Coming from Ireland or the United Kingdom, you'll almost certainly be arriving to Cuba by plane - but from there onwards, things might be a bit less clear! Add into the mix the fact that the Cuban transportation system doesn't have the strongest online presence, and you might be left feeling quite confused. If this is the case, don't worry - we're here to help you with everything you need to know about how to get from A to B during your holidays in Cuba and which modes of transport will be most suitable for the kind of Cuban adventure you'll want to experience.

Cuba Quick Facts


Capital
Havana
Area
110 860 km² (almost half of UK)
Population
11 242 628 hab.
Language
Spanish
Currency
Cuban Pesos (CUP)
Electricity
110 v / 60 Hz
Dial code
53
Time zone
GMT -5 hours

Transport In Cuba

When it comes to getting to Cuba, you'll almost definitely be arriving by plane. Scheduled direct flights from the United Kingdom to Cuba are offered by Virgin Atlantic and run one route only - London Gatwick to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. In all likelihood, this is the flight you'll be taking to arrive in Cuba. That said, it's also possible to take a charter flight from Manchester to a number of smaller Cuban airports including those of Santa Clara, Cayo Coco, Holguin, and, of course, Varadero.

How to get to Cuba

In addition, it is possible to arrive and dock a private vessel at a number of marinas including most prominently those in Havana, Varadero, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. This is less likely to be the case for those of you visiting our site, but it's still information that we wanted to include!

Once you're in Cuba, your transport options greatly increase. Let's take a look at some of them here:

Transport In Cuba

Train

Trains in Cuba

Though by no means the quickest or most efficient way to get around Cuba, train service is offered to and from many major cities and provincial capitals and can provide you with a completely unique experience if you have the time and the patience for it. Please be aware that Cuban trains offer neither restaurants nor sleeper cars, so bring food and don't necessarily plan to sleep comfortably during the length of your trip!

Car Rental

Rent a car in Cuba

Renting a car in Cuba is fast becoming one of the most popular ways for tourists to get around. Please by aware that road conditions and driving standards might not be like those you're accustomed to back home, so utilise caution. Additionally, make sure you've got an insurance policy that applies to your rental car and that covers all potential problems that may occur.

In order to rent a car, you'll need to present your passport, a valid license from your home country, and a CUC$200 deposit refundable when you drop of the car in good condition. Rates generally start around CUC$50 a day and can increase from there depending on the car model and the time of year. One interesting thing to keep in mind is that, unlike in most places around the world, you are not required to fill up your car with petrol before dropping it back off at the rental agency. For this reason, after you pick up your rental car your first priority should be to fuel up!

Long-Distance Taxi Cabs

Long-distance taxi cabs

It's possible to take taxi cabs for long rides in between cities, and this can even be an economically-viable option if you're travelling in a medium-sized group-a single taxi ride is often cheaper than buying three bus tickets, for instance. If you do opt to choose a long-distance cab, make sure to negotiate the price clearly with the driver beforehand. Meters are sometimes not used even within city boundaries, and for long-distance rides they are virtually unheard of!

Illegal taxis are often willing to take these trips for even lower prices, but this is generally considered less safe than taking a licensed taxi and as such we do not recommend it as a means of travel.

Coach Buses

Coach buses in Cuba

Coach buses are probably the most popular form of travel for getting around Cuba, and they're especially good for solo travellers or travellers on a budget. The most popular bus service for tourists is called Viazul, and it offers routes to nearly all destinations of specific interest to international visitors. Their buses are air-conditioned and generally run on a tight schedule, two nice changes of pace from the way that things in Cuba can often be.

Although less well-known than Viazul, another coach bus company that now offers its services to tourists is called Conectando Cuba. These buses also run to most areas of interest to tourists and at slightly lower prices than Viazul. If you're interested in a Conectando Cuba bus, ask your hotel to put you in touch with a representative from Cubanacan, the agency responsible for providing this service.

Bicycle

Bicycle in Cuba

Though many non-enthusiasts are not aware of this, Cuba is considered one of the world's foremost cycling destinations. This reputation grew from when the island opened up to tourists in the 1990s, and most roads throughout the country were nearly car-free. Though this is slowly starting to change, Cuba nevertheless remains a top destination for cyclists looking to take in long, peaceful journeys through some of the most beautiful scenery found anywhere in the world.

If you'd like to incorporate cycling into your trip, make sure you bring high-quality locking mechanisms as bicycle theft is an unfortunately common occurrence. Some good news, however, is that Cuban trains as well as the Viazul bus system welcome bicycles as luggage, so you are more than welcome to combine bicycling with other forms of transport to create your ideal Cuba travel experience.

Short-Distance Taxi Cabs

Certain places throughout Cuba, Havana in particular, are home to official taxis run by the Cuban government for tourists, operating under the name of Cubataxi. These taxis use their meters, and prices generally start around CUC$1, adding between CUC$0.50 and CUC$1 per additional kilometre. They feature a more modern fleet of vehicles offering amenities such as air-conditioning.

Ladas as taxi in Cuba

Cuba is also home to older official black and yellow Soviet-style Lada taxis. They are not allowed to pick up tourists within 100 metres of hotels, but if you happen to catch one on the street you are good to go. You can negotiate your fare with the taxi driver before jumping on board, in this way lowering the cost compared to the standard taxis. As such, if you're on a budget these can be a good idea.

