When going to Cuba with the intention of traveling the whole or a part of the Island on your own; prepare yourself with a good map, a good guidebook and visit good discussion boards on the Internet like the Lonely Planet Thorntree, where people can give you advice on how to plan your vacation.
Remember Cuba is a HUGE island of 1200 km (745 miles) long
Renting a car
You have to overthink a few things before you decide driving in Cuba.
Be in time if you want to make a reservation on forehand. Cuba does not have enough cars during high season (Dec/Jan/Feb and July/August) besides this, most car rental agencies have to ask availability in Cuba by email which takes time, sometimes even weeks.
Renting a car in Cuba is expensive but the other side is you can stop where you wanna stop and have all the time for your own, its well worth the money.
The regular National public transportation Cubans will pay with CUP, foreigners in CUC
This bus drives all over the island, a bit cheaper than the Viazul Bus but less comfertable and reliable. The Astro bus has a few places for tourists per bus!
I have been on the buses in Cuba so many times and from many different cities. One time in particular I was supposed to land at Veradero where my friends were waiting to pick me up at the terminal. However, my travel agent failed to tell me that my flight had to be changed to the day before and consequently no flight to Veradero. I was lucky enough to catch a last minute flight to Havana instead. The bus driver on Viazul took me from Havana all the way to Veradero and actually detoured to take me to the airport where my friends were still waiting for me to arrive even if I was almost 6 hours late. Other times I have had to fly into Holguin and get a ride to the bus station there and a bus takes you to Santiago de Cuba. Have never had a problem getting off where ever I needed to get off. However, I usually just go to the bus station anyway. As mentioned in some of the other posts - take a blanket, sweater or jacket, food and water as there are some long stretches with no stops and it can be quite cool (even cold) with the air conditioning. The price is very reasonable and no one ever asked for a tip or extra money to handle your luggage. One or 2 CUC's is all I ever give if I ask for help. One thing I will advise anyone that is travelling on any type of public transport do not flash your wealth. By that I mean - don't wear fancy jewellery or carry a wad of money around with you. Keep it in a money belt around your waist and just keep a little in your pocket. That way you won't temp anyone to try to rob you or take advantage of you. The penalty for that if they are caught doing it is very severe so why tempt them. It is rare that anyone would even try but it is better to be safe than sorry. Just enjoy the ride.
Name: Giuseppe Fristachi
Travel in Cuba
Unless you have your own (quite expensive)car, the most common way to travel in Cuba is by Viazul long distance (and long travel time!) buses.
- usually freezing temperatures in the bus;
- buses stop usually every 1,5-2 hours (at main bus stations)with additional 45min stops at restaurants if travelling at lunch/dinner time; not essential to bring own food during travel
- strongly recommended to pre-organize bus station pick up by Casa particular, to avoid the assault by jineteros
- not easy or, in some stations not feasible at all, to prebook locally or to be sure of place, in particular if getting the bus at intermediate stations; if feasible, strongly recommended, particularly during busy holiday periods, to buy in advance the tickets via internet (better from home country; note that internet is not simply accessible in cuba)
Via Azul Camaguey
The staff asked me: 1 CUC per luggage to pay. Do NOT PAY this!
You paid for the bus that includes baggage.
I have written to Via Azul, but you do NOT get any response.
So, be warned with this company!!
Since the last years the Cuban railways bought French first class airconditioned trains. Train schedules in Cuba are not reliable, you have to have some patience. I must say it is a real Cuban experience to go through Cuba by train, in specific for train fans, back-packers, and people who love to mingle with locals.
The nr 1 and 2 trains from Havana to Santiago de Cuba v.v is 4 hours faster than the Viazul Bus!
Remind that all other trains besides the number 1 and number 2 are never on time
Taking a domestic flight saves you a lot of time to go p.a. from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. Besides this, if you would like to go to Cayo Largo you have no choice and have to take a domestic flight simply because there is no ferry transfer to this part of Cuba
We struck gold with Alejandro Risco :)
Ale came highly recommended via a popular B&B in Habana. This driver was not only a great driver but he impacted our trip is so many positive ways, he has a great sense of humor, he taught us all the in's & out's of Cuba! We had an opportunity to drive back into the vilages & explore where most never lay eyes on. That's what we wanted & Alejandro made it happen for us. His car is incredibly comfortable and spacious, it's similar to a BMW here in the states. Alejandro's services saved us from getting lost & probably never finding such unpopulated areas. Highlight of our trip!
After 52 years, I returned to my native Cuba and was very fortunate to come across
our driver/tour guide by the name of Rey who picked us up from the Havana airport.
He is a highly educated, considerate, responsible gentleman. Besides being knowledgeable
about sightseeing and historical sights, he directed us towards lovely "casas
particulares",excellent reasonably priced restaurants and night life. We were mostly
impressed by the fact that he treats tourists fairly with the price of his services.
He made our trip very memorable and gave us the true feel of Cuban life. We recommend
him highly. Rey can be reached by email at email@example.com. cell 2829276
or 2673892 (Cheap calls to Cuba). He drives a classic Ford and speaks English. His son also speaks English
and French and assists him with tours.
Name: Celia Nicholls
Just rtn'd from Cuba last month, we were worried about which driver we wanted to utilize while in Cuba, I was compelled to write this review about our driver Alejandro because he truly impacted our trip in so many positive ways. Alejandro practically drove us 4 hours up & down villages, city streets & anywhere we decided to adventure. He was very knowledgable, trustworthy and extremely reliable (like clock work). He's number one priority is your safety and your enjoyment while traveling Cuba. Alejandro has a "Skoda" very nice realiable car that is extremely comfortable for a family of five. He was a great photography and handled out iphone like a pro. He taught us a lot about the in's & out's of Cuba. Alejandro is VERY comical, he was a blast. He played great c.d.'s a! nd he was a true gentlemen.
Does there exists a ferry from ... to Cuba ??? ... NO!
There is no such thing as a ferry service from Cancun or whatever country to Cuba.
Yes, there is a company who has daytrips from Jamaica to Cuba by boat, but this company does not take passengers for just a transport to Cuba. One of the ferries that do exist is the ferry in Havana to Regla neigborhood, see the picture.
Cuban cruise terminals
Isla de la Juventud
Terminal de Cruceros
Avenida Jesús Menéndez
Santiago de Cuba
Tel: +53 651763 Cheap calls to Cuba
Terminal de Cruceros de Cienfuegos
Calle La Mar
Muelle Olimpia Medina
Terminal de Cruceros de La Habana
Ave. del Puerto
Ciudad de La Habana
Gran Caribe Marina Cayo Largo
Cayo Largo del Sur, Archipiélago de los Canarreos
Tel: (53 45) 24 8213/8133/8214 Cheap calls to Cuba
Cuban cars have different colored numberplates, these numberplates tell who is the owner of the car, where he comes from. Handy for you foreigner to know that yours will be red and starts with a T so people can see you are a tourist.
Beginning with a "T" (tourismo) is a rented Car
Second letter a K is a car of a foreigner working in Cuba
Managers and important people, free gasoline
State own, have to return after working hours
State own, can go home after working hours
Officials / ministery
only know of one address where you can rent a bike in Cuba ...
Metropolitano, San Juan de Dios
esq. Aguacate, Habana Vieja
Tel: +53 7 860 8532 Cheap calls to Cuba
Costs about 12 cuc a day
I recommend, if you want to bike around Cuba, bring your own bike.