Arriving at Havana airport

Arriving at Havana Airport – Cuba Airport Arrivals

Arriving at Havana airport is pretty similar to arriving at any airport around the world.  Except of course that it’s Cuba and it’s a little different.  Nothing is very obvious.  The airport is dimly lit.  There are lots of people, mainly standing in queues and there’s not much signage.  Welcome to our guide to arriving in Havana for first-timers.

Our guide to Havana Airport Tips covers what to expect in the Havana Cuba airport, ATMs in Havana airport, and money exchanges in Havana airport.  Havana Airport Transportation, how to get from Havana Airport to Old Havana and Havana City.   We cover also Havana Airport Wifi.


I’ll start by reminding you that there is no Cuba Tourist Card on arrival, you need to do this before you leave on your flight.  We’ve written about how to get a Cuban tourist card both generally and in Cancun.

What to Expect Arriving in Cuba

Arriving in Cuba is similar to, but different from, arriving in other countries.  The systems are a little more basic, a little slower, somewhat more bureaucratic and with all due respect to Cuba, a little unfriendly.  But you know, national security isn’t about being friendly!  The experience is just a little different and sometimes hard to understand, but here’s what to expect when you arrive at Havana Airport, Cuba.

You can find out what to expect concerning Covid-19 and arriving in Cuba here.

The Havana Airport Arrivals Process

When you deplane you’ll walk to immigration.  Then you’ll go through immigration.  After immigration, you’ll collect your bags, and then you’ll go through security.  After security you’re in the Havana arrivals hall – it’s here that you can change money or use an ATM in the airport.  And then, you’re outside where transfers are met and where you can take taxis to Havana and beyond. The easiest way to get from Havana Airport to Havana is to take a pre-booked transfer. Prebook and prepay your transfer to Havana here. – now includes shared Havana airport transfers

Deplaning and Heading to Immigration

After deplaning it’s an easy walk to immigration.  Havana airport is not a big airport, and it is unlikely that there will be another planeload of people trying to go through immigration.  Arrivals Havana Airport is a small, un-air-conditioned area.

Havana Airport Immigration

It’s important at immigration that each individual approach the immigration counter individually.  I don’t know why the rules are different in different countries, but hey.  These are the rules here in Havana Cuba.  The hall (and all of the arrivals part of the airport) is pretty dimly lit.

Make sure you have your medical insurance handy.  It’s a requirement when you travel to Cuba that you have medical insurance for the duration of your stay.  We kept ours handy on a phone.  If you’re asked at immigration and you can’t prove that you have medical insurance, then you will be required to buy insurance from a Cuban government agency.  Here’s an in-depth article on the requirements of Cuban Travel Insurance.

You can get a quote for Cuba Travel Insurance from Visitor’s Coverage here.

Note that not all insurance companies will provide insurance cover for US Citizens traveling to Cuba – check with your provider.

This is just one of the things you MUST do before arriving in Cuba – check out our article on what to do before you go to Cuba.

The Baggage Hall and Collecting Bags at Havana Airport

After immigration, you collect your checked bags.  The baggage hall at Havana Airport is pretty dated, but they’re standard luggage carousels.  This will probably be your first and not your last experience of waiting in the country.  Welcome to Cuba!

Havana Airport Security Checks

Once you’ve collected your bags you need to put them through a security XRay machine.  These are exactly the same as the ones you usually use when you’re entering an airport, not leaving it.

At this point, if you weren’t given a CUSTOMS DECLARATION FORM on your flight, you need to get one from the folks here.  They’re usually kept on top of the XRay machine.

Havana Airport Customs Checks

The Cuban customs forms are due to be handed in about 50 metres AFTER the XRay machines for baggage.  So get scribbling.  Here’s a heads up as to what they look like.  You only need one per family.


You do NOT need to declare any laptops and e-readers on there.

The Havana Airport Arrivals Hall

After you’ve handed in the Cuba customs declaration form to the representative from Havana customs you’ll go through a door and will be in the arrivals hall.  There’s no other way to describe it as just a big hall, with lots of people milling around.  The doors to exit (and taxis) are on the right.  The escalators UP to the second floor (and Havana airport departures) are off to the left.

Here in the arrivals hall, you will find

  • Cadeca Havana Airport – Havana Airport Money Exchange
  • Havana Airport Information Desks

Information Desks in Havana Airport

There is an information desk on both the arrivals and departure levels.  Don’t expect much help from these desks, other than pointing you at the cadecas, the Havana Airport ATMs and the taxis.   They will however assist you in letting you know how much the taxi is likely to be to where you’re going.  However, the taxi rates from the airport are all pretty standard as you’ll see below.  Internet is available at the Airport.  Here’s our Guide to getting Internet Access in Cuba.

If you have bought a tourist SIM card for your visit to Cuba you can collect it at the airport. Details are in our Wifi in Cuba article here.

Don’t even think of connecting to this wifi (or any other public wifi hotspot) unless you’ve got a VPN, especially if you’re wanting to book tickets or put your personal details into something. Here’s our guide to VPN’s in Cuba.

