Traveller's Information

Travel Advisory

Helpful Tips CAJM Provides our Mission Participants

Jewish Organizations and Synagogues in Cuba

 What You Might Want to Carry to the Jewish

Researching a Trip to Cuba

Havana Communal Life

Travelers' Frequently Asked Questions

Changing Money in Havana


Eating in Havana

The CAJM Restaurant List for Havana, Cuba

Car Rental List

Public transportation into and out of Havana 

Reading list for Travelers to Cuba



Carrying Humanitarian Aids: If you are traveling to Cuba soon, read this message from Dra. Rosa Behar, director of the Jewish Community Pharmacy: We need several medicines for the Community Pharmacy; they are spray for asthma such as Ventolin or Albuterol, Ibuprofen, medicated powder for babies, ulcer prevention medicines such as Ranitidine, Prilosec or Omeprazole, antacids, multi-vitamins (especially pediatric) and vitamin E, 400 mg. Please see what you can do. Thanks very much for your help. 
Mailing advice from Bernie Siebert
If you ever write to Cuba, make sure that the zip code is written BEFORE "CUBA" 'cause our USPS machines will send it to an American zip area.
Documents: Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. You should also carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel.

Travel Advisory

The U.S. government is tightening the restrictions on travelers to Cuba.  The minimum fine is now $7500 and your name will be added to the government database that can be accessed whenever you travel abroad so that you can be scrutinized more carefully when you reenter the U.S. 

We understand that the Canadian government is cooperating with the U.S. government by turning over passenger manifests with final destinations of every American traveling out of Cuba.  This allows the government to take action by placing a fine on the illegal traveler to Cuba without physical detention upon the traveler’s return.  The fine probably would not be leveled for several months as it takes time to process the records. 

This information reinforces the need to travel with a legally licensed organization and only for the purposes approved by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control. 

The CAJM license allows for travel to visit the Jewish community for the purposes of supporting the religious endeavors of this community and to provide religious and humanitarian aid for members of the community. 

Please email if you have any question



Researching a Trip to Cuba


If you are researching a trip to Cuba ...

If you're thinking of traveling to  Cuba, here's some information that you might find useful

1. There are many Internet sites that offer information on travel to Cuba. For general   background and links , go to the internet and ask for Cuba and your special interest.

2.  Cuba maintains an extensive network of promotion offices overseas (but not in the U.S.) that provide brochures and information.

3. You can contact the Cuban Tourist Board  in Toronto at 416-362-0700, or in Mexico City at 52-5-574-9454.

4. The Cuban government's Havanatur travel agency office in Nassau can be contacted at:
(242) 394-7195.

5. The US Department of the Treasury regulates all Cuba travel. Please visit their official web page to find information about the categories under which you may travel to Cuba.

6. To apply for a license for U.S.-government approved travel to Cuba contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control, 202-622-2480.



Changing Money in Havana

Most tourists hotels in Cuba either have a location for changing money or will do it at the front desk

Tels: 33-3423, 33-3424.
Assists tourists with wire transfers from abroad for a fee.

Banco Financiero Internacional
Linea esq O, Vedado. Open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm; last day of month until noon.
Provides dollar transactions, credit card withdrawals and exchange services.

Banco Financiero Internacional
Habana Libre branch. Open daily 9am-7pm.

Banco Internacional de Comercio
Ayestaran esq Paseo, Plaza de la Revolución. Open 8:30am-2pm.

Exchange Bureau
Hotel Nacional. Open 8am-noon and 12:30-7:30pm.

Money can now be sent over the Internet by using a credit card and paying around 20 percent surcharge:



Helpful Tips CAJM Provides our Mission Participants

General Information

When using a digital in the Patronato social hall, it is necessary to change your setting for the flourescent lights which are there.

Buy bottled water -DO NOT DRINK FROM THE TAP. Bottled water is available in the stores in each hotel and in markets.

Clothing - Carry a light jacket for evenings. Men seldom, if ever, need a sport jacket as dressing is very casual.

Neither men nor women are often seen on the streets of Havana in shorts except during the heat of summer, but shorts are common in other areas all year.

Air conditioning can be a problem. Anyone who is affected should carry a light jacket and/or cotton sweater.

Women do wear pants to synagogue in Cuba. They can also wear talit and kippah in the Askenazi synagogue in Havana (Gran Synagogo Beth Shalom - commonly known as the Patronato) . Women can comfortably wear talit and kippah in congregations in the countryside and at the Sephardic synagogue in Havana.

Be prepared for occasional rain in the winter and lots in the summer and early fall.

General Health

HATS, SUNGLASSES, SUNSCREEN, MOSQUITO REPELLENT are all necessities for your comfort.

Medicine -- Carry a broad spectrum antibiotic if you will be in Cuba more than a week. In this way you will have good medicine if a doctor prescribes an antibiotic and there happens to be a shortage in Cuba at that point.

