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Key West offers a wealth of history and lively nightlife

Visit Ernest Hemingway's home in the Old Town with its ornate architecture and well-preserved buildings. Duval Street has numerous bars and restaurants and in Mallory Square, sunset celebrations, and street entertainment takes place every night.

Essential information for Key West

Local time

Language

USA flag
American English

Currency

US Dollars $
Official currency of the United States

Flight information

9-10h
Miami (MIA)
Direct flight

Flight schedule

  • Daily flights from the UK to Miami.
are our main partner airline

Do I need a Visa?

Yes. You'll need to obtain approval no less than 72 hours prior to travel to the US via the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) scheme.

Find out more about Travel Visas here »

Driving distances

From Miami, Key Largo is 55 miles, Islamorada is 72 miles, Duck Key is 100 miles, Key Vaca is 104 miles and Key West is 160 miles. Locations in the Keys can be pinpointed by the use of 'mile markers', which denote the distance in miles from Key West.

  Explore Hemingway's home: Key West holiday Highlights

From the golden sands of Smathers Beach to the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Key West, Florida is stuffed to the gills with surprises. Situated at the tip of the stunning, sun-soaked chain of islands known as the Florida Keys, Key West is an enchanting blend of gorgeous beaches and historic landmarks. Long thought of as a haven for lost souls and eccentric islanders, Key West has become a popular destination for families, couples, and those looking for some inspiration from one of America’s greatest writers.

If you love diving then you’ll be in heaven here, as Key West is one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. If you’d rather stay on top of the water then there’s no better place to try your hand at other water sports, including sailing, water skiing and kayaking. If water sports aren’t for you, don’t worry - Key West has a lively and well-regarded restaurant and bar scene, so expect plenty of lively nights followed by lazy days on the beach recovering. This island has joy in its soul, and you’ll be treated to music, drinks, and some of the best seafood you’ll ever taste in your life.

There’s a huge variety of accommodation in Key West, so you’ll never struggle to find something suited to your needs. Here’s a few of our favourite Key West beach resorts...

  • The Inn at Key West: if palm-fringed pools and tropical décor are your thing, The Inn at Key West is the place for you. A stone’s throw from the vibrant hub of Duval Street and Mallory Square, it’s the perfect hotel for those that want to stroll into town after a day in the water or on the golf course.
  • The Reach: the only hotel on Key West with its own natural beach, The Reach is the base from which intrepid adventurers can explore a whole range of watersports and activities. Whether it’s sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, or kayaking, The Reach has all the facilities to keep you busy for weeks. Alternatively, you can relax by the pool or wander into town and grab a bite to eat on Duval Street.
  • Ocean Key Resort: think infinity pools, spectacular sunsets, margaritas and massages – Ocean Key Resort is everything you want from a luxury beachfront hotel. Take a stroll along Mallory Square or have a lazy meal in the hotel’s Sunset Pier bar.
  • Casa Marina Resort & Beach Club, Waldorf Astoria: this is your ultimate Key West beach resort. It’s literally right on the beach and lined with palm trees, just a couple of steps from golden soft sand and the clear blue water of the Atlantic. Its famous Water Walk takes you to the largest private beach on the island. It’s also one of Key West’s oldest hotels, dating all the way back to 1920.
  • Go south!: Key West is the southernmost tip of the continental USA, and there’s even a famous landmark to prove it. It’s pretty much mandatory to get a photo taken there on all holidays in Key West, so don’t forget your camera!
  • Take a tour of Hemingway’s home: the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West for many years, and his house is one of the most popular attractions on the island. Grab yourself a copy of ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’ if you want to understand how Key West influenced the author.
  • Visit the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center: the diversity of wildlife in the Florida Keys is breathtaking and remains one of its biggest attractions. The Eco-Discovery Center is a popular with families who want to take a little time out to learn about the area’s natural habitats and its precious wildlife. It’s free to enter and always goes down a storm with the kids.
  • Explore all of the Florida Keys: with over 1,700 islands of varying shapes and sizes, there’s simply an incredible amount to see and do in the Florida Keys. Head to Dry Tortuga for wildlife, Islamorada for fishing, and Key Largo for diving.
  • Bicycle: one of the best ways to discover Key West is by bicycle. The island is small enough to explore by bike and the sunny weather makes it perfect for a ride out.
  • Trams: wait, trams? Yes, trams! This charming alternative to the bus provides access to various points around Key West and is a good way to get to know the island.
  • Bus: a useful way to move around Key West and to make the odd trip off the island too. It’s possible to purchase unlimited travel tickets that will cover the duration of your stay, a great travel-hack if you’re trying to keep to a budget.
  • Car: if you’re planning on moving off Key West and exploring some of the other islands, renting a car is probably a good idea. We’ve teamed up with a number of providers to ensure the rental process is as quick and easy as possible.

