Since Cuba-US relations were restored, Havana International Airport – the Jose Marti International Airport – has seen a tremendous surge in visitor numbers. Demand is far outstripping supply right now, so don’t be surprised, upon arrival, and find the airport crowded and somewhat chaotic.
Welcome to Cuba!
Havana International Airport has been renovated in recent years and now boasts 4 terminals, with Terminal 3 being the international, the most modern and, indeed, the busiest one. Terminals 1 and 5 are reserved for domestic flights. All terminals are connected via shuttle bus service.
The Jose Marti Havana International Airport, named after one of the country’s most beloved revolutionary philosophers, is serviced by over 40 airline carriers, with connections to every corner of the globe. Up until 2015, more than 35% of foreign visitors to Cuba hailed from Russia, with roughly 15% coming from Europe. The latest political developments, however, are expected to completely revolutionise Cuba’s tourism industry. Pun totally accidental.
International Airlines to/from Havana
Some of the main international carriers to Havana are:
- Aeromexico (arguably the easiest connecting airline for Australians & New Zealanders)
- Air France
- American Airlines (one of 6 airlines granted new US-Cuba routes)
- British Airways
- Copa Airlines (handles most international connections)
- Delta Airlines
- Iberia (Madrid)
- Interject (low-cost Mexican airline, with connections throughout Latin America)
- Lacsa (a subsidiary of TACA)
- Virgin Airlines (direct from the UK)
National airlines offering connections all over Cuba:
- Cubana de Aviacion (the country’s main airline)
- Aeorgaviota (local airline with convenient connections to Jamaica)
The most popular domestic aviation hub, aside Havana, is Santiago de Cuba, once the capital of the country. Most travels around Cuba, however, is best done by road.
A tourist info desk is located outside the Arrivals Hall – landside.
Getting to/from the airport
The airport is in the town of Boyeros, merely 15km from downtown Havana. Government taxis can be hired right outside the airport terminal, although you’ll need to have local currency (about USD 25’s worth) at hand to pay for the ride and have to deal (yet again) with long queues.
We recommend you pre-book (and prepay) a private hotel transfer with a private taxi instead. This way you can skip ALL the queues (ATM, currency exchange and taxi) and reach your hotel in no time. The drive into town should take less than half an hour. And please, do keep in mind that Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world for foreign tourists, but do read our Cuba safety guide before arriving. It’ll give you a clearer picture of what you should/should not pack and what you should and should not do in Cuba.
Havana stopovers are immensely popular and that’s certainly no surprise, with most travellers choosing to spend a minimum of 4 days either at the start, the middle or the end of their Latin American adventures. With direct flights to the UK and easy connections all over the world, spending at least a few days in Havana is immensely rewarding and convenient.
However, when you do include Cuba on your itinerary, you may need to catch a connecting flight through the city’s international airport. ‘Transiting’ through Havana International Airport means you need to pass immigration, customs, luggage retrieval and re-check-in, which means you’ll want to have a few (at least 3-4) hours safety margin at the very least. Clearing customs at Havana International Airport is painfully slow – and rather meticulous – so you need to be prepared.
If you can, why not include one more overnighter in Havana instead and fly onwards with peace of mind the following day? Surely you could do with another mojito and serve of crab cakes at La Bodeguita del Medio!
Havana boasts a rather impressive array of accommodation choice, from local homestay-style to grand hotels and everything in between. Do keep in mind that the ‘airport’ hotel is actually downtown, so any Havana accommodation choice is suitable for an overnighter.
A few popular options are:
Hotel Palco – 4* – 16km, 24 min drive
El Bosque Hotel – 3* – 19km, 26 min drive
Hotel Bella Habana Aeropuerto – 2* – 17km, 23 min drive
Whilst there’s an exchange bureau at the arrival’s lounge, do yourself a favour and walk upstairs to the departures hall instead when you arrive, where you’ll find more currency exchange stalls which will be almost deserted. Due to the fact that international flights from/to Havana don’t often overlap each other, when one hall is crowded, the other is not. Hence the tip.
In Havana, credit cards are now much more widely accepted and many businesses are happy to be paid in Euros and USD.
The local Cuban currency is split in two, with Cuban Peso CUP used by locals and Cuban Convertible Peso CUC used by tourists, The exchange rate is 25 CUP to 1 CUC.
A pharmacy and Medical Centre are located in Terminal 3.
Food options at Havana International Airport are legendarily subpar and overpriced. In town, however, you’ll find many more (and varied) options.
Cuban cuisine has a reputation for being quite bland and simple yet given all the in-house restrictions it’s no wonder it has yet to evolve into a gourmet, world-class affair. No doubt, it will. Havana, however, does boast a lovely selection of excellent eateries, offering both local and international meals. Because as we all know, there’s no amount of sanctioning that could ever keep pizza at bay! Aside great pizza at 5 Esuinas Trattoria, you can try local fare of fried chicken, plantain, rice and beans at El Patio on Cathedral Plaza, and wonderful fresh seafood at Templete in Habana Vieja.
You’ll find 2 VIP Lounges in the Departures Area of Terminal 3. Entry permitted for economy class passengers upon purchasing a day-pass:
- VIP Service Lounge– Location: Airside, Terminal 2. Lounge Access: US$ 29 (Arriving Passengers) or US$ 34 (Departing Passengers)
- VIP Service Lounge– Location: Airside, Terminal 3. Lounge Access: US$ 29 (Arriving Passengers) or US$ 34 (Departing Passengers)
Courtesy @ sleepingatairports
Wifi is offered at Havana International Airport, at a rate of 5CUC per hour. The network name is ETECSA_AEROPUERTO. You’ll also find (intermittent) connections at all major hotels. Perhaps surprisingly, however, internet access is not restricted in Cuba. In the few places you have access, naturally.
Several ATM machines are located in the Arrivals Lounge. Once again, expect long queues to access this upon arrival.
There are no Left Luggage services offered at Havana International Airport.
In Terminal 3, you’ll find dedicated souvenir shops selling rum and cigars, as well as bookstores and convenience stores.
There are 101 reasons to visit Cuba and the country is definitely one of South America’s most rewarding travel destinations. For flights into Havana International Airport and exceptional in-depth tours of Cuba and the Caribbean, contact us today.