Tourist travel to Cuba still remains prohibited by the U.S. government. However, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is now issuing permits to travel if you fall under one of their 12 categories of travel. So if you have a valid passport, you may be eligible for a visa to Cuba. The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions. For more information on the passport and visa requirements for Cuba, please hop to the bottom of this post.
Inside the walls of the Old Havana
Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? Step off a plane and feel like you’re in a 1950’s dream? Between the vintage American cars, more than 3,000 kilometers of coastline to explore, whole cities that are protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and one of the most legendary night scenes it’s hard to decide what the leading factor that attracts tourists to Cuba. When guests step off the plane onto the Caribbean’s largest island, they’ll witness this culture virtually untouched by the rest of the world.
Places to See Inside the Old Havana (Habana Vieja)
The whole area of the Old Havana is protected and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which ensures it’s a preserved 16th-century beauty. The area of the Old Havana is defined by the former city walls which have been maintained in their entirety. The center is split into five different plazas with five completely different characters which feel like a new city upon entry of each plaza. Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza del Cristo and Plaza de la Catedral are the five different plazas and they are home to some of the must-see points of interest in Cuba
1.) Plaza de Armas
Welcome to Havana’s oldest square Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms) dating back to as early as the 1520’s. The site was home to Castillo de la Real Fuerza who used the plaza for military purposes and exercises. However, today the plaza hosts a book market for secondhand novels every day of the week except Sunday. Also, it’s home to the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum), a must-see for history buffs. Plaza de Armas is filled with charming 17th-century buildings and centrally located is a marble statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the man responsible for Cuba’s independence in 1868.
—Keywords/ places to see: City Museum, restaurants, history
2.) Plaza Vieja
This plaza is home to Havana’s most famous gathering spot with the 18th century Casa del Conde Jaruco sitting near the middle. Here traveler’s can gaze at its beautiful stained glass starring back at them, or visit the camera obscura at the top of a 35- meters tall tower which offers the best views of the city and its many plazas.
This plaza is home to Havana’s most famous gathering spot with the 18th century Casa del Conde Jaruco sitting near the middle. Here traveler’s can gaze at its beautiful stained glass starring back at them, or visit the camera obscura at the top of a 35- meters tall tower which offers the best views of the city and its many plazas. Above all attractions traveler’s must visit the Plaza Vieja’s very own microbrewery.
— Keywords/ places to see: Microbrewery, camera obscura, fountain in city center
3.) Plaza de San Francisco
The Old Havana plazas offer something for all types of traveler’s. This plaza is off the Havana harbor which provides a lot of history to Cuba and ocean breezes. The Fuente de los Leones (Fountain of Lions), a larger than life white marble sculpture sits in the center and marvels guests. The plaza is home to Lonja del Comercio which has a stunning dome for visitors to see, and the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis which has a tower that priories amazing views of Havana and the sea. The Basilica is primarily used for concerts and has a reputation of being home to the best acoustics in all of Cuba.
— Keywords/ places to see: Fuente de
los Leones, Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis, ocean views, concerts
4.) Plaza de la Catedral
Upon arrival, one would probably not guess that this plaza was originally a swamp. Now a baroque masterpiece stands in the center of the plaza brining traveler’s from all around the world to marvel in its beauty. The Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Havana dates back to 1727 and is a must- see on the youngest plaza of all of the Old Havana. The site also is home to the Museo del Arte Colonial (Colonial Art Museum) that is an attraction for traveler’s as well as a great deal of Cuban restaurants.
— Keywords/ points of interest: Museo del Arte Colonial, The Catedral de San Cristóbal, baroque architecture, lively social setting and lots of restaurants
5.) Plaza del Cristo
Last but not least, Plaza del Cristo which is Havana’s fifth and most overlooked plaza due to its location a little west from the historical core. Talks of a renovation are underway but for now traveler’s can see an untouched 17th-century neighborhood with the Parroquial del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje, a church dating back to 1732, erected in the center. The church is known for its intricate stained glass windows and vibrant painted wooden ceilings that are one of a kind. Moreover, this is the best plaza to go to get a taste of the everyday Cuban life without the clutter of tourists.
— Keywords/ points of interest: not crowded with tourists, local feeling, Parroquial del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje church.
Passport and Visa requirements for American travel to Cuba:
ALL traveler’s regardless of age or country of origin need a tourist visa, or tourist card, to enter Cuba
. The tourist card allows the card holder to stay in Cuba for 30 days and is valid for one single entry. However, for American travelers to Cuba, you will have to meet certain requirements for your visa. You can only get a certain type of visa and even then, it’s only provided by the Embassy in Washington D.C.
Nationals of (1
) the USA are subject to the Cuban assets control regulations enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC; www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx
). Although sanctions have been eased, travel for touristic purposes is still prohibited. That said, it’s possible to visit Cuba as an American if you’re visiting for one of 12 specified reasons, including visiting close relatives, professional research, or participation in public performances or sports activities.
Travelers also need to know that they must provide proof of confirmed return flight and a booked accommodation upon arrival. In addition, U.S. Credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba so travelers should plan to bring enough cash (securely) with them to cover all expenses or plan accordingly. passport and visa requirements to Cuba. Cuba is also very tourist friendly and a great place for solo travel
This post is for travelers looking for passport and visa requirements to Cuba, along with other travel tips for Havana.