10 Essential Apps for Cuba Travel (in 2023)
The most experienced travelers know that technology has made every detail of travel easier than ever… and they have their arsenal of travel apps ready to prove it.
However, since using the internet in Cuba can be a bit more challenging than you may be used to, there are plenty of Cuba apps that are specific to the island. Plus, you’ll want to download apps for Cuba that have special offline functionality to help you get around. These will help you navigate travel without relying on the internet as much as you’re used to.
Keep reading for our most-used, can’t-live-without travel apps for Cuba to prepare for your trip. Plus, check out why it is essential to download these apps BEFORE you land in Cuba!
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What Apps Work in Cuba?
You shouldn’t have any trouble using the apps that you already have downloaded once you’re in Cuba – but you may have trouble downloading apps once you’re in Cuba. This is due to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, forbidding U.S. companies from doing business in Cuba – like digital app stores, in this case.
Don’t worry, there is a way around this! Sign up for a VPN (Virtual Private Network) before your trip – I recommend NordVPN as a long-time user – and you will be able to completely avoid issues with blocked websites or app downloads.
A VPN allows you to use an internet server in another country, protecting your information from hackers and skirting limitations places on internet users in countries like Cuba. Choose a server in the United States (or dozens of other countries) and you’ll be able to use the internet as if you were there.
If you’re going to forgo signing up for a VPN before leaving for Cuba, we strongly recommend downloading the apps for Cuba travel you think you may need before arriving in Cuba, just in case. Even if you don’t end up needing them, you’re better off having them at your fingertips in case you want them!
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10 Essential Apps for Cuba
Whether you’re planning on traveling to Cuba for two days or two months, these ten essential apps for Cuba will help you travel better. They’ll also help you save money in the process!
My number one Cuba app is always NordVPN – this virtual private network will allow you to easily avoid all the internet issues you may face in Cuba when it comes to accessing different websites, using and downloading apps, and more.
NordVPN is a VPN service that encrypts your data and protects it from hackers while you’re using public wifi networks – the only wifi you’ll use in Cuba.
You can set your browsing location to the United States, Australia, or dozens of other countries where NordVPN has servers and use the internet exactly as you would at home.
Even for those that aren’t technology savvy, it’s super easy to use – download the app on your phone, log in, and turn on the VPN. That’s it! One VPN covers up to six devices connected to the internet at once.
Plus, using a VPN will allow you to access Netflix libraries and other streaming libraries available in other countries and help you find cheaper flights.
Sube is the Cuban equivalent of an Uber or Lyft ridesharing app, and an absolute must-have app to help you get around during your trip to Cuba.
While there are plenty of methods of public transportation in Cuba, including private taxis, shared taxis, and two different classes of buses, it can still be challenging to navigate the transportation system here. Using Sube is the best way to guarantee you’ll get to your destination as easily as possible.
You can even arrange for a taxi to or from the airport ahead of time – from the United States before you depart or from within Cuba.
You’ll need to be in a place where you can access the internet to use the app, like your hotel or rental apartment, but it’s just as easy to navigate as any rideshare app you may be used to using.
If you’re planning on visiting Havana when you’re in Cuba, you have to make sure to download HabanaTrans! This incredible app for Cuba will help you navigate the city via public transportation and is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to demystifying Havana’s bus system.
HabanaTrans lays out all the bus routes and stops along the way, and is also a great way to check a map of the city offline, even if you don’t plan on taking the bus.
I also keep HabanaTrans open when taking a shared taxi to know where I am along the route.
This Cuba app not only helps navigate the inexpensive public buses, but also helps you find the routes for the slightly nicer “ruteros,” which are coach-style buses with AC and guaranteed seats.
If you’re still looking for tickets to Cuba, you should be using Skyscanner to do it. If you don’t have this app on your phone or the page bookmarked on your computer, you’re missing out!
Skyscanner is consistently the cheapest flight booking platform I’ve found on the internet, and its added features make it unbeatable, especially if you’re considering multiple dates or potential destinations.
Use the Everywhere Search Feature to search for the cheapest flights from your city to anywhere for a spontaneous trip. You can also subscribe to flight alerts so you can take advantage of sudden price drops to your bucket list destinations.
This offline mapping app is always on my phone, wherever I’m traveling – I downloaded it years ago while traveling through South America and it hasn’t failed me yet. Maps.me is the perfect app to help you navigate the streets of Havana or the hiking trails in Viñales while offline, which is a lifesaver in Cuba.
Maps.Me works by downloading maps to your phone before taking them offline, so make sure you download the Cuba maps on the app before you depart for your trip and you’ll be ready to go.
Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from World Nomads or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.
6. Google Translate
You know it, and you (probably) love it, but Google Translate is a must when traveling to a country where you don’t dominate the language.
Google Translate is getting better and better every day, and now you can even get translations of images, which will come in handy with everything from reading restaurant menus to touring museum exhibits.
Even if you have a decent conversational ability in Spanish, the Cuban accent is notoriously strong, and includes a lot of slang that is specific to Cuba. Download the app before you head to Cuba to help grow your Spanish vocabulary along the way.
AlaMesa is one of my favorite Cuba apps, and a top recommendation for your trip! AlaMesa is like Cuba’s version of Yelp, sharing by far the most complete listing of restaurants and bars in Cuba.
On the app, you’ll find tons and tons of offerings – last time I checked, there were over 600 restaurants, cafes, and bars listed in Havana alone – including places that cater to locals and to tourists.
The AlaMesa website is getting better and better every day as restaurants add profiles, menus, and photos and it now has thousands of listings in cities and towns across Cuba. It’s a lifesaver when it comes to finding a quick place to eat, and places that are a bit off the beaten path.
What to Pack for Cuba
Check out our Ultimate Cuba Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Cuba and what we never travel without.
Another app that will help you function offline in Cuba, Pocket is a fantastic way to stay organized during travel, and help you travel better. Pocket is designed to help you save articles, websites, and even videos you want to revisit later, and it allows you to access them at any time, even when offline.
I love using Pocket to help me organize my travels by saving links to helpful blog posts and travel guides for places I’ll be visiting. It’s much easier than having a thousand bookmarks on Chrome or screenshots gathering dust on my phone.
Pocket is also a favorite Cuba app, because it’s great for going offline in Cuba – I download news articles, Youtube videos, and more to keep me entertained when I don’t have access to the internet here.
Hotels.com is easily my favorite booking platform for hostels, apartment rentals, and hotels in Cuba. It has the most listings of any booking platform in Cuba, by far, and I consistently find it has the best prices you’ll find on the internet.
It also has a great selection of casas particulares (rental apartments) in Cuba, maybe even better than Airbnb.
Even if you book your accommodation before arriving in Cuba, I recommend downloading their app just in case. In case you find yourself having missed a flight or with a last-minute cancellation, having this app on hand will help you easily find somewhere to stay.
One thing to be aware of – I had trouble downloading and using this app in Cuba before I started using NordVPN to unblock websites and apps, so download Hotels.com (and NordVPN!) before you arrive.
If you haven’t given Airbnb a try yet, Cuba is absolutely the place to do so – you’ll find hundreds of beautiful and inexpensive apartments for rent here in cities and towns across the island.
We’ve stayed in Airbnbs in Cuba that range from simple but comfortable rooms from $15 a night to ornate colonial homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and verandas overlooking the Malecón. You can truly find any type of accommodation on Airbnb, and usually for a much lower price than a hotel.
I recommend downloading the Airbnb app on your phone before arriving in Cuba if you don’t use a VPN to make sure that it is available for you, even if you have your accommodation already booked.