Tips for Traveling Through Cuba and Havana as a Single Women

I always get lots of questions from single women who are planning a trip to Havana and Cuba. Their main concerns are safety and the nightlife scene. I recently had the opportunity to chat with a woman on Reddit who is planning a trip to Cuba. The following are some of the questions she had and the answers I provided her. After she returns from Cuba, she has promised to write a little report to tell us about her experiences and some other tips which she found useful as a solo female traveler in Cuba and Havana.

 

cuba-vinales-valley

 

 

Safety and exploring different cities in Cuba as a solo female Traveler

 

Question:

Is it safe for a woman to travel solo through Cuba? Anyone know any good one day tours from Habana to Vinales? How could I get to Trinidad from Habana? I plan to stay 1 week in Cuba.

 

Answer:

My advice would be to use the Viazul bus service to get around from Havana to Trinidad or to Vinales. If you are just going for 1 week, you will be wasting a lot of time in transit if you want to visit Trinidad and Vinales. You would be better off just hitting Havana and then either Trinidad or Vinales.

Basically, Vinales has better natural and scenic beauty. Trinidad has better architecture and history. Both places are far from Havana and in the deep countryside.

I recommend you stay in casas particulares. For Havana you should make reservations ahead of time. For Trinidad and Vinales, you can just reserve a place when you arrive. At the Viazul bus terminals in these town, the locals will cluster and basically beg you to stay in their casas. You can snag a great deal just as you get off the bus. For example, if you reserve a place online, you might pay 25 to 30cuc per night. You can probably get an even better place for only 10 or 15cuc per night from a local waiting at the bus stop. They usually have photos and descriptions of their casas and since the towns are so small, they are usually just a few minutes away.

You really don’t need a tour for either Vinales or Trinidad. Both places are small. The town of Vinales is less than 2 km wide. Trinidad too. You are best off just taking a horseback ride to see the interesting parts around the town. Your casa landlord in either Trinidad or Vinales can organize this. It usually costs about 20cuc per person for a tour lasting a few hours. You get to gallop around the countryside, see tobacco fields and drink rum and sugar cane juice. Maybe explore a cave or go up some nice hills.

If you don’t like horses, then the landlord can find you a walking guide. It will probably just be some local kid in his teens who will show you some cool places. If you know a bit of Spanish it is very helpful. If not, just go with the flow.

Women travel solo to Cuba all the time. I operate a tour website and I get tons of solo clients. You won’t get bothered much by street hustlers. In Havana, if you go to Old Havana, sure, you will have some guys whistle and ask your name and where you are from. But they won’t do more than that. They are harmless. They mostly stick to Old Havana since that is where 90% of tourists stay. If you go to Vedado you would be lucky to find anybody who will even look at you when you pass by. And in a small town like Trinidad or Vinales, most people will ignore you. People there usually don’t speak English well and will assume you don’t speak Spanish.

 

Cuban Nightlife for Solo Women Travelers

 

young people on 23 street night havana vedado

Avenida de Los Presidentes at night is fantastic. It’s a top action spot in the city. Just come here and relax on the benches and listen to the locals play music. Grab a beer at the outdoor bar. Make some friends. This is the place to be for a great evening in Vedado.

 

 

Question: 

I think my concerns are also about what to do after 6PM when it gets dark and I won’t have wifi. I’m not keen on going out alone in a foreign country that I don’t know much about (I’ve traveled alone to places before, it’s the uncertainty). I’m thinking… 4 nights in Havana. A day tour to Vinales. 2 nights in Trinidad.

 

Answer:

I would say skip Vinales. As beautiful as it is, it will take long to get to and it is completely opposite of Trinidad. So the trip from Vinales to Trinidad would take like 7 or 8 hours. Trust me, those long trips are not fun when you are on vacation. Trinidad is basically just as nice as Vinales anyway.

Also, what age are you? It makes a bit of a difference. And what would you like to do for fun after 6pm?

