Ins and outs

Getting there Air

The José Martí international airport is 18 km from Havana and all flights from abroad use Terminal 3, the newest terminal, with the exception of flights from Cancún which arrive at Terminal 2. As many transatlantic flights arrive late at night it can be sensible to arrange the transfer from the airport to your hotel in advance with your travel agent. However, it is cheaper to get a taxi when you arrive.  On the way back to the airport it is possible to arrange a private taxi, which may work out cheaper, if you negotiate with the driver. However, their cars are not as reliable as the state taxis and if they break down on the long
drive out, you will be stuck. Travelling by bus is not practical.

Bus

The
Víazul
bus service for foreigners is based quite far away from the old city and from Vedado and a taxi will be needed to get you to your destination.
Cubataxis
wait outside the terminal.

Train

The train station is at the southern end of the old city, within walking distance of any of the hotels there or in Centro Habana, although if you arrive at night it would be better to take a taxi to your destination.

Getting around

Havana is very spread out along the coast. La Habana Vieja to Miramar along the Malecón (the seafront boulevard) is more than 8 km.
Bus
Tricky for the uninitiated, involving complicated queuing procedures and a lot of pushing and shoving. In 2009 the Government cut back on the number of buses in service to save fuel, increasing the difficulties of getting on them. There is, however, a hop-on, hop-off tour bus service for foreigners, the
HabanaBusTour
. More leisurely than taking the bus is to hire a
bicitaxi
(bicycle taxi) for short journeys. However, it is now illegal for
bicitaxis
to take foreigners and they risk a large fine if caught, so they are likely to charge you over the odds to make it worthwhile.
Cocotaxi
 - these overpriced, bright yellow motorcycle taxis are called
cocotaxis
because of their shape.
You can opt for the traditional taxi, although those too come in lots of different styles.
Much of the city can be covered on foot, but the average visitor will be content with one district at a time and still feel well-exercised. It is also possible to hire
scooters
and
cars
.

Best time to visit

The driest and least humid time of the year is between December and March, when you can have completely cloudless days. From July to August is the hottest time but most public buildings have air conditioning and there is usually a breeze along the Malecón. Rain falls mainly in May and June and then from September to October, but there are wet days all year round. In recent years, the worst storms have hit between September and November, destroying many of the decrepit houses in the city, but Havana is exceptionally well prepared for hurricanes and loss of life is rare. Carnival is a movable feast. For some years it was held along the Malecón at the end of July and the beginning of August, then it was moved to November and it could be any time, check in advance. There are many cultural festivals (jazz, ballet, film, etc) and sporting events (baseball, cycling, boxing, fishing, sailing, etc) all through the year that are worth catching. There are many festive days which are not national holidays, for example José Martí's birthday (28 January 1853), which are very important, particularly in Havana. New Year celebrations are a major event, coinciding with the anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution on 1 January 1959.

Tourist information

In Havana are the headquarters of the
Oficina Nacional de Información Turística (Infotur)
, www.infotur.cu
. There is a network of kiosks run by
Infotur
, which can provide you with information and maps: at the
airport
, in
Habana Vieja
 and in
Playa
. At the
Santa María del Mar
office,  you will find maps, excursions, internet, booking for hotels, souvenirs, but with no map of the area and with limited bus information, it remains to be seen how useful they're going to be.

The state tour agencies, such as
Cubatur
and
Havanatur
, are found in hotels and other locations. Their main task is to sell tours, but they can also make hotel reservations, sell tickets for buses, trains and planes and organize pick-ups and transfers. If you are staying in a
casa particular
you will probably find your host is a mine of useful information who can fill you in on all the gossip and background detail to enrich a stay in the capital.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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