(Español) 3 pasos desde el teléfono para la renovación o emisión del Pasaporte Cubano en Estados Unidos

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(Español) Adios a la Visa HE-11 para Cubanos.

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Legal Services for Cubans living in the USA

At OnCubaTravel, we offer the most competitive prices for legal services tailored to Cubans in the United States, specially designed to meet the needs of Cuban residents in the country. Our top-tier legal team is ready to provide you with guidance and representation in various legal processes for Cubans, such as residency applications, work permits, asylum petitions, and much more. The best part is that we have streamlined the process, making it faster, smoother, and more cost-effective than ever.

Legal Services: Customized to Your Needs.

We understand the specific needs of Cubans in the United States, and our team of expert lawyers is committed to providing you with a hassle-free legal experience. We have developed a range of services that directly address processes for Cubans, such as obtaining a work permit, seeking legal advice, applying for residency, asylum, or humanitarian parole. We are your dedicated partners at every stage of the process.

Competitive Prices, Accessible Solutions:

We recognize the importance of accessing quality legal services without straining your finances. At OnCubaTravel, we offer exceptional legal services at highly competitive prices for Cuban-related processes in the United States. Here’s a glimpse of some of our service fees:

  • Work Permit: $200
  • Legal Consultation: $99
  • Residency Application: $350
  • Asylum Petition: $799
  • Humanitarian Parole: $400

Simple and Fast Process:

Your legal journey should be clear and obstacle-free, and that’s precisely what we have designed. Our process is agile and efficient, allowing you to take concrete steps toward a secure future in the United States. Our experienced legal team will guide you through each phase, ensuring you fully understand the available options for Cuban-related processes.

Contact Us:

If you’re ready to embark on a path toward a future full of opportunities in the United States, we invite you to contact us today. For detailed information about prices and to address any inquiries you may have about Cuban-related processes, simply dial +1 786-560-2519. Our team is eager to provide you with all the information you need to begin the paperwork.

Get in touch with us today at +1 786-560-2519 and let us facilitate your journey, or that of your family in Cuba, toward success in the United States with legal processes for Cubans.

Cuba – New Passport Policies

ENGLISH Conoce más sobre las Novedades al respecto del pasaporte cubano (2023) y los Servicios Consulares de OnCubaTravel para Cubanos en Estados Unidos.

Según una declaración reciente del MINREX (Cuba), a partir del 1 de Julio de este año, se emitirán pasaportes cubanos con validez por 10 años, y se eliminará el requisito de prorrogar los pasaportes cada dos años. Sin embargo, los pasaportes cubanos actualmente en circulación seguirán con su validez actual de 6 años.

Si tienes planeado continuar con tu pasaporte actual, aunque su vigencia tenga un máximo de seis años, a partir del 1ro de julio estos pasaportes tampoco necesitarán ser prorrogados.

¿Necesitas ayuda? Conoce los servicios consulares de OnCubaTravel para ti!

Prorroga y Renovacion de Pasaporte con OnCubaTravel - Servicios Consulares de OnCubaTravel para Cubanos en Estados Unidos.

Șin embargo, si no puedes esperar a Julio para prorrogar tu pasaporte cubano, a partir de la semana próxima podrás poner la prorroga en tu pasaporte cubano en el mismo día en nuestras oficinas en Miami, o hacer el trámite de forma rápida y segura desde tu teléfono.

Puedes llamar al (305) 602-0219 Extensión 1, para reservar una hora y hacer tu trámite personalmente.

Si lo que necesitas es renovar el pasaporte, también podemos ayudarte. Puedes llamar al mismo teléfono para conocer más sobre el servicio.

Si quieres conocer más detalles sobre estas nuevas medidas te sugerimos visitar este artículo de OnCubaNews: https://oncubanews.com/cuba/pasaportes-cubanos-emitidos-antes-del-1ro-de-julio-no-tendran-10-anos-de-validez/ 

Gracias!

Conoce más sobre las Novedades al respecto del pasaporte cubano (2023) y los Servicios Consulares de OnCubaTravel para Cubanos en Estados Unidos.

Según una declaración reciente del MINREX (Cuba), a partir del 1 de Julio de este año, se emitirán pasaportes cubanos con validez por 10 años, y se eliminará el requisito de prorrogar los pasaportes cada dos años. Sin embargo, los pasaportes cubanos actualmente en circulación seguirán con su validez actual de 6 años.

Si tienes planeado continuar con tu pasaporte actual, aunque su vigencia tenga un máximo de seis años, a partir del 1ro de julio estos pasaportes tampoco necesitarán ser prorrogados.

¿Necesitas ayuda? Conoce los servicios consulares de OnCubaTravel para ti!

Prorroga y Renovacion de Pasaporte con OnCubaTravel - Servicios Consulares de OnCubaTravel para Cubanos en Estados Unidos.

Șin embargo, si no puedes esperar a Julio para prorrogar tu pasaporte cubano, a partir de la semana próxima podrás poner la prorroga en tu pasaporte cubano en el mismo día en nuestras oficinas en Miami, o hacer el trámite de forma rápida y segura desde tu teléfono.

Puedes llamar al (305) 602-0219 Extensión 1, para reservar una hora y hacer tu trámite personalmente.

Si lo que necesitas es renovar el pasaporte, también podemos ayudarte. Puedes llamar al mismo teléfono para conocer más sobre el servicio.

Si quieres conocer más detalles sobre estas nuevas medidas te sugerimos visitar este artículo de OnCubaNews: https://oncubanews.com/cuba/pasaportes-cubanos-emitidos-antes-del-1ro-de-julio-no-tendran-10-anos-de-validez/ 

Gracias!

Top 10 Things to Do in Havana

The capital City of Havana is one of the oldest in the Caribbean and a key location for pivotal moments in history. Havana today is also the results of diverse cultural influences, such as the Spanish, the African, and the Caribbean. The City is also divided into municipalities. One of the most beautiful, due to the diversity in its architecture and markedly different periods of influence, is the municipality of Old Havana. With its nostalgic architecture and facades, Old Havana is home to the more known points of interest, such as the newly renovated Capitolio and the Catedral de la Habana. However, If you really want to get the full Havana experience, here is a list of the 10 places you should know about for your next visit.

  1. Stop at the Malecón de La Habana

    This five-mile extension is one of the main attractions in Havana. It serves as a boardwalk, seawall, and is one of the main roads of access into and around the city. It is famous for its spectacular sunset views and active nightlife. It is certainly a well-visited spot for locals and out of towners. It is a phenomenal stop for photo opportunities and to see the bustling City of Havana. The Malecón also serves as an exhibit space during events, such as the Havana Biennial, an important art event that kicks off April 12th in 2019 and runs until May 12th. The Biennial only takes place every other year – don’t miss it! Coming off of the drive along the Malecón you will see the symbolic Capitolio.

