It was never traditional to give gratuities or to tip in Cuba, it is the onset and growth of foreign tourists that brought the concept of tipping in Cuba. This happened at first in the all-inclusive resorts and then spread to the general tourism economy. There is now a very strong tipping culture in Cuba, and depending on where you hail from it can cause a little confusion, so here’s a guide on general tipping etiquette in Cuba. Sadly you may find that some individuals who work in tourism believe that the tourist needs to tip to get good service. But then you’ll find that the world over. And it’s not. A tip should be, in Cuba an appreciation for good service.
However, that said, the tourism industry in Cuba relies heavily on tipping. Many workers in this sector receive very small salaries and use tips to augment their living expenses.
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It is common in Cuba to leave tips at hotels, bars, restaurants, and museums. It’s also accepted practice to tip tour guides, folks who entertain you on the street and let you take their photo (like the wonderfully dressed ladies in Old Havana), and transfer drivers. You don’t tip everyone the same amount. So we’ll cover each of those situations and what the expectations are.
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General Tipping Etiquette in Cuba
A lot of things are very different about the tourism industry in Cuba to the rest of the world, but there’s one thing that’s the same. Salaries and earnings in the tourism sector aren’t great. And the events of the last two years have really, really hurt the industry. It’s not just the Coronavirus pandemic, but the move to a single currency in Cuba has been and continues to be very painful for Cubans. The people and families that depend on the tourist dollar have had and continue to have a really tough time here.
Whatever the tipping etiquette in your home country, I urge you to be polite and to be courteous as you are a guest in Cuba and to reward good service appropriately – both financially and also in good reviews.
What Currency to use for Tips in Cuba
Use foreign currency for tips in Cuba in 2023. Foreign currency is king. Despite the Cuban banks not accepting US dollars (as we mentioned in our guide to Cuban currency here), there is still a great demand for US dollars in Cuba. Euros are also well received. You’ll find less interest (but not none!) in British Pounds and Canadian dollars. People won’t turn it down, but tipping in Cuban pesos is the least popular.
Tipping Tour Guides in Cuba
When it comes to Cuban tour guide tips, then it depends on the type of tour and the length of tour that you go on. You’ll want to tip differently for a museum tour to a full-day guided tour. Here are the recommended tipping rates for tour guides in Cuba.
Tips for a guided bus tour in Cuba: US$2-3 per person.
Tips for a museum tour guide in Cuba: US$1 per person
Tips for a Dive/Snorkel/Sail trip in Cuba: US$5-10 per person
Tips for Free Walking Tours in Cuba: It’s now possible to join several of the free walking tours in Cuba – you’ll find them in Havana (in a host of varieties), in Trinidad and they’re springing up in other cities too. You’ll know that the tip that you give is the salary that your tour guide earns. I always view the tips that I give on these tours as me paying for their time. As the guides always say, tip what you can afford – but let’s be real and humane about it. Here are some of the free walking tours that you can book in Cuba:
Havana Free Tours
- Havana Cuba – Free Walking Tour – reserve a place here
- Colonial Havana free walking tour- book a spot here
- Free Havana Bike Tour – book a place here
- Havana at Night free tour – book a place here
- Havana Colon Cemetery free tour – book a place here
- Modern Havana – free walking tour – book your place here
Vinales Free Tours
- Vinales Free Walking Tour – book your place here
Trinidad Free Tours
- Trinidad Free Walking Tour – book your place here
Tipping in Hotels in Cuba
If you’re staying at a hotel or a resort then you’ll have a lot of staff around to help make your visit as pleasant as possible. The staff at a hotel includes the maids, receptionists, bellboys, and bartenders. As staff change shifts it’s best to tip as you go along and/or each time they help you out. Here are the recommended tips for hotel staff in Cuba.
- Tips for Hotel Bartenders in Cuba: 10% if service isn’t included. If you’re at an all-inclusive resort, the US$1 every few drinks is most common.
- Tips for Hotel Maids in Cuba: US$1-5 per night for each night of your stay.
- Tips for Bellboys in Cuba: US$1-5 at check-in and the same at check out.
Read our guide to Cuban Cocktails here.
Tipping at a Spa in Cuba
You should expect to tip 10-15% at spas in Cuba.
