Travel Vegan in Morocco

Vegan Morocco Travel

To start with is better to keep in mind that not everybody understands what vegan means so make sure they get it. I did struggle a bit when I was there in the beginning, mostly because my French is very poor and let’s not talk about my Arabic that is non-existent 🙂 

Keep in mind that sometimes for some strange reason hummus can have milk, they sometimes add chicken stock to veggie tagine, and beef broth will be used to flavour the couscous. Well, it can be hard and unfortunately, sometimes we can’t really be sure if what you are eating is 100% vegan.


When ordering you need to be clear that it is a vegetarian dish you are ordering, because from my experience no one was really familiarized with the word vegan.

I had some screenshots from google translate in Arabic and French of what I wanted to say and ask. I also used my vegan passport.

Vegan Moroccan Food – Some options for vegan meals
How to eat Vegan in Morocco

The vegetarian tagine is probably the easiest and safest choice while in Marroco.

Tagine is a traditional Moroccan meal cooked inside a clay pot, with potatoes, carrots, turnips and zucchini topped tomato, preserved lemon and olives.

Couscous with veggies is also quite common and easy to find. If you want a break from couscous you can ask for vegetables and rice, that is literally the same dish but with rice instead of couscous.

For breakfast is common to have bread with jam or “msemmen” that is a thin, fried bread. These crepes ingredients are all vegan (sugar, salt, yeast oil, flour), but occasionally is cooked with butter. So just check how they are cooked.

The bread is known as “khobz” is served at every meal, and is absolutely divine with olive oil and olives.

It’s easy to find “Zalook” a dish made of roasted mashed eggplant with spices, or even dishes made of lentils (3eids) and beans (loubia)

Dishes with lentils and beans are easy to find in the majority of Moroccan restaurants all over the country.

You can also ask restaurants to grill some vegetables for you and have it with rice or potatoes.

The harira soup is also delicious, but some people add meat or cook harira in the broth. You should ask prior to ordering how it was prepared.

Salads are delicious in Morocco, they have a great variety of them. They make the salads mostly with zucchini, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers and beans.

Are you a fruit lover?

Morocco’s fruit markets are unbeatable for both price and quality. You have a massive range of fresh fruit to chose from but also wonderful dried fruit options, from dates to figs, and apricots.

Olives are another highlight of travelling to Morocco. I LOVE olives so I couldn’t be in a better place. They have a great variety of olives with different seasoning, they are just delicious and high quality. Just be careful they are addictive 🙂

If you want something on the go

It’s easy to find small stalls selling food on the street, and many of the food that is served is vegan.

You can buy things like corn, roasted chickpeas, bread with chickpeas, fried potato cakes on bread and also dried and fresh fruit and nuts.

Vegan Desserts

If you are on a diet just stay home, because you will love all the cookies they have.

Mostly made from nuts, seeds and of course sugar… they are really tasty and also quite beautifully designed. (just double check if they have used honey if you don’t eat it).

Other kinds of desserts are unfortunately not vegan (they add butter and dairy). But you always have fresh fruit as a safe dessert option.

Moroccan doughnuts are called Sfenjs and are basically fried dough rolled in sugar.

Drinks: mint tea, fresh squeezed juices and coffee

I highly recommend trying the Moroccan mint tea or like the locals like to call it “Moroccan whisky”. However, sometimes it will be extremely sweet. Order it sugar-free to be safe and add your own sugar if you want it!

If tea is not your thing the coffee is also delicious.

You can also get freshly squeezed juices – I would recommend taking your own cup to avoid disposable plastic. Freshly squeezed fruit juices are common and are not to be missed. The orange juice and pomegranate are my favourites.

You can’t miss

You can’t miss wandering around the markets where they sell fresh produce and spices.

I recommend using the app HappyCow and make some research about vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants that are on the rise now in Morocco.

As you can see there are options and they are easy to find, but if you are spending a long time travelling through the country it can get repetitive.

Animal welfare

So foodwise you will be fine but get ready to have your heart broken because there is a lot of animal exploitation, and can get quite hard to see some things.