    OnCuba Blog

  2. Get a Picture of the José Martí Memorial

    The Monumento a José Martí, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cuba. It is located in Plaza de la Revolución, along Calle Paseo and Avenida de las Américas. This star-shaped tower was built as a memorial to José Martí, an important Cuban journalist and poet who fought for Cuban independence from Spain. The tower stands at over 300 feet tall on the grounds of the former Loma de Los Catalanes. It is made of Cuban marble. Next to the tower is also a marble sculpture of Martí himself. The Monumento was completed in 1958, towards the end of the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Inside the Monumento are rooms that house Martí’s writings, the history of the Plaza de la Revolución, and an art gallery. Visitors are also able to go to the top of the Monumento to see one of the most spectacular views of Havana. The best way to photograph the structure is from across the street, where two buildings have outlines of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, respectively.

    OnCuba Blog

  3. Dance in the Callejón de Hamel

    The Callejón de Hamel is a colorful highlight of the city. It is a celebration of African influence in Cuba, a convergence of music, religion, and art. If you find yourself at the Callejón on a Sunday afternoon you will be welcomed by the sound of music and the beating of the tumbadora drums, while a crowd sings and dances in unison. The walls are all covered in quotes, paintings, and unusual sculptures made out of bathtubs, pipes, and other unexpected structures. Every corner offers plenty of opportunities for lively pictures and to capture the essence of this location.

    OnCuba Blog

  4. Lunch at Paladar Doña Eutimia

    Dona Eutimia is probably one of the most authentic and well-attended privately owned paladares in Old Havana. It is a small locate, situated in the Plaza de la Catedral, just outside the namesake Catedral de la Habana. The staff is very attentive and sensitive to patrons’ needs. They have one of the best traditional shredded beef Ropa Viejas and a fantastic Mojito, served in a generous cocktail glass. They also have the delicious Flan, a traditional milk custard dessert. It is the perfect stop for the middle of the day before continuing with your planned excursions.

    OnCuba Blog

  5. Ride in Classic American Cars

    One of the biggest things Cuba is known for is its impressive collection of Classic American Cars. They bring an air of nostalgia to the Island, particularly the 1950’s when some of these cars were freshly introduced to the Island. Today, they offer a fantastic adventure to visitors. They are available as convertibles and hardtops, also called Almendrones for their almond-like shape. These beautifully preserved vehicles are a great way to ride around Havana and to get the full, panoramic view of every stop. Some of the key areas to drive along are of course the Malecón and Capitolio, the Túnel de la Habana that runs under the bay, the arch in Chinatown, and along 5th Avenue in the Miramar district, amongst others.

    OnCuba Blog

  6. Visit el Cristo de la Habana

    El Cristo is another not to be missed key landmark in Havana. It sits atop a hill, sprouting at over 60 feet into the air. It was built by sculptor Jilma Madera and is made of Carrera Marble. You will notice that the statue has fuller lips and a strong physique. It is rumored to have been modeled after one of the artist’s old lovers. The sculpture is also notable for wearing sandals. The view of the city and cruise docking area from this point is magnificent. It is a great spot for pictures of the city.

    OnCuba Blog

  7. Explore the Cementerio Colón

    The Cementerio Colón mas named after none other than Christopher Columbus whose authentic Spanish name is Cristóbal Colón. The sculptures in this notable landmark are so remarkable that the Cemetery has been considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Some of the most known resting places are the Mausoleo de Los Bomberos Heróicos for their baroque detailing and La Milagrosa, where people ask for their children and matters of the heart.

    OnCuba Blog

  8. Sip a Cocktail at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba

    The Hotel Nacional is a landmark of its own and is also a recipient of the UNESCO Memory of the World Award. As you drive up to the hotel through its lavish palm tree-lined driveway, you will feel like you are stepping into an era of nostalgia. Classic American Cars can are often spotted parked outside the Hotel. As you walk up the stairs to the main entrance, you will feel as in a scene from Casablanca, with the courteous doormen and high doors. From floor to ceiling, the hotel is vibrant with elegant details worthy of the celebrities and many notables that have stayed at this award-winning hotel. Some of the important guests have been Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Walt Disney, and Nat King Cole amongst others. As you make your way to the back of the hotel, take in the scenic water view and spot the large cannons displayed on the property.

    Explore on Classic American Cars Excursion Combine with the Parisien
    OnCuba Blog

  9. Morro-Cabaña complex and evening cannon ceremony

    It is certainly a favorite for visitors and locals. The Morro Cabana Complex is a must see during the daytime and nighttime. During the daytime, walk across the Morro. This location gives visitors another opportunity for a panoramic view of the harbor, the Malecón, and Old Havana. Within walking distance, large cannons are available for close observation. It is the spot to marvel at this beautiful city.

    At night, visit the Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro. This stone and coral structure continues to be lined by cannons. The alleys are also a spot for local vendors with crafts and other goods. One of the highlights of the evening is the Cannon Ceremony, which kicks off at 9 p.m. during daylight time savings or 8 p.m. EST. The ceremony, presided by soldiers in proper period attire, has a dramatic buildup that concludes in the “firing” of a mock cannonball. There is something very magical about the torches, dimly lit setting, and this very real place where history was made.

    OnCuba Blog

  10. Nightlife

    There are many things to do in Havana at night. Depending on what your preferred activities and settings are, try at least one or all four of these diverse options: The Tropicana, The Parisien, The Buena Vista Social Club show at Habana Café or the award-winning Fábrica de Arte Cubano. Here are some pointers to help with these options.

    The Tropicana Cabaret has been known throughout history as the grand, Vegas-style show in Havana. The dancers and performers are all decked out in elaborate costumes and headpieces. Each dance number tells a story to hundreds that attend this spectacular music and dance experience. During the show, you may also choose to sip on some bubbly, rum or soda of your choice in the open-air setting lined with massive lights and a grand stage.

    OnCuba Blog
    Book Your Excursion to The Tropicana Cabaret

    The Parisien sits in the grounds of the historical Hotel Nacional. It is a more intimate setting than the Tropicana, but also offers a colorful performance with live music and dance. You can choose to enjoy this show while sipping on a traditional Mojito. While enjoying the performance, you can snap pictures and shoot videos at will, which is one of the advantages of this performance. The cast is also formidable at storytelling through dance the evolution of Cuban history.

    OnCuba Blog
    Book Your Excursion to The Parisien

    The Buena Vista Social Club show is a must see for music lovers. This musical ensemble performs at the nightclub nestled in the Meliá Cohiba Hotel, a key meeting point for locals and travelers, right across from the Malecón in Havana. The setting is also more intimate. The space is decorated Hard Rock Café style, with local and international celebrity memorabilia, an airplane, classic cars, and even a motorcycle. The performance complete with an MC is delightful, from the opportunities for singalongs to joining the dancers on stage. It’s an engaging and interactive performance for all who enjoy live music complete with musicians, dancers, and celebrated singers. You may even get lucky and experience a member or two of the original Buena Vista Social Club.

    OnCuba Blog
    Book Your Excursion to Buena Vista Social Club.

    If you prefer to see an eclectic art collection in an even more unexpected setting, visit the Fábrica de Arte Cubano. This building has been transformed into a multi-function space that serves as a club, an art gallery, music, food, and libation stop. It is a popular spot for artsy locals, hipsters, and travelers. You could sit in a large blue room with open seating and a bar while looking at a Queen concert or walk into a small exhibit room with mixed-media art and fashion. Every nook and cranny have something to be discovered. Once you have been in Havana for a few days you will also start to recognize some of the landmarks across many art pieces lining the walls, ceilings, furnishings, and floors.

