Apart from occasional stops of some cruises, or those with a private boat, the only way to get to Cuba is by plane, although if diplomatic relations with the United States continue to improve, there will soon be a ferry from Miami.
We need to mention that in any Cuban airport, thefts on checked luggage are very frequent from workers who carry the suitcases from and to the airplane. It is discouraged to put valuables in checked luggage, and protect it with covers, straps or wrapped it in transparent plastic.
ENTERING THE COUNTRY
- A flight to leave the country.
- A passport valid for at least one month longer than the date of our departure ticket from the island.
- The tourist card or visa. Most nationalities require a visa to enter Cuba.
- The few countries that do not require it are almost all Caribbean.
- In some countries, such as Canada, the visa is included in the price of the plane ticket.
- But usually you have to get it in advance. Almost any travel agency specialized in Cuba deals with it, or it can be requested at the embassy or consulate of the country of origin, which is usually not more economical neither simple. The price is 25 $CUC.
- Proof of travel medical insurance.
- It is usually requested the address of the first place where we are going to stay.
To leave the country, there is no payment of 25 $CUC anymore, that rate has been included in the price of airline tickets.
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OF HAVANA JOSÉ MARTÍ
The largest airport in the country, although actually small and old, where almost all major airlines worldwide land, being Cubana de Aviación the national one. It is located 15 km southeast of the city. It has 5 terminals:
- T1: Cubana de Aviación domestic flights.
- T2: charter flights from Miami and other US cities (which in practice are all flights from the United States) and Corsair Airlines Charters from France.
- T3: the most modern (let’s say the least old) and main T3, operates most of the traffic.
- T5: Aerocaribbean company and other charter lines.
The terminals are connected to each other by a free bus service.
And if in Cuba you always have to wait for everything, picking up your luggage is a real hell. It’s ridiculous, between one and two hours until your suitcase shows up in the conveyor belt, with flights arriving and more and more people piling into the rooms that are clearly too small for the number of tourists.
To get to the city:
- Official (Cubacar): yellow, they are all new cars. Fixed price 25 $CUC. It takes about 35 minutes to get to the center.
- Unofficial ones are cheaper, but as always, using them carries more risk of being ripped off or ending up at the other end of Havana at a taxi driver’s cousin’s hotel or at his brother-in-law’s souvenir shop.
- The bus is very little recommended, they are usually packed and very unpunctual:
- From the T1 there is supposedly a bus until 8 pm which takes you to the center. It costs a few cents.
- You can also walk from the T2 to the very nearby Rancho Boyeros Avenue and take a bus line. They have no maps, and basic Spanish is required. They are usually very crowded, so it can be a problem for those who carry a lot of luggage.
OTHER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS
By far less crowded, but still getting direct flights are:
- Varadero. More and more direct flights, especially from Europe, to this destination.
- Santiago de Cuba.
- Cayo Largo del Sur.
None of them has connections with public transport, so the taxi is necessary. It is advisable to agree a price before using them.