5 essential travel apps to download for a trip to Cuba

Make sure you are digitally ready for a trip to Cuba! We have come up with a list of great offline travel apps to help you navigate your way around Cuba, its economy and culture.


When travelling abroad, smart phone apps have undeniably made the holiday experience much easier for travellers – booking trains, city maps, local tips about what to see and do – there seems to be an app for everything!

In Cuba however, as anyone who has ever travelled there will know, the distinct lack of internet access across the country with WiFi hot spots designated to public areas such as town squares makes many of these on-the-go travel apps rather useless. Whilst being free of internet and social media can be a very liberating experience in Cuba, when it comes to needing to find your hotel for example, it would be great to have a functional offline app.

The following recommendations are our top 5 picks of great travel apps which can function offline and come in handy when visiting Cuba.

 

1. Maps.me

A map on a table with a coffee on top of it and a hand with a pen

You have arrived in Cuba and find yourself going round in circles in Old Havana trying to find your homestay accommodation? Maps.me is an offline world map service powered using your phone’s GPS location which is perfect in this kind of situation! Successful use of this app does require some preparation in advance as you do need to go online to select and download the offline maps you would like to use. It may not be able to give an exact location but it is certainly useful to orientate yourself and give you a good idea of where you are.

Free on android and iOS

 

 

2. XE currency

With two official currencies in Cuba, this peculiar money situation can make any visitor’s head spin. The national currency known as “moneda nacional” used by local Cubans is called CUP however most tourists will only use CUC (pronounced ‘cook’), the Cuban convertible peso. Neither currency is traded internationally so can only be purchased when in the country. If you think you can solve this problem by using your credit card- think again! Cash is king in Cuba so you will need to bring money to change at a local money exchange known as a “cadeca”. With a security guard on the door and reams of paper with the daily rates stuck to the walls, entering the cadeca can be a daunting experience so it is a good to have a rough idea of how much you expect to get for your money. XE currency has developed an app allowing travellers to convert any world currency meaning you can add the Cuban currencies and your native currency onto your phone before you leave. Be aware that to get the latest updated rates, you need to enter the app with internet access but the XE app also functions offline by saving the last updated rates.

Free on android and iOS

 

3. Google Translate

Landed in Cuba but don’t understand a word of Spanish? No problem! With Google Translate, you can type words into the app to get the phrases you need to communicate on-the-go. Another great feature of this app is using your camera to hover over unfamiliar Spanish words. Dishes in a menu, sign posts will be automatically translated into the language of your choice.  If you want to be able to use this app offline in Cuba, you will need to download the Spanish language pack with internet access so best to do this before you leave. Bear in mind you are unlikely to become fluent through its use but this app is certainly a practical tool for any traveller lacking the lingo skills which can get you across the language barrier in many situations.

Free on android and iOS

 

4. Shazam

Music is an integral part of everyday Cuban life and will probably be one of the first things you notice when arriving in the country; live music venues,

Two women listening to music with headphonesrestaurants and bars hosting jamming sessions and groups of friends listening and dancing to the latest reggaeton hits on their neighbourhood stoops.  Wandering down the streets of Havana or Santiago you will hear many catchy songs but may have no idea who the artist is or what they are saying for that matter. The music app Shazam is a great for moments like these! With an offline function, it allows you to record segments of songs which can be saved onto your phone and then the app can search for them after when you have internet access.

Free on android and iOS

 

5. Pocket

With a wealth of information about Cuba available online giving us insights of things to see and do, homestay recommendations and good bars to try, a bit of pre-trip planning before jetting off is a great idea. Once you get to Cuba however, without regular internet how will you access all the useful information you found? Pocket app is a great organisational tool which allows you to save online articles, reservation emails, videos and notes all in one place. Once you have saved something from the internet into Pocket, it downloads into the app making it accessible offline. Now you have your very own personalised trip reference guide in the palm of your hand and as a bonus, it cuts down on the amount of paper print outs you take with you too.

Free on android and iOS

If you would like more advice on Cuba and help planning a trip, please contact us on our enquiry form or call +44 131 621 7721 to speak with one of our experienced Cuba experts.  www.caledoniaworldwide.com

About the Author:

Caron Oag is a modern languages graduate with a background in tourism and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She has worked in Spain and Germany and travelled widely throughout Europe as well as parts of North and Central America. With a passion for travel, adventure and language learning, she is always on the lookout for her next destination!