stopping at Cienfuegos too.

See the Viazul bus service website for up to date times. You can pre-book your seats using this website.

Viazul is one of the official bus services in Cuba so don’t be afraid to use it. It is advised that you book a seat in advance where possible to avoid disappointment.

Conectando is another bus company but it has a very limited online presence. Forums pull up this timetable but we can’t say for sure that it is accurate.

Can you? Please tell us in the comments below or use the contact us page. Gracias!

There are, of course, private taxi rides called Taxi Colectivos which will get you between Havana and Trinidad or vice versa.

Colectivos are collective car share rides so it is likely you will meet other tourists in the car. Expect to pay around 30 USD. Don’t be alarmed if cars swap halfway during the journey, this happened to us when we drove from Vinales to Playa Larga. This is basically a taxi from Havana to Trinidad but with other people and a potential swap of vehicles!

You don’t have to book colectivos before you go. Ask your casa host (they will receive a commission) or go to the bus station and speak to the men who hang about outside. It sounds dodgy but it’s not, it’s the Cuban way.

Varadero to Trinidad

Varadero is a popular beach town in Cuba. Here you will find many of the all-inclusive resorts that surround the Carribean coast.

The Viazul bus connects the two areas. See the route and book tickets here.

Alternatively, if you are staying in Varadero and want to take a day trip to Trinidad to escape the resort for a while, this tour leaves Varadero at 6:30 and visits Cienfuegos and Trinidad.

Viazul Bus Trinidad Cuba

WiFi in Trinidad

Now the burning question, is there WiFi in Cuba? Yes, my article will explain how to gain access in detail here.

In short, there is an  ETECSA telecommunications centre in Trinidad where you can purchase a card which you use to sign in on using your own device. Some casas now offer this service too.

You can log on using the card anywhere there are WiFi points like the store itself or Iberostar Hotel or parks. You’ll know the points by the large crowds of locals and tourists.

Although the plush Iberostar has WiFi access, you must buy a drink so it’s an expensive browse on Facebook!

I have heaps of tips on how to save time and money in the article mentioned above.

Places to Stay in Trinidad, Cuba

I know this comes as a surprise but Cuba is not cheap in comparison to the likes of Bolivia in South America. Coming from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia was quite the hit of our daily budget.

Hotels in Trinidad, Cuba are expensive!

The delightfully decorated and gatsby-vibes Iberostar Trinidad starts at $400 (U.S) for one night.

The cheaper alternative to Trinidad hotels is to stay with locals in a casa particular, which is extremely common.

Many advertise as ‘hostals’ but don’t confuse this with a backpacker hostel.

Hostal Casa El Ceramista, Trinidad

Hostal Casa El Ceramista is a friendly family-run casa and a charming house. Alexy, the owner, is a ceramicist which is evident in the decor!

Rooms are bigger than the average in Trinidad and have air conditioning. A microwave, a fridge, toaster, kettle and a coffee machine are available as well as breakfast at an additional daily fee.

This casa has a 5/5 star rating on TripAdvisor and the hosts reply to reviews.

Casa Zenia Ana, Trinidad

Casa Zenia Ana is an older casa that has had a facelift. It is more expensive than typical casas in Trinidad but modern in decor.

Each room has air conditioning, patio, a balcony with city views and a fridge. The room advertised looks super modern, one customer on TripAdvisor states this is not reflective of all rooms however, reviews are all happy.

WiFi is available as of now according to one review. Let us know your experience if you stay there.

Airbnb in Trinidad

There are a variety of casas available via Airbnb in Trinidad, Cuba and the average price for a private room in Trinidad is 30 USD.

However, a few areas I need to make you aware of regarding Airbnb in Cuba.

  • The Airbnb app doesn’t work in Cuba so you can’t use it to contact hosts when you arrive
  • Airbnb has been running in Cuba unofficially since the 90s! Casa owners create a network throughout the island and call ahead to book for you, they get commission in return
  • It is not uncommon for the casa booked for you to get a better deal (a longer stay) so you are moved elsewhere and you might not know it. Naturally, you will know it if you book via Airbnb
  • Read the reviews to check whether amenities promised are provided. Hot tubs, doubt it!
  • Casa owners are now advertising over different search engines like Airbnb, Booking, TripAdvisor, Hostelworld, etc and WiFi is not as readily available so the response may be slower than accustomed to
  • This is also the case for casa owners updating when rooms are booked/casas are sold out

Reasons for booking with Airbnb

  • Pre-booking a casa obviously gives you peace of mind
  • You can pre-pay by credit card with Airbnb, less cash required – read our guide to currency in Cuba here
  • Airbnb is popular, we trust the resource and customer service is generally on the side of the customer
  • Properties have reviews

Trinidad Cuba Houses

How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Cuba?

