Everything You Need To Know About Internet Access in Havana Cuba

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Last month I spent 6 days in Havana and wrote 100 Things I Learned About My Recent Trip to Havana Cuba. As you may know, internet access for tourists and locals alike is very limited in Havana because of the Cuban government. Even if you do find internet in Cuba, you’ll have to pay up since free Wi-fi is almost non-existent. In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about internet access in Havana Cuba.

There’s only one internet service provider in Cuba and it’s called Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A or ETECSA. The government pretty much owns everything in Cuba, including ETESCA and there’s some censorship as well. I wasn’t able to access Snapchat in Cuba, but you can get around that by using a free VPN service.

The Cuban government doesn’t want their people to be connected to the internet which is why wireless internet is very rare at a Cuban home. The only way a Cuban can get wireless internet at home is if they work for the Cuban government.

There’s also no internet access available on Cuba’s wireless telephone company provider, CubaTel and don’t even try buying a CubaCel SIM Card because tourists can’t get it the legal way.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Internet in Cuba:

Where does the Internet in Cuba come from?

The internet in Cuba comes from fiber optic cables from neighboring Venezuela which is only for government officials and hotels. Cuba has a very tight knit relationship with Venezuela.

Is there Internet at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)?

There is an ETESCA wireless hotspot at Havana International Airport, but you’ll need to buy an internet access card. Good luck finding a vendor at Havana International Airport because they’re not existent. You can only buy them in town from select hotels and at the ETESCA Brick and Mortar store on Calle Obispo in Habana Vieja.

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There’s an internet cafe at HAV Airport, but it’s passed security in the departures area. There is a vendor there that will sell you wired internet access codes in 30 minute time blocks for about 6 CUC’s ~ $6 USD which is pretty expensive.

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If you’re departing from HAV International Airport and would like to access the wireless internet, make sure you buy an ETESCA scratch off internet card in 30 minute or 1 hour intervals.

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Where can I find Wireless Internet Access in Havana?

As previously mentioned, you can find Wireless Internet available at Jose Marti International Airport. You can also find Wifi at select major hotel lobbies in Old Havana (Habana Vieja), Centro Havana, Vedado, and Miramar.

In Habaja Vieja, you can find Wireless Internet at the lobbies of Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Saratoga, Hotel Sevilla, and Iberostar Parque Central.

In Centro Habana, you can find internet access at the Hotel Deauville.

In Vedado, you can find internet access at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

In Miramar, you can find internet access at Memories Miramar Hotel, Quinta Avenida Hotel, Melia Habana, Hotel Cubanacan Chateau, and the Hotel Copacabana.

How do I Access the Internet in Cuba?

Since internet is not free at the airport or hotels, you’ll have to pay them in Cuba’s hard currency, the CUC. An internet access portal will pop up when you connect to the Wi-Fi where you’ll need to enter a username and password. You’ll need to buy internet access in the form of a scratch off card or printed receipt with your login/password in CUC’s from the hotel’s front desk.

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How much is Internet in Cuba?

Wired internet access from internet cafes or hotel lobby computers are the cheapest form of internet access in Cuba. The price is usually 2 CUCs per hour for ‘wired internet’. 30 minute wireless ETESCA nauta cards range from 2.25 – 5 CUCs and 1 hour ETESCA cards range from 4.50- 10 CUCs.

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The cool thing about these cards is that when you’re buying either 30 minute or 1 hour blocks, you can stop your session at any time and resume later which is fantastic.

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Where can I find the cheapest internet in Cuba?

You can buy a 30 minute ETESCA nauta card for 2.25 CUC from the actual ETESCA retail store on Calle Obispo in Habana Vieja. A 1 hour ‘tarjetas de internet’ will cost 4.50 CUCs ~ $4.50 USD.

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How fast is the Internet in Cuba?

From what I’ve read on the internet before traveling to Cuba, internet access was described as being slow to the speeds of dial up modems. Since I was in Cuba for 6 days, I must have tried internet at 7 different hotels in Havana and spent almost 100 CUC’s worth.

