Transport in Cuba
Getting Around in Cuba
Getting around on the island of Cuba can seem a bit overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the apparent chaos of Central America. Luckily, once you know what to look for (which is why we wrote this guide), you will find that getting around in Cuba is actually pretty easy!
The Viazul busservice
The Viazul bus service is a fantastic and affordable way to get around in Cuba. The bus itself is very modern, coming equipped with on-board toilets, television, and very powerful air conditioning! We’re not kidding about the air conditioning; you may want to bring a sweater! Viazul is the perfect option if you want to travel long distances in relative comfort and do not want to deal with the hassle (or price) of catching a domestic flight. Tickets are relatively cheap – you can travel from Havana to the Varadero airport for 10 CUC (convertible Cuban pesos, which are of equal value to US dollars). Go to the Viazul website to make reservations and find additional information.
Renting a car is fairly straightforward in Cuba. Some things you need to know:
- Minimum age for rentals is 21.
- Insurance is mandatory with all rentals: Insurance is paid locally, with the price ranging from 15-30 CUC (equivalent to 15-30 USD) depending on what type of vehicle you rent.
- $20 fee for airport pickup: A 20 CUC fee applies to all vehicles picked up at the airport rental offices. There is no fee for airport drop-offs.
- Always inspect the car: Before you sign the rental agreement, make sure to walk around the car, carefully inspecting for any defects/damage (and make sure to take plenty of photos so that you have proof of what condition the car was in when you got it).
Taxis can be an effective and inexpensive way to get around Cuba. However, you need to be wary – taxi scams do exist, so it is important that you always negotiate and agree upon a price BEFORE the ride. As for prices, shorter rides (under 10km) can be very cheap, ranging from 10-20 CUP (Cuban Pesos, each of which is 1/26 CUC, making this less than $1 USD per ride). Also, make sure to take a look at this blogpost about taxi’s in Cuba, so you know the difference between the various types 🙂
Bikes are a fantastic way to get around in Cuba – the weather is perfect for it, the roads are well-paved, and the car traffic is relatively mild. Bike rentals can get rather expensive in Cuba ($15 a day), so the best course of action is to bring your own! Just get a good, lightweight travelling bike (such as folding bike), and you’re good to go! Finding spare parts can also be somewhat difficult in Cuba. If you’re a dedicated cyclist and you intend on doing most of your exploring with your bike, you may want to bring along some parts that are likely to be needed (in particular, a kit with which to repair and maintain the tires, and a spare chain).
Domestic flights within Cuba are the quickest way to travel across the island; if you’ve got a big distance to travel (say from one end of the island to the other), and you want to get there as quickly as possible, a domestic flight will be your best option. If you plan on travelling from Havana to Santiago de Cuba (two of Cuba’s most popular destinations), you will most likely want to catch a domestic flight, as these cities are located on virtually opposite ends of the island. Similarly, a domestic flight is the best option if you wish to travel to one of the offshore islands such as Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo or Cayo Santa Maria.