Cuba trip is one of my most beautiful travel memories, although some times very challenging. I’ve gathered the most important tips & triks in Cuba for solo female travelers, regarding, safety, how to dress, how to move around, about the people and romance.
Cuba one the best places in the world for solo females that travel independent, as is safe, fun and such an unique destination. I spent two and a half weeks in Cuba, without too much preparation and was perfectly fine.
Visiting Cuba was one of my biggest dreams since forever. So, receiving an unexpected bonus at work, the same day spontaneously bought a return ticket to Havana, Cuba. Time to do the preparations: three weeks.
Cuba For Solo Female Travelers: Two Weeks Alone and Independent
Safety as a solo female traveler in Cuba
Cuba continues to be a very safe destination for solo woman travelers. It is one of the best places in the world to be, considering the rape/violence factor against female tourists. That being said, for sure you will have a lot of attention, sometimes unwanted. The Cubans are passionate, you are in a latin country so it kind of comes with the territory.
You have to be careful with your belongings as there are petty thieves – as more or less anywhere in the world! While the snatch & grab is also possible, it is not as common as in other places, rather an exception but the rule. Mostly, it will only happen to get robbed if you don’t watch your belongings.
If it happens to be robbed, it is an exception and can happen in the big cities
It didn’t happened to me yet a friend of mine, that was traveling with her boyfriend, had her expensive camera stolen. How: they were resting on the Malcolm seawall in Havana and simply put the camera behind for a few seconds.
As the seawall is pretty wide, lots of people are passing by. Reaching for the camera, they noticed it was gone. So yes, don’t let the guard down and I repeat: this is common around the world.
But more likely, someone will steal your heart
So is better not fall in love, as you may have your heart broken. This is obviously also common around the world, yet in Cuba, particularly in popular tourists spots, there are a lot of mens in search for tourists.
The thing is that while they may make you feel that you are the most beautiful girl in the world to be only about your money. There are so many forums about this subject – either it is possible to be true love or not – that I will not get too much into detail.
Then, it is also possible to meet the perfect gentleman
Therefore, use your common sense and well, live your life, at the end the life is made by experiences. I do believe you can find genuine love, although it is possible to become the victim of a serial heartthrob.
How to dress in Cuba and what to pack
What to pack: a few swimsuits, the nicest summer dresses in your wardrobe and lots of cosmetics and toiletries. I packed everything from napkins,wipes, shampoo, toothbrush, conditioner, sunscreen lotions etc.
Medicine: painkillers, antibiotics, stomach pills. As I didn’t need either of them, I left them all there and were well received. Plus two pairs of high hills sandals, one pair of flat sandals, 1 pair of ballerina shoes, yet I used the flip-flops most of the time. Visited Cuba in between 5-20 of June!
Although I brought a lot of stuff, I ended up wearing the same dress over and over again.
Also, pack something to keep you warm while traveling in between the cities by bus. In the Viazul buses you will freeze because of the air con. It was the only place I needed something to cover, yet in winter times it is different. In June the nights were so warm and pleasant, it was hot and humid and well, just perfect!
And… dress nice, dress nice, dress nice!
The Cubans, men and women alike, do pay a lot of attention to their attire! Especially when going out! And they appreciate if you do the same, taking it as a sign of respect.
I will never forget what a Lady told me: some tourist dress so ugly in here, with torn t’shirts and dirty, I am wondering if they dress the same in their own country, or they simply disrespect us. She was very happy I brought nice dresses and said is a sign of respect.
So forget about that advice to bring the worst clothes and leave them to some locals: you may offend them, even if they won’t tell. Cubans are proud people.
Cubans are really nice, some of the nicest people you can meet. They try to enjoy everything in life. The people are very generous and love to chat, to drink, smoke and share. Like anywhere else, there are people and people, yet what I liked it here was they willingness to communicate. It is was I also disliked in some cases, lol, you cannot have just one side of the story.
To get the most in your Cuban vacation, you have to speak Spanish. Yet, among younger people there a lot speaking English. Ultimately you can have a local guide or an app.
You don’t need to speak Spanish to get your way into the country, just to connect with the people. Anyway, Cubans are very patient and willing to repeat. Even if you don’t speck perfect, they will make sure you understood. Or if they only speck a little English.