Major point - always carry toilet paper since many public toilets are not supplied. Also, it is wise to carry some kind of handcleaning supply like moist towlettes or the new liquids that require no rinsing.

Visiting the Jewish Cemetery

If you visit the cemetery, take along lots of drinking water. There are few shade trees and no potable water to drink. A personal umbrella will provide more shade than a hat.
For handwashing when leaving the Ashkenazi cemetery in Havana, there is a faucet to your left to the side of the Tahara building at the entrance. There is a faucet on the corner of the building in the Sefaradic Cemetery, closest to the gate.
Cemeteries in the provinces are usually locked so it is good to call the local synagogue president first.

Physical Fitness

Swimming is good all times of year. Most of the hotels will have pools. Bring bath towels for the beach that you can give to a new friend before you return to your home.

Very few hotels have physical fitness centers. Sometimes, you can rent a bike. Walking is the best exercise and allows you to see the cities.

How to access the web and send email from Havana

There are many places where one can send email and access the web.

Many private individuals have acquired email in the past year but few have access to the web. You will probably have to go to a public site that caters to tourists. Most tourist hotels are internet accessible. Here are some popular locations because they have more than one station:

Hotel Nacional in Vedado: About $8/hour
The Capitolio in Old Havana: About $6 /hour. Downstairs.
Colombus Connectividad, Calle 20 e/ 7ma. y 9na. #711, Mirimar, Havana
Biomundi center, c. 200 e/ 19 y 21, Atabey, Havana, About $6/hour
Parque Central About $9/hour
Habana Libre About $9/hour

There are also several cybercafes around Havana and in the provinces.


Where do I change my dollars into pesos?

You can change dollars into pesos at CADECA (Casa de Cambio / Exchange House), at some banks, and at hotel front desks. Don't change with people in the street, it's not legal. Lately the exchange rate has been stable at 1 dollar = 25 pesos. Dollars cannot be used anymore for purchasing items in Cuba.  You must change money. When changing money, you will be given tourist convertible pesos rather than the national peso.  It is traded at one CUC for each dollar.  However, there is a 20% surcharge.  If you change other national currencies to CUC, you will be charged 8 to 10% surcharge.   Tourists changing pesos back to dollars do so at 1 to1.

I've heard there are two different kind of pesos. Is this true?

There is a little confusion regarding currencies in Cuba. There are two currencies in Cuba now: 
Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) - 1 ccp = 1 usd 
Domestic Cuban Peso (CUP) - 25 cup = 1 usd

The CUC is the equivalent of 80% of an American dollar. The Domestic Cuban Peso (CUP) is used by the population to buy all goods and pay all services. It s also used by the government owned companies. When you visit an exchange house with dollars (usd) you leave with pesos (cup). You can use pesos (cup) to buy in the farmers' market, or pay public transportation. Most of the tourists don't use pesos, just CUCs. But certain type of tourists enjoy buying in the farmers' marker, or taking buses instead of taxis, and they'll need pesos. You can use pesos also to buy books. 90% of goods in Cuba can be obtained with tourist pesos.

How much money should I anticipate spending each day, for everything?

If you are staying at a "tourist hotel" about $200 per day should be enough. If you are the type traveling with a backpack, staying in private houses, and buying food in pesos, from $30 to $50 depending on where you are. (Cities are more expensive.) Buying a package tour will of course reduce the amount of cash needed daily. Carrying traveler's checks is better than carrying cash, but have enough cash for meals and taxis. You may cash travelers checks drawn on U.S. banks at most banks or hotel front desks.

Can I use my credit card?

If you are a citizen of the U.S. you cannot use your credit card(s) in Cuba. Only non-U.S. credit cards are accepted. Banks and hotels accept Travelers Checks from all countries.  It doesn't matter what your citizenship is for using credit cards in Cuba. Some people have bank accounts in England, Mexico, Canada, Israel, etc. Even if they are U.S. citizens, they can use these cards.  However, there are very few establishments that accept credit cards.  

Where can I use my non-U.S. credit card?

Mostly any bank and stores in shopping malls in major cities will accept non-U.S. credit cards.

Where can I cash my travelers checks?

Banks and hotels. Banks are less friendly, but you'll pay less.

Where can I cash my American Express travelers checks which are from a United States bank?

There are many banks which will cash these checks.  One is at the Hotel Nacional on the mezzanine.   There are also many hotels which will cash AmEx checks from a United States bank.

Airport Taxes  

Airport Exit Tax : Miami to Havana $60. Havana to Miami or Cancun $30.

Airport overweight charges are $2.00 a pound from the USA, $2.00 a kilo from Cancun, and $2 a pound from Havana.

