Cuba tops many world travelers bucket lists, being a nation that captured the world’s imagination, with a unique mix of tropical beauty, wonderful salsa rhythms and ever-flowing rum. Also, Cuba has amazing warm and friendly people, always ready to host you and your traveling buddies for the best Cuban experience.
However, if you want to make sure your experience here is well worth it, there are a couple of places you should try and stay away from. Cuba is not a dangerous country, but for the well-being of your trip, we created a list with the top areas you should avoid during your stay in Cuba.
The Varadero peninsula stretches into the Caribbean at the northernmost point of Cuba, and it is about 2 hours east from Havana. This area has an interesting history, but its activity is mostly unethical regarding tourism. This area was created once the American mafia wanted to build a stretch of casinos from the peninsula all the way to Havana, naming it Casino Coast.
However, when Castro took control, he kicked the American mafia out. But all the casinos and beach resorts stayed, and they are still spoiling the beautiful scenery and the beaches. Usually, at these beach resorts, you find a lot of unwelcome tourists, which keep people away by constantly guarding the beaches and denying access.
There is even a gate at the start of the peninsula to stop any Cubans from entering. Therefore, we do not recommend you to visit this area.
In Cuba, as in any other place, it is better if you try to avoid visiting marginal or poor neighborhoods. Some areas are more dangerous than others, some are even outside the law where a tourist might be an easy target for muggers.
You should be very careful if you visit Havana because it is more dangerous compared to other cities. Neighborhoods such as Centro Habana, Marianao and Guanabacoa have more of a bad reputation than others, so if you find yourself interested in visiting them, you should at least visit them alongside a local friend, someone you really trust.
This is an area where spontaneous fights might erupt, but usually between locals. There are a lot of bars around this area, so alcohol has a lot to do with the incidents too. Don’t worry, if you stay away from these areas, especially at night, you won’t have any unpleasant experiences.
Orange Casa Particulares
Across the country, there is a national network of “staying in” locations which are called “Casa Particulares.” Foreigners and travelers are only allowed to stay in blue Casas Particulares because the orange ones are for locals. Both the traveler and the owner can get in big trouble if visitors choose to stay in a orange one.
You should also avoid over-crowded places or very noisy/loud bars. Cubans are mostly friendly and nice, but there are cases when they can act sketchy. Don’t flaunt your wealth, don’t wear showy jewelry and don’t carry with you a lot of cash because that will increase the chance of you getting mugged. Avoid drinking tap-water or brushing your teeth with it, because it most probably could make you sick.
Always be aware of your surroundings and try to befriend some locals to have a couple of trustworthy people that can show you the true and hidden beauties of Cuba. Even so, you should be careful who you trust, because there are people who will try to scam you into buying questionable looking items such as cigars, decorative objects, alcohol, etc for unusual high prices.