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Havana has long been a city that has bewitched and bewildered travellers. Havana is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world while Cuba remains one of the best countries to see on your travels. If you are looking to make the most of your time in Havana, Cuba, here is your essential guide.

Budget and money
One of the first things you need to learn about Havana and Cuba is the fact that there are two separate currencies, the CUC and the CUP.

•    CUC is the Cuban Convertible Peso and it is pegged to the US$
•    CUP is the Cuban National Peso and offers around 25 CUP for every US$

These are two different currencies and are used in different ways. The CUC is the currency that you will use for most of your expenditure, including your accommodation, any transport you arrange and main meals in restaurants. The CUP is for smaller purchases and is commonly associated with purchases from street vendors, local buses and markets. You’ll find that having a mixture of both currencies will make your life a lot easier.

Some people believe that the CUC is aimed at making more money from tourists but this isn’t the case and locals have to pay in both currencies in the same way that travellers do. The real difference comes with visits to museums and historical locations, where tourists are charged in CUC and local residents are charged in CUP.

Before you arrive in Havana, or Cuba, you need to make sure that you have a tourist card. It is similar in context to a visa but it is not included on your passport, it is provided on a separate piece of paper.  On arrive in Havana, the card will be stamped and you will receive half of the card back and you must present the card when you leave Cuba.

Havana Airport is a relatively short drive away from the city centre. While the average travel time between the city and airport is around 30 to 40 minutes, the journey can take anything between 20 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic on the road. Be prepared to wait for a while at immigration and security at Havana Airport.

Exploring Havana
There are three key areas to enjoy and explore in downtown Havana:
•    Havana Vieja
•    Vedado
•    Central Havana

Havana Vieja is found to the east of the city and it is a major tourist attraction. This is because there is a great selection of bars and restaurants but there are also many stylish historic buildings that have been restored to their former glory.

Vedado is found to the west of the city and is considered to be the most modern area in Havana. This plays host to the financial and business sector and is well known for its nightlife. There are many fantastic hotels in the part of Havana but there is also a lot of live music on offer and a great range of restaurants.

Central Havana lies in between the other two main points and is considered to be the base for local people. If you are looking to make the most of your time in Havana, choosing a centrally located base will ensure you are in walking distance to much of what the city has to offer.
Other areas that are worth exploring in Havana include The Malecon, which is the seafront promenade, which actually stretches out for 8km.

Dining in Cuba
While some people believe that Cuba isn’t the best country for dining, there is a range of stunning dishes on offer in the various restaurants in Havana. You may also get the chance to experience some of the most highly dishes in Havana, Cuba which are:
•    Enchilado de la Casa
•    Ropa Vieja
•    Filete de Pescado

If you are looking for affordable places to dine in Havana, restaurants like Paladar Dona Eutimia, Bar Cafeteria Lluvia de Oro or Sloppy Joe’s Bar are all sensible options.

You will also find a broad selection of food on offer from the peso shops which will help extend your budget while ensuring you have enough sustenance to make the most of your time in Havana. You’ll find sandwiches, pizza and fresh juice drinks on offer at these venues which should all be available at a very affordable price.

With more than 900 buildings in Havana being classed as being of historical importance, there is no shortage of great tourist attractions to enjoy during your time in the city. If you are looking to create a shortlist of must-see sights, be sure to include El Capitilio Building and Museo de la Revolucion, which is the Museum of the Revolution, which offers fantastic insight into the turbulent history of Cuba and Havana.

There are some stylish squares on offer in Havana, with the Plaza de Armas being the oldest square in the city while the Plaza Vieja is well worth visiting too.

If you want to enjoy the lively side of Havana, visiting the Malecon in the evening when the local residents come out is a must-see. With live music on offer, the atmosphere is crackling with excitement and should ensure you have a brilliant time. Aside from this, some of the best tips for making the most of your time in Havana involve taking a cyclo-taxi or coco-taxi, enjoying a mojito and making sure that you talk to local people about their life. Also, if you have ever tried salsa dancing, or wanted to try salsa dancing, there is no better place to enjoy yourself or learn than by salsa dancing in Havana.

For more information or to start planning your holiday to Cuba, please call us on +44 1491 833227 or visit www.fullcircletravel.co.uk