Essentials Safety Tips for Women Traveling Solo in Cuba

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Delia Harrington shares her tips on coping with harassment on the streets, nightlife safety, and solo travel advice for women going solo in Cuba.


Street scene in Old Havana, Cuba Photo © iStock/BethWolff43

Cuba is a safe country, with virtually no violent crime, although pick-pocketing and petty theft do happen. If you stay aware of your surroundings, you should be able to have a safe, enjoyable time.

Safety at night

Nightlife doesn't get started until about 10pm or later in Cuba, but it's generally safe.

The biggest hazards are intoxicated people walking in the street, so be aware of your surroundings.

Sidewalks are poorly lit, and many have large holes, especially in Havana.

On average, Cubans make US $18-20 a month. This means that if you want new friends to accompany you to a tourist restaurant or nightclub, you’ll likely have to pay.

It's also not uncommon for jineteros or jineteras (a term that ranges from "hustler" to "sex worker" but tends almost exclusively toward the latter when it refers to women) to befriend tourists.

There is no physical danger here, just be cognizant of the nature of your relationships and, as always, practice safe sex.

Solo travel safety tips


Like many parts of the world, street harassment is prevalent in Cuba. It’s wrong, and you have every right to be upset by it. 

Some people are able to tune it out, but others are not, and that is not your fault. 

More often, how much it bothers you will vary from one day to the next. It’s up to you how you choose to handle it, but there really isn't anything you can do to prevent it, and you will see women harassed regardless of their clothing or behavior.

The most effective way to keep street harassment from ruining your trip is to connect with others about it, whether in person or online. If it becomes physical, please seek help immediately. 


Additionally, Cuba is known for piropos. This complimentary wordplay is expected to be clever, and is therefore seen as a cut above the all too common whistling and taunts.

Feel free to throw back barbs, but know that playing along is often taken as flirting.

Going to the movies alone

While the Cuban film industry produces high-quality, politically subversive movies, going to the movies alone as a woman is not advisable.

If you do, try to find a group of women and sit near them.

What to watch out for

Law enforcement is ubiquitous in Cuba and protecting tourists is one of their main goals.

However, as part of that goal, many question Cubans who spend unsanctioned time with tourists, especially if the Cubans are local men and the tourists are women.

If you end up talking to the police because of this, remain calm and follow the lead of your Cuban friends, since there will be no negative ramifications for you, but there may be some for the Cubans.

Here are a few other things to watch out for:

  • Good shoes are hard to find in Cuba, so don't tie yours to your backpack or luggage.
  • When at the beach, ask someone to watch over your things, as someone may steal your shoes while you're swimming.
  • Tourists aren't allowed to swim off the Malecón in Havana, even though locals do. This is one of the few times law enforcement will interfere with tourists.
  • There are only a few specific spots along the Malecón where you can climb back out of the ocean, so swim at your own risk.

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