Get inspired to travel with our newest route to Havana, Cuba, taking off November 29.
The landmark journey
Department of Transportation calling for approval. Not only does the route to Havana open doors to new traveling opportunities, but it also allows employees and many Cuban Americans the ability to visit where they grew up and to share these experiences with their families. Flights take off starting November 29 with daily nonstops from New York/Newark to Havana plus Saturday flights from Houston to Havana. As you plan your trip flip through the pages for must-see sights, things to do and useful tips including the 12 acceptable reasons to travel to Cuba. From the tropical scenery to the rich history, Cuba is quickly becoming one of the most exciting destinations to discover.
This fall’s debut of regularly scheduled commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba — the first in 55 years — is a momentous step forward. The historic significance of the flights is a point of pride for team members at United and an enormous benefit for customers. The new routes will not only make travel easier for those visiting family members, but it will also make travel possible for tourists eager to visit the Caribbean island nation and for those conducting business.
The flights were granted after more than 17,500 customers, employees, elected officials, and business and cultural leaders petitioned the U.S.
How to get there
Beginning on November 29, United passengers in the New York City metro area or connecting from cities nationwide can take daily nonstop flights from Newark (NJ) to Havana at 10:18 a.m. Nonstops will also fly to Havana every Saturday at 10:23 a.m. from Houston beginning on December 3. Houston is a one-stop United gateway airport connecting 20 metro areas across the central and western U.S.
How long to stay
Daily United flights between Newark (NJ) and Havana allow leisure travelers to spend a long weekend — ample time to see the main sights of Havana — or a few weeks for visitors with the time to explore Cuba’s many beaches, national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Planning your journey
You need an approved reason: Under U.S. law, flying to Cuba from or through the U.S. for tourism is not allowed. There are 12 acceptable travel reasons; when you book your travel or check in for your flight, you will be asked to certify the reason for your travel. These reasons include professional, educational, humanitarian or religious activities, as well as family visits.
United Vacations is designated a trusted tour operator for approved people-to-people educational tours to Cuba. A complete people-to-people Cuba vacation package will include roundtrip flights, a fully planned itinerary of activities and accommodations.
All visitors are required to have health insurance that is accepted in Cuba, so United has included Cuban health insurance ($25 per customer) in the total cost of revenue tickets.
Planning your journey
How long to stay
How to get there
Scheduled air travel from U.S. to Cuba resumes this fall, a major step in the thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations, with United flights taking off from Newark and Houston in November.
It’s Cuba’s national pastime too — Fidel Castro was a schoolboy pitcher and MLB stars today include Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig.
Scheduled flights between the U.S. and Cuba came to a halt in 1961 — and wouldn’t resume for 55 years.
The lovingly maintained 1950s U.S. classic cars that cruise Havana’s streets — a by-product of the embargo — have ironically become a symbol of Cuba.
Commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba began in 1920 — the first regularly scheduled flights in all of Latin America.
This lively style of ballroom dancing originated in Cuba in the late-1800s before it became all the rage in the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.
Christopher Columbus and his crew, after landing in Cuba in 1492, were introduced by locals to tobacco — which they brought back to Europe, where cigar smoking soon caught fire.
Things to do
A single visit won't allow you to experience all that Havana has to offer, but here are our top picks:
One of the city’s most historic thoroughfares, this 5 mile stretch of ocean road boasts stunning architecture and an open air theater of life where all walks of life come to congregate. Best experienced in a classic American car.
A Whole Day
All roads inevitably lead to the cobbled streets and plazas of 'Old Havana', a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to more than 900 buildings of historical, artistic and architectural importance. Start at the grand El Morro-Cabaña fortress and work from there.
Havana’s most grandiose building was the seat of the Cuban Congress until 1959, when it was transformed into the fascinating Cuban Academy of Sciences and the National Library of Science and Technology.
After decades of gastronomic austerity, Cuba has undergone a culinary revolution in recent years, and yet traditional cuisine remains the most rewarding.
Cuba’s national dish translates in Spanish as ‘old clothes’. (The shreds of meat, peppers and onions appear like a jumble of colorful rags.) But it tastes far better than it sounds, particularly at La Cocina de Lilliam and Paladar Vistamar.
Another Cuban classic of slow-cooked meat (beef or pork), fried plantains and ‘moros y cristianos’ – literally ‘Moors and Christians’ – a combination of black beans and white rice. Doña Eutimia does it particularly well.
Roasted mojo pork and sliced ham, cheese, pickles and mustard, all pressed between two thick slices of glazed Cuban bread. This sandwich is the cornerstone of the Cuban lunch hour, a meal in itself and a national treasure.
Forget hiring a car to get around Havana — cheaper and more charming alternatives are found everywhere.
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The general rule is if there is no meter, you should agree to a fare before you set off. Three-wheeled coco taxis – think Thai tuk-tuk – are a cheaper alternative.
‘Guagas’ are typically slow, overcrowded, unreliable and should be a last resort for the traveling tourist.
‘Coches de caballo’ trot on fixed routes around the city, offering a more romantic mode of transportation. You'll find most pick up from around Hotel Inglaterra in Old Havana.
The Havana Bus Tour offers double-deckers that travel various loops of the city, allowing you to take in all the tourist attractions and hop on and off as you please.
Also known as ‘ciclo-taxis’, these three-wheeled bicycles can carry two passengers and are everywhere in Havana. Haggling on price is expected.
This town on Cuba’s south coast is a perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement that’s a world (and 4 hours) away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Essentially an open air museum, it was afforded World Heritage Site status in 1998.
Road trip to Maria
Maria la Gorda sits on the tip of the west coast, a 4-hour drive away from the capital. While it’s an excellent location for scuba diving and snorkeling, the journey is the real attraction — a scenic meander through Pinar del Río and a series of time-forgotten villages.
Valle de Viñales
200 kilometers west of Havana stands Parque Nacional Viñales, one of Cuba's greatest natural settings, wedged into the Sierra de los Órganos and alive with lush scenery and
Those who look beyond Cuba’s capital will uncover a very different side of the island’s life.