Are you looking for Cuba visa?

How to travel in Cuba

by Alexandra Walter | Thu 15 Sep 2022
How to travel in Cuba

If you're thinking of traveling to Cuba, this article has some top tips that will help you plan your trip.

Cuba is a tropical island of crumbling colonial buildings, white sand Caribbean beaches, 1950s cars and rum and cigars. Due to the political situation, Cuba has few outside modern influences and this can affect how you plan your travel around this charming timeless island.

To a visitor, Cuba looks like it has a good transport system, with 60,000 Km of road and a train network that goes from one tip of the island to the other, but many roads can be unpaved, bumpy and full of potholes and trains slow, so you must take this into account when traveling around Cuba.  

Airport Transfers

There are ten airports in Cuba, but the main ones that international travelers might fly into are Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport in Varadero or Cayo Coco Airport to get to the main resort area.

If you are traveling with a package deal most tour operators will include transfers from the airport to your hotel, but if you are traveling independently, you should plan your transfer in advance as Cuban airports do not have public transport or may not even have taxi ranks.

You can either book a private transfer if you don't mind spending a bit more, or a collective one.  If you are staying at a Casa Particular, ask the owner as they will likely be more than happy to arrange a pickup.

At Havana airport, Viazul, the state bus company runs buses that leave from terminal 3 four times a day: 5:00 am, 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm. It takes about an hour to get to Havana.

Getting around in Cuba

Bus

Taking a bus to travel around Cuba is the best way to get around. Buses are a safe, punctual and affordable way to travel around the island.

As mentioned, the government bus company Viazul, is the best option for bus travel. Their buses are air conditioned and have a good range of stops around the island.

Make sure you book your tickets online well in advance as popular routes fill up quickly, particularly during the high season.  You can also book the tickets at the station at least two hours before departure.  To book you have to present your I.D. and pay by card, although U.S. bank payments are not accepted.

In Havana there is a double-decker hop-on hop-off tour bus called Havana Bus Tour for tourists that will take you to the main sites in the city or to the beaches of Playas del Este. The buses set off from Parque Central and cost 10 USD for a whole day ticket.

There is a public bus service called metrobus. The fleet is modern and the vehicles are manufactured in China. These buses run on 17 routes from the center to the outskirts of the city. The ticket costs about 5 CUC. They can be quite crowded, so pay attention if you are carrying any valuables. 

Car

Renting a car in Cuba can be an adventure in itself as many roads are in bad condition and badly signposted. However, it will give you more freedom to explore places where most tourists don't go.

Renting a car in Cuba can get expensive. Basic cars are at least 49 USD a day and there is a necessary insurance fee of 20 US, so costs can quickly escalate. If you travel during peak season make sure you book well in advance. The process of renting a car in Cuba can be complex and very bureaucratic and driving alone can be dangerous because of the state of the roads and there can also be fuel shortages, so driving is discouraged by the US embassy in Cuba.

If your dream is to drive a classic car around Havana it is unfortunately going to be quite complex, but you can definitely hire a driver. Classic cars, commonly known as almendrón because of their almond shape, are not available to rent through government agencies as they´re privately owned.

Many classic car drivers are parked near main tourist sites in Havana and other cities. The typical price is from 25 to 50 USD per hour.

Classic cars are often not in good condition, so don't be surprised if they do not meet usual standard regulations.


Taxi

There are two types of taxis in Havana and most big cities in Cuba; private or shared taxis. When taking a taxi in Cuba it is best to negotiate a fixed price before setting off to avoid unpleasant surprises. Speaking basic Spanish will help as most taxi drivers only speak Spanish.

Shared taxis in Cuba are called Colectivosand will stop anywhere you need them to and will pick up and drop off passengers along the way. They are cheap and it is a fun way to get to know locals or other travelers.

Look out for the state-owned Cubataxi yellow taxis in main cities as they are also a good option as they are air-conditioned and have working meters.

There are also the famous Cocotaxis, which are small coconut shaped yellow tuk-tuks for tourists, but they are not overly safe, so it is best to avoid them.

Tips to travel in Cuba

  • Plan all your trips well in advance to avoid long lines or disappointment.
  • Get a paper map of Cuba as internet access is very limited.
  • Make sure you have plenty of cash as many places do not accept card.

Get your visa

Are you looking for Cuba visa?

You might also interested