Cheap flights to Cuba are available from Manchester Airport, or Heathrow and Gatwick Airports in London. British visitors to Cuba will need a tourist card – valid for 28 days – before their arrival in the country. Check with the Cuban Embassy in London to learn about entry requirements. Most international flights to Cuba arrive at Jose Marti International Airport near Havana. Taxis into Havana and other destinations can be hired from taxi ranks outside the arrival halls of all terminals. Local buses are available for journeys to Havana and other towns around the island. Only Cuban Pesos are accepted on local buses.
It is illegal for tourists to ride in private taxis, but official government-owned metered taxis can be hired easily. The distinctive yellow egg-shaped Coco taxis are a cheap and fun mode of getting around Havana. Viazul offers comfortable and efficient long distance bus services around Cuba. Seats can be booked online ahead of time, and by phone or in person at the bus station a day before you plan to leave. Astro also operates bus services all over the island – ticket prices are slightly cheaper than Viazul but services may take slightly longer to arrive at their destination. The FCC operates a network of trains that traverse the island. The number 1 train crosses the length of the island, connecting Havana to Santiago.
Plaza de la Revolution in Havana is dominated by the Jose Marti Memorial on one end, and an imposing image of Che Guevera on the other. The baroque Catedral de San Cristobal takes pride of place in Old Havana. The old town itself – La Habana Vieja – is a World Heritage listed district with many picturesque old buildings. Cool off with a stroll along the Malecon, the old wall shielding Havana from the sea. Trek up Cuba’s highest mountain Pico Turquino for a glimpse of the island’s breathtaking beauty. The Isla de la Juventud is said to have inspired Robert Louise Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Spend a few hours here and uncover the little isle’s natural beauty. Real Fabrica se Tabagos Partagas is Cuba’s most renowned cigar factory, and it’s worth a peek to find out how those Cohibas are manufactured.
Variadades Galiano is a department store in Havana stocking everything from clothes to music and more. It has a rather charming old-fashioned atmosphere and is where many locals go to shop. Cobbled Calle Mercaderes is lined with an eclectic range of shops selling curios and chocolates, and a number of art galleries. Cigars and elaborate cigar boxes can be picked up from the Real Fabrica Tabagos Partagas factory. The Coppelia Ice Cream Parlour is a popular spot with many locals – prices start from only one peso per scoop. Paladares are restaurants set up in private homes and some of the country’s best food can be found in them. Paladar La Guarida is one of the better known eateries – its dilapidated setting belies its reputation for tasty Cuban cuisine. Follow in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps and indulge in a daiquiri at El Floridita. Casa de la Trova in Santiago de Cuba is the home of traditional Cuban music and still pulls in big name performers such as various members of the Buena Vista Social Club.