Is Cuba Safe? In-Depth Travel Advice to Stay Safe in Cuba

Is Cuba Safe?

In this article

Cuba is an amazing country to visit: beautiful beaches abound, as are opportunities for mountain hiking and steamy nightlife. There are amazing things to do in Cuba thanks to its biosphere reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
But visiting Cuba, on the other hand, can have some disadvantages for tourists - you run the risk of becoming the victim of "minor" crimes and you should also be aware of health risks such as polluted tap water, COVID-19, mosquito-borne infections, and dangerous road conditions if you drive.
In this guide, we'll cover all the facts about the safety aspects of visiting Cuba, and you'll get all the most important information to help you prepare for your trip to this beautiful country.

Is Cuba Safe to Travel? The Overview

Cuba faces many risks to visitor security, despite its relative safety. This includes security threats brought on by the nation's deteriorating infrastructure, such as tainted water and illnesses spread by mosquitoes.

Crime Rate and Most Common Crimes in Cuba

The most common security problem that occurs in Cuba is petty crime, including wallet theft and pickpocketing. Theft typically occurs in popular settings like tourist attractions, public transport, Cuban airports, marketplaces, and beaches. There is theft from hotels, especially from private guest houses known as Casas particulares. Car stealing is another frequent crime.
It is always a good idea to keep your travel documents and valuable jewellery secure, and also carry just a small quantity of cash.
The majority of violent crime incidents are attacks that take place during robberies or break-ins.

Political Situation and Social Tensions

When it comes to politics, Cubans have rather strong opinions, and the nation's political climate can lead to issues. Being a one-party country, there is little freedom of expression and the Cuban government must punish political protests.
As for the demonstrations, they happen sporadically and without notice. Political demonstrations and rallies without official government approval may be dispersed by local authorities. They may also abruptly ban access to the internet and social media.
Violence may erupt at any time, even during peaceful demonstrations. They may also cause difficulties in traffic and public transportation.
In order to protect themselves in such situations, travellers should adhere to the following:
  • To stay away from locations where protests and large demonstrations are held;
  • Respect the guidance of local authorities;
  • Keep an eye on local media for news on any current demonstrations.

Local Laws on Drugs and Other Relevant Laws

Here are some local laws that apply in Cuba:
  • Possession, usage, and distribution of illegal drugs are all subject to prison penalties.
  • Tourists must always carry an ID card with a photo.
  • Photographing police or military stations, harbours, rail, and airport infrastructure is prohibited.
  • Dual nationality is not recognized in Cuba. Travellers with dual citizenship may require authorisation to enter or exit the country.

Climate and Natural Disasters to Be Mindful of

Hurricanes, powerful storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis occasionally hit Cuba.
Hurricane season occurs from June to November and can abruptly alter in both power and direction. Additionally, flooding and landslides are possible at this time. There are numerous difficulties:
  • There may be problems for tourists to leave the area as there will be no flights;
  • Roads may be closed;
  • There might not be enough shelter from a storm in certain regions.
Natural disasters could interrupt power, communications, emergency medical care, fuel, food, and water supplies.
Here are some tips on what to do in case of a hurricane:
  • Know the hotel or ship evacuation plans;
  • Finding the nearest shelter;
  • Every traveller should pay attention to warnings and recommendations from the US National Hurricane Center.
Cuba is located in an earthquake-prone area. There can also be tsunamis.
Below are a few warnings to look out for in the event of a tsunami. Tourists should immediately move to higher ground if they:
  • feel an earthquake wave that lasts longer than a minute;
  • see a rapid rise or drop in sea level;
  • notice loud, strange noises coming from the sea;
  • or if local authorities suggest it. Media reports should also be constantly monitored.

Taxis and Public Transportation in Cuba

Official taxis in Cuba are generally reliable to use. There are also old private vehicles that Cubans offer as taxis, but they are not equipped enough. They do not have passenger insurance. Thus, it is best to use registered taxis and established tour operators. Also, be sure to haggle before driving because taxi drivers will try to charge more than necessary.
City buses are crowded and in bad condition. That is why it is not desirable to ride this public transport. In addition, passengers must beware of pickpocketing. On the other hand, the buses hired by travel agencies are typically in good shape.
Although the train system is extensive and connects a large portion of the island, it is sluggish and unreliable. The railway system needs major repair and is in need of upkeep.
In Cuba, there are several ferry connections that are mostly safe. Because of earlier incidents involving tourists, there is now a lot of security on the ferries.

Is It Safe to Drive in Cuba? Road Conditions and Driving Tips

Driving in Cuba carries a wide range of risks. The roads are mostly without traffic signs. For example, even a speed limit sign or a one-way street sign will not be found. Driving standards vary from place to place, and vehicles still need to be fully equipped.
Night driving is not safe. The roads do not have enough lighting, and there are also a lot of drunk drivers. Also, it is not advisable to pick up hitchhikers on the road as they can be violent.
As driving in Cuba is not very safe, travellers should have good rental insurance in case of a traffic accident.

