You may discover all the Cuban clichés in Havana — groups of middle-aged men playing dominoes, faded posters of Che, and the locals queuing up for rice rations. But delving a little deeper into Cuba will reveal a country that was once the playground of American gamblers, and is now an enigma of revolutions within a revolution. Cuba has become a medical tourism destination for patients from North and Latin America while baseball continues to be a national passion. History buffs can scout for traces of Che Guevara at Santa Clara and deep-sea divers can head to Cayo Coco or the Isla de la Juventud. With 10% of Cuba under environmental protection, the country has some of the most beautiful parks and reserves to be found anywhere in the region. If you must pick just one, try the Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
In Baracoa, you will find the land of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Macondo, and in Pinar del Rio, the heartland of the Cuban cigar industry. If you're planning to buy more than 50 cigars, make sure you have the proper documentation or you might not be able to carry them out of the country. The plantain and black-bean-filled cuisine may be a bit bland in the government-run restaurants, but a little effort will find you a spot frequented by locals, or even better — a home cooked meal, to taste the spicy Cuban delights famous on the American continent. Even if beer is your drink of choice, try a taste or two of Cuban Rum. Whether with Coke or in one of the many delicious cocktails on offer, you will definitely be thirsty for more!
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There are few flights to Cuba from the US but the island is well connected to almost everywhere else. The main airport is more than 20 km outside of Havana (HAV), and receives international scheduled, charter, and domestic flights. Some airlines also fly to Varadero (VRA), Baracoa (BCA), Santiago de Cuba (SCU), Santa Clara (SNU), and Pinar del Rio (LCL) amongst several others airports. Air Canada, Air France, Bahamasair, Cubana del Aviacion, TACA, Air Transat, and Aerocaribbean are some of the airlines with flights to Cuba. You will need to pay for a Tourist Card on entry and also a departure tax when you leave. If direct flights prove to be too expensive, fly to one of the other Caribbean nations or Mexico and take a connecting flight.
Visit between late-December and April to avoid the pre-December hurricane season and the humid Cuban summers. You will also be avoiding the peak tourist season in July and August.