Lastly, it's also quite common to find illegal taxis operating-non-licensed citizens working to make a little extra cash. Though we don't recommend taking illegal taxis, if you do, make sure to decide upon the price before entering the cab.

"Yank Tank" or Luxury Vintage Cars

Yank tank or luxury vintage cars

These privately-owned, government-licensed classic cars are maintained to a high standard, looking like they just arrived off the factory floor! Most of them are roofless models like the 1958 Oldsmobile 98 convertible, the topless 1957 Chevrolet, and the 1956 Dodge convertible. They can be found hanging out in front of luxury hotels and touristic destinations throughout Havana. Operating something like taxis, they'll take you wherever you'd like to go but charge by time rather than distance. They're without a doubt one of the coolest ways to explore the city, but beware-they can be a bit expensive compared to other options. An hour in one of these so-called "yank tanks" should run you around CUC$30.

Almendrones

Almendrones in Cuba

The local Cuban version of the "yank tank", these vintage cars are generally not as well-maintained and work in a completely different fashion. They fall somewhere between the categories of taxi and bus, and make for one of the most interest ways to get around Havana.

Basically, almendrones run a predetermined route through Havana with passengers getting on and off as necessary, much like a city bus service. Though the majority of passengers boarding almendrones are Cuban nationals, they pass by many sites of interest to tourists and are becoming increasingly popular with visitors as a convenient and truly unique Havana experience. They are much more budget-friendly than regular taxis, and once you get to know the city a bit we highly recommend them as a transport option.

Guagua (City Bus)

Guagua (City Bus) in Cuba

Guagua is the local Cuban term for the city bus, a service that frankly will not be of interest to any but the most frugal or "do it like a local" tourists. These buses are noisy, crowded, dirty, and often run with no discernible schedule. That said, they are incredibly inexpensive by tourist standards and will show you a very "authentic" facet of day-to-day life as many Cubans live it.

If you do decide to try out a guagua, don't worry-you're not in any mortal danger. That said, pick pocketing and bag snatching are real threats here, so be careful. Just keep your wits about you and your valuables close and you shouldn't have any problems.

Bicitaxi

Bicitaxi

Bicitaxis are exactly what they sound like-large bicycles, or technically tricycles, with a seat in the back for passengers to be transported. Technically these are meant for Cubans only, but it's not uncommon for bicitaxi drivers to offer their services to tourists regardless. You can negotiate and haggle with your driver to decide the fare before getting on.

Cocotaxi

Cocotaxi

Cocotaxis are a unique form of transport exclusive to Havana. These rickshaw-type vehicles have two seats on the back and flamboyant round shells that look somewhat like coconuts, which lend these vehicles their name. Though iconic of the city, frankly they're not the greatest way to get around the city - the motors are loud, the seats are small, and they're sometimes more expensive than conventional city taxis. Regardless, they're a good way to check out the Malecon specifically and a sort of rite of passage for first-time visitors to the city.

Horse-Drawn Carriage

Horse-Drawn Carriage

Horse-drawn carriages can be found waiting for tourists throughout Old Havana and some smaller Cuban cities. They are an old-fashioned and romantic way to experience Cuba's classic charm, making you feel even more like you may have stepped back in time. But be aware that this is also an expensive means of transport, often costing upwards of CUC$30 an hour in Havana. Luckily, prices are generally much lower in other cities and towns.

Havana Bus Tour

Havana Bus Tour

If you're looking for a fun, low-budget, and tourist-friendly way to get to know the city of Havana, this option might the one for you. At a cost of only CUC$5 per rider, the Havana bus tour offers three routes on modern double-decker buses that take you past 60 historic and culturally-relevant stops. Additionally, the buses are fantastic ways to get to the beaches found just east of Havana itself.

Domestic flights in Cuba

Domestic flights in Cuba

Most likely any inter-provincial travel that you do in Cuba will be aboard large, perfectly comfortable and acclimatised tourist coach buses, as part of an excursion or a tour. But if you want to travel independently around the island, not subject to any itinerary or group tour, and if you want to cover really long distances or visit an offshore key that’s not connected to mainland via a causeway, you’ll need to fly.

The distances between cities like Havana and Holguin or Santiago are such that you’ll be much better off jumping on a plane for a 45-minute flight instead of sitting on a bus for 9 to 10 hours.

Likewise, the offshore islands of Isla de la Juventud (Youth Isle) and Cayo Largo are not connected to mainland and can only be reached by sea or air, with the latter being the most common way to get there.

Companies operating internal flights in Cuba

Cuba’s national airline, Cubana de Aviacion runs daily scheduled flights from Havana to bigger destinations like Santiago de Cuba and Holguin.

AeroCaribbean Cuba

Domestic airline AeroGaviota services Cayo Largo, Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Coco daily and Baracoa twice weekly from Havana.

Other mainland destinations like Guantanamo are serviced less frequently with Cubana flying to Granma from Havana once weekly. Scheduled flights to the provinces of Camaguey and Guantanamo are serviced four times weekly, also by Cubana de Aviacion.

Of course all of these flights are subject to change their frequency over time so if you’re planning to catch any domestic flights during your Cuba holiday call our expert team and they’ll give you the most updated flight schedules.

Get in touch with our experts

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Cuba 's Fantastic Four

The Most Handy Stuff or Things to spark your interest

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