Moroccans treat animals differently for western standards. Snake charmers and monkeys on leads are common in touristic areas.

While there isn’t a large variety of local Moroccan foods that are vegan, it is definitely possible to travel in Morocco as a vegan. You might find it more difficult in rural areas compared to the larger Moroccan cities.

I hope this is helpful if you’re planning to travel to Morocco💚

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Chickpea Seitan (seitan de gão de bico)

Chicken-style seitan with chickpeas

I love seitan because it’s easy to make, delicious and versatile. This vegan seitan recipe resembles the chicken meat texture, but with a far better taste 🙂  You can cut it into chunks, cutlets, thin slices or even shredded. This Chickpea Seitan it’s not rubbery or spongy is perfect and delicious.

As for all recipes feel free to adapt the seasoning to your taste.

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (2cans)
  • 1 cup aquafaba (chickpeas water)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mushroom powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1/2 tsp agar agar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups of wheat gluten

Place all the ingredients (except the wheat gluten) in a food processor and process until creamy.

Then add the wheat gluten and blend everything together until it’s an elastic dough.

Place the seitan in a large saucepan, and add enough water to cover it.

Cover with a lid, and bring to a boil over medium heat, simmer for one hour, add more water if needed ( you can season the water to taste with spices and /or herb). Finally, remove from heat, take the lid off, let sit for 15 minutes.

chickpea seitan vegan recipe2

PT: seitan de gão de bico
Frango vegano de grão de bico

Eu adoro seitan porque é fácil de fazer, delicioso e muito versátil. Esta receita vegana de seitan assemelha-se à textura da carne de frango, mas com um sabor muito melhor 🙂 Você pode cortá-la em pedaços, fatias finas ou até mesmo desfiar. Este Seitan de grão de bico não é emborrachado ou esponjoso é perfeito e delicioso.

Como para todas as receitas podes adaptar os tempero ao teu gosto.

  • 2 canecas de grão de bico cozido (2 latas)
  • 1 caneca de aquafaba (água de cozedura do grão)
  • 2 colheres de sopa de azeite
  • 2 colheres de sopa de cogumelos em pó
  • 1 colher de sopa de alho em pó
  • 1 colher de sopa de cebola em pó
  • 2 colheres de sopa de molho de soja
  • 1 colher de sopa de paprica defumada
  • 2 colheres de sopa de levedura nutricional
  • 1 colher de sopa de miso branco
  • 1/2 colher de ágar ágar
  • sal a gosto
  • 2 cancas de glúten de trigo

Colocar todos os ingredientes (exceto o glúten de trigo) num processador de alimentos e processar até ficar cremoso.

De seguida, adicionar o glúten de trigo e misturar bem até obter uma bola de massa elástica e unida.

Colocar o seitan a cozer numa panela grande com água por aproximadamente 1 hora. Temperar a água a gosto com especiarias e/ou ervas aromáticas. Retirar do lume e deixar repousar por 15 minutos.

Ouarzazate Morocco’s Hollywood

Ouarzazate (war-zazat) is located at the edge of the Sahara desert and for that reason called “The Doorway to the Desert”.  A city of palm trees, sandy streets, muddy brick houses, blocky, fort-like buildings and film sets.


This town is surprisingly calm for Morrocan standards located five hours south of Marrakech by bus. This town is in the Souss-Massa-Drâa of southern-central Morocco.

Ouarzazate has a connection with blockbuster cinema and two major film production studios are located here, a film school and even a museum of cinema. Many call Ouarzazate “Ouallywood”.


As a travel destination by itself, Ouarzazate doesn’t have that much to see or do. But because its location can be used as a base for day trips.

Day trips from Ouarzazate

You have the orange dunes in the east and some nice nearby villages and kasbahs to be explored.

The well-known Ait Ben Haddou is a beautiful ancient ksar about 30 minutes outside the city of Ouarzazate. A place used as a backdrop in countless movies and TV programs.


It’s also within easy reach oasis valleys and ancient kasbahs. The Fint Oasis and the Tifoultoute Kasbah are perfect for a nice hike (15km and 8km from Ouarzazate respectively).

