Cities

Havana

– cosmopolitan capital with a swinging nightlife

Baracoa

– a quaint beach-side town, and Cuba's first capital

Camagüey

– Cuba's third-largest city is a maze of narrow alleyways, Catholic churches, and jars known as tinajones

Cienfuegos

– a French-founded city that rivaled (and eventually overtook) Trinidad as Cuba's main southern Port

Matanzas

– with a name that translates to "massacres," this industrial port city at the end of the Hershey railway is a hidden gem of Afro-Cuban culture and history

Pinar del Rio

– center of the cigar industry

Santa Clara (Cuba)

– site of the battle that won the Revolution and now home of the mausoleum to Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Santiago de Cuba

– coastal city rich in Caribbean influence and steeped in revolutionary history

Trinidad (Cuba)

– World Heritage Site with charming, colonial-era buildings

Other destinations

Cayo Largo

– a small island with nudist facilities

Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes

– a national park in the Sierra del Emcambray mountains, straddling Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, and Sancti Spiritus provinces

Isla de la Juventud

– a large island south of Havana

Jardines del Rey

– an island chain of beach resorts including Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo

Maria la Gorda

– a tiny village with some snorkeling and diving options

Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata

– similar to Florida's Everglades National Park, with vast swamps and world-famous birdwatching, scuba diving, and beaches; and the site of the 1961 American Bay of Pigs invasion

Parque Nacional La Güira

– Another national park in Pinar del Rio province, with mountains and caves, but without many tourist facilities

Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario

– a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Sierra del Rosario mountains of Pinar del Rio province; the principal sites are Soroa and Las Terrazas

Varadero Beach

– 20-kilometer-long beach of fine white sand and waters

Viñales

– a national park in Pinar del Rio province, with mountains and caves; it has the best-developed tourist facilities of Cuba's national parks

Sights

Cienfuegos

city in Cuba, capital of Cienfuegos Province

Trinidad, Cuba

town in the province of Sancti Spíritus, central Cuba

Camagüey

city in Cuba

Havana

capital city and commercial centre of Cuba

Jamaica

country in the Caribbean

Trinidad

larger of the two major islands which make up Trinidad and Tobago

Viñales

town and municipality in Pinar del Río Province, Cuba

Manuel Tames

city

Someday

guide to

Cuba

Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It lies 145 km (90 miles) south of Key West, Florida, between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, and northwest of Jamaica.

Arriving

Visa and legal issues

A tourist visa card (visa de tarjeta del turista) is necessary for travellers from most countries. This visa, which is really little more than a piece of paper on which you list your personal information, costs between 15-25 CUC (or €15-25) from most destinations, depending on where purchased. Costs between US$50 and $100 from the US. It can be purchased at the airport in Cuba on arrival, but many airlines will require a valid tourist visa card before you board a flight. It is usually valid for 30 days and can be extended once for another 30 days at any immigration office in Cuba (for 25 CUC) - beyond this you would need a flight out of Cuba within the extended visa period. Canadians are the exception, getting 90 days on arrival and can apply for a 90-day extension. Your passport needs to be valid at least six months past the end of your planned return. Canadian passports must be valid for at least one month beyond the date of expected departure ().

From Canada, the tourist card is normally provided on the flight. It can also be purchased from most Latin American gateway airports if departing from there (Cancun: 250 Mexican pesos, Mexico City: US$25). If you are coming from Europe (this may apply to other countries), you need to have the visa before boarding the plane. Sometimes, the airline provides these at the airport, however check first that this is the case. Without a valid visa, boarding will be denied (the airline would otherwise get a US$1,000 fine from the Cuban immigration authorities).

Country-specific advice

Regular tourists who renew their 30-day visa are eligible to depart the country (to any destination) and return immediately enjoying a further 60 days (30 days plus a 30-day extension). You are only allowed two consecutive stays in this manner.