    OnCuba Blog
    Explore excursions and group programs with stops at the Fábrica de Arte Cubano:

How to See It All

Organizing your time in Cuba as efficiently as possible is very important. This is just a preview of the many things that can be done in the City of Havana alone! The best way to make sure you may the most of your stay is to work with a specialized travel agency, such as OnCuba Travel, which will ensure that you not only meet all the necessary travel requirements while also making sure that every stop covers your main interests and desired level of activity. Did you know that now OnCuba Travel can also coordinate your transfer, flights, hotels, and can also design a group program for you? These are just some of the advantages of this professional and OFAC approved travel agency. Contact us today to get started!

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Top 5 Cities to Visit in Cuba

Cuba is a country full of flavor and color in the form of beautiful views, friendly locals, and delicious cuisine, combined with an exciting past and many historical sites. Although Havana tends to be the city that comes to mind first when Cuba is the subject, there are several other cities also worthy of exploration and awe. Cuba is also home to seven Cultural and two Natural World Heritage sites, as recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In this blog, let’s go over the top 5 cities to visit in Cuba, which highlights to keep in mind for each, complete with accommodation options and other travel tips to make the experience enjoyable and easy for travelers.

Havana | Flight time from Miami: Approx. 1hr 15min

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Based on current laws to travel to Cuba, all U.S. travelers must enter Cuba through José Martí International Airport in Havana. The Cuban capital has been a longtime popular travel destination. The City of Havana recently celebrated its 500th Anniversary of Foundation, a distinction not yet available to many cities in the Americas. As such, it is rich in history. It is also the largest city in Cuba and holds the country’s main port. Get to know some of the many landmarks in Havana, such as:

  • The Capitolio
  • The plazas in La Habana
  • Colon Cemetery, also called Necropolis
  • The Port and Malecón de la Habana
  • The Túnel de la Habana
  • The Morro-Cabana Complex
  • Hemingway’s House and his boat, Pilar
  • La Bodeguita del Medio, home of the Mojito
  • El Floridita Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, home of the Daiquirí

Dining options are also plentiful. From traditional restaurants like Doña Eutimia in Plaza de La Catedral to Café Ajiaco in the outskirts of the city. Modern Cuban cuisine and fusion options are also available with downtown Havana views. Some noteworthy spots to consider are Paladar Café Laurent or El Cocinero.

To enjoy all the landmarks in Havana, you may want to consider excursions such as Havana Highlights, A Walk Through Old Colonial Havana, A Ride Through Havana in American Classic Cars, and An Evening Stroll Through the Historic Center of Havana. To learn more about American author Ernest Hemingway, you may want to consider Following Hemingway’s Steps in Havana. This 3.5-hour tour includes areas of Havana, as well as a visit to Finca Vijía, Hemingway’s home for many years in Cuba.

For hotel accommodations, there is an extensive menu of options to accommodate different price points and desired locations. Some of the most famous ones are the Meliá Cohiba in the area of Vedado, the Hotel Nacional with breathtaking views of the Malecón, the Iberostar Parque Central, and the Hotel Saratoga in the 5-star category. The latter is famous for celebrities who have stayed there, such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Viñales | Distance from Havana: Approx. 2.5 hours by Car

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This small town is in Western Cuba, within the Pinar del Río Province. The area was once home to remnants of the Taíno population, a group known to be early native inhabitants on the Island. Today, it is a developing destination city, popular for eco-friendly activities that include hiking, flora and fauna watching, walking, and cycling.

Some of the landmarks to visit in Viñales are:

  • The Valley of Viñales – A UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The Indian Cave
  • The Cow Cave
  • The Viñales Botanical Garden
  • The Prehistoric Mural
  • The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church

Viñales is part of all-inclusive, fun, and educational programs such as the delicious Yuca and Mojito Tour. This itinerary is ideal for food lovers and travelers who enjoy sampling local gastronomy. For an independent travel experience, you may want to consider the neighboring Hotel Pinar del Río, which is also close to tobacco plantations and nautical activities in the area.

Varadero | Distance from Havana: Approx. 2 hours by Car

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Varadero is a beach resort and spa town located within the Province of Matanzas in Cuba, approximately two hours east of Havana. It is also known as Playa Azul or Blue Beach. The town’s crystalline blue waters can be seen from above when flying over the Island. Varadero offers many points of interest, such as:

  • The Icacos Peninsula
  • The Delfinario / Dolphinarium
  • The Varahicacos Ecological Reserve
  • The Xanadu Mansion
  • The Museo Municipal / Municipal Museum

Stops in Varadero are part of many excursions and all-inclusive programs. One option is the Afro-Cuban Cultural Immersion Tour. This 5-day/4-night program will have you visiting Varadero on day three of the itinerary. It is also part of the Cigar and Rum Tour, a curated experience for travelers with interest in cigar and rum, which happens every year in sync with the International Habanos Festival. Varadero is also a daytime stop in the Morua-Maceo Project, a program that aims to build, strengthen, and showcase the Cuban-African diaspora throughout the Island.

Varadero is also the site of the World Music Festival and the Varadero Gourmet Festival. Both events are well attended and gather crowds from all over the world. Accommodation options for visitors are several, many of them along beautiful sandy beaches, with top amenities and even white-glove service.

Among the many options to consider is the 5-star Iberostar Varadero Hotel, a property favored for events and family holidays. Other all-inclusive hotels are the Be Live Experience Varadero Hotel and the Be Live Experience Turquesa Hotel, both 4-star hotels. Adults-only accommodations are also available. One option is the Roc Barlovento Hotel. If you are looking instead for a place the whole family can enjoy, you may also want to consider the Roc Arenas Doradas Hotel. Make sure to review the many hotel options available in Varadero.

Trinidad | Distance from Havana: Approx. 4 hours by Car

OnCuba Travel Blog

Trinidad is a Cuban city located in central Cuba, within the Province of Sancti Spiritus. Trinidad has also been recognized by the UNESCO as a city museum for sugar production, along with the nearby Valle de Los Ingenios. Both locations have also been designated as National Monuments by the Cuban nation.

Points of interest in the city of Trinidad include:

  • Plaza Mayor
  • El Cubano Natural Park
  • Colonial Architecture Museum
  • Church of the Holy Trinity
  • Palacio Brunet and Palacio Cantero

An experienced agency, such as OnCuba Travel, can help you plan a visit to Trinidad, complete with transfer services, meals, points of interest, and hotel accommodations. Options for accommodations in Trinidad include The Iberostar Gran Trinidad Hotel. This hotel offers a 5-star experience in a 16th-century setting. It is complete with turndown service, a pillow menu, and other luxury amenities.