A bit further away you have the Todra Gorges, a series of stunning limestone river canyons that are also worth a visit.

What to Do in Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate is a great place to get lost in while you discover the Old District, with its muddy brick houses lining the old streets.


The Taourirt part of the Old District holds an ancient fortified village, still standing right in the heart of the city. Taourirt Kasbah Museum showcases the south Moroccan kasbah architecture.


At Ouarzazate city centre, you can walk around Al-Mouahidine Square and the market, and also stop at a pastry shop or café to take in the city’s lively evenings.

The Ouarzazate Center Market begins at 6pm. Here they sell all sort of goods, from clothes to handicraft. the market is located right in the city centre.


The local market located on the market road (6.00am) sells all kinds of items from clothes to crafts and spices. The market happens every Sunday is probably one of Ouarzazate less visited place by tourists.

Then you have lots of attractions related to cinema, from the Atlas Cinema Studios, the CLA Cinema Studios and the Cinema Museum. I didn’t visit any of these places but if you’re a cinephile I’m sure you will enjoy it.

How to get from Marrakech to Ouarzazate

Getting to Ouarzazate from Marrakech is quite easy. There are two companies that run bus services between these two cities, CTM and Supratours. The cost for both is 80 Dirhams (~$9.8), and the journey takes 5 hours.


photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Fez Travel Guide

Fez (or Fes if you’re following Arabic spelling) is the third largest city in Morocco and part of the UNESCO. Fez is set in the lowlands between the Rif and Middle Atlas mountain ranges in northern Morocco. Located just over 300 miles from Marrakesh.

Fez is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco, alongside Rabat, Meknes, and Marrakesh.

The city has a distinct, traditional charm. High walls surrounding the Old Town medina, protecting one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Fez and its medina is a barrage on the senses.

Ancients mosques and medersas/madrassas (Islamic schools) are all around the city although non-muslims are not allowed inside, from the outside, you can have a glance of the splendour of the Islamic architecture.

In Fez, I loved the chaos, the smells, the markets and the food. Although it can be also overwhelming and mentally exhausting, especially during the hottest months. Fez is known as the country’s cultural, spiritual, and intellectual heartland.

The old Medina

Fez’s medina is a maze of narrow little streets lined with shops. The medina’s labyrinth can be fun to get lost in. Although the medina in Fez is not as hard to navigate as other medinas across Morocco. The medina has 2 main streets running in a loop, so if you stick to those, you’ll always find your way back to the Blue Gate.

The medina is a great place, though often crowded by locals and tourists, so stay on guard as pickpockets are pretty common.

Bab Boujeloud – Blue Gate

Bab Boujeloud (Bab Bou Jeloud), commonly known as the “Blue Gate,” serves as the principal entrance to the old Medina.

The Grande Porte Bab Boujloud is famous for its beautiful ornate blue mosaics and on the other side, it is decorated green.  The blue side of the gate represents the colour of the city Fes.  The green side of the gate, which faces the Medina is green to represent the colour of Islam.


There are 3 main areas, Fes el Bali (the oldest part and the world’s largest car-free urban space), Fes Jdid (“new” part of the city, which is still a few hundred years old), and the modern section of Ville Nouvelle with its palm-tree-lined boulevards, built in the French colonial era. The Ville Nouvelle is not a remarkable place at all means unless you want to grab a bite to eat somewhere a bit more modern.

Stroll the Talaa Kebeera

Talaa Kebeera is the largest “street” in Fez. It begins shortly after Bab Boujeloud (Blue Gate) and continues on through the much of the medina. Many different shops, souks and sights are located just off this main artery.

Medersa Al Attarine and Medersa Bou Inania

The Medersa al-Attarine (Islamic school) is located next to the Qarawiyyin mosque in the middle of the medina, next to the spice and perfume market. Is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Medina of Fez.

The Medersa Bou Inania is one of the greatest examples of the Merenid architecture in the 14th century and is one of the few religious places that non-Muslims can visit in Morocco.


