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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.

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.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Built in the 1930s by a New York firm, this historic hotel is a national monument and a destination in its own right. The rich and famous have always favoured its beautiful gardens overlooking the Malecón – notable guests include Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Steven Spielberg and Uma Thurman. The hotel's cigar bar is tops (especially during December's film festival when the Nacional is packed with luminaries) and the Cabaret Parisien is popular for its scantily-clad, floor show. The rooms here are nothing fancy; upgrade to the sixth (executive) floor if you're coming for more than the history.

Saratoga Hotel

Widely considered one of Havana's top luxury hotels (just ask Beyoncé and Jay-Z who celebrated their wedding anniversary here in 2013), the Saratoga offers understated elegance in a prime location across the street from the majestic Capitolio Building. There are 96 equally-comfortable rooms, though décor varies from charming colonial to modern chic – 'deluxe patio' (or standard rooms) overlook the interior patio and are less desirable. If budget allows, upgrade to a suite – from the wraparound balcony to mahogany interior, they're spectacular.

Hotel Saint John's

Although this hotel in Havana's verdant Vedado section of town has a great location and is walking distance from the Malecón, it has seen better days. The 86 rooms are pretty well worn and not all electrical outlets, faucets or lights may be working. But there's a small rooftop pool, the famous Pico Blanco disco on the top floor, and some rooms have sea views, which allows many guests (especially students and younger travellers, who favour this place) to overlook the shabbiness.

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.