If you want to stay with friends or family in Cuba you have to go with your intended host within two days after arrival to a migration office and pay 40 CUC for a 30 days family visa.

Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda (28 days), Barbados (28 days), Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, CIS (except Ukraine and Uzbekistan), Dominica, Grenada (60 days), Liechtenstein (90 days), Macedonia, Malaysia (90 days), Mongolia, Montenegro (90 days), Namibia, Singapore, Slovakia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia (90 days), Turkmenistan who can stay 30 days without visa. (The source of the previous sentence is unknown. Aeromexico staff at Cancun airport claim that only citizens of China and Russia need no visa.)

The departure tax is included in the airplane ticket and does not have to be paid separately. No departure tax is required for boat departures.

Cuban customs can be strict, though they sometimes go easy on tourists.

Cuban-born

To enter Cuba, Cuban citizens residing permanently in another country require a current Cuban passport with the appropriate authorisation. This authorisation is known as habilitación of the passport. To obtain this authorisation the Cuban citizen must be recognised a migrant by the Cuban government.

Most Cuban-born people who are citizens of other countries still need a current authorised Cuban passport to enter Cuba. The Cuban government does not recognise the citizenships that might have been acquired by anyone born in Cuba. This means that all Cuban-born individuals are considered to be Cuban citizens even if they have a different citizenship.

An exception to this rule are Cubans who emigrated from Cuba before 1 January 1971. In this case they can enter Cuba with a non-Cuban passport and the appropriate visa. However, some consulates are known to disregard this exception, with the result that travellers must acquire a Cuban passport at a significant cost. The Cuban consulate in Sydney, Australia is one that have been reported to be doing this.

For more information see the Cuban government's webpage Nación y Emigración (in Spanish):

Havana

José Martí International Airport outside Havana is the main gateway and is served by major airlines from points in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. There is direct service from Beijing. There are also regional flights from other Caribbean islands. Cuba's national carrier is Cubana de Aviación, connecting the island to a handful of destinations in Mexico, South and Central America, Canada and Europe. With the easing of sanctions against Cuba, direct flights are available from a number of U.S. cities, including Charlotte, Newark, and Miami despite the imposition of new limits on independent travel from the US.

Flights from Miami to Cuba are offered to authorized American passengers. Try calling Cuba Travel Services (CTS Charters). They offer daily non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Miami to Cuba. There are also regular holiday charter flights to resorts such as Varadero, and these can sometimes be less expensive than those going to Havana.

The airports are all fully air-conditioned and quite modern compared to other destinations in the Caribbean, offer good medical care in case of problems, and are usually relatively hassle free. Your checked luggage, though, is at great risk. It is increasingly common for your luggage to be opened and anything of value removed. This used to be a problem at José Martí International (Havana) only; now it seems to have spread to all airports. Packing valuables in checked luggage is extremely risky, if not foolish.

If you have purchased a Oneworld ticket then further flights into America within that year will be disallowed through American Airlines.

Others

While Havana is by far the most popular port of entry, there are also flights available to Santiago de Cuba from some of Cuba's nearest Caribbean neighbours, Jamaica and Haiti. There are also flights from more distant locations, such as Miami, Toronto, Madrid, Paris, Milan and Rome. Santiago de Cuba is connected with the rest of Cuba by road and rail connections.

There are also regular holiday charter flights to resorts such as Varadero, and these can sometimes be less expensive than those going to Havana.

By boat

There are no ferry services from Cancún to Cuba as the sole operator of this line, Aqua Cruises, no longer sails this route. There are also no ferry services from Florida to Cuba, however several cruise companies have announced they intend to sail this route when the travel embargo is lifted.

Yachters are expected to anchor at the public marinas. Most ports are closed and tourists are not permitted to walk around them. Private vessels may enter at Marina Hemingway in Havana or Marina Acua in Varadero. There are no visa requirements. Expect to hand out several US$10 bills to facilitate your entry.

More information available on Wikivoyage

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