Can Americans Go to Cuba? They sure can! But there are a few things to know before you go. While only 90 miles off of the coast of The United States, Cuba remains an exotic and illusive island, so close, yet so far. While Cuba is a beautiful land, there are certain things to know before you go.

You Still Need a Visa if You Want to Visit Officially

While Obama has eased our American relationship with Cuba, you still need to fall into one of 12 approved categories to visit Cuba. The list of approved reasons to visit Cuba can be found here. The “unofficial” way to visit is to fly through Cancun and purchase your visa in cash. This way of travel to Cuba is not approved by the U.S. government.

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There are Two Currencies in Cuba

 There are two currencies in Cuba – a local currency (CUP) and tourist currency (CUC). As a tourist, you’ll use the CUC currency. However, in some remote places in Cuba, you may encounter the CUP currency. You can pay with this, but just understand that the exchange rate is different. At the time of writing, 1 CUC was worth 24 CUP.

Exchange your U.S. Dollars for Euro Before Your Trip

U.S. dollars are not accepted in Cuba and the only place you can exchange them is at the airport (sometimes). If the Cuban airport does allow you to exchange money, they will charge you a hefty tax. The best thing to do for money in Cuba is to travel with Euro in hand and then exchange your Euro once in Cuba. At the time of writing (March 2017), it was about a 1:1 ratio of Euro to CUC.

You’ll Have to Pay for Toilets

Most public restrooms will require a payment of 1 CUC or less to the bathroom attendant. It’s recommended to bring some of your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as many toilets didn’t have soap or paper. It’s also important to note that many of the toilets don’t have seats, so the “hover” technique is the preferred bathroom method in Cuba 🙂

can americans visit cuba

American Credit Cards & Debit Cards Won’t Work

America does not have a proper agreement with Cuba to allow for our credit cards or debit cards to work, thus your cards are useless while in Cuba. Make sure to travel down with enough cash to cover you plus some. We met Americans who ran out of money and had to beg foreigners for help!

There are Direct Flights from The U.S.

Long gone are the days where you had to trust unreliable charter flights to get you to Cuba from the U.S. Now, you can travel from many U.S. cities including Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami, and Tampa.

The Best Time to Visit is December – March

Cuba is in a hurricane zone so the best time to avoid inclement weather is December – March.

You Need Travel Insurance

It’s required to possess travel insurance to visit Cuba. There is a good possibility that an official will ask for evidence of this upon entering the country. Come prepared.

Stay at a Casa Particular

Some of the best and most authentic accommodations in Cuba are at a Casa Particular, where you rent a room in someone’s house. You can find these on Airbnb or pay cash when you arrive.

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Can Americans visit Cuba? Absolutely! And you should visit sooner than later if you want to visit Cuba in its authentic state.