Cuba is not as cheap as you think.

Our Cuba daily budget was 90 USD per day for two people with limited activities and one week in an all-inclusive resort.

We had plans to tour the whole island in three weeks but ended up checking into an all-inclusive resort to save money.

Here’s a full breakdown of our Cuba travel costs: 3 weeks in Cuba.


Personal Experience

We visited Cuba as part of a long-term travel trip so were restricted by our budget. Cuba was our fourth country out of 16 in total. We visited during our fourth month. We were suffering from major travel burnout by this stage, backpacking around Cuba is not easy.

Learn from my mistakes, here’s what I would do differently:

  • Download the bus times between locations. Locals do not know the times and are quick to offer their family taxi colectivo service which starts to add up at 25 USD per ride, per person
  • Take note of recommended restaurants for each stop. Some restaurants are pretty bad and even Cubans will tell you this
  • Create a loose itinerary. We are so quick to connect to 4G, you will soon see how much you rely on it since you can’t have it
  • Consider activities. I thought I’d use the time in Cuba to switch off so didn’t bother planning anything which is unlike me!
  • Renting a car? You may have to wait a few days in Havana for one to come in but having that flexibility to move around will be liberating
  • Don’t visit Cuba as part of a big multi-destination trip. Not having a kitchen starts to take its toll
  • Accept that the Cuban hustle isn’t going anywhere! Sure, it’s tiring constantly having people trying to sell to you but this two-tier economic system has allowed Cubans to survive and thrive

Trinidad, Cuba Packing List

  • Sunscreen
  • A thin waterproof coat like this Marmot Precip US / UK
  • Comfortable walking shoes and hiking boots – I like my light Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK
  • Camera and battery
  • Battery pack for your phone – See Anker’s range US / UK
  • Osprey bag cover for downpours US / UK
  • Filter and purifying water bottle like Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • Bamboo cutlery set US / UK
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK
  • Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some Cuban rum hangovers!

Going to Cuba? Pin to your board for later

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Any questions or comments? 



How to Get Internet + WiFi in Cuba [Updated]

Hotel Sevilla Havana I Internet and WiFi in Cuba

Is there WiFi in Cuba? Yes! However, usage differs to what we are accustomed to in the USA, Canada and Europe. To use the internet in Cuba, you can purchase a Cuba SIM card with data (expensive) or an ETECSA internet card (affordable), making use of the many WiFi hotspots around the country. This guide will explain the best ways to get logged on (and off), current pricing and time-saving tips so you can stay connected while in Cuba without breaking the bank.

WiFi access in Cuba differs to access in Europe/USA/most of the rest of the world because:

  1. There is no free WiFi in Cuba – it can be expensive
  2. Access to the internet in Cuba is restricted and censored by the government – remember this if you choose to log on
  3. Cuba is a great destination but still a communist country

» Don’t miss our Cuba travel cheat sheet – cost, accommodation, itineraries and scams


WiFi in Cuba Options 

1. ETECSA Nauta Cards

ETECSA (Telecommunications Company of Cuba SA) is the state-owned company responsible for providing communication throughout Cuba. This includes telephone, internet and wireless services.

ETECSA produces the pre-paid Nauta (WiFi) card which allows locals and visitors to log on. There are four ways to purchase, one of these lifesavers.

ETECSA Stores

You can buy the pre-paid Nauta (WiFi) card by ETECSA from any of the official commercial stores in most major towns in Cuba and José Martí International Airport.

This is the cheapest method of getting onto the web but you can expect to wait in very long lines.

A reader advised us he waited for two hours at the Havana Obispo Street center.

Don’t be surprised when locals ‘jump’ the line. They are not actually skipping, they’re just leaning on the wall on the other side of the street in the shade!

They have bills to pay hence their presence.

If you ask ‘ultimo’ when joining, they will let you know where the end is. Smile, you are participating in Cuban culture!

Waiting in line is a fave pastime in Cuba. Make some amigos, ask for local recommendations.

