Cuba - Holidays, Flights and Hotels
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Flight Time to Cuba from the UK
Approx 9 hours 40 min
The Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba, IPA: [re'pußlika ðe 'kußa]) is a country consisting of the island of Cuba (the largest of the Greater Antilles), the Isle of Youth and adjacent small islands. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Cuba is south of the eastern United States, and the Bahamas, west of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Haiti, and east of Mexico. The Cayman Islands and Jamaica are south of eastern Cuba.
Brief History of Cuba
The recorded history of Cuba began on 28 October 1492, when Christopher Columbus sighted the island during his first voyage of discovery and claimed it for Spain. The island had been inhabited for at least several thousand years by Amerindian peoples known as the Taíno and Ciboney. The Taíno were farmers and the Ciboney were hunter-gatherers. The name Cuba is derived from the Taíno word cubanacán, meaning "a central place."
Information provided by Wikipedia
Flights to Cuba | Car Rental | Resorts and Hotels in Cuba |
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Hayes and Jarvis - www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk
Visit Cuba from the award-winning specialist in long haul holidays - ATOL (No 1275), ABTA (No V1464).
Cuba, the epitome of Latin America, conjures up images of salsa, fat cigars and American vintage motorcars. The legacy of its Spanish conquerors can be seen everywhere, on Havana's cobbled streets and the aging façades of beautiful buildings. Visit Cuba once and it will steal your heart, with its people, intriguing history and powder-white beaches all making Cuba an amazing holiday destination.
Thomas Cook - www.thomascook.com
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Cuba is bursting with personality, and has beautiful regions that are waiting to be enjoyed. You could stretch out on the magnificent, unspoiled beaches of the Holguin area, see flocks of flamingo in the Cayos and swim with friendly dolphins in Varadero. While the stunning Spanish colonial city of Havana is simply unmissable!
Opodo - www.opodo.co.uk
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Life in Havana has only two gears: high and low. Low (languorous, romantic, wistful) is usually reserved for lazing in the sunshine, playing chess in the street or sipping coconut water in the Plaza de la Catedral, the city's main square. Whereas high (flirtatious, excitable, humorous) is carnival, beach life and the genuinely hospitable face that greets tourists as they step off the plane.
Netflights - www.netflights.com
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eBookers - www.ebookers.com
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Thomson Holidays - www.thomson.co.uk
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Public Holidays in Cuba
Liberation Day - Sun Jan 1
Labor Day - Mon May 1
Rebellion Anniversary (3 days) - Tue Jul 25
War of Independence Day - Tue Oct 10
Christmas Day - Mon Dec 25
Cuba Visa Requirements
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British nationals must have a valid passport. A visa is also required.
Getting Around Cuba
Probably the nicest way to get around Cuba is on the Víazul buses. These are well-staffed and luxurious air-conditioned buses with toilets, big comfy seats, and lots of leg room. Refreshments are provided. Víazul buses are mostly used by foreigners and rich locals. You'll need to book your ticket a day before departure to secure your seat; you may not get a ticket if you just show up right before departure. Bring something warm to put on; the air conditioning is normally set on the highest level.
Alternatively there are the regular Astro buses used by most of the locals, which also serves smaller and non-touristed cities in addition to the usual suspects. Foreigners are charged higher prices, but it's still 3-4 times cheaper than Víazul. Pre-booking is mandatory and you'll likely need to employ your Spanish skills. Note that these buses are overcrowded, often miss their schedule, and tend to break down.
It is also possible to cover some distances on special tourist minibuses, vans carrying 4-5 people. The cost is a few dollars more but highly recommended if you are not planning to sleep the whole distance - plus you can ask the driver to stop along the way!
Official taxis are pretty expensive for long distances. Between Havana and Viñales, for example, will run about CUC 90-100, although this can work out cheaper than traveling by bus or train if you split the fare between several people. If you're up for a little adventure and don't mind the smell of gasoline you can find some enterprising locals willing to (illegally) play "taxi" with their old car for a little less money.
Taxis are the most convenient way to get around within the big cities. There are several types of taxis, including the official government taxis, the private and potentially unlicensed "yank tanks", and the small three-wheeled coco-taxis. They're fairly abundant and not hard to find - they tend to group in front of large hotels, but it will usually be cheaper to find one elsewhere.
You will find an unusually large number of old U.S.-made cars on the street. Popularly known as "Yank Tanks," these are pre-revolution imports from the 1950s that have been nursed along for half a century, because the Soviet-made cars available during the Cold War were too scarcely allocated for most Cubans to buy (and other cars remain too expensive today).
In Cuba, all vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road.
Car rental starts from CUC 65 per day (including insurance) plus the cost of a full tank of gasoline. The refundable deposits start around CUC 200. Rental cars are for the most part fairly new, imported European or Asian models. Any traffic tickets received are noted on a rental car sheet and are deducted from your rental deposit.
Generally traffic is medium, especially away from Havana. Outside of towns and cities traffic is usually very light, with no cars for miles. Be warned - you also share the highways with cyclists (sometimes going the wrong way, and at night usually without lights) and horse-drawn vehicles. Also note that the Autopista (the main highway running down the center of the country) is crossed at occasional intervals by railway tracks - take care to slow down before going over to avoid damage to the tires or suspension. Many of these have a stop sign ("PARE" in Spanish) which you should carefully heed - or risk a fine of CUC 30, even if no train is coming.
Expect to encounter checkpoints when traveling in the interior of the country. $10 and an American passport will get you through in most cases. It is often useful to travel with a national of a country that has an embassy in Cuba. This will give you recourse to an embassy should unexpected difficulties arise (for instance having a GPS unit can be considered spying). If traveling with a Cuban national expect to pay additional "taxes" to get them through the checkpoint. Gasoline costs CUC 0.85/Regular, CUC 0.95/Special and 1.10/Super per litre. Tourist rental cars are not supposed to use regular.
Hitchhiking is very common in Cuba and is considered relatively safe. To flag down a ride wait on the side of the road you wish to travel and extend your arms at passing vehicles.
The main train line in the country runs between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, with major stops at Santa Clara and Camaguey, and reaching other provincial capitals occasionally.
The fastest and most comfortable way to cover larger distances is on either of the Cuban airlines, Cubana de Aviación or Aero Caribbean.
Calm roads and beautiful scenery make Cuba an ideal country for biking. You will have to bring your own bike as bikes suitable for trekking are not readily available in Cuba. Roads in most places in Cuba are reasonable, but it may still be a good idea to bring a mountain bike. Mountain bikes are stronger and allow for better driving off-road. Make sure to bring all spare parts you might need along the way, since they will not be available in Cuba. As casas pariculares are available even in relatively small towns it is easy to plan an itinerary. Food for on the road can often be obtained locally for cheap Cuban Pesos, but make sure if you travel through more remote areas to carry enough food (and water!). Bikers are often met with enthusiasm and interest; when taking a break you will often be approached by curious locals. It is possible to take bikes on a tourbus, like "Viazul", to cover larger distances. You have to arrange a personal agreement with the driver however, who will expect a little bonus in return. It is also possible to take bikes on trains and even to hitch with bikes (wave some convertible pesos to approaching drivers to catch their attention).