Contrary to popular belief, internet access is surprisingly fast in Cuba (almost as fast as my internet at home!). The only place where internet was slow for me was at the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel and that’s probably because the hotel is too large and many guests were using it. It could just very well be an off day, but internet access was great and fast everywhere else. My favorite was the Hotel Sevilla in Old Havana.

Is there Free Internet in Cuba?

Yes, there’s actually one place in Havana where Kcho, a local famous artist has provided free wireless internet to local Cubans. But here’s one catch – You’ll have to visit his art museum house in the Miramar neighborhood. The address is: Kcho Estudio Romerillo Laboratorio Para El Arte, 120, La Habana, Cuba.

Is there Wireless Internet Access available in Hotel Rooms?

It’s very rare to find internet access in your hotel room aside from the hotel lobby. I know for a fact that the Melia Habana in Miramar offers internet access to the guests in the higher executive floors. You’ll have to ask the front desk agent to see if any of the lower floor rooms can connect to the hotel lobby’s internet router. You might just get lucky!

How to Get the Most out of Internet Access in Cuba

As I’ve previously mentioned, the internet time blocks can be stopped and resumed at a later time. To get the most out of the internet in Cuba, prepare your e-mails in ‘Draft’ format and they’ll be ready to go when you connect to the Cuban internet.

If you’re an avid social media user, prepare your tweets in advance and your Instagram pictures. I prepared my Instagram captions on the iPhone’s notepad and all my images and text were ready to go as soon as I connected to the internet.

Be prepared to know which websites you’ll be able to visit and have a plan of attack as soon as you connect to the internet because the time is ticking.

Here are two 1 hour internet codes up for grabs if you’re planning on traveling to Cuba anytime soon. Let me know if they’ve already been used.

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If you have any questions about internet in Cuba, please let me know in the comments below and I will respond back.

 

About the Author

Points Summary
My name is and I write the Points Summary travel blog.

24 Comments on "Everything You Need To Know About Internet Access in Havana Cuba"

  1. Sounds like they upgraded the internet. Believe me, it was definitely 56K modem speed slow when I went in 2013. Accessed in Hotel Nacional and Parque Central.

  2. what a great article, thanks!!!! Would love to see some recommendations on casa particulares or non cool spots. All the best and keep up the good work 🙂

  3. Just back from Cuba and could not get a Galaxy Note 4 to even see the WIFI, never mind connect to it. Iphone fine. Guy at reception at hotel tells me Android 5 blocked….don’t see how this is possible, but others with Android 5 not able to see WIFI SSID at all…

    Can anyone explain?

  4. Could you please specify what you mean by “surprisingly fast”? Is it for instance possible to send/receive 2 MB files or so? Would be very grateful for feedback as I preferably need that type of a speed for work purposes.

    • yes, you will be able to send and receive 2mb files with no problem! It was faster than my home internet in some instances!

      • Thank you so much! I think there is a lot of unupdated or outdated information about this on the Internet, as you can hardly find anything else than statements that the Internet speed in Cuba is very very poor. A bit like information on not being able to buy SIM-cards, it seems. Anyways, very grateful for the feedback. I have searched a lot on the Internet and almost nowhere can it be found that the speed is that good, so that can be very misleading.

  5. One thing you have missed…..All WIFI access points are configured to channels 14 and 15. On Android 5 devices scanning these channels has been removed.

    Simple terms…..Android 5 phones such as Samsung Galaxy 6, Note 4 etc WILL NOT WORK….period.

    Just a heads up….

  6. You mentioned you can receive & send 2 mb – we will be down and will still need to connect for business and we upload and download files up to 30mb. (Graphics & Print materials) Will we be able to do this? Staying at the Melia Habana.

  7. What about other Cuban cities? As I will be traveling to Cuba for more than 2 weeks in Feb 2016, so do I need to buy the card in Havana? And how can I top u? Or do I have to buy several cards at one time?

  8. I understand you can by the internet cards in the hotels, but its there any wireless service you can buy that works outside the hotels, say in your pension, or in a randon restaurant or in the street?

  9. If you’re going to Cuba, you might like to browse this Cuban web-based newspaper, The Havana Times (HavanaTimes.org). It’s independent of the government and often has critical articles. And if you’ve got an old laptop that you could take there and donate to their writers, all the better: contact their editor, [email protected] for details of how to deliver it. And you would also probably meet some interesting people this way. {If you’re coming from the UK, write the editor and see about taking one I can give you.)

