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Language: Spanish | Currency: Peso (₱) | Local time: UTC-4:00 | Avg. Flight time: 13.5 hrs
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Currently, only Virgin Atlantic flies direct from London Gatwick (LGW) to Havana’s Jose Martí International Airport (HAV). These flights depart on Thursdays or Sundays during the summer, with an additional Saturday flight between November and March.
New for 2017, Virgin Atlantic now operates a direct service between Gatwick and Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport (VRA) which provides easy access to the nearby Varadero beach resort. Thomson Airways also operates the same route on a charter basis.
There are various indirect services with cheaper fares to Havana – most commonly using Air France via Paris, KLM via Amsterdam or Iberia and Air Europa through Madrid.
Thomson flies from Manchester to Santa Clara (SNU) and therefore provides easy access to the lush island resort of Cayo Santa Maria. Thomas Cook dominates the routes from Manchester to Juan Gualberto Gómez and Holguin (HOG). Holguin is about an hour’s drive away from Guardalavaca, once described by Christopher Columbus as “the most beautiful land I have ever seen”.
Holidaymakers from Aberdeen (ABZ), Birmingham (BHX), Bristol (BRS) can also get to Juan Gualberto Gómez and Holguin with Thomas Cook. All flights have a stopover in Frankfurt and the flight times range from 15 to 18 hours.
The cheapest fares are from September to October when the weather is wet with a risk of hurricanes. January and February are the coolest months, so you may be able to pick up a cheap ticket then too.
From 2018, Thomas Cook will also operate a summer service between Manchester and Santa Clara (SNU) – this competition may drive prices down and give you a cheaper flight option.
A tarjeta de turista (tourist card) is valid for 30 days and is required for British passport holders who plan to spend two months or less in Cuba. You must also provide proof of a confirmed return flight and booked accommodation.
If you’re booking an all-inclusive holiday package through a tour operator, this card is usually included in the price. If you’re planning the trip by yourself, then you should apply via the Cuban Embassy by filling out this form and posting it off. The cost is £17 for collection in person at the Embassy’s offices in London, or £39 by post. Allow up to four weeks for visa processing.
No passport validity beyond the length of your stay is currently expected, although previously there has been a demand of 60 days. This may yet change again, so check the Foreign Office’s Cuba page for the latest updates.