You will probably hear people asking you if you want directions to the tannery. Just remember, that on warm days, you won’t need directions. I assure you can fell the smell from distance, so just follow your nose 🙂

If you want to have a look at the tanneries the only way to do it is through one of the shops, there’s no other way. That means you need to “handle” the vendors. (I personally didn’t have any problems I paid 10DHR and no one tried to sell me anything, I guess I was lucky).

Just a heads up in case you don’t know the tanneries is the place where workers transform animal skins into brightly-coloured leathers by soaking them in vats.

University of Al-Qarawiyyin

The Al-Qarawiyyin (al-Karaouine) Mosque and University are considered by some the oldest university in the world and is one of the largest mosques in Africa.

Fondouk el-Nejjarine, Museum

The Fondouk el-Nejjarine or “Wood Museum” is a museum where you can learn about the woodwork indigenous to Morocco, the tools used, as well as a collection of wood and cabinet work  (20dhs).

If you don’t want to visit the museum you can just contemplate the Nejjarine Square, a beautiful square dotted with Andalusian-style architecture from the 18th century.

Henna Souk

The Henna Souk is a nicely shaded souk cosied up beneath a couple of large trees. Here they sell pottery and traditional cosmetic products.

Merenid Tombs

The Merenid Tombs are located just outside the medina. To get there you can walk (15 minutes) or get a taxi.

The giant tombs sit on the hill above Fes and offer a fantastic view of the city.

The Mellah – Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter of Fez is the oldest in Morocco and has beautiful ornate balconies and wrought-iron windows lining the street.

Strolling around

You can visit the main attractions, but there is nothing better than losing yourself in the city. Strolling around alleys and narrow streets finding out the hidden magic of Fez.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Chefchaouen’s Local Farmer’s Market

Visiting the Local Farmer’s Market is truly a must when visiting Morocco’s Blue City, Chefchaouen.

Despite the blue city be hidden in the Rif Mountains, it’s charm is no secret to the world, and not much is nowadays off the beaten track over there.

I can’t understand why you don’t really see people recommending visiting the farmer’s market, it’s probably the best-kept secret in Chefchaouen… There were very few tourists when I was visiting.

Maybe is just because I can’t resist a market, while most people don’t give a damn about it… The only thing I know is that If there’s a farmer’s market close by, I’m there!

True to be told I’m the same at home, I like to buy good fresh produce that is locally grown, and support local farmers.

Local Farmer’s Market

Chefchaouen’s Farmer’s Market is full of fresh produce that is locally grown. Pure temptation to the eye and the stomach. A great place to go for a walk first thing in the morning. All the colours and smells are the perfect combination for a memorable experience.

The market happens three days a week, Monday, Thursday and Saturday. On these 3 days, the farmers of the Rif valley come down to the city to sell their wares.

Have you been to Chefchaouen?

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

5 reasons you should switch to a natural deodorant

The health and beauty industry is one of the fastest-growing business sectors internationally. But there is now an ever-increasing population of ethical consumers who are turning their back on the mainstream cosmetic giants in favour of clean beauty brands.

Not only are people looking for high-quality products, but there’s also an increasing demand for brands to be cruelty-free and to demonstrate an awareness of their impact on the environment. Around 10 million animals suffer and die due to cosmetic testing every year, and so there are now many cruelty-free products on the market hoping to challenge industry standards. One of these more ethical products is a natural deodorant, and here are five compelling reasons to choose it when you next go shopping:

5 reasons to switch to a natural deodorant

1. No nasty ingredients

If it hadn’t already occurred to you to check the ingredients on your deodorant, maybe you should. It turns out that antiperspirants are full of ingredients that could potentially harm you, such as aluminium. The aluminium salts contained within some deodorant formulas are formulated to actually block your sweat ducts. Preventing moisture from forming on your skin.

Aluminium has been linked to the development of certain cancers as well as Alzheimer’s, so by choosing a natural deodorant, you are reducing the risks associated with this particular ingredient.

 2. Sweat it out – it’s good for you!

Whilst most antiperspirants block the sweat from exiting your body. Natural deodorants allow you to sweat whilst preventing the unpleasantness of body odour.

It is healthy and natural to release sweat while exercising. As it releases toxins and can help boost your immune system.

