Currency, budget and cost for a trip in Cuba

In this article, you will learn ALL about the money, currency, budget and cost for a trip in Cuba.

And if you don’t know how it works, you’ll be scammed all the time. 

You will discover what are the currency used,  how much you need for a trip, and what is the average cost of life.

So if you plan to travel to Cuba, you will love this new guide.

Let’s dive in

cuba currency

Table of Contents

Money used in Cuba : Dual Currency
Cubans use the Cuban peso (noted $) for everyday purchases (food, drink, etc.) but also the convertible peso (noted CUC) for consumer goods more expensive (furniture, TV, multimedia products, etc.), hotel rooms, etc.). The CUC is the currency used exclusively by tourists. It replaces the U.S. dollar (US$) since 8 November 2004.

Pro Tip

If you arrive from the US or from another non-European country, do not bring US dollars to Cuba: it is not at all convenient to change them, as they charge a 10% commission! The best thing is to arrive with euros and change them in the exchange offices (CADECA). By the way, change most of the money in CUC, because unless you always move around in local transport and eat always at little windows, you will not spend many CUP.

There are ATMs in Cuba, the exchange rate is not that bad.

Average budget for one week:
Here’s an example of an average to comfortable budget for one week for one person in Cuba:

  • Hotel, single or double room divided by two, apartment: 35 euros per night, 245 euros for 7 days.
  • Transport: 4 euros per day, 30 for 7 days.
  • Visits and outings: 4 euros per day, 30 euros for 7 days.
  • Meals: 15 euros per day, 105 euros for 7 days.

Total budget: 410 euros for 7 days in Cuba.

4. How much does it cost to travel to Cuba: prices in Cuba
Apart from the plane there are a number of prices you should know to organize your itinerary in Cuba.

Accommodation: The cheapest are the private houses, I advise you not to pay more than 30 cuc per room (book them through Airbnb and use this gift from Antonio). The cheapest hotels cost 70 cuc in a double room. The mid-range hotels cost 120-150 cuc per night.

Food: The mega-saver option for eating is the street cafes, at counters, windows and family houses. For 1-2 cuc you get a full plate of meat, salad, rice and some food. This is a type of food and establishment more suitable for backpackers and for those who want to save as much as possible.

You can also get sandwiches and sandwiches for 1-2 cuc and small pizzas for 5-10 Cuban pesos depending on the city.

Cheap food in Cuba
One way to eat cheaply when traveling to Cuba is to eat in the street cafes, which are more frequented by Cubans. In the image a pizza of 10 Cuban pesos.
Out of there the restaurants and palates charge depending on the quality and category the following prices:

Main dish 3-12 cuc.
Main dish with seafood 8 -20 cuc.
Pasta 3-7 cuc.
Drinks 1-3 cuc.
Cocktails 1,5-3 cuc.
Street soda cans and mineral water cost 1-1.5 cuc.
It depends on what you want to spend and what you want to eat. 🙂

Transport: Renting a car to travel around Cuba is not cheap (minimum 70 cuc per day plus other expenses). If you are thinking about it I recommend you to read this post about renting a car in Cuba.

There are some cities that must be crossed on foot. For short distances I recommend a normal taxi; 1 cuc per descent of the flag and 1 cuc per km although the price is usually negotiated before.

There are several types of taxis and other means of transport in the cities, you can see it in the section of how to move in Havana.

Currency in Cuba
The currency of Cuba is something that at first is quite confusing, we are not used to handle two currencies at once and this is what happens on the island. There is the CUP (national currency also called Cuban peso) and the CUC (freely convertible currency or convertible peso).

In the past the CUP was for the use of Cubans and the CUC for tourists. Now they are used indiscriminately all over the world. 1 CUC is equivalent to 24 CUP. So that you don’t get into trouble, except for very few things, you will always pay in CUC.

If some products are marked with CUP (usually in shops and food stalls where ordinary Cubans shop) and you pay with CUC you will get your change back in CUP.

The CUC is referenced to the dollar. 1 CUC = 1 dollar. This means that if the exchange rate for the day is, for example, 1 Euro = 1.10 USD, then 1 Euro = 1.10 CUC. However, it is not advisable to take dollars to Cuba because their exchange is aggravated by a 10% discount, which is not favorable.

Cadeca: Exchange offices
If you are wondering can I buy something with a different currency than the CUP or CUC, the answer is NO. You must change your money in the so-called CADECA (exchange houses).

Outside these places it is possible that some Cubans who are dedicated to changing on their own offer you a slightly higher exchange rate than the official one, it is not advisable to change with them first because this is illegal in Cuba and second because they can give you false bills.

With the prices you will be a little surprised, because there are very cheap things and others ridiculously expensive, for example a good plate of seafood in coastal towns you can get it for 6 CUC (not bad for other places in the world!), while a small bottle of local mayonnaise can cost more than 7 CUC. Yes, I know! Cuba is not normal, but that is exactly what makes it a unique attraction.

Few services and goods can be paid for with credit cards, yet e-commerce is not widespread in Cuba. Beyond the hotels and some travel agencies you can use them in very few places.

What there is is a fairly extensive network of ATMs throughout the country, so it is not necessary to travel to Cuba on your own with all the cash.

Currency in Cuba
The currency of Cuba is something that at first is quite confusing, we are not used to handle two currencies at once and this is what happens on the island. There is the CUP (national currency also called Cuban peso) and the CUC (freely convertible currency or convertible peso).

In the past the CUP was for the use of Cubans and the CUC for tourists. Now they are used indiscriminately all over the world. 1 CUC is equivalent to 24 CUP. So that you don’t get into trouble, except for very few things, you will always pay in CUC.

If some products are marked with CUP (usually in shops and food stalls where ordinary Cubans shop) and you pay with CUC you will get your change back in CUP.

The CUC is referenced to the dollar. 1 CUC = 1 dollar. This means that if the exchange rate for the day is, for example, 1 Euro = 1.10 USD, then 1 Euro = 1.10 CUC. However, it is not advisable to take dollars to Cuba because their exchange is aggravated by a 10% discount, which is not favorable.

Cadeca: Exchange offices
If you are wondering can I buy something with a different currency than the CUP or CUC, the answer is NO. You must change your money in the so-called CADECA (exchange houses).

Outside these places it is possible that some Cubans who are dedicated to changing on their own offer you a slightly higher exchange rate than the official one, it is not advisable to change with them first because this is illegal in Cuba and second because they can give you false bills.

With the prices you will be a little surprised, because there are very cheap things and others ridiculously expensive, for example a good plate of seafood in coastal towns you can get it for 6 CUC (not bad for other places in the world!), while a small bottle of local mayonnaise can cost more than 7 CUC. Yes, I know! Cuba is not normal, but that is exactly what makes it a unique attraction.

Few services and goods can be paid for with credit cards, yet e-commerce is not widespread in Cuba. Beyond the hotels and some travel agencies you can use them in very few places.

What there is is a fairly extensive network of ATMs throughout the country, so it is not necessary to travel to Cuba on your own with all the cash.

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