The couple disembarked in Havana at the start of a three-day visit to Cuba’s capital and the eastern city of Santiago.
The king and queen will tour historic sites during the week as Havana celebrates the 500th anniversary of its founding, but they will leave before the actual anniversary on Saturday.
The trip has sparked criticism from right-wing politicians in Spain and inspired critical opinion pieces in conservative-leaning newspapers over a trip seen as a step forward for normal relations between Spain and its former colony.
The royal couple plan to meet with cultural figures and entrepreneurs.
Spanish hotel chains and other tourism-related businesses serve hundreds of thousands of travellers to Cuba each year.
Juan Carlos did travel to Havana in 1999 for the Ibero-American Summit. He also returned to the island after he had abdicated in 2014 to attend the funeral of Fidel Castro.
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