Health Insurance - medical and emergency medical evacuation is available for about $5.00 a day from charter company agents in the U.S.. Medical care is provided in every tourist hotel and there is an excellent hospital for foreigners in Havana. There are clinics and hospitals all over the island.

Cigars - The U.S. government is currently forbidding travelers to bring back cigars. For those traveling from Cuba to their homes in other countries, the Cuban government requires that you have a receipt when you exit the county to show that you purchased them legally. Cigars are of dubious quality when bought from private individuals on the street. They are often old and dry.
Authorized factories are your best bet. You can count on the quality. When you leave the country, the Cuban government might ask you for your cigar purchase receipt. If you do not have one, your cigars might be confiscated.

Cell Phones

We do not recommend that you take your own cell phone to Cuba. It's expensive to activate them. In recent times, most hotels have the ability to set you up with Cubacell. You sign a contract and you might have to put a deposit. Then you are billed by the minutes that you spend. The minute rates change so we can't quote you a price but in 2004 it cost 60 cents a minute within Cuba and $3 a minute to the U.S. Calling cards for regular phones cost $2 a minute but card phones are sometimes difficult to find. Calling from your room in most hotels is very expensive.




What You Might Want to Carry to the Jewish Community
A List of Current needs for 2009

Address packages and deliver medicines to Dra. Rosa Behar

The Patronato Pharmacy
El Patronato
Calle I  #259
Vedado, La Habana

phone  (53)-7-832-8953 
Aciclovir (tablets)
Amlodipine tablets (Norvasc)
Amoxillina (aumentin)
Analgesic cream for arthritis pain
Anti-acne for teenagers
Antibiotic cream and for children
Antihistaminics (Zyrtec, Lovatidina, Claritin)
Antimicotics in cream
Artrotec (diclofenaco)
Aspirins 81mgs
Azytromicina (Zitromax for children and adults)
Captopril tablets
Desitin- cream
Diltiazen - tablets
Enalapril tablets
Feasol (iron in tablets)
Glucometer, strips – One touch advance
Ibuprofen (in syrup for children)
Jeringes (5cc, 3cc, 23 ½ IM) with needles
Metmorfina tablets (glucophage)
Small Ziploc bags (to deliver the medicines to the people)
Spray for the Asthma (highly needed): Salbutamol, Albuterol, Ventolin, Flovent, Serevent.
Nasal Spray
Suprax (Cefaiosporina)
Tylenol (in syrup for children)
Vitamin A
Vitamin C -pediatric drops
Multi-Vitamins for adults
Vitamins for children both solid and in drops
Medical Equipment Additional items
Nebulizers for chronic asthma
Blood pressure meters
Walking sticks-cane
Neck corset for cervical orthopedic problems
Adult pampers


Pediatric analgesics and vitamins, calcium supplements, ulcer medicines such as Tagamet, Zantac, Axid, Cardiac medicines, Antihypertensives, Asthma medications and inhalers, decongestants, cold remedies, antihistamines particularly Hismanal, Seldane, and Claritin, antibiotics especially cephalosporins, and Quinalones, Antifungal agents both oral and ointments (Nizoral, Diflucan, Micatin, Lotrimin), Pepto-Bismol, Advil, any unexpired Rx medications from a physician.

Dental supplies - especially materials to fill cavities
Candles - smaller sizes
Stationery, envelopes, glue Magic mending tape.
Tee shirts
Jewish decorations for the home
Pretty nighties for the girls and children
Shoes in very good shape - sandals, tennis shoes, dress shoes for little children
Basic cosmetics and toiletries for the ladies - creams, cleansers, soap, lipstick
Dried fruits and nuts
Dishtowels, bath towels, and sheets
Shampoo and rinse
Cloth shopping bags for going to the market.
Music CDs
Candy, Power Bars, Gum
Ziploc bags
Battery operated lights of all sizes plus batteries, mostly needed  outside of Havana

You are permitted to carry canned meats and fish, but you can also buy these items and other canned foods in Dollar stores - stores that require dollars for shopping.



Havana Communal Life

The Askenazi Conservative synagogue in Havana is located at the Patronato in the Vedado neighborhood. It is a combination community center and synagogue. Adela Dworin is the president and William Miller is Vice President. There is also the community library with its wonderful collection of rare Yiddish books, among others..

Services at the Patronato on Erev Shabbat occur between 6 and 6:30PM most of the year. They are followed by dinner in the social hall. All are welcome to stay for dinner if arrangements are made in advance. Shabbat morning services begin about 10AM and last to noon. They are followed by a nice lunch with socialization and often an organization meeting like the Women's group or the Simja group (55+). The Youth Group (14-30 yrs.) often gathers in the Social Hall on Shabbat afternoon or Saturday evening. For those who want to study before Shabbat, there is a course taught the last hour before service, sometimes. Call the Patronato for information. Phone number: 832-8953.
The Orthodox Synagogue, Adath Israel has services every morning and evening plus Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat. Call for times Food is served before or after every service.. Phone: 861-3495. There are English speakers in the office

The Central Sefaradi Synagoue holds Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning services from 9:30 or 10AM to about noon followed by a nice meal and social hour. phone number: 832-6623. Dra. Mayra Levy is president and speaks English.