Santiago de Cuba | Distance from Havana: Approx. 11.25 hours by Car

OnCuba Travel Blog

Santiago de Cuba was the original capital of Cuba. Today, it is the second most important and second-largest city in Cuba, a must-see for the more experienced traveler. Santiago de Cuba is also the grounds for many landmarks, such as:

  • Castillo de San Pedro de La Roca / The San Pedro de la Roca Castle
  • La Gran Piedra / The Big Rock – A giant volcanic rock
  • Santa Ifigenia Cemetery
  • Céspedes Park
  • Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral

This city is also known for being the birthplace of the Bacardi brand, founded in 1862 by Facundo Bacardi Masso. The Carnaval de Santiago de Cuba is also one of the most famous on the Island. The tradition dates to the 17th century. It is a significant public celebration with costumes, music, and parades.

Hotels to consider in Santiago de Cuba include the Meliá Santiago de Cuba, a 5-star hotel ideal for business or leisure travelers. The Iberostar Imperial Hotel and The Iberostar Casa Grande Hotel are also terrific 4-star hotels in Santiago. He Iberostar Casa Grande Hotel also enjoys a privileged location, right across from Céspedes Park.

Accommodations in Cuba

Cuba offers many accommodation options. Hotels range from 5-star properties with premier service to standard hotels that provide a clean and safe place to stay with basic amenities. Other options also include Casas Particulares or private homes. These are independently operated private homes that offer single room accommodations to entire apartments, and local other arrangements. Many of them offer a daily breakfast service and additional amenities for a fee. The experts at OnCuba Travel can assist you and your travel partners in selecting the best options in line with your itinerary and budget.

Car Rentals in Cuba

With so many things to see and places to visit, you may want to consider renting a car in Cuba. Options are available for economy, standard, and standard plus. OnCuba Travel can facilitate this process for you. They liaise with trusted local agencies, saving you time and effort by pairing you with a qualified car rental in Cuba. You can choose to pick up the car rental at José Martí International Airport or the OnCuba Travel office in Havana.

All-Inclusive Programs & Excursions

One of the best ways to explore Cuba is with curated programs or excursions. Many of these experiences offer local travel guides, which make it easier to learn about the history of each stop in the itinerary. Another advantage of booking all-inclusive programs and excursions is that many of them offer transportation to and from an area of interest. Several tours also include meals at the destinations, which facilitate the planning process.

Legal Travel to Cuba for U.S. Citizens

It is still possible for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally. Necessary documents include a visa/tourist card, one of the 11 approved reasons for travel, a valid U.S. passport, and a full itinerary with details of the stay. A professional travel agency specializing in Cuba, such as OnCuba Travel, can quickly help travelers navigate the requirements, compile the documentation, and facilitate certain documents, like the visas. Their team can also assist you in preparing a daily agenda in Cuba and providing travel tips to help you make the most of your stay.

Cuba Event Guide 2020

Do you prefer to dance with pros, see award-winning art, or to run a marathon? The International Cuban Dance Festival, the Havana Biennial, and the Marabana Marathon are just some of the festivals and events exciting, diverse, and culturally rich Cuba hosts year after year. From book fairs to jazz festivals, and rambunctious carnivals, there is never a dull moment. To help travelers plan ahead, here is a guide to some of the most significant events in Cuba, from January through December.

January

The Havana Jazz Festival

The year of events starts with the famous Havana Jazz Festival, which just celebrated its 35th iteration. Cuban musician Jesús Valdés Rodríguez, better known as Chucho Valdés, is the artistic director of the festival, as well as president of the organizing committee. The festival combines outstanding jazz talent with up-and-coming artists in its showcase. Scheduled events take place across several concert halls in downtown Havana. However, impromptu performances also happen along the Malecón and other venues across the city. The 2020 event wrapped up earlier this year. The next rendition of the event will be on January 12th to the 17th, 2021.

February

Havana International Book Fair

The Havana International Book Fair is one of the most well-attended events in Havana. The hosting venue for the fair is the Fortaleza de San Carlos de La Cabaña, also known as La Cabaña. This 18th-century fortress sits on the eastern side of the Havana harbor. It is also next to the Morro Castle, forming the Morro-Cabaña Complex. The event gathers literary personalities, authors, and visitors alike. The event agenda also includes live performances, exhibits, and other well-attended events. Check back with us for 2021 dates.

OnCuba Travel Blog

The International Habanos Festival

Every year, the City of Havana welcomes visitors from all over the world to the Habanos Festival. Attendees range from connoisseurs and aficionados to celebrities and the curious. The event gathers exhibitors from major cigar companies and vendors for items like humidors and vintage collectibles. There is still time to join the ladies of Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars in the Cigar and Rum Tour, an all-inclusive 5-day/4-night program which includes a day at the festival. The International Habanos Festival will be held from February 24th to the 29th in 2020.

March

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The Havana World Music Festival

The Havana World Music Festival is relatively new. It is organized by the Black Tears rum label, which targets the younger generations of Cubans and visitors. A fun fact is that the rum label bears the name of a popular 1020s song called Lágrimas Negras or black tears by Cuban musician and composer Miguel Matamoros. The music on offer at the festival is also a mixture of traditional and more modern music, ranging from jazz to funk and Afro-Cuban beats. The event will run from March 26th to the 28th, 2020.

April

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International Cuban Dance Festival

The International Cuban Dance Festival brings together top teachers, students, and dance lovers for seven days of non-stop salsa and other rhythms such as bolero, reggaeton, and cha-cha-cha with parties and other festival-related events. The event offers a full schedule of classes and related activities. Students flock from all over the world to have the opportunity to train with the best Cuban instructors to develop or perfect their dance skills. This annual festival will take place from April 20th to April 26th, 2020, in the City of Havana.

April/May

The Havana Biennial

The event is a large-scale art gathering. It welcomes over 200 artists from many countries and cultures. It seeks to present and promote art. It is also a platform for emerging and established Cuban artists who get handpicked to participate in the festival. It is a phenomenal opportunity for art lovers, career artists, collectors, and gallery owners to explore this art collective, take in the diversity, and the value the exhibitors have to offer. The Havana Biennial only takes place every two years. The next Havana Biennial will run from April 17th to April 24th, 2021. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until 2021 to sample Cuban art. You may also want to consider a contemporary art tour of Havana, viewing classic and modern art in Havana, and meeting famous Cuban artist, Michel Mirabal.

June

Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament

This competitive fishing tournament was founded in the 50s by American author Ernest Hemingway. The competition is a recreational catch and release type of event, meaning that the fish are unhooked and returned to the water. Attendees and participants from up to 30 attend the event every year. Hemingway and now his granddaughter have both won the competition that takes place at the Hemingway International Yacht Club in Havana. The 70th Annual Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament will be taking place from June 8th to June 13th in 2020. If you would like to learn more about Hemingway’s life in Cuba during your stay at the tournament, you may also want to follow Hemingway’s steps in Havana with a guided excursion.

July

OnCuba Travel Blog

The Festival del Fuego

Also called Fiesta del Caribe or Festival del Fuego (Fire Festival), the festival takes place every year in the first weeks of July in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Speakers, guests, and musical groups from around the Caribbean participate in the event. Visitors can expect an exciting array of performances, including deejays, electronic music, and parades with vibrant costumes, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and street fairs celebrating Afro-Caribbean culture. On the last day of the festival, there is a massive parade in honor of Cuban culture and beliefs, which concludes with the burning of a giant devil statue. The event will take place from July 1st to July 7th in 2020.

