Best Cuba Travel Guide Book

Expert Reviews: Best Cuba Travel Guide Book

Best Cuba Travel Guide Book

We get this question all the time: “which is the best Cuba travel guide book?” For our clients, our answer is usually to joke that “you don’t need the best Cuba travel guide book, you’ve got Havana VIP, and we are better than the best” and then we tell them about the first book listed below, which in our opinion is the best. We also urge our clients and anyone planning to travel to Cuba to read at least one of our recommended Four Books to Read Before Traveling to Cuba, so that when you are in Cuba you will have some context of what you’re seeing and experiencing.

Our problem with travel guide books is that they quickly go out of date, and that the reader is stuck with the tastes and point-of-view of the author(s).  Even the best guide books only send an author (or team) to a given destination once every 2-3 years, and then after the editorial and production process, by the time it hits the bookstores, the fresh inside information they purport to publish is already a year old. So the guidebook you’ve purchased is filled with out-of-date information.  The biases and preferences of the authors also limit the scope and quality of the information they write too.  For example, at Havana VIP we have a big commitment to the Cuban contemporary art scene, so we have our exclusive relationship with ARTempoCuba and really try to provide the best most up-to-the-minute Cuban art experiences possible.  But in a guidebook, the authors may not really care about art and so they’ll grab the Cuban government list of official galleries, maybe visit one or two that are convenient, recommend those, and that’s it.

Obviously we’ve read every single Cuba guide book we find.  It’s our job to know everything that we can about Cuba and to offer our clients the best immersive experiences for their trip. In all our years of Cuba travel, having read dozens of travel guides, we can honestly say there is only one Cuba travel guide book that has ever provided us information we didn’t already know, and that’s the second book below.

With one exception (that we’ve noted below), we have actually traveled in Cuba with the books we’re reviewing. We are evaluating the books for content and for form as a travel companion. Our selections are below with aff-links to Amazon.  If there’s a book you think we missed, or just to send us your thoughts, contact us.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Cuba

This is without doubt the best Cuba travel guide book.  The historical facts are presented with enough detail to make the book relevant and its illustrated with excellent images. The geographic information is all accurate and well presented along with tons of well done maps.  The book is sized small enough to be easily portable and the flexi-binding is durable enough to withstand the rigors of travel.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Cuba

This is the only Cuba guide book that has ever had information we didn’t already know. It’s written by Claire Boobbyer, who really does know what she’s talking about.  She provides little travel tips for all the destinations she covers, and her advice is generally on-the-money.  The book is a good size for portability and rugged enough to survive travel in Cuba.

Michelin Must Sees Havana

Given the worldwide reputation of Michelin Guides we had high hopes for this book. What a disappointment.  This is one of the worst of this bunch. The only redeeming factor is that it’s small, but that’s really a function of how little useful information it presents.

Lonely Planet Cuba

This is the ubiquitous Cuba guide book. We often see travelers wandering lost in La Habana Vieja with their noses stuffed in this book. It typifies everything bad about travel guides in general. It’s information is totally out-of-date, and the content itself is old.  We have several editions of this book dating back about 12 years and most of the content is unchanged.  It’s also as thick as a brick, and poorly made so that it’s hard to actually use. Save your money, buy any other book.
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National Geographic Traveler: Cuba

This is one of the better Cuba guide books.  Its written by Christopher Baker who also writes the Moon Cuba Guide (which we’re not reviewing here). Chris Baker is a real Cuba expert, and leads an occasional trip to Cuba himself. The best thing about this book are Chris’ suggestions for off-the-beaten track adventures, which are actually fairly off-the-beaten track. The format of the book is good for travel, and the materials seem good too, though we’ve never traveled with it so we can’t say for sure how it will hold-up.
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