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Travel to Havana

Flying to Havana

More than 30 airlines operate out of Havana José Martí International Airport, including Virgin Atlantic, United, Air China, Iberia, Delta, KLM, Alitalia and Cuban national carrier Cubana de Aviación (tel: +53 7 649 0410;


Flight times

From London - 10 hours; New York - 4 hours; Miami - 1 hour; Toronto - 3 hours 30 minutes; Sydney - 25 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Cuba's island-wide road network generally hosts more hitchhikers, cyclists, trucks and horse-drawn carriages than automobiles. Local roads, designated by two or three numbers, tend to be in bad shape generally.

Traffic drives on the right and road signs are similar to those used in Europe. The minimum driving age is 18, although you usually need to be at least 21 to hire a car. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in towns, 90kph (55mph) on main roads and 100kph (62mph) on the highway. Speeding and other offences are liable to fines payable upon hire car return. Driving under the influence of alcohol carries heavy fines.

There is no automobile association in Cuba; car hire companies have an emergency number for breakdowns, but asking locals for assistance may be more efficient. Planning routes carefully, checking the location of petrol stations, ensuring there's a spare tyre and carrying a good road map is advisable.

Emergency breakdown services

When all else fails, try the tow-service offered by Havana-based Servimovil (tel: +53 7 641 8362).


The national highway is known as Ocho Vías (Eight Lanes) as it leaves Havana heading west to Pinar del Río and east through Santa Clara to its terminus in Ciego de Ávila. This wide, modern highway is in good repair but has zero lighting, making night driving difficult, if not downright dangerous.

The older national artery, the Carretera Central, is a slower alternative and runs the length of the island from La Fé on the western tip of the island via Havana and then Santa Clara down to Guantánamo in the east. Trinidad is reached by branching off this road before Santa Clara. A better maintained road, the Vía Blanca, links Havana with the main beach resort of Varadero.


Cuba's bus network is extensive, making bus the most popular way to travel. Most visitors go with Víazul (tel: +53 7 881 1413; in their overly enthusiastically air-conditioned coaches between Havana and Varadero, Viñales, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and other major cities. The Víazul terminal is on Avenida 26 and Avenida Zoológico. You can buy tickets from their office. Payment is in Convertible Pesos (CUC).

Time to city

From Varadero - 2 hours 30 minutes; Santa Clara - 3 hours; Cienfuegos - 3 hours; Holguín - 8 hours; Santiago de Cuba - 12 hours.

Travel by Rail


Train travel is a great way to meet people and experience a slice of Cuban life, but the service is notoriously unreliable with frequent delays and cancellations. This state of affairs should improve with a massive project between Brazil and Cuba to upgrade the island’s tracks and equipment. Until the project is complete, those who have the time and wherewithal to travel by train will embark on an unforgettable journey.

There is no national enquiries number but you can obtain information from the railway station in Havana. The main station is the Estación Central, Avenida Bélgica and Calle Arsenal, but this is closed for renovations until 2018, so most trains are currently departing from La Coubre station, which is close by. Expect the station to be rather crowded with patient passengers surrounded by large piles of luggage waiting for delayed trains.


Caribbean island with a functioning rail service, which is operated by Ferrocarriles de Cuba. The main, and best, route is from Havana to Santiago de Cuba via Matanzas, Santa Clara, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey and Las Tunas. Published timetables don't exist, so it is imperative to check times well in advance and make a reservation in person at the station.

Journey times

From Camagüey - 7 hours; Santiago - 15 hours.

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Featured Hotels


Parque Central Hotel

This well-situated, upscale hotel straddling Central Havana and Old Havana has been setting the standard for luxury lodging in the Cuban capital for years. In 2010, the Parque Central added 149 rooms in its new, chic La Torre building, further cementing its reputation as one of the city's best places to stay. Connected to the original building (with 277 rooms), La Torre is more low-key and the rooms fresher. The rooftop pool with panoramic city views is a real draw here.

Park View Hotel

A great location combines with a nice price to make the Park View a perennial favourite. Close to both the famous Museo de la Revolución and the exquisite Museo de Bellas Artes, this small Havana hotel provides a warm welcome to the city. Functional rather than fancy, rooms have air conditioning, satellite TV and a safe deposit box. The on-site restaurant has awesome city views and hotel staff are friendly.

Hotel Sevilla

One of the city's most striking examples of Moorish architecture (the façade and lobby, anyway), this historic hotel is a feast for the eyes, from the exotically tiled lobby to the sweeping city views from the Roof Garden Restaurant. Its location (steps from the Paseo del Prado, Gran Teatro and many museums) puts Havana's highlights at your beck and call. The rooms are rough around the edges, however; best to check one out before checking in. The lobby is always abuzz with live music, clinking cocktail glasses and laughter.

Hotel Santa Isabel

To date, the only (supposed) 5-star hotel in Old Havana's historic core, the Santa Isabel occupies a privileged spot on picturesque Plaza de Armas. The setting is charming, with many of the 27 rooms overlooking the Plaza or Havana Harbor, which is largely what attracts famous guests including Jimmy Carter and Robert Plant. However, like many historic buildings (this one dates from the 1700s), interiors can be dark and musty, plus hotel staff can be bristly and less than efficient.

Hotel Habana Riviera

Once upon a time, this hotel overlooking the Malecón was a major mobster hangout (it was built by infamous mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky) and everything from the retro, low-slung couches in the lobby to the legendary shows at The Copa Room cabaret throw back to that bygone era. Unfortunately, it can feel like the rooms haven't been updated since then. On the upside, even standard rooms are giant, each has city or sea views (go for one on the upper floors, with a balcony), and the windows actually open. The seawater pool here and lobby bar are attractions in themselves.

Hotel El Terral

One of Havana's newest properties, this boutique hotel is superbly perched overlooking the Malecón – and every room has a private balcony from which to appreciate the killer sea views. One guest says it's like being on a ship, you're that close to the water. So chic and popular is this place, you'll be lucky to land one of the 14 rooms. Doubly lucky are those that book a corner room (with two balconies) or one of the two suites each with long, deep terraces. The staff are friendly and pay meticulous attention to detail, plus you can walk to some excellent restaurants and sites.