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10 tips on travelling to Cuba, Havana as a female solo traveller

My 10 top tips on travelling to Cuba, Havana as a female solo traveller:


Travelling solo is a transformative experience. It forces you to step out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons, and become self-reliant. As a female solo street and travel photographer, I'm drawn to destinations where chaotic streets meet culture, and where my senses come alive with vibrant sceneries, flavours, music and landscapes. Havana, Cuba is one such place that has captured my heart. In this blog post, I'll share my top solo travel tips for Havana, helping you explore this captivating city while immersing yourself in its unique charm.



Cuba, havan street photography 10 tips on travelling to Havana as a female solo traveller


1. Connect with a Local Fixer:

Navigating the vibrant streets of Havana as a female, solo traveller can be a bit like navigating a labyrinth, especially for solo travellers. It's essential to find a local fixer, someone who knows the ins and outs of the city. Start by asking friends if they have contacts in Havana who can assist you. If not, consider creating a profile on Couchsurfing.com, a platform that allows you to connect with locals and fellow travellers. Always arrange to meet people in public places during daylight hours, like the welcoming lobbies of 4- or 5-star hotels, read reviews of your hosts and have a conversation with them prior to the meetup. Don't forget to inform your hotel's reception of your meet-up plans for added security.



Cuba, havan street photography 10 tips on travelling to Havana as a female solo traveller


2. Currency Exchange Strategies:

Take a ton of cash and don't exchange money at a government-run establishment because you will get nothing for your money. You need to exchange money on the black market on the streets. I know this sounds intimidating, but trust me, it will feel normal once you are there. Cubans will always give you more for your cash. Using ATMs in Cuba is not something you want to do because, again, you will get absolutely nothing for your money. Before your trip, research current exchange rates to get a sense of the value you should expect.



Cuba, havan street photography 10 tips on travelling to Havana as a female solo traveller


3. Pack Gifts and Necessities:

Cuba faces shortages of essential items like medication, baby products, stationary and hygiene supplies. Consider packing extras to share with the locals. Even small gestures, such as gifting a pen, can brighten a Cuban's day and foster goodwill during your stay.


4. Embrace Cuban Hospitality:

Cubans are the happiest people I have ever met. Everyone plays music on the streets or dances. Cubans are very kind and genuinely curious people. They want to know everything about you, and they will stare. If you are a white European chick, you will get a lot of attention, and anyone on the streets would want to marry you. Cuban guys can be super cute and catcalling is common and sort of normal in Cuba. Don't pay attention and walk with purpose.





5. Opt for Casa Particulares Over Hotels:

Support the locals by staying at casa particulars, private accommodations that you can easily find on Airbnb. Build a rapport with your host, engage in conversations, and consider inviting them for a meal as a gesture of appreciation. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations.



Cuba, havan street photography 10 tips on travelling to Havana as a female solo traveller


6. Navigating the Internet:

To stay connected in Cuba, you'll need a Cuban SIM card. Be prepared for potentially long queues and ensure you have your passport and around $40 worth of Cuban Pesos on hand. Keep in mind that Cuban internet can be slow and expensive, so plan your online activities accordingly.


7. Savouring Cuban Cuisine:

Cuba's restaurant scene is evolving, with private restaurants, known as paladares, offering a variety of culinary delights. Paladares are private restaurants typically owned by families. Paladares are an excellent way to get authentic Cuban food at an affordable price and you also support the local community. Ask your host for a recommendation.



Cuba, havan street photography 10 tips on travelling to Havana as a female solo traveller


8. Steer Clear of Tap Water

Cuba's water supply is home to its unique bacteria and microorganisms. The bacteria itself isn't dangerous per se, but your body isn't used to it, and it can make you very ill. Nausea, cramps, upset stomach, and other gastrointestinal issues that could wreck your trip are common.


9. Dressing Smart and Safeguarding Valuables

Cuba is generally safe; the police are somewhat respected. However, pickpocketing and armed robbery can happen, especially if you walk around flaunting. Dress modestly, don't wear brands, don't carry valuable items. I never had serious incidents in Cuba; however, I walk around with my very valuable camera, and obviously, that brings more attention than what I would like to get. I have been followed on the streets before, so use your common sense. If you feel or know that you are being followed, walk into the nearest hotel and ask for help or find the police. Do not walk around on your own in the evening.



tunde valiszka street photographer in Havana, Cuba
Me in Havana

10. Caution with Street Offers:

There will be a lot of people coming up to you offering services you probably don't need or want. Do not buy anything from the streets such as cigars, concert tickets, event tickets, or anything at all unless your source is trusted to avoid scams. Let your host organise these things for you and give them extra tips for helping you out.


Conclusion:

Havana is a treasure trove of adventure waiting for you to explore. By following these travel tips, you'll confidently navigate the city while safeguarding your well-being and contributing to the local community. Immerse yourself in the vibrant Cuban culture, create unforgettable memories, and let Havana work its magic on you. Remember that helping Cubans in any way you can, from renting their accommodations to dining at their restaurants, is the best way to support a community that thrives on tourism. So, embark on this journey, have the time of your life, and leave a positive mark on this captivating city.

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