Can I get kosher food in Cuba? (Let's deal with the most important question first.)

No. You can travel kosher-style or bring canned foods. If kosher-style, always check to make sure the beans are cooked vegetarian style. Be careful about soups and all other side dishes since Cubans like to use pork in just about everything.

Can I eat dinner at the synagogues on Shabbat?

Depending on the synagogue, and the time of the year, you can find from a snack to full dinner. You will always be welcome to join the community dinner. Contact them in advance, however.



Eating in Havana.


All meals are not included in our mission programs.  Therefore, we always give a short list of restaurants to our participants.  Since other groups also do not provide every meal, many people request recommendations.  Thus, we are providing our current list.  If you have a bad experience in any of these restaurants, please inform us, and if you discover other places that serve tasty food, please inform us of that also.


The CAJM Restaurant List for Havana, Cuba

If there are stars after the name, we at CAJM have had personal positive experiences at that restaurant.


El Jinete
Infanta y 25, Vedado

Puerto Isabela
17 e/ B y C, Vedado

El Palio (italian food) 
calle 24 y 1a ave, Miramar

Doña Julia
Ave Koly e/ 32 y 30, Nuevo Vedado

Doña Carmela*****
Comunidad No.1 Casa 10
El Morro. La Cabaña., Habana del Este
Excellent fish
El Guajirito****
Zulueta No. 658 e Gloria y Apodaca.
Habana Vieja

La Cocina de Lilliam - best yet - ***** 
48 # 1311 e/ 13 y 15, Playa, Havana

El Ajibe, Restaurant **  
Miramar. Specializes in chicken

Vista al Mar (VISTAMAR) OK
e/22 y 24, Miramar




El Rintintin
Simon Bolivar #553
e/ Juan M. Marquez y Rita Montelier Tel:  3462
(lunch was excellent and this place also includes very nice private bedrooms)

Car Rental List
Transtur Rent a Car
Calle 1ra. No. 2602 e/ 26 y 28, Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 204-5532
Fax: (53 7) 204-4762

Transtur Rent a Car 
Calle Cuba No. 60, 9no. Piso. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 861-6788 · 862-2459 · 862-1744
Fax: (53 7) 861-5885

Calle 1ra. No. 16401 esq. a 164, Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 33-2277 · 33-7233 · 33-1157
Fax: (53 7) 33-0760

Gran Car
Vía Blanca y Palatino. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 33-5647
Fax: (53 7) 57-7338

Calle 1ra. esq. a 0, Edificio Sierra Maestra, Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 203-9658 · 203-9815
Fax: (53 7) 204-0648




Calle Línea y Malecón, Vedado. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 55-3298
Fax: (53 7) 55-5657

Rex (Alquiler de Autos & Servicio de Limousine)
Ave. Rancho Boyeros y Calzada de Bejucal. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 33-9160
Fax: (53 7) 33-9159

Vía Rent a Car
Calle 47 No. 508 e/ 34 y 41. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 204-4445
 Fax: (53 7) 204-4445

Ave. 1ra. y Paseo, Vedado. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 55-3535
Fax: (53 7) 55-3779

Calle 110 e/ 3ra. y 5ta., Miramar. Ciudad de La Habana
Telephones: (53 7) 204-3457 · 204-2444 · 204-5555 · 204-8349
Fax: (53 7) 204-2444


Public transportation into and out of Havana
Airport  José Martí, 18 km from Havana. Turistaxi to airport, US$25-30 depending on time of day or night and destination.  

Panataxi are US $20 to $25 CUC. The Cubatur desk will book a taxi for you from the airport but any porter will help you. The return journey in a private taxi could cost as little as US$20. Panataxi seems to be the cheapest legal taxi.

City buses run from Terminal 4 (Air Cubana terminal) to town, ask around. To the airport from town, M2 buses leave from Parque Fraternidad, but are always full, long queues, difficult with luggage.


Long distance buses:  Terminal de Omnibus Interprovinciales, Av Rancho Boyeros (Independencia). See Information for travellers for advance booking addresses. Also Víazul, from Av 26 entre Av Zoológico y Ulloa, Nuevo Vedado, T 811413, 811108, 815652, F 666092, buses or minibuses usually every other day to Varadero, Trinidad, Viñales via Pinar del Río (and Varadero-Trinidad).

Hiring a car is not recommended for getting around Havana City, roads are badly signed and there have been many accidents with tourists driving rental cars  Driving in the provinces takes great care but is reasonable to consider.  



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