Carnival of Santiago de Cuba

The carnival of Santiago de Cuba is the largest, most famous, and most traditional celebration in all of Cuba. It takes place towards the end of July. Santiago de Cuba is the second biggest city after Havana. The summer carnival started as a period to celebrate the times when the sugarcane harvest season ended. Today, the festival continues as a tradition. It is an explosion of color, contagious drum rhythms, and congas. The event will take place from July 18th to July 27th, 2020.

August

Carnaval de la Habana

The Carnaval de la Habana or Havana’s Carnival is one of the island’s oldest and most traditional events. Attendees experience a spectacular display of traditional to contemporary rhythms, dancing, conga lines, fanciful outfits, fireworks, and effigies. Parades are held all along the Malecón. The carnival dates back several centuries to when black slaves held collective marches and dances to commemorate the days of Corpus Christi and the Epiphany. Throughout the carnival’s history, the diversity and evolution of the Cuban culture have been a shaping factor for the celebration. The festival was once canceled during the Special Period in Cuba, during the nineties, but returned once the country’s financial situation improved. Check back with us for 2020 dates.

September

Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad

September is not a popular month for events in Cuba, given that it is at the height of hurricane season. One of the events held locally is the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad. It usually starts on September 8th with a religious pilgrimage to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre, close to Santiago de Cuba. This tradition honors Cuba’s patron saint, the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Lady of Charity), and her Yoruba counterpart, orisha Oshun.

October

The International Ballet Festival of Havana “Alicia Alonso.”

The Havana Ballet Festival is world renown and is Cuba’s most important ballet festival. Alicia Alonso, Cuba’s most famous and recognized prima ballerina, founded the festival in the 1960s. It is a gathering of dance companies from around the world, including the distinguished Cuban ballet companies. Venues hosting the event are the Alicia Alonso Gran Teatro de La Habana, and the Teatro America. In addition to the ballet showcase, the agenda for the festival includes art exhibits, conferences, and other cultural affairs. The event only happens once every two years. The next festival will run from October 27th to November 3rd, 2020. Cuba is also the home for more contemporary dance companies, such as Habana Compás, which offers performances throughout the year.

November

The Marabana Marathon

The Marabana Marathon is the biggest in Cuba. The event welcomes locals and foreigners every year. Attendees can challenge themselves with a full marathon and a half marathon. The upcoming Marabana Marathon will be on November 22nd, 2020. Fitness travelers should take advantage of this opportunity to accomplish at least two things, meet fitness goals and take in the scenery. With a few extra days, travelers could visit essential Havana landmarks with a Havana highlights tour by day or an evening stroll through the historic center of Havana.

December

The Havana Film Festival, also known as the Festival of New Latin-American Cinema of Havana. This event draws thousands of professionals from the film industry each year, promoting the latent talent originating from Latin America and the Caribbean. Famous past attendees of the event include Spanish Director Pedro Almodóvar, actors and directors like Robert Redford and Francis Ford Coppola, and notables like Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Recipients of the awards receive a Premio Coral. The ceremony recognizes top talent in the categories of Best Feature Film – Fiction, Best Feature Film – Documentary, Short Film and Feature Film (Fiction and Documentary), Best Opera Prima, Best Animated Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Poster, Best Postproduction Editing, with other categories and awards for related roles.

Las Parrandas de Remedios

December also brings to Cuba Las Parrandas de Remedios, one of the country’s most high-spirited festivals! The Parrandas typically take place in the days before Christmas. Some of the events happening simultaneously across different cities and towns in Cuba include parades, celebrations, lights, music, and dancing. This festival is said to have started as a way to attract more churchgoers to mass before holidays in the old town of Remedios. Now several cities and towns in the country celebrate Las Parrandas and compete for who has the best and loudest celebration!

Legal Travel to Cuba from the U.S.

As you can see, there is a flurry of events taking place in Cuba throughout the year. To get there, you may want to consider working with an established and professional agency specializing in travel to Cuba, such as OnCuba Travel. Their team will help you with your travel needs and walk you through the requirements – such as visas – to flight bookings, airport transfers in Havana, and trusted accommodation options in hotels or private homes, and more.

6 Non-News Related Things Cuba is Known For

Cuba has been the subject of news coverage for many reasons, such as current events, travel policy changes, and its administration. There is so much more the island of Cuba has to offer. Much more than what many of us may have seen in the media. Have you ever wondered about where Cuba’s cuisine gets its influence from or how its popular salsa music came about? Are you curious to learn more and see Cuba as it stands today?

The city of Havana recently celebrated its 500th Anniversary! This celebration was a milestone that not many cities in the American continent are close to reaching. Havana has undoubtedly seen a lot since its beginnings. There is certainly more to it than headlines and travel policy changes!

Get to know a different side of Cuba. We should also know Cuba for the warmth of its people, its history, its culture, the history behind its food, and many other reasons that make Cuba a unique place to visit. From its majestic Capitolio building to its vintage cars, jovial music, and historical past, Cuba has something for everyone to explore. Let’s go over six of the highlights Cuba is known for and why it continues to be a great place to visit.

1. Habanos

Cuba is known worldwide as one of the top producers of fine cigars and tobacco. The City of Havana opens its doors every year for the International Habanos Festival. Aficionados, connoisseurs, industry professionals, and visitors fly in every year to attend the festival. Even if you are not a smoker, the Habano culture is fascinating. Get an Insider’s Look At Cuba Through Rum & Habanos.

During a visit, I also had the opportunity to tour a cigar factory in Havana. It was fascinating to see how methodical the process is and how each one of the expert cigar rollers has honed their craft. Learning about the different vitolas or cigar shapes is very interesting. Lighting a cigar also requires careful handling to get the most flavor.

Habanos can also pair well with smoked meats, mature cheeses, nuts, chocolate, and even tomato-based pasta dishes! To learn more about the types of cigars, pairings, and more, check out the blog A Constellation of Cuban Cigars Part 1 and Part 2. If you would like to visit Cuba and attend the Habanos Festival in February, contact OnCuba Travel for more details.

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2. Salsa Dancing

Traditional Cuban dances originated in the outskirts of the city with the son. This dance started as a cross-pollination between the African influence in Cuba and Caribbean vibes. Today, Cuba is not only known for its vibrant music, but also for hosting dance festivals, such as the annual Festival de La Salsa and the Habana Ballet Festival. Dancers, students, teachers, and in general, those who have a passion and a joy for dance attend to learn from Cuban dance experts.

For those of us who are not experts, but just enjoy shaking our bones occasionally, there is something for us too. Whether by visiting the Callejon de Hamel, attending a street festival, or watching Compás Dance Company, there are many reasons and zero excuses not to dance in Cuba. The rhythms are contagious, and the light breeze, plus maybe a daiquiri or two, makes for a fun foray in Havana. If you prefer just to sit back and enjoy a Vegas-style performance, you may also want to visit the famous Tropicana Cabaret or the Parisien Cabaret.