I say, forget the bars or discos. They will be filled with foreign men and young, local girls. You will be out of place. You will have much more fun with outdoor venues. Hang out on the Havana malecon in the evening. There will be thousands of locals there, drinking, chatting, playing guitar and having fun. It is very safe. Young locals will chat with you. Just be friendly. Fun things happen. Stick with the younger crowd if you are young.

Or walk to the corner of 23 and G. There is a nice outdoor bar. There are always thousands of university students hanging around along G street. It’s a chill atmosphere. Very safe too.

In a town like Trinidad, there is less nightlife. You will probably be tired by 8pm anyway. Most locals just sit in the main town square and pass a few hours before bedtime. People watching is fun. In Trinidad there is the Casa de la Musica which is an outdoor venue where you can mingle with people, drink and dance. You won’t be harassed by anybody. And if somebody comes to chat with you, just chat. The people are usually really well educated and fun to speak with. There is also the Casa de la Trova, which is similar. For something really different, there is Disco Ayala, which is located a little bit outside the town. It is a disco inside a cave, with a party that goes on all night.

 

Fitting in and nightlife in Havana

 

This is a very popular club for local Cubans, especially on Thursday, when matinee shows run from 5pm to 9pm (entrance price $2).

 

Question:

I’m in my late 20’s. I was hoping to maybe take some salsa lessons, check out the jazz scene, maybe catch a show. If possible I would like to check out the nightlife at least once. I’m open to a lot as long as it’s safe. I consider myself to be friendly and I am fluent in Dominican Spanish (VERY similar to Cuban Spanish). And I THINK I could maybe pass for Cuban, looks-wise from far away? Maybe not so with my North American apparel/style/demeanor.

Also, I was thinking about bringing an iPad for writing/blogging about the trip? Or could that attract attention/be an extra liability?

 

Answer:

Ok, well that changes a lot. If you speak Dominican and look a bit Latina, then really, you will be fine. Don’t worry about safety. I mean, be alert, but know that Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world. You probably should worry more about foreigners in Cuba than about local Cubans. Most problems occur when tourists get drunk.

If you look Latina, you will be cat-called. But, it’s like that anywhere. Not really a big deal.

As far as apparel, Cuban women get dressed up. And American fashion is always popular. Chances are you will fit in well. As for the iPad, they are very popular in Havana. There is wifi available on 23rd street, outside the Habana Libre Hotel. You can buy a wifi card from a re-seller for about 4$ per hour. You will see hundreds of Cubans using their expensive iPhones and iPads to log onto the slow wifi connection. You will definitely not look strange with a new iPad.

As for the night life, if you like salsa then you might like going to El Diablo Tun Tuns night club for a Thursday matinee from 5pm to 9pm show with dancing (2cuc entrance cost). It’s the hottest place for locals. It’s in the Playa neighborhood and any taxi can take you there for about 5cuc. You can take a communal taxi as well, but you have to know what you are doing (I describe the main routes in my Real Havana Guidebook). The show is on Thursdays. It’s a fun place.

Also, there is the Casa de la Musica. At night it becomes a hook up disco for tourists, but during the early shows, from about 7pm to 10pm I think, there are locals and lots of dancing. Sometimes it is good at night too, with no tourists. I went once on a Thursday night and there were only locals dancing. I had a very good time. It’s at the corner of Neptuno and Galiano. You can walk by on an evening and see what the line looks like or ask somebody what kind of show it is. It’s a good time. You just dance… nobody will ask anything from you. It’s just fun.

 

Summary

 

Cuba is a very safe country to visit. You should always be aware of your surroundings, but overall, it is one of the safest countries in the world. The nightlife is great too. But be aware that since most Cubans do not have much money, they cannot spend much on nightlife parties. Cuban’s don’t really go to bars or discos much. They prefer to simply meet up with friends, usually in public places like parks or along the Havana waterfront (malecon) and chat, have drinks and play music. If you get into the spirit of things, it can be one of the best experiences of your life.

