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The easiest way to get to Havana from Australia is via Mexico City, so you’ll need to book a flight from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane via Los Angeles, or with second stop in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Houston or Dallas. Airlines on this route include Delta, Virgin Australia and Qantas. From Mexico City, make your own way to Havana flying with Cubana, Aeromexico or Interjet.
Jose Marti International Airport is located less than 20 km from the centre of the city, so a hire car or taxi should get you there in under half an hour.
Travelling to Havana, Cuba
Beautiful and faded, Cuba’s capital, Havana, is the largest city in the Caribbean, and one of its most vibrant and eclectic. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, it’s a unique mix of old and new.
The centre of town, Habana Vieja, or Old Havana, is a UNESCO Heritage listed site and a beautiful place to explore, with its neoclassical and baroque architecture, some of which dates back to the 16th century. Many of the buildings in Habana Vieja are in a state of disrepair, but the old city is being slowly restored. It’s easy to get around on foot. Visit the city’s grand plazas, Plaza de Armas, which has a fabulous book market, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza del Cristo and Plaza de la Catedral, as well as the Iglesia Catedral de la Habana, Palacio del Segundo Cabo and Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.
Another great way to see the city is to take a ride in Taxi Particular, a private taxi, usually a vintage car, where you’ll share the ride with locals who are going in the same direction. Head to Vedado, the old working-class neighbourhood which begins at the ornate ‘El Capitolio’ building and includes Chinatown and the Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagás, Cuba’s most famous cigar factory.
As you explore Havana, you’ll find that people play music throughout the city streets, from musica campesina and afro-cuban jazz to modern pop, and many locals carry portable radios around with them. The vibe in Havana is contagious, perfect for trying a famous cuban cigar (considered to be the best in the world), a freshly-made daiquiri or a tangy mojito, both of which were invented in Cuba. As the sun begins to set, take a walk along the El Malecon, an 8 km road that runs along the city’s waterfront.
Keep in mind that Cuba is predominantly a cash economy, and most debit and credit cards will not work in Havana, so be sure to bring enough cash to tide you over.
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