They are gentle and willing to share, to learn, curious about you, your country and how the things are in different parts of the world. And they are so wise and do care about others.
As a woman traveling alone, be ready to be asked a lot of questions about your choice. Yet not in a bad way, just that people are very curious, they are latin and used to care about others.
You maybe labelled as extremely rich to be able to travel alone as a woman. And at the same time they will gave a lot of advices and will be more protective towards you.
Jineteros and Jineteras
Opposite, some of the Cubans (a small part yet very present in touristic areas and attractions) are so called jineteros – the world they use for men, as for women is jineteras. They are those locals that are into taking you money, using all kind of scams. And this is also part of the Cuba experience, especially if you are an independent traveler.
While many make commissions and earn money in tourist related activities, I only find it disturbing when there is a harassment involved. And when too many people approach you with different requests in a short amount of time. As will explain later, after a while you can actually learn how to deal with this and be hassle free.
Most of the Cubans obviously are not into this and will actually feel quite ashamed of this phenomena. Because it is an phenomena, in some very tourists spots, the number of people approaching you with the end purpose of trick you into something is quite high. Yet this is not around Cuba and is not definitely for the people in Cuba, is just a part of the very touristic places experience.
Accomodation in Cuba
For accommodation, I made the reservation in advance for the first 7 nights, leaving the rest to chance! I’ve heard that is easy to find accommodation once you are there which is true. Though, don’t know about the pick season – I was in June. So my first places where as follows, single room everywhere:
Three nights in Havana Centro, at a Casa Particular booked through Pototo Tourist Services aka Cuba-Junky and the price was 30 $ / night.
The next three nights in Vinales at Los Jasmines ** – the best view of Valle de Vinales, 35 $ /night with breakfast included (it was a twin double room, huge, all for myself and with a fabulous view).
One night in Cayo Levisa, I had a beach bungalow all for myself, for 50 $ night with three meals included.
Los Jasmines Hotel and Cayo Levisa that is an island actually and with just one resort of bungalows I booked through Cuba Travel Network website.
Finding Casas Particulares while traveling in Cuba
The rest of the accommodation I took on the spot. Returning from Cayo Levisa, I took a stay for one night in Vinales village, from one of the locals that waited the Viazul bus in the station.
I went with the instinct, booked a room for 10 $ I think, it was last minute. My hosts here were so wonderful so I asked them to recommend a host for Trinidad. And they did and found the nicest people there: 25 $night the room and spend there 5 days as Trinidad was so wonderful! Then I had a few more days in Havana, in a Casa particular in Vedado, also booked through recommendation, 25 $/night.
Generally I prefer to stay in hotels. Yet Cuba couldn’t be the same without all the people I met in the Casas Particulares, hosts or other independent travelers.
So I totally recommend to trust the people but for your ow safety to choose only the official registered Casas Particulares. People do pay a monthly fee of 200 $ year round to have the license and need to have their rooms full in the season to make up for the low season times and also to make a small profit.
Food and drinks
The best Mojitos and Pina Coladas I ever had were the ones in Cuba. Period. Be it at the beach, in Casa dela Mzica, discos or else, the taste is divine.
Do drink only the bottled water and try the dinners in your Casa Particular: I had the best lobster dinners in my Casa Particular in Trinidad. And so cheap! Lobster and fries and salad and beans and dessert for just 9 CUC – 9 $!
Nevertheless, do try the ice-cream, La Bodeguita in Havana Vieja, Floridita – Hemingway’s favorite bar which is uber expensive yet a must. And then there are so many Paladares and Restaurants to choose from, just be careful to not being ripped off were there are no fix prices.
Moving around Cuba as a solo female traveler
Transfer from the airport to Havana: very simple. The taxi is regulated so I waited and took one of the cabs, the price was fix for Havana Centro: 20 CUC (which is 20 $). The return was the same.
Havana – Vinales: I had a ”private transfer” which basically meant a very bad maintained old car where I was cramped with lots of other tourists. The price was the same as the official tourist bus yet I had this as recommended by a friend of a friend kind of. I am not sorry, yet for the next of my journey I stuck with the Viazul bus.
