Visiting Cuba on a budget might not be the easiest but could be a lot of fun. First of all, there are some things you should know about Cuba and tourism here.
Cuba’s main income is tourism, for the government and for private people. Besides that, there are laws and rules that make backpacking or traveling on a really low budget harder sometimes.
The easiest way to get around cheap in Cuba is to be a resident and/or student. In that way, you pay less for entrances to museums and you can use the transportations for Cubans (Astro Buses, cheaper shared cars, and Camiones)
To get a residency is not worth it if you just go on a trip for a few weeks, but if you want to stay longer you should consider it. The easiest way is to do a language course at the university or the ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte) and after some time you will get your own Cuban ID and are officially considered a local.
First of all, there are nearly no hostels in Cuba. There are two in Havana but almost none in other cities. That’s because for the people that rent rooms to foreigners it’s less convenient to rent to many persons as they have to report any single one to the migration and sometimes they earn more renting to fewer people.
Also, they have high fees to pay for the license and taxes.
But everywhere you can find bnbs that charge around 20 – 25 CUC per room, per night.
So here’s the tip: do not travel alone. You will save a lot of money.
On food, you can save a lot of your budget. You will hear from a lot of people that just ate pizza to save money but don’t worry you can actually eat a real meal for not so much more money.
It’s true that you can get a lot of pizza for 10-15 CUP (50-60 cents). But you can also get a real dish for 35-60 CUP in a cafeteria.
Cafeterías are run by private people and it’s common to find them serving food out of their garage or living room. Most cheap you will by just ordering rice and beans with eggs. But you could also get Ropa vieja or Bistec for around 35 CUP plus juice for 3-5 CUP. There are a lot of street food to eat during the day like Tamales that cost 8- 10 CUP, taste good and will help you to not get hungry in a while.
If you stick to those kinds of Cafeterías you will have to calculate with around 10 CUC per day for food and drinks.