Visiting Cuba, particularly Havana, has become almost a passion for many in the US. For many years, no US citizen could visit Cuba. Following the Cuban Revolution, the US government banned US citizens from traveling there. The restrictions began to ease some in 1999, making it possible for groups to visit. People-to-people travel became a reality again in 2011. Ocean cruises began to journey there and US carriers started flights to Cuba. However, that all changed in 2019 when the US government again restricted travel to Cuba. But it's not as dire as you might think. Yes, US travelers can still go to Cuba. You can fly into Havana and experience Cuba by following these simple guidelines.
History of Havana
Havana is Cuba's capital city. It is a bustling city with breathtaking views over the blue Caribbean water. Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can find great food, architectural treasures, and rich history in Havana.
Travel to Havana Cuba
To travel to Cuba, you need to know the list of restrictions. While there have been restrictions since travel was reinstated in 2011, there are now very strict policies. You can fly on one of the US airlines—American, JetBlue, and Delta. As of December 10, 2019, only flights into Havana are allowed from the US. You can take one of the local flights to get to other destinations in Cuba.
There are still ten categories of travel allowed in Cuba, with thanks to ViaHero for a succinct list compiled from the US State Department:
- Family visits
- Official business for the US government and some intergovernmental organizations
- Professional research
- Religious activities
- Public performances
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
- Certain export transactions
Two previous categories, Educational Activities and People-to-People Travel, were canceled by the US government in mid-2019. The easiest way to visit Cuba today is with the “Support for the Cuban people” requirement. While this does not mean you can pitch an umbrella and spend all day lounging on the white beaches of Havana, it does mean you can experience the best of Havana. You mist want to visit museums, volunteer with local organizations, eat in local restaurants, take dance or cooking lessons, meet with ballet dancers, or learn how skilled artisans create their works. Be sure to consult the List of Restricted Entities in Cuba, which is published by the State Department.
You do need to show that you “Maintain a full schedule (considered 6-8 hours daily, or 40 hours per week) of meaningful interactions.” You need to keep a detailed list of what you do each day. That should include the private restaurants where you ate, the places you stayed, and what you did each day. You may be asked to show it when returning to the US.
Finding Accommodations in Havana
One of the biggest questions US citizens have about visiting Havana is how to book accommodation in Havana, Cuba. While many sites recommend that you book a private home or through a home share service, you can find many large hotel chains in Havana, including Iberostar. You must simply ensure that the hotel you book is not on the List of Restricted Entities. I like Iberostar properties and only one, Iberostar Grand Packard, is restricted. I recommend you book a room at Iberostar Parque Central, a 5-star property in the heart of Old Havana.
Iberostar Parque Central is a renovated hotel in a historic building. You can look out across the capital city from the sun terrace and one of the two rooftop swimming pools.
While there are restrictions on travel to Cuba, it is still a great destination, with plenty of opportunities to experience Havana. The weather is almost always beautiful in Cuba and there is so much history and culture to explore.
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