Viazul bus is the best option for solo independent travelers in Cuba
Viazul bus – the long distances couch company. The couches are very modern, very clean, with air con and very reliable. Best option to move around if you do not rent a car. You can check the prices, routes and timetable online here on their website.
Do: get helped by your hosts
Taxi: you can ask your host to make the arrangements for you or negotiate alone. Yet people are really nice and as it happened in Havana in the first Casa where I stayed.
As I just arrived, needed a lot of help from my hosts to book a cab, a night in Tropicana Cabaret and salsa dance lessons. Of course one can do it alone and possible with lower fees, but that will translate in loosing time searching, negotiating, dealing with some hassle.
My hosts were more than happy to help and where really nice to me. They offered a lot of free Cuba Libres, gave me sweets and other treats, spend time to chat with me for hours and even invited me in their family reunion. And where really happy when I turned with rum and beers, of course.
So one of my best advices for the independent travelers: trust the recommendations from your hosts (except old cars to go long distances), it will save you lots of time and hassle.
Of course people will make a commission – everybody makes a commission with everything yet I reiterate that will save you time and possible money. Will not hurt to know some prices in advance, to be sure you are not ripped off s everywhere else can happen.
Go with the flow, you are here to connect with the people and Cuba is all about this network of people helping each other, trusting each-other, taking care one of the others. Don’t loose time to get always the best deal – probably it won’t worth it.
Romance in Cuba
Well, in Cuba you will have a lot of attention. Many tourists, both men and women, come here in the so called sex tourism. As a result, traveling alone or are with another girls, or a group of mens, many will assume you came for this as well. As a result, you will have a lot of unwanted attention and proposals.
In touristic places a lot of jineteros will pop out of of nowhere to shower you with compliments. While the nice normal Cubans will be very reserved. I was very surprised to notice a lot of Cubans are really shy. And obviously, they were among the people I liked to meet. So there was no Cuban romance for me. As a matter of fact, I came only to discover the country, not to find love.
Cuban Don Juans
In my first night out in Havana, went to Casa dela Mzica Havana Centro. A men comes and tells that I am so beautiful, he has 26 years, one child, is divorced, life is really hard and how can he win my heart, it was really: no way!
There were other different attempts blunt ones like too obvious and made me feel uncomfortable. Yet each will have its own experience. Some were even so pushy that nothing seemed to make them step back. Some come to you and don’t care if you are very serious that are not interested. They are not violent, but way to persistent. Like: ok, you don’t wanna meet me but can I come to your room. Say what?
Once, I took a taxi from Polo Montagnes, the Muzic House in Vines. Had 5 kilometers to my hotel, Los Jasmines. The driver was drinking rum, offered to me – nope – and then keep insisting to join me in my room. He didn’t touch me or else, but I didn’t liked it at all. And other things like that.
It happens to all the single girls out there yet is not dangerous
And speaking with many other girls traveling alone or as two girls, it was like we had mirror like experiences. Two sisters from Luxembourg I met in Vinales were traveling together before one was due to marry and move in another country. They said like: ”come on, I am engaged, not interested I show them the ring”. It seems it didn’t matter for some local Don Juans. So yes… as a solo female you will have to deal with this as well. It is not pleasant as many seems to don’t care or understand that you don’t want to speak with them and continue to make compliments and ask to take them with you. Of course there are a lot of nice Cuban men that mind their own business and they are the majority yet there are lots of jineteros as well. Most of them in Havana.
Yet, as everything in life, there is a good part in everything!
You will be hassle free if you come in Cuba with your loved one, as couples will not face this type of attention. As I said, particularly in the touristic places, it is such a hassle to be in Cuba alone as a woman. Yet, as a men is even worse!
I made quite a few friends (mens) from France and Belgium that told me they were desperate. Especially in Havana. Really desperate: every 1 meter they had one offer and was really disappointing. I am talking about young men that came in Cuba to discover the country and its culture, the same situation I was into. The ones that usually are very reserved, yet, it all changes in Cuba.
First it was Thibo, the nicest French men out there, he was in the same Casa Particular with me and was studying a lot, had the backpack full of books. He didn’t wanted to be alone on Havana’s streets as of all the attention and girls being pushed to him.