 

 

 

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By | 2017-05-19T02:23:23+00:00 October 8th, 2015|Fun and Entertainment, Havana and Vedado|13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jo January 8, 2017 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    Hi I’m in my 40’s and enjoy good food, live music and beautiful scenery. I love meeting and getting to know locals when I travel. I’m starting to put an itinerary together for 2 weeks in Cuba. Maybe for April this year. I have read that it’s really safe to be solo in Cuba. I would love any suggestions that you could throw at me. I do kind of attract a bit of attention when I travel ( in a positive way) because of having loads of tattoos and an alternative look will this be a bit of a problem or are the Cubans cool about women doing their own thing? Is it better to stay in the old town in Havana because I don’t want to feel isolated in the evenings? And I would like to go to an area after with nature and green scenery and finish up for last part on a quiet but safe beach area. Look forward to ideas Thankyou x jo

  2. Jo January 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Thankyou so much for your info…… been doing lots of research and those three places are on my itinerary now. Will look at your book info. Thanks again…. really excited now!!!

  3. Isabelle January 25, 2017 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    so i am thinking on going solo to cuba in april too. im american now but im french Canadian with both passports. i speak french and english…..no spanish. will i be ok? also id really like to go to varadero…should i fly to havana then take a cab to varadero then take a couple days to go to Vinales? I cant find anyone to go and my only fear is to get worried at night alone and nothing safe to do for a women.

    • Mario January 26, 2017 at 2:01 am - Reply

      Hi Isabelle. I think you will be fine in Cuba. I assume you have traveled a bit before. It will not be difficult. Since your trip is still a few months away, I would encourage you to try to learn a bit of Spanish as it will be very useful for you (but not absolutely necessary). I originally used the Michel Thomas Spanish course and it helped me develop my Spanish skills very rapidly. You can purchase the course online or get it for free as a torrent download (You have to know how to download it, if you don’t know I can help you or you can ask a friend, but it’s easy).

      You can take a plane to either Varadero or Havana. Many people traveling from the USA choose to fly through Cancun as there will be fewer regulations and flights are usually very cheap. Although it is now relatively easy to fly directly from the USA. If you land in Varadero you can either take a taxi to get to Havana (this will cost about 90$ but if you find a few other people at the airport to share the ride, it will be less.) Or you can take a bus from the Varadero airport to Havana, which would cost only 10$, but you should make your reservations online at http://www.viazul.com.

      I show you how to take the bus in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWlDdCwEc6Y)

      To get from Havana to Vinales you can either take the Viazul bus or book a taxi. The taxi will cost about 85$ and takes 2 hours. A bus will take about 3.5 hours but costs only about 12$. You can make the bus reservations at wwww.viazul.com

      Going out at night will not be dangerous. You just have to be careful. Most foreigners get into trouble because they are drunk and doing crazy things. But if you are just being regular, then you should not have any bad experiences. Cuba is very safe. Locals you meet on the street will often try to run little scams but usually their only goal is to make like 5$ or 10$. They might convince you to buy them an overpriced drink or to give them money for their baby (who might not exist). The scams are very small time. But anyways, as with any traveling, always be careful and alert when you are in a new place.

      I am from Montreal (and currently living near Sherbrooke.) There will probably be thousands of French Canadians in Havana and many in Vinales as well during April. And many Americans too. Cuba is not such a foreign and exotic land anymore. You will have a lot of fun and it should be fine.

      Have a great trip,
      Mario

  4. Mary Sue March 8, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Hi. I’m 29 and considering going to Cuba for my 30th alone. What are you thoughts abt heading there a Friday morning and departing the Monday? Will I be able to do a old car tour in Havana, and maybe one in the countryside… tobacco fields or such in that space of time?

    • Mario March 12, 2017 at 2:42 am - Reply

      Hi, if you are just staying 3 nights, I suggest you stick to Havana rather than wasting time traveling around to other areas. The countryside is close, outside of Havana, but there is not much to see other than trees and some farms. You would have to go at least an hour before you see mountains.