→ Warning: You must take your passport with you to purchase the card. No passport, not card.  Make friends with a local. This is the same for money exchange. Check out our guide to Cuban currency here.

This link will take you to the official site (in English) and details the ETECSA store locations in Cuba. You can use the dropdown to set your location.

WiFi Cards at Cuban Hotels

Alternatively, you can purchase a Nauta card at many of the popular hotels. You may have to pay a premium price for this card and here’s the kicker, it is the exact same card.

So, if you are staying in a hotel and have some time to burn, buy your ETECSA cards at the official stores before logging on at your hotel. See below for more on WiFi in Cuba’s hotels.

If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort and are on a budget, maybe you take this time to do a digital detox?!

Some hotels may not charge more. A reader kindly left a comment below to say Hotel Inglaterra in Havana (416 Paseo de Martí) is selling cards for face value, 1 USD/1 hour, no passport required for them.

Another reader who lives in Cuba says that some hotels are only letting you use cards bought on their premises.

Let us know your experience below too. We love to hear about your Cuba adventures!

Buy On The Street

The third way may seem a little shady but visitors do it so it is your choice.

You will see locals hanging about the ETECSA lines (and at the WiFi spots, see below) selling the Nauta cards for an inflated price, double the amount of the normal rate.

It takes two minutes versus two hours waiting in line.

Just make sure that the password strip hasn’t been scored off.


» Read next: Scams to avoid in Cuba



Playa Acon Trinidad I WiFi and Internet in Cuba

Local Community

Finally, the most recent method of purchase, find out where the cards are being sold in the local community. 

It is less likely that this is an option in Havana, but there are some locals who sell from their casas (houses). There will be a sign in the casa window.

Brush up on your Spanish and ask your new friends where to get Nauta cards in the area.

You can also try the Post Offices and the Etecsa-kiosk by the Havana Viazul station.

→ Note: it is not guaranteed that there will be cards available.

Summary 

  1. Wait in line and buy from the official ETECSA store
  2. Buy at a from a hotel, with no line but potentially at a higher rate
  3. Seek out the locals near the store/WiFi spots selling cards
  4. Less available and obvious, casa selling cards
  5. Try the lesser-known post offices and kiosks

Internet and WiFi in Cuba

Pre-paid Nauta (WiFi) card by ETECSA


WiFi ETECSA Card Login

Once you buy your card with your passport, and money of course:

  1. Find a WiFi spot inside or outside, see below for more details
  2. Use a credit card to scrape off and reveal your code. Do not use a coin as this may ruin the card
  3. Go to your WiFi log on settings on your phone, tablet or laptop and choose ETECSA WiFi option
  4. Type in your login username digits and password, copy and paste to notes on phone to save time next time
  5. Enjoy the internet, if it is working

ETECSA Logout

Cuba WiFi logout is pretty straight forward:

  1. Type 1.1.1.1 into the search bar (if it takes you to a Google search of 1.1.1.1 ignore this and try again)
  2. Here you request to log off and click ‘cerrar sesión
  3. If you have not used your full one hour then the credit will be available for you to use again. So remember = 1.1.1.1. logout WiFi and save cash
  4. 1.1.1.1 does not work? A reader has advised us that ‘forget this (WiFi)’ option did on the iPhone

Internet and WiFi in Cuba

1.1.1.1 ETECSA wifi logout – WiFi Cuba essential tip


2. ETECSA in Cuba – Cubacel SIM Card 

There is also the option to buy a temporary Cubacel SIM for phones through ETECSA.

Customers must be over the age of eighteen, you must have a passport to purchase and you are restricted to three active services.

With this cell phone service in Cuba, you can call, text and browse the web and apps using data.

So why do more visitors go for option one, the card? Expense!


Cuba WiFi Costs 

1. ETECSA Nauta Cards

The Cuba WiFi card is your cheapest option. The card should cost 5 USD/$5 for a 5-hour card and 1.00 USD/$1.00 for one-hour of internet access in Cuba.

Prices have gone down rapidly for foreigners. In 2015, a one hour card was 4.50 USD!

Think about how much time you want to spend online before purchasing. If you think you will use 5 hours, get that card to save waiting in line and wasting time during your trip.

Remember to take your passport.


2. Cubacel SIM Card 

The temporary SIM card is more expensive. The initial cost is 40 USD, which gives you 10 USD of data. You do not get back the remaining 30 USD.