Get the best VPN that we’ve found that works in Cuba.  This link gives you THREE MONTHS for free as a reader of Cuba’s Best. You can read more about VPNs in Cuba here.


Changing Money & Getting Cash at Havana Airport

The Cuban Peso is a closed currency, which means that it’s not available outside the country, so you WON’T be able to get cash before your holiday.  You’ll need to either prepay for your taxis, tours, and accommodation on your credit card or plan to get cash when you get to Havana.

There are both ATMs and official currency exchanges at Havana Airport. You should read our guide to Cuban currency and the changes made during 2021 and that the old CUC is no longer a legal currency in Cuban as of January 2022.

If you want to avoid getting cash at the airport and instead use an ATM in Havana, then why not pre-book and prepay for a transfer? Book through our partners Civitatis and make your journey easy!

Getting Cash at Havana Airport

We recommend getting hold of Cuban pesos in Cuba.  Cuba is very much a cash society, so unless you’ve prearranged and prepaid a car and driver, then you need cash.  If you are staying at high-end accommodation you’ll be able to use credit cards (unless you have a US-issued card, which will NOT work on the island at all), but most of the economy here works in cash.

Cards issued by US banks will NOT work in Cuba. Wise, formerly Transferwise does not work in Cuba and neither does Revolut.

Now you have three options to get Cuban pesos at Havana Airport

  • You can put your debit/ATM card in an ATM and take out Cuban pesos
  • You can go to a CADECA – a currency exchange.
  • Find someone who wants to get rid of their Cuban Pesos for your currency (just ask someone in the line)

Read more about Cuban Currency and everything you need to know here.

Havana Airport CADECA – Currency Exchange Services

Changing money at Havana Airport is simple.  You do this at a CADECA, a currency exchange. Havana Airport currency exchanges are located on the first floor of the airport (departures).  There is also a Havana airport currency exchange on the arrivals floor, but the lines are usually much longer.

You will find several cadeca services on the arrivals floor – BUT THEY ARE OUTSIDE.  As you leave this hall, you can find them on both the LEFT and RIGHT.  The queues will likely be long.


And slow-moving.  If they are, head upstairs, and again, you’ll find two cadecas on the departures level.  One straight ahead as you get off the escalator and one behind you.  Join the line.


CADECA and ATMS Havana Airport on the Departure Level. ATMs on the left

When you get to the front of the line approach the teller window ONE PERSON AT A TIME – even if you’re travelling as a couple.  The security guard, who will be on your side of the window is allowed to watch everything that’s going on but your spouse/travelling partner isn’t!

Exchange rates are displayed on a screen above the window.

Informal Currency Exchange at Havana Airport

The lines for the cadeca are the best way to get an informal deal on currency.  Before you set off for Cuba, download the XE Currency exchange app to your phone, so you’ll be able to work out what exchange rate you should be getting.  It works offline and uses the rate that was in place when it was last connected.  Just yell out “does anyone want to swap Cuban Peso for dollars/pounds/euros” and you could luck out and have a short time in the line.

XE image for CUP

Havana Airport ATMs

There are two ATM’s on the departures level here at Havana Airport. ATMs Havana Airport are signposted in Spanish these are “Cajero Automatico” and signage will show both ATM and the Spanish words.  They are straight ahead as you exit the escalator.  After the cadeca on the wall beside it. We have used them several times without incident.

Now you have some cash it’s time to head out of the airport! 

Havana Airport Transportation

There are no public buses from Havana Airport and there is no train station or metro at Havana airport.  Your transport from Havana airport to Havana city options are:

We put together a guide on Cuban Transportation, which you can find here – but Havana airport transport options are a little different – so keep reading.

If you are travelling from Havana Airport to Varadero or other areas on the island of Cuba, then you can either travel by private transfer directly from the airport or take a transfer or taxi into the city and take a Viazul Bus. (Our full guide to the Viazul Bus service is here)

Getting from Havana Airport to Havana

There is no local bus from Havana, Cuba Airport to Havana city.   As of November 2021 (yay, this is really exciting!!), there are now long-distance Viazul buses that run from the airport! However, their timings are somewhat limited. I’ve updated all the details on the new Viazul services – that include Havana Airport Buses to Havana – to Varadero even onto Sanitago de Cuba and Holguin – in our guide to the Viazul Bus Service here.

Your options are to prebook and prepay a Havana Airport Transfer or to take a taxi from Havana Airport to the city. The benefits of a private transfer are that you know exactly how much you are paying, you can prepay it on a credit card and you don’t have to speak any Spanish to organise it.   Taxi drivers here will speak a minimal amount of English, if at all.  It’s a good tip to write down the address of your hotel clearly and legibly.

Havana Airport Taxi to Havana

After you’ve obtained cash, you will exit from the ARRIVALS hall as this is where the taxis and transfers leave from.