  10. Just a few remarks regarding accessibility and speed as I just returned from Cuba.
    I couldn’t connect to the wifi using my (Android 5) Samsung S5. David’s remark about channels seems to be valid. With my Nexus 7 tablet (Android 6) I could connect to the wifi hotspots, but authentication was impossible as the Chrome browser throws an error once you have entered the credentials as the encryption seems to bee too weak. Haven’t tried with the Android stock browser though.

    My observations regarding speed – I tried three different places:
    – Hotel Casa Granda in Santigo de Cuba (Wifi over a Laptop): It took 5 minutes to open Gmail in standard mode. Everything extremely slow.
    – Hotel Sierra Mar on the southern coast (one of the terminals next to the reception): Not really fast, bust usable. Didn’t do any uploads.
    – Hotel Plaza in Havana (a PC in the “cyber cafe”): I cancelled the upload of a 5mb picture to facebook after 25 minutes. Sloooow.

    To john correia – the hotspots are mostly at upper scale hotels, some are in public parks. You can spot the places by the many people gathering holding their phones up in the air.

    Perhaps I wasn’t very lucky with my selection of hotspots, but I found internet access in Cuba a pretty sad story.

  11. Hi, I am going to Cuba in a few days and i will need to use Wifi for work – about 30 min per day. Will my Galaxy Tab 2 (Android 4.1.1) connect to Wifi in Cuba ? Or should i just bring a laptop?
    Also , how difficult it is to buy the wifi cards ? I read on other forums Etesca sometimes dont have the cards for sale and the only option left is to buy an overpriced card from hotels. I wouldnt want to spend 8-10CUC for 1 hour of Internet.

    Thanks

    • I purchased internet cards in both the Hotel Sevilla and Park Central and paid 4.50 cuc in both hotels. The biggest problem is that if your connection drops you need to be able to log back in to log off from your session. Sometimes you cant reconnect and meanwhile your minutes are ticking away. The Park Central hotel has a Business Office on the mezzanine floor with five computers (though one was not working when I was there) and that was the best connection I had for the whole week. They don’t charge you any more for the cards but don’t expect to be able to print anything!

  12. Just got back from Havana. I stayed at the Sevilla and had the luxury of being able to open my bedroom windows and get a Wi-Fi signal! Connecting was a different story though. After several attempts to connect it told me I had no credit left. The second card I managed to get around 10 minutes from it but it was very slow.
    My third card I used the business centre at the Park Central hotel, still slow but useful for checking in for my flight home! (and worth it because hardly anyone had checked in and the other queue was horrendously long!)Want to know which places have Wi-Fi hotspots? Look for groups of young people leaning against walls, peering at their phones and not talking to each other, its actually quite sad in a country where the internet hasn’t played a big part until a couple of years ago.
    At The Hotel Sevilla you’ll find groups around by the pool gates and outside the main entrance. The crowds get quite large early evening and its hopeless trying to get a connection. The hotel staff were very helpful but said if you want to use the internet its best to do so before mid day, but its good in a way because a week without Facebook can be very therapeutic. 😉

  13. This is greatly helpful! One question, is it possible to use the Nauta cards to get online on a (lenovo) laptop?
    Staying in one of the Vadaredo hotels that has wifi, and I am hoping to be able to email word docs (20-50KB) and download attachments. Is this completely mad?

  14. Just one more thing, buy your internet cards in the morning. On two or three occasions in our hotel I was at the desk in the evening and people trying to buy cards were told they had sold out. It does seem there isn’t an endless supply available all day!

  15. This is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very accurate information… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  16. Snapchat is not blocked by Cuba government, but US goverment

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    Twardziel advices

  18. I’m aware there are issues with the Samsung Galaxy phone & tablet Wi-Fi not working/connecting with Android software 5 & lower. But does it work/connect with Android 6 Marshmallow update? Going there next week, & have a Galaxy S6 & Galaxy Tab 4 both running on Android 6. How about iPad’s iMessage running on Wi-Fi only? Wanted to somehow keep in touch with family.

    Thanks in advance!

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