You can then top-up if need more data.

Cubacel Rates

According to the ETECSA website, the rate for internet consumption is 0.10 USD p/MB and the fee for the consumption of national sites is 0.02 USD p/MB. 

With the Nauta scratchcard, you can get 10 hours of usage with 10 USD, just to put it into perspective.

It is free for you to receive texts and under 1 USD to send texts in Cuba and to outside of Cuba.

Mobile Recharge For Cuba From Abroad

If you happened to have a Cubacel SIM card already, there are a number of linked prepayment top-up companies such as Ding and Recharge.

Ding’s customer service would not tell me the prices of topping up a Cubacel SIM. They stated I had to top up first. Eventually, they sent me a screenshot which ranged from 11 USD to 50 USD packages.

When I asked what this meant in deliverables, Ding said I would have to ask my provider. I responded that this would be Cubacel but they could not tell me any more. A cloak and dagger response!

Recharge’s packages start from 10-40 USD and the site directs you to the ETECSA/Cubacel tariffs page for further details.

Trustpilot awards both Ding and Recharge both 7/10 for customer satisfaction.


Casas with WiFi

It is not uncommon for casa particular (accommodation type in Cuba, stay in them! Read our guide here) owners to offer their home WiFi SIM card which you insert into your phone and they charge you once you have finished.

Obviously, you run the risk of not knowing how much data you have used.

Casas now advertise via Airbnb!

Speaking Spanish is a great advantage in Cuba.

We lucked out travelling with a Brit who lived permanently in Mexico so benefited from her fluent Espanol when attempting to book casas and taxis.

I would recommend taking a phrasebook with you at the very least.

Man on phone in Cuba


Cuba WiFi Hotspots

There are WiFi hotspots throughout the country. You won’t have to look far to find one as there will be a mass of people on their phones if there is a signal.

There are over 100 in Havana alone. Below is a summary of popular tourist spots. Here’s the full location list.

  • The Castillito
  • Karl Marx Park Havana Center
  • Trillo Park
  • Pier. Exterior area Hotel Deauville
  • Karl Marx Park. Havana Cente
  • Park of the Martires Centro Habana

ETECSA Vinvales I Internet and WiFi in Cuba

Viñales – internet in Cuba for tourists, no different for locals


4G in Cuba

Is there 4G in Cuba?

On paper, yes. In reality, providers can only work with what they’ve got which is similar to a 2G and 3G service. Visitors and locals get by on this, however.

You can check out cell phone coverage in Cuba using this map created by ETECSA.

Peak traffic hours are from lunchtimes at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and in the evening from 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm.

While you may roll your eyes at this information please be aware that the 4G monthly package for Cubans is £30 which is a monthly state wage.

ETECSA state that, they are testing 4G capabilities in Havana.


WiFi in Cuba Hotels

The more expensive hotels, like Iberostar, are the hotels with WiFi in Havana and Trinidad. 

If you are not a guest, it is expected that you purchase something like a drink or swimming pool day pass to use the WiFi signal (with your card).

Remember, the WiFi cards can be more expensive in the hotels so purchase before you go.

Today, many hotels like the Iberostar family are offering 30 mins to one hours worth of free WiFi access to use in the hotel common areas as a bonus for choosing to stay with them.

The tourism minister has pledged better access for four and five-star hotels (what about the locals though?!)

Hotel Sevilla in Havana was one of the first hotels to offer WiFi access and it has a swimming pool which anyone can pay to use. It is cheaper for you to go with a Nauta WiFi card though so purchase at a center beforehand then pay to use the pool for 20 USD/$20. You get 15 of this back to use as credit at the bar.


WiFi in Cuba Resorts

I would take the advertisement of internet access in Cuba resorts cautiously.

We did have two computers to access the internet on at our resort, Brisas del Caribe, in Varadero but access was temperamental.

WiFi in Varadero

Varadero is an extremely popular package resort area of Cuba, Google is awash with a question regarding free WiFi in Cuba, internet access in hotel bedrooms etc for this area. For now, you just have to accept that WiFi access is not definite! According to TripAdvisor, there is access to the internet in the following places in Varadero.