There are NO local Havana Airport buses (Viazul does run into Havana now though), you will need to take a taxi or a pre-booked transfer.  You’ll find taxis easily.  There are four options you have here

  • Havana Yellow Taxis
  • Havana old classic car taxis
  • Havana Airport private transfers
  • Viazul into Havana

Yellow Taxis from Havana Airport to Havana

The yellow taxis will be to your left and easily recognisable.  A yellow taxi from Havana airport to Old Havana will cost the equivalent of US$30.  Simply tell them where you’re going and they will tell you how much. Always agree on the taxi fare before getting in the taxi.


It’s best if you don’t have good Spanish to have the address of your Casa Particular or Hotel written down on a piece of paper, along with the telephone number of your host.   You can simply hand it over.  It’s much easier.  If you’ve also read our article on things to do before you arrive in Cuba – then you’ll have downloaded – it’s invaluable in Cuba.  You’ll know exactly where you are in the city as your data plan won’t work.

Taking a Classic Car taxi from Havana Airport to Havana

Classic car taxis are likely to be cheaper.  Perhaps US$25.  They don’t have a “parking rank” as such – but you will likely be approached by several drivers asking if you want a taxi.  They are likely to speak less English than Yellow Cab taxis.

Classic car taxis are either in a lot worse condition than the yellow taxis, in which case the price is likely lower.  Or they’re in spectacularly refurbished condition and they’ll be more expensive.  We’ve travelled in both – and it’s worth trying to travel in both, just for the authentic Cuban experience. Read about classic car tours here.

Prebooked Private Transfer from Havana Airport to Havana

Perhaps you don’t speak a great deal of Spanish (you’ll need that for Cuba), or you’d prefer to pay for your transfer before you leave home (and save your cash for your holiday).  Prebooking transfers from Havana airport to Havana or your hotel is simple. We recommend Civitatis for transfers to Havana. Book and prepay for a transfer here. Note that you can also now prebook a shared transfer from the airport.

Take the Viazul Bus into Havana from the airport

You can prebook and prepay the Viazul Bus from Havana airport to Havana, but be aware that the Viazul bus station isn’t near old Havana.

Prebook Your Accommodation in Havana

It’s best to prebook both Casa Particulars or Hotels for your stay in Cuba. Check out some great rated Casa Particulars to stay in Cuba with Hostelworld. Note that you CANNOT use for Cuba. If you only have a short time in Cuba, then think LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Our guide on where to stay in Havana is here.

In Havana we recommend the following places:

Casa Particulars in Havana

The Casa Buenos Aires is in a superb location in the center of Old Havana, just one block from the Museum of the Revolution, making it easy to walk all the sights of Old Havana.  There are three private, ensuite rooms here, all with a private bathroom and a private balcony.  Breakfast and laundry are available here.  There is internet access here, a glorious garden and terrace with a bar where you can enjoy a fabulous Cuban cocktail.  See photos of the Casa Buenos Aires here.

The gorgeous Casa Giraldilla is a restored colonial house dates from the 1920s and has high ceilings and a glorious balcony for people watching.   Carmen and Carlos speak English, Spanish, and a little French.   All rooms are ensuite and have either a window or a balcony onto the street.  There are two doubles and a twin room here.  Breakfast and internet access is available here.  There is a glorious terrace on the roof available to all guests.  Book a room here.

The Casa de La Plaza de Cristo is in a building that dates from 1903, an 8-meter long balcony gives all guests a magnificent view of the Plaza de Cristo.  It is a fabulous location to stay at in Old Havana.  Rooms here are bright and airy, simply decorated and have air conditioning.  Rooms are ensuite and breakfast is available for an additional cost.  You can see the location of this great old Havana casa particular here.

Hotels to Stay at in Havana

Hotel Nacional: Iconic, THE place for a sundowner Mojito, in lazy, laid back Vedado > Check out prices and availability now.

Melia Hotels Havana  Classic Style and lovely rooms and a fabulous location.

If nothing else you should pre-book your first night’s accommodation, which will most likely be in Havana.

Essential Resources for Exploring Cuba

Travel and Health Insurance is mandatory for entry to Cuba. If you have medical bills while there you won’t be allowed to leave the country until they’re settled.

You will need a Cuba Tourist Card to enter Cuba – some airlines include these, if yours doesn’t, buy one from EasyTouristCard – now valid for 90 days!!

Book your Viazul Bus tickets here

Pre-book and prepay shared & private shuttles here

Book the best FREE Walking Tours in Cuba

Reserve attractions, day trips, and activities in Cuba here

Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Cuba > discount coupon here

Book Accommodation in Cuba’s Casa Particular here

Pack these Items – you’re unlikely to find them in Cuba

Final Words on Arriving in Havana Airport

So you’re here, In Cuba.

And that’s it.  Arriving at Havana Airport is a little bewildering to start with because there’s little signage and lots of people.  But if you stop and think for a moment, work out what you need to do, then it’s easy to navigate your arrival at Havana airport.  We hope your guide to arriving in Cuba helps – now all you need to do is head to your casa particular or hotel for the night and enjoy Cuba!

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