3. Mojitos & Daiquiris

Cuba is known as the birthplace of the famous Mojito and the Daiquiri. One of the famous quotes credited to acclaimed American author Ernest Hemingway is, “My mojito in La Bodeguita. My daiquiri in El Floridita.” These two rum-based drinks are popular across the globe and have special meaning in Cuba. La Bodeguita and El Floridita are both in Havana, Cuba, at a walking distance from each other. La Bodeguita is a tiny spot, full of memorabilia, vintage photos, and the names of some of its many visitors scribbled on its walls. The Floridita, on the other hand, has a long bar and a slightly larger than life statue of Ernest Hemingway at the end of the bar. It’s a great spot for fun pictures with Hemingway while sipping an authentic Cuban daiquiri.

Cuba is also known for being home to Havana Club Rum. The Rum Museum in Havana offers a memorable guided tour. Part of the tour covers the history of rum-making in Cuba, as well as a film documentary viewing with more interesting facts.

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4. Food

Rice and beans for you? Oh, but there is so much more than that. Cuban food has a fusion of Spanish, African, Caribbean, and other international flavors. Some of the most famous Cuban dishes are of course the Arroz con Moros (Rice and beans), lechón (Pork, especially if cooked inside a Caja China), yuquitas con mojo (By far, one of my favorites), and for dessert, the traditional flan with caramel sauce.

While on the island, the options for food and dessert are plenty. It’s helpful to know the difference between a restaurant and what Cubans know as the Paladar. A Paladar is a privately-owned restaurant, as opposed to a government-owned establishment. Some of my top choices in Havana are Doña Eutimia for traditional Cuban cuisine and El Cocinero for fusion cuisine.

El Cocinero is also a top recommendation due to its ambiance and décor. The Paladar has a beautiful rooftop in eclectic style. It is also located just around the corner from the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), a mixed-use space, club, and art gallery – all rolled up into a unique people-watching experience.

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5. Vintage Cars

Cuba is known for its famous vintage cars! Today many of these roam freely across the Cuban capital, driving visitors across the famous Malecón de La Habana. Agencies such as OnCuba Travel, offer panoramic tours in classic cars in Havana. This experience is a must when visiting Cuba. The vintage cars are a real car lover’s delight.

Even if you are not a car lover, seeing so many of these beautifully preserved cars is an experience on its own. During a visit, I made it a point to take as many pictures as possible of all the different models and colors I saw. My favorite was a two-door red car that looked like a Porsche. The vintage vehicles also photograph beautifully and will certainly be the focus of many clothing-coordinated pictures during a visit to Cuba.

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6. Nostalgic Architecture

Going to Havana is like stepping back in time. Many of the buildings in Havana still have a coat of their original paint, which gives the city charm and an air of nostalgia. When visiting Cuba, it’s essential to walk the sites and tour places of interest with a professional guide. Excursions such as Havana Highlights, are led by an expert guide. This type of package allows you to visit the top sites in Havana, such as the Morro-Cabaña Complex, El Cristo de La Habana, the Vedado district, Plaza de la Revolución, the Cristobal Colón Cemetery, and many other essentials.

If you count with a little more time and want to make a long weekend out of a visit, you can also explore the Cuba At A Glance itinerary. This 3-day/2-night all-inclusive program includes a tour of Old Havana, a farm-to-table dining experience, and even the chance for casual dancing at the Callejón de Hamel. The convenience of this type of program is that flights, transfers, and most meals are taken care of for the duration of the trip. The other plus is that this and other multi-day and multicity programs have been carefully curated by experts who ensure that all travelers experience Cuba like locals. Another added benefit is that the all-inclusive programs include a local guide to make sure that visitors see and understand every step in the itinerary.

Are you ready to visit Cuba?

Some of the requirements for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally include a visa/travel card, a valid passport, one of the 11 approved reasons for travel, and an itinerary that aligns with your chosen legal category for travel. Let a professional agency, such as OnCuba Travel, help simplify the process by gathering your documents and making the experience to travel to Cuba easy!

Solo Travel to Cuba or In a Group?

OnCuba Travel can not only help you select from its many curated itineraries, but they can also help you plan a custom trip to the island. You can also get some ideas from the blogs How to Plan a Custom Trip to Cuba, Planning a Support for the Cuban People Trip to Cuba, especially if this is your reason for travel, and Top 10 Things to Do in Havana. The travel

professionals at OnCuba can also help you select from your bucket list to prepare the ideal itinerary to meet your schedule, interests, and budget best.

What are you waiting for to visit Cuba?

Cuba is a unique destination with great things to see and experience. Cuban people are warm, helpful, and very hospitable. Start putting your ideas together today and speak to a travel expert to book your first or next trip to Cuba. If this is your first time visiting, don’t worry. The team at OnCuba will provide you with helpful tips to prepare for the trip. They will also make available educational materials about the destination that will help you know what to expect. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes if your trip involves a lot of walking and, of course, a sense of wonder. See you in Cuba!

Something to Love in Cuba This February

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! Do you know what you will be doing to celebrate? Maybe you are planning a romantic dinner or a special gift. Why not spend Valentine’s weekend exploring Cuba? Whether you are planning a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway or would like a few days to explore or see something new, there is something for everyone this February in Cuba!

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Cuba has no shortage of beautiful skies, enchanting views, romantic sunsets, and delightful cuisine. It is also an ideal place for dancing to the beat of salsa or contagious tumbadora drums. It is also perfect for getting lost, walking down the streets of beautiful Old Havana, and making memories that will last a lifetime. You may also want to check out the blog 10 Most Romantic Things to Do While in Cuba for more great ideas!

Something is always happening in Cuba, and February is no exception. Amongst the highlight events coming up next month are the Havana International Book Fair and the International Habanos Festival. These events usually draw visitors from all over the world to La Habana. In this blog, learn more about these essential annual festivals, as well as other activities you can explore with your loved ones or special someone in Cuba. There is something for everyone.

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Cuba for Book Lovers

If you and your main squeeze share a love for literature, you may want to visit the Feria Internacional del Libro de La Habana. Also known as the Havana International Book Fair, this event draws an international crowd to the Cuban capital every year. The festival welcomes vendors, publishers, international authors, and book lovers. Activities around the festival include art exhibits, children’s events, musical performances, and poetry readings, amongst others.

This year, the Havana International Book Fair will be taking place from February 6th – 16th, 2020. Literacy is of utmost importance to Cubans, and they take great pride in it. The festival had its beginnings in 1982. It was initially held every other year but has been an annual event since the year 2000. The fair has been drawing an international crowd ever since. It also one of the most well-attended events in Havana.

The hosting venue for the event is the Fortaleza de San Carlos de La Cabaña, also known as La Cabaña. This 18th-century fortress sits on the eastern side of the Havana harbor. It is also next to the Morro Castle, forming the Morro-Cabaña Complex. The Cabaña fort is also the grounds for the traditional Cañonazo or Cannon Ceremony. The ceremony is held nightly at the site. It involves a group of soldiers dressed in 18th-century garb who march inside La Cabaña with torches. Once at the top, bayside, the group fires a fake cannonball at 9 pm.

