Since coming back from my trip to Havana, Cuba I received so many questions about getting there, transportation, and where to stay. If you’re a first-time reader, I suggest reading my tips on planning a trip as an American citizen. Since my cousin and I paid for lodging in advance, the majority of our money spent was on food and taxi services. If you are visiting anytime soon, here are several transportation options available for getting around Cuba.
The Viazul bus connects Havana to most Cuban cities and provinces. They are air-conditioned and provide generally reliable service. Itineraries, departure times, and prices can be found on their website. Reservations and the payments for the tickets should be made 7 days in advance and you should arrive 30 minutes before departure. There are only a few buses operating and seats aren’t always guaranteed.
You can get also get around Cuba in a yellow taxi. They are usually air-conditioned and charged in CUC. If you’re traveling between Old Havana, Vedado, and Centro Havana, the fare is usually between $3-5 CUCs. If your driver chooses not to use the meter, negotiate the price before getting in.
Maquinas or Almendrones
The “maquinas” or “almendrones” are the cheaper alternative to the yellow taxi. They are like carpools and have specific routes that they drive up and down. They are generally old American cars, but you sometimes get old Soviet cars as well. Each ride costs 10 CUP unless you go from start to finish of the route, which will be 20 CUP (1 CUC is worth 25 CUPs). Keep an eye out for doors that say ‘No tirar’ when you get in – these are very fragile so you need to shut the door gently.
Buses run throughout the city but aren’t very unreliable. If you’re not up for the long lines, or shoving to get on, this option isn’t recommended. Take the bus only if you or someone traveling with you know exactly where you’re going.
Most hotels have travel agencies that can organize transfers from Havana to different destinations. With Cubatur, you can arrange transportation for yourself or share a bus with others.
Renting a car in Havana, Cuba is possible, but it can be costly. Much like Martinique, the majority of rentals have manual transmissions, but automatic cars are available. Automatic cars have a $5 CUC daily rate premium. Below are websites to research rental cars in Cuba:
Renting a private taxi from the airport to the city costs around 25-30 CUC. In the event you want a chauffeur, check with your Airbnb host to arrange private services. The average rate is about 40-50 CUC per day. If you are traveling outside of Havana to other cities, the cost is more.
The majority of our trip was via taxi and we negotiated everything. Speaking Spanish or having knowledge of general pricing is also good before getting in. For our day trip to Varadero, we used Cubatur to travel from the Havana Libre to Barcelo Solymar Resort for $50 CUC. This clearly beat the $200 rate for a private taxi we were given. There are also Bicitaxis available for short rides around the city.
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Any experience with these transportation options in Havana, Cuba?