When you prevent sweat from leaving the body, this can cause build-up beneath the skin – resulting in painful and irritable bumps under your arms.

Natural deodorants allow you to sweat, however, they prevent the bacteria on your skin from reacting with the moisture you produce, preventing nasty body odour.

3. Goodbye sweat stains…

As mentioned before, most regular antiperspirants contain aluminium as a means to prevent you from sweating. However, as well as being harmful to you, aluminium can also react with your sweat and clothing to create unsightly sweat stains. By choosing a natural alternative, you are less likely to ruin your clothes.

4. It’s the ethical choice

With as many as 36% of women only buying from brands who don’t test on animals, it is clear to see that the beauty industry is changing – it has never been easier for consumers to go cruelty-free.

By choosing a natural deodorant, you are reducing your impact on the environment by not contributing to animal testing. Health and beauty brands now have alternative tests at their disposal, as there are more than 50 forms of non-animal related tests which have been validated for use.

For those who are conscious of animal welfare and want to make a difference, natural deodorant is the best choice. If a product is cruelty-free they are usually certified by companies such as PETA or Cruelty Free International.

5. Natural deodorant is good for your skin

Natural deodorants tend to contain natural oils and other ingredients that can actually condition and moisturise the skin beneath your arms. Unlike regular deodorants, they treat your skin sensitively whilst working effectively.

How to grow sprouts at home (Como fazer germinados)

How to Sprout Seeds, Grains and Beans?
Seeds, grains, and beans are nutritional powerhouses, even more, when activated. Sprouts are a fabulous nutrient-rich addition to raw salads, sandwiches, and wraps, and are also tasty in smoothies, soups, stews and other dishes.
Sprouting it’s super easy, and just takes a few minutes of hands-on time. It also is a huge saving over buying sprouts in the store.

The sprouting method is exactly the same for seeds, grains, and beans the only difference is the time required for germination.

Sprouting step-by-step

1-  Soak a handful of seeds, grains, or beans for at least 8 hours in the water in a wide mouth glass jar or bowl. Cover with a mesh lid or cloth, secured with a rubber band, to allow air flow.

Some larger beans, nuts, grains or seeds may require a longer soak. Soak until they have doubled in size.

2- Drain and rinse the seeds (ideally twice a day)

3- Repeat Step 2 for 3-5 days, until your sprouts are ready to be eaten.

Remember to rinse gently to avoid damaging tender new sprouts.

When ready, rinse sprouts well, drain, and remove un-sprouted seeds and seed hulls, if desired.

Sprouts can be stored in a jar or container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Have you ever tried to grow sprouts at home?

Sprout Seeds beans

PT: Como fazer rebentos e germinados em casa

Sementes, grãos e feijões são alimentos muito nutricionais, ainda mais quando ativados. Os rebentos são uma adição rica em nutrientes em saladas, sanduíches e wraps, e também são saborosos em smoothies, sopas e outos pratos.

Produzir rebentos é super fácil, e leva apenas alguns minutos já para não falar que ficam muitissimo mais baratos do que os comprados na supermercado.

O método de germinação é exatamente o mesmo para sementes, grãos e feijões, a única diferença é o tempo necessário para a germinação.

Germinação passo a passo

1- Demolhar uma mão cheia de sementes, grãos ou feijões por pelo menos 8 horas em água numa jarra ou tigela de vidro. Cubrir com algo que deixe respirar os rebentos mas não tenha buracos grandes o suficiente para deixar pasar pequenas moscas. Prender com um elástico.

Alguns feijões maiores, nozes, grãos ou sementes podem exigir uma imersão mais longa. Mergulhar até dobrarem de tamanho.

2- Escorrer e lavar as sementes (idealmente duas vezes por dia)

3- Repitir o passo 2 por 3-5 dias, até que os rebentos estejam prontos para serem comidos.

Quando estiverem prontos, lavar bem os rebentos, escorrer e remover as sementes não germinadas e cascas de sementes.

Os rebentos podem ser guardados num frasco ou recipiente no frigorifico por 2 a 3 dias.