Back when the tradition started, the ceremony marked the closing of the city gates for the evening. The Morro-Cabaña Complex is one of my favorite places to explore in Havana. I enjoyed the drive towards it, as well as the daytime and evening views of the City of Havana. It was also interesting to learn how the city grew from the area around the harbor to the sides. Participating in an excursion with an agency, such as OnCuba Travel, has the advantage of getting to know the city with a knowledgeable guide. A guided tour is the best way to gain insights for every important landmark, such as the Morro-Cabaña Complex, as well as other historical facts.

You may also know that Cuba was near and dear to the famous American author, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s home in San Francisco de Paula, Finca Vijía, still stands today. Three of the author’s famous works, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and The Sea, and A Movable Feast, were said to have been written in this house. The estate has been turned into a museum and is open to the public. Although direct access to the home and tower interior is not available, many windows are open to peek into the life and world of the sometimes-eccentric author.

Many are the stories of skinny dipping in his pool, wild parties, and celebrity guests. Hemingway’s famous boat, Pilar, also sits in the back of the house today. Follow Hemingway’s steps by visiting the famous La Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana. Walk down Obispo Street to El Floridita, home of the daiquiri, and enjoy the Papa Hemingway Cocktail. Tour the town of Cojímar and enjoy a traditional Cuban lunch in the rustic Café Ajiaco. Follow in Hemingway’s footsteps and feel inspired.

Cuba is for Cigar Lovers

If cigars are your passion, join the thousands that visit Cuba every year to attend the Festival Internacional del Habano in Havana. This annual event is a gathering of visitors, connoisseurs, aficionados, exhibitors, and trade professionals. In addition to cigars, attendees can also expect to see humidors, expert cigar rollers, special tastings, pairings, and classes. Exhibits may also include market premiers during the festival, music performances, and special artifact exhibits. Other special events include behind the scenes tours of cigar factories and even guided visits to tobacco farms.

This year, the festival will be taking place from February 6th – 16th in Havana. You can visit the festival multiple days or choose an all-inclusive program like the Cigar & Rum Tour by OnCuba Travel. The tour includes roundtrip tickets Miami – Havana, accommodations in a hotel or private home, tickets for one day at the festival, visits to Viñales and Varadero, as well as stops in multiple Casa del Habano shops across the city. What better way to relax and enjoy the festival than when every detail is taken care of for you?

If you prefer to take a short excursion instead, you can also look up a Cuban rum, cigars, and art experience. Over this four-hour excursion, you will learn about the history of rum, tour an authentic cigar factory, and take a panoramic tour of modern Havana. You will also experience culture and art with a stop at the Kcho Gallery and a visit to the famous and colorful Callejón de Hamel. The Callejón, which translates to an alleyway, lights up with a diverse crowd dancing to the beat of live music. The setting is pure creativity and artistry. It goes from poetry on the walls to unusual art pieces in every nook and cranny.

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Cuba is for Art Lovers, Too!

Cuba’s art scene is thriving! With so much history and culture, Cuba is a fertile ground for talent and creativity. During a visit, you could meet established artists such as Michel Mirabal, discover up and coming artists in their studios, or visit art collectives. Take advantage of a unique opportunity to get to know artist Michel Mirabal while in Cuba. The artists open the doors to his home and his studio/gallery for an unforgettable experience. Michel’s warm, friendly, and welcoming personality will make you feel right at home. His compound sits on a hilltop with views to the beach. During the experience, Michel may play the drums, cook, entertain with his stories, or even create art during the visit! He is undoubtedly a genuinely multifaceted artist and a gifted human being.

If you would like to deepen your understanding of the Cuban art scene, you may also want to take a contemporary art tour of Havana. Experience up close the influences that make Cuban art come alive. Walk around the National Museum of Fine Arts and visit artists’ in their studios. Get a little closer to works by Kevin López Nieves, Mabel Poblet, Flora Fong, Jorge Otero, and Octavio Irving. Pedro Pablo Oliva, one of the most outstanding creators in the Cuban art scene for more than four decades, is also part of this contemporary tour. His work incorporates masterful technique, depth, surrealism, and whimsy.

If you would like to learn more about art programs on the island, you may also want to consider visiting the Muraleando Community Art Project. This program was created with the mission to teach children about art and music. As part of the project, artists also dedicate their time to teach children how to make art with the option to sell it. Learn more about this initiative, which is part of the Classic and Modern Art excursion in Havana.

Legal Travel to Cuba

U.S. citizens can still travel to Cuba under one of the 11 approved reasons for travel. One of the most popular reasons is Support for the Cuban People. In addition to that, travelers will also need a valid passport and a visa/tourist card. One crucial factor to consider is that travelers also need to have available an agenda with their plans during their stay. The schedule, accommodation information, and other details may be solicited at the airport as a requirement to enter the country.

OnCuba Travel Can Help

International travel can be a bit of a hassle for anyone! However, working with an experienced agency like OnCuba Travel can take a massive weight off your shoulders. Since their area of specialty is Cuba, their travel experts are well-versed in the latest updates regarding legal travel to Cuba. The agency can also help travelers select from many choices for accommodations. A variety of hotels and trusted private homes are available. The options range from 5-star hotels with white-glove service to simple, private rooms in a local family’s home. There are many options by location, group size, taste, and budget. The team can also support you and your party to book transfers and car rental services to and from the airport in Havana. The clock is ticking! Let your heart take you to Cuba this February.

Discovering Cuban Food in Cuba

Cubans enjoy the experience of cooking and sharing with others. It is ingrained in their culture that where two can eat, so can three. Food and cooking are at the center of a lot of their interactions, whether it is about spending time with family, friends, and even in more professional settings. Cuba is generous to share its cuisine with the world. It hosts various large-scale events throughout the year that range from workshops such as the Taller Culinario Cuba Sabe to festivals such as Culinaria.

Cuba is a bona fide destination for foodies and those who just want to learn how to make Cuban dishes in its authentic Cuban setting. Eateries abound in the Cuban capital of Havana. Across the various offerings, one can appreciate the blends of styles and influences that played a role in developing what is known today as Cuban Cuisine. In this blog, we will explore the origins of popular Cuban staples, what they are today, and how anyone can take part in the joys of learning more about Cuban Cuisine.

A Brief History of Food Arrivals in Cuba

Just as it is with culture, Cuba has Spanish, African, Taino, and Caribbean cuisine influences. Although Spanish and African were the biggest influences in Cuban, it also had influences from the Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, and French cuisine. We must remember that Havana was a trading port during the colonial era. Many immigrants passed through the island, starting with the discovery of Cuba in 1492. The largest groups were the Spanish, the African, and later the Chinese. All brought with them a variety of plants, animals, spices, cooking techniques, and more, which contributed to what is known as Cuban food today.

Early Cuban inhabitants were Taino natives. They had an organic style of living and sourced their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing. Their crops included maize, black beans, cassava, and yams. Upon the arrival of the Spanish, a vast majority succumbed to new diseases and forced labor. The Spanish brought with them their ingredients too. Citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges, arrived in Cuba during this time, as did Spanish rice. Amongst the animals to enter during colonial times were pigs and cattle. You will find that both sources are still palpably present across Cuban cuisine today!

