Each year, travelers from all over the world visit the beautiful Caribbean island of Cuba. With a little planning, you can travel to Cuba with ease.
Most nationalities do not require a visa to enter Cuba. You do, however, need a tourist card to enter Cuba. Tourist cards are valid for a minimum of 30 days. Tour operators and most airlines will provide you with your tourist card, sometimes at an extra cost. You can also apply for a tourist card through the Cuban consulate. Check your local consulate for requirements. At minimum, you will have to show a return or onward ticket and hotel reservations.
U.S. citizens cannot obtain tourist cards in the United States or at any American consulate abroad. In order to visit Cuba as a tourist, U.S. citizens must leave the United States and obtain their tourist card in another country before traveling to Cuba. The tourist card should be issued by the airline you take to fly to Cuba.
There are numerous international tour operators who offer package tours to Cuba. Some include flights, while others are for hotel and local transport only. Most of the tour operators will arrange for your tourist card for entry into Cuba. Some popular tour package providers include Cuba-based Cubalinda, Floridita and Thomas Cook in the United Kingdom, and Signature Travel and Tripcentral in Canada.
There are direct flights to Cuba from the United States. However, to take one of these flights you must be a Cuban American traveling to Cuba to visit family, or have an official license to travel to Cuba. People who might qualify to receive an official license to visit Cuba include researchers, journalists, members of a religious organization and government officials. To view a complete list of categories for official Cuba licenses, refer to the U.S. State Department's Cuba page.
If you're a US citizen traveling to Cuba as a tourist, you must fly to Cuba via another country. Some popular routes to Cuba are via Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, on commercial or charter airlines. You should be able to pick up your tourist card for entry into Cuba from the airline counter outside the United States.
If you are based in Europe, popular departure points to Cuba include London and Madrid. Check with your airline to see if they will obtain your tourist card or if you have to apply for one in advance through your local Cuban consulate.
There are a small number of cruises that visit Cuba. Most of these cruises originate in the United Kingdom, Canada and Barbados.