The Fez Tanneries – Just hold your nose

Just hold your nose and get ready for a real hassle

Fez is famous for its leather goods, which are made in one of the three ancient tanneries inside the medina. The largest and oldest is the Chouara tannery, which is over a thousand years old.

You will definitely hear people asking you if you want directions to the tannery. Just remember, that on warm days, you won’t need directions, I assure you can fell the smell from distance.. and there is also the app and wall signs.

If you want to avoid the hassle make sure you don’t accept any unrequested help.

How to get to the tanneries

If you want to have a look at the tanneries the only way to do it is through one of the shops, there’s no other way. That means you need to “handle” the vendors.

I personally didn’t have any problems I paid 10DHR and no one tried to sell me anything but my partner does look a bit Morrocan, that might have helped a bit 😅.

We went inside the shop, looked at the tanneries, and left the shop without getting so much as a: “Would you like to look?”, let alone a hard sell.

What are the tanneries?

The tanneries are the place where workers transform animal skins into brightly-coloured leathers by soaking them in vats.

The tanneries spread out like a tray of watercolour paints, where cow, sheep, goat and camel hides are taken to be preserved, dyed, and turned into handbags, jackets and wallets that are sold in the surrounding souks.

The idea of looking at animal’s skins is pretty discussing for me as it is. And doesn’t get any better when you know the processes they use.

The skin is first soaked in a mixture of cow urine, pigeon poop, quicklime, salt and water. A method used for over a thousand years.

I’m not sure that nowadays the colours are still derived from natural products like poppy flowers, henna, indigo, or saffron.

What I do know is that the process is absolutely disgusting. Nowadays it’s so easy to find cruelty-free leathers, that doesn’t depend on animal abuse and exploitation.

Vegan leather it’s a leather alternative that doesn’t involve animal products. What this looks like in practice is a synthetic or natural fabric that’s structured and printed to perform a bit like leather.

If you still want to visit the tanneries, be aware that this is the place where most scams append.

How to Avoid the Tannery Scam

Be ready to encounter dozens and dozens of “helpful” locals giving you advice and tips, like: – “that street/place you want to go is closed”; “if you want to see the tannery you need a guide”; “I can show you the way, for free”; “I’ll help you get a good price”. None of these or any variations of it is true.

In order to avoid being scammed, you need to know that older teenagers and young adult men will be loitering in this area. They’re all working together on this scam.

When someone tries to give you unsolicited advise don’t take their offer. Just keep walking. If they are insistent and try to talk to you, just completely ignore them or just say no. If they keep following you, you can threaten to call the police (190 or 112).

Once at the shop, make sure you make it clear you want to view the views and you are not interested in buying anything. Talk with a smile on your face and a firm but polite tone in your voice.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Easy Vegan Walnut and Raisins scones (bolinhos veganos de nozes e passas)

This Easy Vegan Walnut and Raisins scones are deliciously packed with the loveliest things like flaxseeds, walnuts and raisins. The recipe is super easy and quick to make, perfect for breakfast or brunch hope you try them 🙂

  • 1 + 1/2 cup self-raising  flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 Tbsps grounded flax seeds
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Put the water and the flaxseeds on a blender or a bowl and let it sit for 3 minutes. Then add all the other ingredients and mix well until combined.

Scoop a tablespoon of dough in a baking tray lightly floured. Place in the oven and wait until they begin to turn golden, (+- 15 minutes). Carefully remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

PT: bolinhos veganos de nozes e uvas passas
  • 1 + 1/2 caneca farinha com fermento
  • 1 caneca de água
  • 4 c. de sopa de sementes de linhaça moídas
  • 3 c. de sopa de azeite
  • 1/2 caneca de açúcar mascavado
  • 2 c. chá de fermento p/ bolos
  • 1 c. chá de canela
  • 1/2 caneca de nozes
  • 1/2 caneca de uvas passas
  • 1 pitada de sal

Pré-aquecer o forno a 200°C.

Colocar a água e as sementes de linhaça num liquidificador de alimentos ou numa taça grande, e deixar repousar por 3 minutos. Depois adicionar todos os outros ingredientes mexer bem até que a massa esteja consistente.