Safe Places to Visit in Cuba

When travelling to Cuba, tourists usually look for safe places. The safest places in Cuba are:
  • Old Havana - the main part of the city, located in the bay. Narrow streets, picturesque houses, and beautiful scenery define it.
  • Santa Clara is one of the largest cities in central Cuba. It has a rich political history related to the icon of the political personality Che Guevera. In addition, this city has rich content and beautiful parks.
  • Varadero is a beautiful city located on the sea, more precisely in the northern part of Cuba. It is one of the most visited cities. Also, it is suitable for families because it has rich content for children.

Places to Avoid

Although Cuba is quite attractive, there are still places to avoid. Below are the areas that are dangerous and tourists must be more careful when visiting them.
  • Havana has various sketchy regions, particularly the more remote ones, which might be perilous, especially at night. Travellers always choose to stay in the main tourist spots because they are safer there.
  • Visitors should always exercise more caution when walking around after dark, whether that's in little side streets or even the big tourist district. They should avoid independent walks and always go in larger groups.

Is Cuba Safe to Travel Alone?

The good news is that travelling alone is safe in Cuba. And to make it simpler, here are some suggestions:
  • For tourists, it is best to book a room in a Casa particular. They will be able to make friends with the local population.
  • The best thing is to get a Cuban SIM card.
  • It's always good to keep in touch with family or friends. Solo travellers can use the Internet in public places.
  • It is not safe to drink a lot. The streets are poorly lit, so it's best to take a taxi back.
  • Learning Spanish will be of great benefit.
  • There are few ATMs in Cuba, so it is especially important for solo travellers to have enough cash with them. In currency exchange stores, they may exchange Canadian dollars, Mexican pesos, and Euros.

Solo Female Travellers: Tips on Staying Safe

For solo female travellers, as everywhere in Latin America, there are certain safety risks. Therefore, the following tips will help a solo female traveller to Cuba be safe:
  • Sexual assault does happen. It is dangerous to go to desolate places without people and lighting.
  • There is a lot of whistling and hurling. Although it is harmless, it can be uncomfortable.
  • It is best to take a taxi to go out.
  • It's a good idea for a solo traveller to find company.
  • They should keep sanitary supplies on hand. Menstrual pads and tampons are hard to find in Cuba.

Is Cuba Safe for Families?

Although many things are uncertain in Cuba, families have a great time here. Cubans are kind to children, and there are many beautiful sights and parks to visit. The amusement park Isla del Coco, located in the capital, will delight the little ones. Also, there are places to stay that are family-friendly, notably in Varadero where there are kids' clubs and programs.
Overall, families may travel safely to Cuba.

Is the Water Safe to Drink in Cuba?

Actually, the tap water in Cuba is not potable. That's why Cuban people don't drink it. They boil it even though it flows from the cistern. It is safest to buy bottled water, which can be found everywhere. Tourists also buy certain tablets for water purification.

Essential Travel Resources For Cuba

Entry into Cuba: Visitor Visas

A tourist visa commonly referred to as a tourist card, is necessary for visitors who want to enter Cuba. In addition, all tourists who are both Canadian and Cuban citizens must show their valid Cuban passports.
The basic tourist card of Cuba allows visitors to stay in Cuba for a maximum of 30 days, and for Canadians 90 days.
The Cuban Tourist Card is available in two colours: pink and green. Pink is required if you are flying directly from the United States to Cuba. Travellers who stopover in a non-American nation before arriving in Cuba use green Cuban tourist cards.
Keep in mind that depending on your travel route you may need an ESTA alongside the Cuban visa. For example, if you are catching a connecting flight to Cuba from the US, you will need to apply for an ESTA - an Electronic System of Travel Authorisation.
ESTA is quick and easy; as a bonus, it can be completed online.

Health Insurance for Travelers Is Required in Cuba

Every traveller going to Cuba must provide Cuban health insurance, otherwise, they will not be able to enter this country. Travel insurance is available through insurance brokers, credit card companies, travel agents, and employer’s insurance providers. It should cover repatriation in case of death, medical treatment, and pre-existing medical conditions.

Emergency Numbers

For essential services, dial one of these numbers:
  • Fire Department: 105
  • Police: 106
  • U.S. Embassy in Cuba: +53 7839-4100

Final Thoughts: Is Cuba a Safe Place to Visit?

Cuba is generally a safe country. There are risks in certain cases, but if they follow the safety tips above and use common sense they shouldn't have any problems.

FAQ

Tourists are mostly safe.
Tourists should avoid remote places, unlit streets, demonstrations, and heavy drinking.
It is generally safe to walk about in Cuba.
There are certain risks for solo female travellers because sexual harassment and booing on the street happen in Cuba.
Yes, it is.
Not really. The roads are not reliable and also the vehicles are not fully equipped.
Cuba is generally considered to be LGBTQ-safe.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.



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