The best was that I’ve met some amazing people that were equally stresses and made a lot of friends
So we spent a lot of time discovering the city, the tourist attractions, the bars, the people. I really liked him yet was afraid to fell in love. Therefore, was really happy to have to leave Havana for Trinidad.
In Cuba I’ve learned to connect very easy with fellow travelers even if I was myself pretty shy.I would never thought that being alone in a country can connect with so many people!
After, I was rescued by a very persistent middle age Cuban. Dennis, my Belgian new friend was the most amazing guy I could ever met. We end up spending a lot of time while in Cuba, meeting in different cities and we continued our friendship after.
And then I’ve met a lot of people, men or women, traveling alone, that were more than happy to meet people that shared the same experiences. I made so many friends in Cuba! And other travelers the same: Cuba brings people together.
Some of the best memories from Cuba:
Tropicana Cabaret Show in Havana: the most beautiful cabaret in Caraibe. Two stages, hundreds of dancers, amazing costumes, many singers. 2 hour of pure magic. I arrived alone and was put at a table with another lady that was also alone and a couple. We had so much fun, the show was magnificent!
The nights chatting with my hosts and Thibo in Havana, talking about history, about the people, about life. While drinking a lot of Cuba Libre and beers.
I love the way people speak with each other: preciosa, mi amor etc. No matter age, it is really like in Cuba Feliz.
Vinales made me fall for the Cubans
My hosts in Vinales – the nicest people that you can imagine! They offered to give me breakfast even if they couldn’t take euros and the exchanging houses were closed, as I also had to leave very early in the morning.
They said: when the sun goes up everybody has to eat. I went out and change some money in a bar with the risk of being ripped off. I wasn’t and let more in the morning, was a surprise for them.
Regardless, I couldn’t compensate for their kindness. That night we stayed and talk for hours on the porch. I learned about how the community is functioning, about so many things. It was magic. And they thought they will offer the breakfast for free at that time, really amazing people.
Party in Vinales, in Casa deal Musica Polo Montagnes, with my new friends from Belgium. And hundreds of Cubans, that night I partied like crazy and felt so alive!
And Trinidad …
While in Vinales I’ve learned to understand the people and see their best sides, it was Trinidad that really changed me. In Trinidad I made friends with two streets of neighbors.
Every night we stay in the streets, drinking rum with cola, fanta or sprite alike local drinks and then at midnight going to Casa deal Musica. Then, my friends from Belgium came also in Trinidad and join. It was more than I could of asked – had the time of my life.
Of course I loved the nature, the rum, the architecture in Havana and Trinidad, the amazing view in Vale de Vinales. Yet, the best memories are about the people I have met, that made this trip unforgettable. From the pushy jineteros – that are funny in a way and so obvious, harmless – to the most amazing people you can imagine.
In Cuba I learned to let myself enjoy life as it is. To live there, intense every moment dancing, singing, laughing. To be happy eating and ”disfrutando” a bad pizza on the street. To trust people and learn from them.
Havana again, with a new attitude: everything changed
Returning to Havana after so many experiences, it was such a different. I was very confident, smily and some how familiar with the country. As a result, I didn’t had anymore the bad hassle experiences.
Felt so happy and powerful so probably I didn’t transmitted the ”easy target” signals. I walked the whole Malecon by day and night, alone, from one part to the other – felt and was totally safe. The streets, everything looked different. Some how, I felt like being a little part of the place, didn’t felt foreigner anymore. And yes, I traveled alone and hassle free in the same Havana Vieja.
Also, I’ve met some incredible people, tourists and locals alike and went in clubs, bars and Paladares. Laugh, talk to people, had an amazing time and felt so sad to leave this wonderful country. Of course I am eager to go back and this time will know how to step and act from the very first day, to embrace all the differences and share.
Although I am totally aware that each will have its own experience, trusting people and be open always brings you the best. You can miss so many by being afraid and trying to understand others by you own knowledge. Instead, let people show you new perspectives and go with an open heart, it is the only way to learn and change. I had to change a little to be able to get Cuba and enjoy it at the fullest and the process left some of the best memories of my life. So now I can say that traveling alone in Cuba is not only nice but necessary and empowering.
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