  • Blau Marina
  • Blau, Varadero
  • Iberostar Varadero WiFi
  • Iberostar Laguna Azul
  • Melia Las Americas
  • Melia Sol Palmeras
  • Memories Varadero
  • Ocean Varadero
  • Paradisus, Varadero
  • Royalton Hicacos (lobby bar and pool)
  • Villa Cuba
  • Roc Barlovento

Our hotel, Brisas del Caribe had two PCs in the computer room which you could log on to, only one worked and it was sporadic.


» Going to Havana? Here are the best things to do there – castles, cocktails and Cuban salsa!


Hotel Sevilla Havana I Internet and WiFi in Cuba

WiFi in Cuba hotels – Sevilla


Cuba WiFi Access and Quality  

Accessibility is not only restricted to where you log on but the strength of the WiFi is not always great.

It’s often slow and can stop working. I lost a lot of time online because the network dropped and I could not log out.

In Trinidad, Iberostar showed excellent customer service and gave me my money back. I’m doubtful this would happen in the telecommunication centre!

When we tried to use Iberostar in Havana we were told that the WiFi was playing up in the business centre.

How Fast is the WiFi?

This question can’t really be answered because it differs by area and what is fast one day will be slow the next, or even down completely.

Cuba and Google have been in talks in the hope that they can start the process of making WiFi faster for Cuban citizens.

If you are looking for a digital destination, Cuba is not it.

You won’t be streaming TV from Netflix! Use the download function on TV and music apps before you leave so you have some entertainment.


Time Saver Tips – Before

You will not realise how much you rely on WiFi and 4G until you go to Cuba.

With the touch of a button, we have instant access to bus times, weather forecast, flight delays, the closest emergency rooms etc.

You may want to take note of the following before you go:

  • Print out all of your documents – flight details, insurance, tours, etc
  • Screenshot Cuba TripAdvisor’s advice on restaurants. I really hate saying that but the food is so hit and miss (and pricey). Remember to scroll down so you capture the address
  • Buy a travel guidebook. Not something I say often but it is a must in Cuba
  • Before you fly to Cuba, copy and paste information from online, Two Scots Abroad’s Cuba backlog obviously, to Google Docs, download as a PDF and save to your device
  • Maps.me works well in Cuba, Google Maps won’t

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Time Saver Tips – During

  • Write a list of priorities before you log on so you don’t get sucked into Facebook stalking (thanks to Sam for this tip)
  • Type messages into your notes app and then copy and paste over to your email, text, Whatsapp. This will save you time
  • Edit photos using offline apps before posting/emailing
  • Set the timer on your phone as soon as you log on. Time flies when you are having fun
  • Or be like me and embrace the holiday away from social networking, blogging and emails!
  • We always travel with a cell/mobile phone battery pack like Anker US / UK so when the battery runs low (from using maps, reading books, listening to music etc) we can plug it in and it gives the phone another charge.

Internet and WiFi in Cuba

WiFi in Havana Cuba – Thumbs Up!


Take a Break

If you are looking to switch off and chill out here you will want to invest in reading books and/or download music and podcasts beforehand.

Here are some Cuban based and nothing to do with Cuba books for you to consider:

Books (read to get in the mood)

Books (poolside reads)

  • Marching Powder by Rusty Young
  • Skagboys by Irvine Welsh
  • The Last Mrs Parish by Liv Constantine
  • The First Wife by Paula McLain

Internet and WiFi in Cuba I Trinidad

Drinks and WiFi in Trinidad Iberostar


Is WiFi in Cuba Safe? 

Like in any country, if you are logging on to an unsecured connection so you are putting yourself at risk of hacking. Please remember that this system was not set up for holidaymakers and it is likely that it will not be able to handle an influx of new tourists trying to log on.


FAQS 

Does Cuba have WiFi?

Yes, as explained above you access it differently from what you may be used to at home. You can purchase a Cuba SIM card with data or an ETECSA internet card. 

Is there internet in Cuba?

The majority of visitors combine the terms internet and WiFi when discussing accessibility in Cuba. Locals and tourists alike use WiFi spots to browse the web. We did not see any internet cafes. You? Tell us in the comments below.

Why Can’t I Use my Own Phone?

If you have roaming, you can! I wouldn’t want your phone bill though… For example, T-Mobile charges $2.00 USD per minute and $2.00 per MB while roaming in Cuba.

Does Whatsapp Work in Cuba?

Sure! If you can get WiFi coverage.

What about Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?