Key West is home to an enormous number of great restaurants, bars and cafés. Most of the evening action takes place on Duval Street and in Mallory Square, but you’re likely to find mouth-watering food wherever you go. To get you started, here’s three of our favourites whenever we’re in town.

  • BO’s Fish Wagon: a simple shack specialising in delicious seafood, cheap drinks and good vibes, BO’s Fish Wagon hosts live music on a Friday night and is a popular place to go for a fun-filled evening.
  • El Meson de Pepe: - in Key West, you’re only 90 miles from Cuba. It’s so close, it’s almost as if you can smell the fried plantain, black beans, and coconut shrimp… Actually, that’s just Pepe’s - the best Cuban restaurant in the Florida Keys. Brightly decorated, with a great band and even better food, Pepe’s is the place to go for a taste of the Caribbean.
  • Louie’s Backyard: - though eating out in someone’s backyard may not sound like a fine-dining experience, the food at Louie’s is almost universally respected as some of the best in the Florida Keys. Their shrimp and grits comes highly recommended.

Key West is popular all year round thanks to subtropical climate, but if you like it hot and dry then the best time to hit the beach is from November to May to soak up some winter sunshine.

  • June to October: temperatures rise to just over 30°C, comfortable enough for you to enjoy the longer summer days. Though it’s known as the ‘rainy season,’ Key West doesn’t actually receive an enormous amount of rainfall during this period.
  • November to May: expect comfortable temperatures, gallons of sunshine, and warm breezes. Average temperatures range from 18°C to 23°C.

When booking Key West holidays, it’s a good idea to check the island’s social calendar so you don’t miss out on all the fun the island has to offer.

  • Fishing Tournaments January–August: get a nibble from January to August with regular fishing tournaments. With 40 species of fish on offer and classes for experienced anglers down to Pee Wees (under 10 years old), it’s bound to reel you in. (Sorry. Really. We couldn’t resist that…)
  • Annual 7-Mile Bridge Run April: lace up your running shoes and join in (or just watch) with thousands of joggers running over the longest bridge in the Florida Keys.
  • Annual Taste of Key West Food Festival April: dozens of Key West restaurants open their doors and celebrate local food, while raising money for charity.
  • Hemingway Days & Sloppy Joe’s Annual Papa Look-a-Like Contest July: do you look like the Old Man himself? Over 100 Hemingway look alikes compete for prizes in a day of celebration for one of America’s greatest writers.

Key West is a unique Florida holiday destination that’ll leave you realising there’s more to the Sunshine State than you ever expected. Check out our Key West hotels and beach resorts to start getting excited for your next holiday.

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Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - our website has thousands of options ready to book. But if you need more help, just give us a call on 0344 472 9499.

Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist. Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers.

For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 30 September 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel before 31 December 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking you can call our team on 0344 472 9646.

For the latest information on Covid-19 you can check our FAQs here.

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. If your holiday is going ahead as planned, you can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. If you’re unsure, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel by requesting a call back in Manage My booking for one of our team to look at options. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're holiday is going ahead as planned


If we haven’t notified you of any changes, your holiday will be going ahead as planned but if you prefer to move your holiday to a later time we can help. You can call our team on 0344 472 9499 who can look at options for you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


Payments are being prioritised based on when the request was made, working in order from March 2020 onwards. We will always try to process refunds at the earliest opportunity, for requests before August our maximum timeframe is 120 days. As we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new request, for refund requests made in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to be processed within a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

We'll be in touch soon


To finalise the amendment, one of our customer advisors will phone you. We need to work through amend requests in departure date order so we can prioritise those with the most imminent travel plans, so you may have a longer wait than usual until we’re able to ring you back. We will help everyone that wants to move their holiday.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

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