African groups were then brought to Cuba as slaves to perform hard labor in mines and plantations. Although they were not able to bring much with them to Cuba, they did bring their ingenuity and cooking styles, using ingredients like okra, plantains, and cassava. After the abolishment of slavery during the late 1800s, there was an influx of Chinese laborers on the island. At the time, Chinese immigrants took on the work that was formerly done by African slaves. Amongst the elements brought by the Chinese were rice and soy sauce. Since then, rice has been a staple in Cuban cuisine.

Around the time of the Cuban revolution in the 1960s, Cubans changed the way they ate once again. Many chefs and restaurant owners also fled the island, giving way to more simple foods and methods of preparing them. As relationships grew closer with the Soviet Union, products like yogurt and wheat came into the Cuban diet, giving way to foods like pasta and pizza. The time during the Cold War also played a role in the availability of goods for Cubans, since they could not import from the U.S. It is the reason why today there is very little U.S. influence on Cuban food.

Popular Cuban Staples & Dishes

Cuba’s climate and soil have played a role in what we have come to know as the Cuban staples. Tropical fruits, such as pineapples, and root vegetables, such as yucca, boniato, and malanga, are widely used in the Cuban diet. Anyone who knows a real Cuban has likely heard that malanga – whether boiled, creamed, or mashed – helps relieve many ailments! Rice and bananas are other popular staples.

Combinations of root vegetables and fruits such as yucca, pumpkin, plantain, and boniato are sometimes called viandas and used together in soups and stews. The traditional Ajiaco Cubano has such a combination of viandas. This dish is said to have been around since before the Spanish arrived in Cuba. The combination of ingredients, including the viandas, have changed throughout history to what it is today — a hearty dish served with corn in a generous bowl.

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A ubiquitous dish for Cubans is Arroz congrí, also known as Moros y Cristianos. It consists of mixed black beans and rice. This dish is a combination of the rice that came from the Spanish and African cooking techniques. Congrí is often a side dish. Other popular sides include cut and fried plantains, plain white rice, and a simple salad with olive oil. One popular Cuban side dish, tostones, are made with plantains that are flattened and fried. Tostones resulted from the African influence in Cuba.

Chicken is a popular base for many Cuban dishes. One typical chicken-based dish in Cuba for gatherings is Arroz con Pollo. Most families have their way of making this creamy chicken and rice dish. The essential ingredients are chicken thighs, peas, and red peppers, with salt, garlic, and pepper to taste. The chicken comes out very tender. The dish often gets its yellow coloring from an annatto-based food powder. Do not ask me why, but I tend to add ketchup to mine! The well-known Fricasé de Pollo is popular too. The ingredients may vary from place to place, but the essential checklist for the Fricasé includes chicken, potatoes, tomato puré, white wine, oil, and other spices to taste.

Another prevalent dish in Cuban cuisine is the traditional Ropa Vieja, which translates to old clothes. This dish combines shredded beef and a sauce consisting of natural meat juices, onions, and garlic. Another famous meat-based dish is Picadillo. It often consists of ground meat with olives, peppers, and raisins. Note that all recipes may vary by the cook or chef, who tends to add their flavor to every recipe.

Some of you may have also heard about the famous Caja China, which translates to the Chinese Box. This style of cooking inside a box was influenced by the Chinese, as they used to cook inside wooden boxes. Cubans then adopted the Caja China. It is still widely used today to cook pork, as it leaves the skin crispy and the meat tender.

Although Cuban food does not generally employ a lot of spices or spicy condiments, Cubans do enjoy their sauces and bases, such as the sofrito. It consists of chopped peppers, onions, and tomatoes, or tomato paste, all lightly fried in olive oil. Cubans also make a sauce called Mojo. Mojo (p. moho) is a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Sometimes the garlic is lightly fried first. The sauce is poured over root vegetables like boiled yucca or to dip fried yuca bits. To learn more about traditional Cuban dishes, visit the Essential Guide to Eat Food Like a Cuban.

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Cooking Classes in Cuba

If you would like to learn how to make a Cuban Mojito and Ajiaco, there is a great excursion you can take! Out in the fishing town of Cojímar, in the outskirts of Havana, rests Café Ajiaco. It is a rustic place, with wooden chairs and ceilings, clay bowls, and authentic Cuban flavor. The staff at this establishment is very attentive and welcoming. During a visit to Café Ajiaco, travelers can put on their aprons and learn how to make authentic dishes such as Ajiaco Cubano, Ropa Vieja, Enchilado de Langosta y Camarones, Black Beans, and White Rice. This chef guided cooking exploration will also leave participants with a background of Cuban Cuisine, ingredients used, and how food became such an essential part of the Cuban culture.

The experience also includes a welcome beverage and a demonstration on how to prepare a Mojito Ajiaco, the house signature drink. This traditional Cuban cocktail combines the right amounts of honey, aged rum, mint, and soda water. It is then garnished with ají chai. Participants also receive an apron as a souvenir to remember the experience.

If your main goal is to sample delicious cuisine in Cuba, you can also try a Farm-to-table experience. A restaurant paladar called Mediterráneo Habana was the first to introduce the farm-to-table experience in Havana. This style of cooking fosters to use of organic and locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant’s ambiance resembles an al-fresco dining experience. The menu excels in flavorful meats and cheeses, delicious sauces, and superb desserts. To learn more about culinary adventures in Cuba, contact the knowledgeable team at OnCuba Travel to find the right gastronomic match for your palate.

Preparing A Custom Trip to Cuba

Cooking is just one of many exciting activities you can do while visiting Cuba and an often-overlooked one! Cuban food is very flavorful. If you would like to learn more about how to plan a custom trip to Cuba around your interests, contact the knowledgeable team at OnCuba Travel. They can assist you with planning and agenda full of activities like Havana vintage car tours across Old Havana and the historic Malecón de la Habana.

Another daylong or half-day excursion could be about discovering Havana Highlights. Over 3.5 hours, you could explore el Cristo de la Habana and its scenic hilltop views, the historic Cementerio de Cristobal Colón in Havana and its famous marble sculptures, tour the landmark Malecón, view the city and the bay from the Tres Reyes del Morro Castle, and more. Travelers may also enjoy visiting the best of Cuban rum, cigars, and art with a carefully curated 4-hour excursion. There is something for everyone.

The knowledgeable team at OnCuba Travel can help you select the best itinerary for your schedule and budget. They can also help you plan legal travel from the U.S. and Cuba. The team can facilitate getting your visa to travel to Cuba, selecting your reason for travel, booking roundtrip flights to Cuba from Miami and other cities, renting a car for pickup at the airport in Havana, and so much more. OnCuba Travel also takes great care in educating travelers before a trip with informational materials based on their selected excursions or all-inclusive programs in Cuba. They go the distance to give travelers exceptional customer service and enjoyable overall travel experience. Learn more about OnCuba Travel to start planning your first or next trip to Cuba.