Same as above. even the president has Twitter. Locals used the platform to voice their opinion about WiFi prices too, remember this is still a communist country so it is interesting to observe this digital protest.

Does José Martí International Airport have WiFi?

Patchy! Yes! No guarantee it will work. Just the like the ATMs which didn’t work when we were there. Cue sweating at the thought of not having money to pay our exit tax which, fortunately, was already paid via our ticket.

Can I charge my iPhone in Cuba?

Yes! And Android.

Just remember your handy universal travel adapter with USB charging slots like this one by Skross US / UK.

What’s Cubamessenger?

Cubamessenger is a service which allows people outside of Cuba to contact friends and family outside of Cuba.

The original sender covers the charge and the recipient can receive and send texts, voice messages and calls for free, mostly.

Users in Cuba need a Nauta email to set up the service at their end so it is not aimed at tourists.


Final Words

I hope that you have found our guide to WiFi and internet in Cuba useful. Let me know how you find the information in the comments below.

Obviously, there is the glaringly obvious point – you are on holiday! I embraced the digital detox. Maybe you could too?

So when someone asks, why is there no WiFi in Cuba? You can assure them that there is, and the scene is changing rapido!


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Cuba Travel Guides
»
Cuba cheat sheet for your first trip
» Cuban currency advice
» How much does Cuba cost?
» Casa accommodation explained
» Diving in Cuba

What tips do you have for using the internet and WiFi in Cuba?
Tells us in the comments below.

Digicel Cuba Roaming, the newest Cuba SIM card

3G in Cuba

»»» This service will no longer be available after April 9th 2018

While classic cars remain a romantic tribute to the past, WiFi and 3G in Cuba is changing rapidly into the future. Daily, I receive frantic messages from travellers who need WiFi while visiting Cuba to touch base with home or meet online work deadlines and today, I am happy to announce that the next stage of development in communication for Cuba is finally here. So while you wander you can roam with this Cuba SIM card! One of the biggest players providing 3G in Cuba is Digicel with their Digicel Cuba Roaming product. The Digicel Group has been connecting people in the Caribbean, Central America and the Asia Pacific for over fifteen years.

Can I use 3G in Cuba?

Yes, Cuba does have 3G possibilities. I know, I’m as surprised as you are but you will know from reading my guide to accessing WiFi i Cuba that the scene has been changing rapido since I visited Cuba in 2015. For example

● Prices for ETECSA WiFi cards have slashed (from $4.50 to $1.50)
● There are now a number of pay-for WiFi spots where you can log on to WiFi using these cards
● Many casas particulares (local houses where you rent a room with bed and breakfast) have access to WiFi for their guests (with said cards)

So it maybe is not that big of a surprise that I followed a traveller’s trip in Havana through their Twitter account. They were drinking rum in Havana and telling their friends around the world about it on Twitter. God bless the internet (and 3G roaming). You can also check out the reviews of Digicel Cuba Roaming SIM card on Amazon, where you can also purchase the SIM.

What is the Digicel Cuba Roaming SIM card?

Digicel Cuba Roaming SIM card is a pre-loaded mobile/cell phone sim card which works with unlocked phones (this is important, most phones require unlocking, contact your provider before going to Cuba). There are 3 different recharge plans available: 100MB, 300MB and 500MB depending on the level of data required for your trip. Each package includes free incoming SMS so you can receive texts from family, friends, and colleagues outside of Cuba at no extra costs. No contract with Digicel is required so you are not locked into a monthly fee. Unfortunately, Amazon does not ship to the UK, so this is for U.S readers only at this stage with plans to expand soon).

Where does 3G work in Cuba?

Digicel state that their 3G coverage is accessible in all 15 provinces of Cuba. Coverage
in the more populated areas has reported as the most efficient. As Digicel uses local Cuban networks, Digicel cannot guarantee actual speed connectivity.

»»» Read more: the 10 Havana top attractions you cannot miss

 

Cuba SIM card - Havana

Digicel Cuba SIM card instructions

1. SIM cards of all sizes (standard, micro, and nano) can be purchased via the Dgicel website or Amazon. Visa and Mastercard credit or debit cards are accepted.
2. SIM is posted to the identified address with the Digicel Cuba Roaming mobile number printed on the packaging (GSM#)
3. Customer activates SIM in Cuba (only in Cuba) card by dialling *120#, then follows the steps for APN/Registration (iOS or Android)
4. The SIM is then Cuba roaming ready.
5. To check your balance dial *122*53# and a SMS text will be sent. This can only be accessed in Cuba.
6. Top ups can be made via the website and in shops in south Florida.

