So your date of departure for your Cuban vacation is quickly approaching… although not quickly enough. You can probably already taste that mojito and feel the sun on your skin. You will likely already have an idea of what you want to see and do while in Cuba, but you still might need a few suggestions. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of all the things you will want to experience while in Cuba. This list contains 786 items, so clear your schedule. No, not really, although it definitely would be possible to write a list that long with everything you will want to do in Cuba. But you’re a busy person, so we’ve whittled it down to 8 typically Cuban experiences you’re going to want to try for yourself.
- Classic Car Cultivation
It’s not a trip to Cuba without a trip in one of those classic cars that glide along the streets. And yes, they’re everywhere. It sounds dreamy to rent one of these beauties and hit the open road, but this is unlikely to happen. The open roads of Cuba are not as well maintained as other countries and 1950s cars tend to have 1950s suspension… that has been in use for more than half a century already. But you can (and must) take a ride. Many of these classic cars operate as taxis, so use them as needed. Some of them call themselves taxis but they don’t operate in the traditional way; instead they’ll take you on a scenic ride along a predetermined route.
- Try a Cocktail (or Two)
There’s just something about drinking a Cuban cocktail in its country of origin. The whole experience feels more authentic, and you will forever roll your eyes at what bars charge for daiquiris when you get home. There’s no way to go wrong with this, and you might even want to sample one of the daiquiris at the place that claims to have invented them – El Floridita in Havana’s Old Town. But you can honestly enjoy a top notch cocktail at even the most suspicious looking of dive bars. You might also want to take a cocktail making course, and there are many of these on offer.
- Dance Some Salsa
We would put money on the fact that you’ll be out one evening in Cuba when a salsa band will set up in the corner and begin to play. It’s practically a foregone conclusion. And then everyone hits the dance floor. And darn, they’re good. There’s some logic to this. Music and dancing is such a way of life in Cuba, meaning everyone has grown up watching it and joining in. You might have two left feet, but you should not be afraid to get up and shimmy your hips as well.
- Change is in the Air
Did you know that Cuba has two currencies? There’s the Cuban peso, which is used by locals, and the Cuban convertible peso, pegged to the approximate value of the US dollar and used by foreigners. The Cuban convertible peso is worth 25 times more than the standard Cuban peso, but you can often find some dirt cheap prices if you have some of those Cuban pesos to play with. Your request might be met with a polite decline, but ask for your change in pesos instead of convertible pesos. This allows you to shop like a local. It won’t necessarily happen, but you can sure give it a try.
- Sweet as Sweet Can Be
Two words: Guarapo Frio. Another two words: Try it. It’s sugarcane juice that is freshly squeezed in front of you, sometimes with added citrus. It’s the most delicious thing you will ever drink and is available throughout Cuba.
- Walk As Much as You Can
Most Cuban cities are manageable on foot, even the seductive sprawl of Havana (if you stick to the Old Town and central districts). So get out there and see the best of Cuba on foot, while taking appropriate considerations. Please wear comfortable shoes and ensure you stay hydrated in that Cuban humidity.
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game
If you like the melodrama of the opera but also feel like seeing some sports, go and see a baseball game while in Cuba. It’s very much a national obsession. And oh, the passion! Spectators scream at the players, at each other, and at the universe in general. It must be exhausting to be a Cuban baseball fan. But just as quickly as this passion arises, it subsides and then it’s business as usual. Many sports spectators have passionate responses to the game they love, but this is on another level.
- Get to Know the Locals
You’ll want to make friends with the locals. You will come to think of the Cuban population as being a cool club that you’ll want to be a member of. Sure, you will have some interactions with the locals on your holiday, but private tours in Cuba with a local, though English-speaking tour guide is a good way to find out where the best places to go are; like giving you a way to enter this very cool club.