Num tabuleiro polvilhado de farinha, deitar colheradas de massa e levar ao forno até  que os bolinhos estejam douradinhos (+-15 minutos).

Cuba travel tips: everything you need to know to travel on a budget (part 1)

For what I had read before going to Cuba I was expecting that a month there would be quite expensive, and definitely can be, but you can also travel on a tight budget.

I spent an average of 23€ a day, but I travelled with another person, so for solo travellers, this amount would be higher for sure, and of course, everyone travels differently,  so no one ever has the same travel budget. I just put mine here as a reference, so you know that’s possible.

The first tip, never take a no for an answer, it’s important to negotiate, and it’s normal to ‘argue’ and ‘get upset’, always always speak out, if the situation is not fair or reasonable. Otherwise you will be paying more than in Switzerland or Norway.

Be prepared to sometimes be ignored in a Cuban shop and to be always the last one to be served (but not in a touristic place) 😉

👉🏽 Money

Cuba has 2 different currencies – Cuban Peso (CUP) also known as moneda nacional MN and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)  (25CUP = $1 USD =1CUC). Foreigners CAN (and should) use CUP it is not illegal, so don’t believe if someone tells you the opposite.

Probably the best tip I can give is NEVER ask the prices in Cuba, expect Cubans to give you always the prices in CUCs and to see other tourists using only this currency. When you ask they know you are not sure… Assume always that the prices are in Pesos Cubanos (CUP), and pay for it straight away, the only exceptions are the touristic restaurants and bars, long-distance taxis, hotels/casas and tour operators, but you’ll realise that they always write CUC in front of the price. So if you see a menu (carta) with coffee – 1, it means that the price is 1CUP (about 4 cents) and not 1CUC ($1 dollar).

You only need CUCs to pay for: long distance transports, accommodation, museums, touristic spots and water. (0.5L – 45CUC;   1.5L – 0.70CUC;  5L – 1.90CUC) for everything else use CUPs. We came across some upsetting situations in Trinidad and Havana when buying water, the staff from the supermarket didn’t have the prices in the water and despite the fact that we knew the price and gave the correct amount they asked for much more. Step your foot down and argue loudly so everybody know what they are doing,  they don’t just ask for a few more cents, they ask for a 1,5L 3 o 4 CUC.. what they are doing is illegal and you can ask to speak with the manager or even call the number that is on the wall for the customer service. Demand that they scan your product and give you a receipt like they do when serving a Cuban.

Always choose places that have the prices displayed, it’s current practice, so when they don’t have it, they will probably create a new price just for you. (check out the pictures below they all have prices displayed in CUPs and keep in mind that $1=25CUP)

The prices don’t change much around the island, so having the average food prices in mind should help (all prices in CUPs):

  • sandwich  2-12 CUP
  • pizza  5-10 CUP
  • natural juice/milkshake 3-5 CUP
  • coffee 1-2 CUP
  • chocolate bar 5-10 CUP (depended on size)
  • small sweets 1-2 CUP
  • peanut bars / seed bars 5-7 CUP
  • ice cream 1-5 CUP
  • popcorn 5CUP
  • one paper cone with peanuts 1 CUP
  • 1 big avocado 5-10CUP
  • 3 big mangos 5-10CUP
  • 1 hot dish (rice with beans and salad)  – 10-25CUP
  • fried banana 5CUP
  • All snack varies from 3-10CUP
  • Piña colada 5-10CUP
  • Mojito 10-12 CUP
  • pasta 10 CUP
  • beer (Cerveja dispensed is the cheapest one) 5-25 CUP
  • soda in a cup 1-2 CUP
  • hot chocolate 5 CUP
  • churros 3-5 CUP
  • malt beverage 10-25 CUP

The average price for local transports in CUPs:

  • bus – 1CUP (they call it guagua)
  • bici taxi – 5CUP – 10CUP

I brought cash to fund my whole trip so don’t really know how reliable are the ATM, but saw a couple in each capital district.