Tipping in Restaurants in Cuba
It is usual to add a 10% tip or gratuity as a minimum at restaurants in Cuba.
Tipping Musicians in Cuba
There are heaps of street musicians and street performers in Cuba. There are even more at the Casa de la Trovas and the Casa de la Musicas around the island. When the hat comes round remember that this is their income. If you stop to enjoy the show or the music, then it’s only polite to pay a tip. For street artists, you’ll want to tip up to US$2 per person.
Tipping at Public Restrooms in Cuba
If you do need to use a public restroom (toilet) in Cuba, then you’ll need to pay a fee to access it and a tip to the attendant. It’s likely to be US$0.25 to US$.50 per person. And yes for this you can usually use Cuban pesos.
Tipping Drivers in Cuba
Your tip to a driver should depend on the length of your trip. For short runs, tip a taxi driver in Cuba at US$1-3. I grew up in a family of taxi drivers and started driving taxi’s the day I passed my driving test. I vote for good tips for good taxi drivers.
FAQs on Tipping in Cuba
Got questions about tipping in Cuba? Or want to know more about gratuity rates in Cuba and we haven’t answered your questions? Check out our frequently asked questions about Cuban tipping etiquette below, or ask us yours in the comments.
What currency do you use to tip in Cuba?
You can tip in any currency in Cuba. You’ll need to consider, however, whether the currency you tip in will be useful to whoever receives it. It’s generally unhelpful to use foreign currency coins to tip, as they’re hard if not impossible to change. When tipping in Cuba, Canadian dollars are accepted but remember that the smallest note is a CDN$5, so you’ll need to bear that in mind.
Do I need to tip the Viazul Bus driver?
I’m sure the Viazul Bus driver would love a tip, but no, it’s not necessary. You may find the luggage crew, who will hand you your bag as to get off the bus or load your bag into the bus will ask for a tip. They’re particularly aggressive about this in Trinidad. Our guide to the Viazul bus service is here.
Do I tip at an all-inclusive in Cuba?
You don’t need to tip for good service, but please be pleasant to the staff. If you feel they’re doing a good job then tip them as you would anywhere else.
Can you tip in Canadian dollars in Cuba?
Yes, you can tip in Canadian dollars in Cuba, but bear in mind that foreign currency coins are REALLY HARD to exchange – so that means you’re likely going to be tipping CDN$5. Perhaps change some money few US dollars before you arrive
Final Words on Tipping in Cuba
The Cuban tourism industry depends heavily on tipping now more than ever. And foreign currency tips are very much prized, but notes only please, no coins. Remember that a tip is an appreciation for good service and that a smile, as well as a thank you, goes a long way.
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5 thoughts on “Tipping in Cuba 2023 – Etiquette Guide to Gratuities”
great information, all in all 1st class
Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing all your extensive experience! I’m off to Cuba on Saturday bringing euros; is it ok to tip with one euro coins?
Hi Gael – this is Cuba, people will accept virtually any currency, BUT coins are generally not preferred, as the only way the people who get them can exchange them is with other tourists who want to take the coins back to Europe. So it generally means that your tip mind end up sat in a drawer for a while until it can be exchanged, rather than being used. You’ll get more appreciation if you can exchange them for a US$1. Sarah
Hi Sarah, I am travelling to Cayo Coco in July with my Daughter to the Melia. We were last at this hotel in 2017. I am being told by Sainsburys travel money Not to take US Dollars and only use Euros. This is becoming a real pain as we have got to get our own transfer from CCC airport to the hotel and I want to get it sorted before we go as our flight arrives late (8pm) and if the local exchange office outside arrivals is closed then we will have a problem when paying fr a taxi.
I would be very grateful if you can advise me on the best currency for this.
Hi Kelly – I would take a mix. The problem with Euros is that the smallest bill is 5 euros. If you want to tip or pay smaller amounts then a one dollar bill is like gold to you. (and you know how taxi drivers are about never having change!). I truly recommend that a mix is the best option. Different people recently have had different experiences with Euros and Dollars, the further “down the island” you get – i.e. away from Havana, the more popular the dollar tends to be (but I know as soon as I type this that someone will tell me that that was not their experience. So to reiterate, take a mix of both currencies. ALL in small denominations. But make sure that the US that you take has a good mix of US one dollar bills. Hope this helps and please do let me know how you get on. Sarah