How to visit Cuba in 2015 before the crowds do

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Our guide to visiting Cuba in 2015 // photo by Balint Földesi [Flickr Creative Commons]
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that Cuba and the United States are renewing ties. At the end of last year, the United States and Cuba announced a revival of diplomatic relations, and while travel is still restricted for Americans, there are ways for United States citizens to visit the country. (Note that “tourist travel” is still prohibited. To keep up-to-date on travel restrictions, we recommend checking out WikiTravel as a starting point for research).

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One of many vintage cars in Cuba // photo by kayugee [Flickr Creative Commons]
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One of the many beautiful and colorful streets in Trinidad // photo by Bud Ellison [Flickr Creative Commons]
 

For those of you who are curious about visiting the island, which is only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the lift on the travel ban comes as good news. So when (and how) is the best way to visit Cuba?

How to Visit Cuba in 2015 Before the Crowds

Cuba is already a popular destination among European vacationers, and we’re willing to bet that the island (the biggest in the Caribbean) will become one of the most popular island destinations once American tourists are allowed to travel without restrictions. The sooner you can visit, the better, because commercial tourism is likely to take over and shift island life away from its current state.

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Cayo Levisa in Cuba // photo by Didier Baertschiger [Flickr Creative Commons]

To experience Cuba with the allure of the way it is today, with its nostalgic 1950s look and feel (from before the Kennedy administration), there are certain things to consider, especially in regards to booking a flight and finding a place to stay.

Getting There

While there are currently no direct airlines flying to Cuba from the United States, it is still possible to fly into Cuba through a non-direct route. Thousands of U.S. citizens visit the country every year (illegally), even before the traveler’s ban was lifted. You’ll need to fly through Canada, Mexico, the Caymans or another country to get there without the help of a charter. You can book a flight online through a non-U.S. carrier. We recommend visiting Cubana.cu to get started.

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Taxi bicyclist in Trinidad // photo by Bud Ellison [Flickr Creative Commons]

Accommodations

In its current state, there are no major hotel or resort chains in Cuba. On top of that, non of the standard American booking sites show listings in Cuba — from Priceline to TripAdvisor, it seems near to impossible to book a place to stay online. But don’t worry, we’ve aggregated a list of European sites with hotels and vacation rentals in Cuba, so it’s easy to find the accommodation that’s right for you by visiting our city page here.

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We’d definitely stay at this Airbnb listing in Cuba. Get all the details at bit.ly/stay-cuba

In the future, travel to Cuba will become easier and easier, and eventually American citizens will be able to visit as easily as we do to any other destination in the Caribbean. Of course, we recommend going as soon as you get the chance so you can beat the inevitable wave of tourists. Visit Old Havana, take a hike at Pico Turquino and enjoy the beaches at Playa Paraiso.

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Playa Ancon, Trinidad de Cuba // photo by neiljs [Flickr Creative Commons]

If you have any other questions on traveling to Cuba, be sure to let us know in the comments! 

 

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