5. Pack a mac
Even in Cuba’s so-called dry season, heavy downpours can be sudden and unexpected, so be prepared for a soaking. Pack a raincoat and and remember, it’s unlikely to last long. The Caribbean heat will be with you soon enough.
6. Enjoy Cuban rum
Rum is cheap and easy to find in Cuba – and sometimes easier to source than bottled water.
Try a daiquiri in Havana, buy some rum to take back home, or relax on a palm-tree-lined beach sipping a mojito in the sun.
7. Shop when you have the chance
Shops can be hard to locate, the shelves are often half empty, and they tend to stock a bemusing range of fizzy drinks, rum and mayonnaise.
Look out for small bakeries, and if you spot a market, stock up on fresh fruit and veg. Markets are usually run in local currency, so they’re also a great place to exchange your convertible pesos for national pesos.
8. Learn some Spanish
While many Cubans speak almost-fluent English, a little español will go a long way, particularly in casas particulares.
9. Make time to wander
Strolling around colonial streets away from the main tourist hotspots will give you a better feel for Cuban life than most tourist activities. Friendly neighbours pass the time in doorways, street sellers with wooden carts hurtle down cobbled roads announcing their wares, and you’ll discover local places to eat.
10. Take everything as it comes
Taxis will arrive at 10am “Cuba time”, finding foodstuffs that are readily available elsewhere is difficult, internet is hard to find and the weather can vacillate from clear skies to sudden heavy downpours.
Take some tips from the easy going locals and you’ll soon relax and enjoy your stay.
11. Be spontaneous
It can seem as though every other house is a casa particular in Cuba – so it’s easy to find accommodation at the last minute.
While you’ll probably want to book your accommodation on arrival, for the rest of your time don’t be afraid to plan your trip as you go.
12. Go now
In July 2015, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US were restored. And now, while you’ll often see horses and carts in the streets, you’ll still rarely spot recognisable brands or modern cars. But this is changing fast, so if you dream of seeing Cuba’s time-worn buildings and age-old cars, the time to go is now.
Explore more of Cuba with The Rough Guide to Cuba. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.