Help! I’m in Cuba and it doesn’t work

Never fear, help is here! Digicel have a designated helpdesk team to answer any enquiries via email Contact [email protected] for support. There is also a support customer service telephone number (407-499-2822) which you can find at the bottom of the page.

»»»Avoid the scams in Cuba with this popular guide

 

Pricing of 3G in Cuba

There are three package bundles for you to choose from. The level of pricing depends on the amount of Cuba SIM card data you require.

● 100MB for $25
● 300MB for $50
● 500MB + 40min worldwide calls for $100

To give you a benchmark of how much data you may need, Digicel states that with the 500 MB bundle you can access

● 2,000+ emails (send/receive)
● 30 hours of internet browsing time
● 500 posts and pictures
● 15,000 Whatsapp messages.
● 650 minutes of WhatsApp chat time
● 150 minutes of WhatsApp video time
● 15 hours of music streaming
● 40 mins for calls

Family and friends in Cuba can keep in contact with you at no extra cost to your package. Incoming SMS texts are free for each package level. Each plan has a lifespan of 30 days after the package is activated so you have just over one month to use your data for browsing (or calls for the larger package). When the tan fades as will your roaming chances as both SIM card and credit will expire if no top up takes place after 60 days. This is something to consider if you are a frequent Cuba visitor.

Can I use Whatsapp in Cuba?

Whatsapp is available in Cuba if you have your Digicel Cuba Roaming SIM Card activated before you leave you will have pre-loaded data to send Whatsapp messages, photos and make Whatsapp calls.

Tips on saving data and money

Our phones are our lives. They are the first thing we look at in the morning while checking the news (or Facebook) and the last thing at night when we set our alarms. However, regardless of holidaying in Cuba or living reality at home, many actions eat up our data so here are some tips for getting the best out of roaming in Cuba:

1. Kill your apps. Many of us are unaware that our apps run in the background even when we are not using our phones. It may be wise to uninstall any irrelevant apps while visiting Cuba. I would recommend installing a Spanish dictionary app like Spanish Dict! if your survival Spanish is as good as mine, malo. You can use this app in airplane mode, no 3G required. Maps.me is another useful app for getting around the likes of Havana, or go old school and use a map

2. Switch off automatic updates for apps and phone

3. Although cheaper than alternative options at rates as low as $0.17 per MB (depending on package plan), in comparison to major U.S carriers who charge $2.00 per MB, data usage is charged higher than what you are used to. Be cautious when uploading that image to Instagram, it will deplete your data and definitely save the everyday browsing/stalking for when you touch down back home

Cuba 3G - Playa Ancon Cuba

Important details

● You cannot buy Digicel Cuba Roaming SIM Card in Cuba
● Your phone must be unlocked on the GSM 850/900 + WCDMA 900 frequencies
● 24/7 customer service is available (Amazon reviews seem content with support)
● Phone calls only available on 500 MB + 40 Minutes recharge plan
● Whatsapp call, Skype, FaceTime etc available on all plans
● 3G speed and cell phone service in Cuba is dependent on local networks – Digicel cannot guarantee actual speed connectivity
● You cannot send SMS texts but you can receive them

Contact Details

√ Website: DigicelCubaRoaming (DigicelCubaRoaming {dot} com)
√ Telephone: 1.407.499.2822 (CUBA)
√ Email: customercare {at} digicelcubaroaming {dot} com

Final words

Although it would be nice to switch off and enjoy a digital detox in Cuba, Digicel is aware that this scenario is not always possible for all holidaymakers. From your Cuba research you have probably heard about the varying quality of food or amusing daily scams tried upon us when trying to find the bus times, museum locations or salsa clubs – having 3G at your fingertips to make calls or quickly check reviews, times and addresses may be the tool in fighting that charming Cuban hustle!

»»» Disclaimer: Whilst I have experienced logging on to WiFi in Cuba, I have not had the opportunity to use 3G roaming with Digicel’s Cuba Roaming SIM. This is a paid advertisement written by me (Gemma) with the support of Digicel and impartial, external reviews to help you get the best out of your trip to Cuba. Please read our small print for more details.

Any questions? Ask in the comments below