Exchanging money it’s easy but like everything in Cuba takes time and queuing outside. Ask for the CADECA the official place to exchange money and of course, don’t do it in the street. It is possible to exchange U.S. Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, and a few others. But U.S. Dollar is by far the worst one because it gets charged a 10% fee in addition to the exchange rate.

Exchange your money to Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC) first and then some Convertibles(CUC) to Cuban Pesos (CUP). (Don’t forget to take your passport).

Paying in convertibles (CUC) and getting change in CUPs is the most popular trick so familiarize yourself with the money and always check your change.

👉🏽Where to stay 

The cheapest options are the casas particulares, a kind of Airbnb or guest house. Finding a casa is extremely easy, there are plenty available everywhere, we didn’t book any house in advance and was always easy and quick to find one. Simply walk around the area you want, knock on the door of a house with the blue sign and ask to see a room, then decide if you want to stay there or see the next one.

We always negotiate our price to fit our budget that was €20 per night and we found always a house that was willing to do that price for us, even in the more touristic areas like Havana, or Trinidad, so don’t get afraid when they start saying that is the high season, all the cases are full, etc.. Cuba truly has a huge offer.

Breakfast is normally not included and the price is between 5-6CUC, but to be fair you will eat exactly the same out for a fraction of that price, so we never ate at the casas.

👉🏽Eating and drinking 

Someone that I met there told me “we are not here to eat” when I was complaining about the food, and lack of options…. and that really needs to be the attitude because Cuban food is by far the worst I ever came across.  In the other hand it’s ridiculously cheap and why to worry about eating when you can drink 🙂 natural fruit juice of course 😉

The lowest-cost options are at street-side stores they normally have sandwiches, pizza, rice with beans, pasta, natural fruit juice and coffee, but not all the options at the same time.

They have two types of places, the state-run restaurants and the particulares, the last one is a bit more expensive than the other one but not really a big difference, it’s like instead of paying 1 dollar for your meal you will pay 2, only if that private restaurants (particular) serves locals.

Cooking your own food it’s not an option at all, but what we did to complement our meals was to buy fruits like avocado and mango and ask at the restaurants to cut it for us.

Fresh juices are amazing and very cheap, if you have an empty water bottle with you, ask them to refill it with juice (1,2,3.. cups) it’s a normal practice between locals.

We never got sick from the food or drinks (only feed up😂)

👉🏽Being Vegan (or) Vegetarian 

Well, where to start… to say the truth, being vegan in Cuba can be very hard when you are travelling on a budget, and off the beaten path.

While you always have the option of eating at the casas particulares, that with your guide will be able to cook something for you,  it’s not the cheapest option or any different from the things you can eat outside. Cooking is also not an option, because they will not allow you to use their kitchens.

Carrying a knife is truly a life saver, you can just eat some salad or fruit when you want. Cubans sell seasonal fruit and vegetables using street carts, it is more likely to find them during the morning. Fresh fruit is by far one of the top foods you can eat, the most common are guavas, papayas, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, avocados, mamoncillo and coconuts.

Here are some names of the most common food, if you don’t speak Spanish it would be important to get familiarised with them:

  • arroz (rice)
  • ensalada (salad)
  • frijoles (beans)
  • arroz morro or moros y cristianos  (black beans + rice)
  • fruta (fruit)
  • maduros (fried sweet plantains)
  • tostones (fried green plantains)
  • Yuca frita or cassava (a root vegetable)
  • pan (bread)
  • papas (potatoes)
  • Batido (milkshake)  *not vegan
  • jugo natural (natural fruit juice)
  • Cucurucho (desert with coconut and pineapple)
  • pudin or flan (pudding flan) *not vegan
  • Pasteles dulces (bakery)
  • mani (peanuts)

More touristic places, like Havana, Trinidad or Viñales will have a better option than the rest of the country, but not much..

So far, for me, Cuba was the hardest country to eat well as a vegan (sorry to say that if you are planning a trip to Cuba 😆) You will definitely not to starve but you will get sick of the same food every day, specially if you are travelling like me for a long time, by the end I couldn’t think about eating more of the same again 😫 the smile in my face holding the food was just for the photos  haha 😂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🚌 Read Part 2 🚌