      Stick to Havana and for sure, take a taxi tour or a walking tour of old Havana. In 3 days you will not be bored. Just walk around and have fun. I promise it will be a great birthday.

      Take care,
      Mario

  5. Jennifer March 13, 2017 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’m interested in Havana and Hemingway’s house. Is there a tour that goes to the Hemingway House?

    • Mario March 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Hi, we do not specifically have a tour that goes to Hemingway’s house. Sorry. But any taxi driver in Havana will take you there. The cost would be about 20cuc to get there, and then 20cuc to get back. I know, it’s not cheap, but the house is pretty far from Havana.

  6. Sara May 1, 2017 at 5:57 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this site and the blogs!! I am thinking about going to Havana for my birthday in June. Currently, I don’t currently have anyone to travel with, but reading this website makes me think I can do this on my own. Although, people have told me that it will be very hot and that there is a chance of hurricanes. Have you been to Havana in June? Should I be worried about these things? Also, What is a good length of time? I’d like to get the feel of Havana, and also spend some time at a beach.

    • Mario May 1, 2017 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Sara, thanks for the kind words. I think you will have a great time in Cuba. If you want to go to Cuba with friends, then sure, take somebody along. But honestly, you do not need other travelers to have fun in Cuba. My first time in Havana was a solo trip. I learned a lot about Cuban culture and daily life in Havana. I met some great people and developed some friendships which are strong to this day. And, traveling alone, I learned a lot about myself. It was a life changing experience, honestly, and I am a strong advocate of solo travel. You can do this, 100%!

      Havana is very hot in June. Anywhere in the Caribbean is hot. Bring sunscreen; the sun is strong. Almost all casas have air conditioning in the bedroom, so you should have no problem getting a good nights sleep. And during the day, there will be so much to see and do that I don’t think the heat will be a concern. Stay hydrated and you will be fine.

      Hurricanes will not be a worry in June. Hurricanes usually only happen in late August and September. Plus, hurricanes rarely hit Havana. Honestly, it should not be a worry at all, in my opinion.

      I’ve been to Havana many times in June. I love the heat and I think June is a perfect time to visit. It is also a lower tourist season, so there are fewer foreigners and it is usually cheaper to get around and rent casas.

      I think a good length of time would be 7 to 10 days. 7 days is enough to see Havana and (4 days) and get some beach time in (maybe Varadero for 3 days). 10 days gives you a bit more time to see Havana and maybe spend a few more days at the beach. If you have the budget, 2 weeks is also good, but honestly, the vast majority of people only spend 7 to 10 days. You can try it out and always plan a second trip if you fall in love with Cuba (as I have).

      I hope this helps and feel free to ask any questions you have,
      Mario

  7. Jennifer May 19, 2017 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Mario,
    I am coming to Cuba for 2 weeks in the beginning of December. I am very interested in scuba diving there. I hear that the diving off Guantanmo Bay is spectacular. Do you have any information on diving down in Cuba? Thanks in advance.

    • Mario May 19, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Hi, which part of Cuba are you planning on visiting? I honestly have never heard of diving in Guantanamo. For the most part, I know that many scuba pros are disappointed with the diving around Cuba. The reef is not as rich as they were expecting. There are a couple of good places, but those are also very expensive to get to and are far from the beaten path. There is a good discussion on scuba diving places around the island here: https://www.reddit.com/r/cuba/comments/68u7y4/scuba_in_cuba/

      I hope this helps. Sorry I cannot provide much more info. I am not a scuba pro. For a casual scuba dive, not too far from Havana, I suggest Playa Larga (Bay of Pigs area) It’s good, cheap and only 2 hours drive from Havana. The other locations mentioned in the post are on islands, way off from Havana. You would have to charter a boat or fly to those islands. It would be expensive and is more of a pro excursion, I think.

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