Cuba, travel around Cuba. Valuable information for independent traveller

Travel around Cuba

 [By rental Car], [By Taxi], [By Bus], [Airplanes, internal flights], [Distance in Cuba]

Once you had arrived to Cuba and specially to Havana, you will want to travel around in order to know the beautiful places that Cuba keep for its visitants. Despite its seemingly overwhelming size, Cuba and specially Havana are easy to travel around in few days. Havana is a walker's city par excellence, and one easily and best explored on foot. You'll probably want to restrict your walking to a single district, such as Habana Vieja (The Old Havana), where most  of the Havana's sightseeing highlights are concentrated.  Although you will need some transport to travel beyond and between districts or if you plan to go outside Havana to other provinces.     

There are difference choice to travel around Cuba or specially around Havana, it depends  of your economic solvency.


By rental car

We recommended renting a car only if you anticipate exploring the suburbs or if you intend touring beyond Havana. It grants ease, freedom, and control (there are no restrictions on where you can go). plus you can cover a lot of turf without the time delays of public transport, 

Habaneros's standard of driving is, in general, admirable (certain taxi drivers excepted), although in recent years Cubans with newer cars have begun to drive faster and more aggressively than a few years ago. In Havana, there are not bottlenecks. Havana is probably the only Latin American city without rush-hour traffic. Traffic police do an efficient job. Traffic signage is very good, and most of the traffics lights work and are even obeyed. Havana's streets show deterioration, but in general, the roads are superior to, or at least no worse, than those of most other Carribean or Latin American cities.

If you intend to explore Cuba far and wide, be sure to obtain a copy of Guia de Carreteras, a complete atlas in booklet form for drivers. It can be purchase in Cuba from tour desk and souvenir outlets .

To drive in Cuba, you must be 21 years or older and hold either an International Drivers' License (IDL) or a valid national driver's license. You must also have at least one year's driving experience. Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road. The speed limits is 100 Kph (62 mph) on freeways, 90 Kph (56 mph) on highways, 60 Kph (37 mph) on rural roads, 50 Kph (31 mph) on urban roads, and 40 Kph (25 mph) in children's zones. Speed limits are vigorously enforced by an efficient highway patrol. If you receive a traffic fine, it will be deducted from the deposit for your rental  (there's a space for fines provided on the rental car papers)   

Most tourist hotels have a car rental bureau on site, but the main car rental agencies also have main office. Demand sometimes exceeds supply, so you may need to hunt around, particularly for the smaller models or a 4WD jeep. You can also rent a car at the airport upon arrival.

Don't accept a car without thoroughly inspecting it, including a test drive, Insist on this, because some Cuban car rental agencies fail to budget for adequate maintenance and let their cars go to ruin quickly.

Rates: Expect to pay about US $45 - 100 per day plus insurance, depending on the size of the vehicle. You will normally be required to pay a deposit to US $200-500. Most companies offer a choice of Type A insurance (with a deductible of US $250) or Type B (fully comprehensive , except car radio and one tire). If you plan on doing considerable mileage, take the unlimited mileage option. The companies accept payment by Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, Banamex, Camet and JBC, as well as in cash and traveler's checks.

Main Car Rental Companies:

Cubacar
Website:http://www.cubacar.cubanacan.cu/english/default1.htm
Email:
cubacar@cbcan.cyt.cu
Operation Center: Ave 5ta y 84. Miramar . Phone: (537) 24 2718,  (537) 24 2104.
Fax: (537) 33-0760. Available 24 hours a day, every day.
Agencies:

    Agency
   Contact
Jose Marti Airport
Phone: (53 7)-33-5546
Comodoro Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-24-1706
Cohiba Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-33-4661
Marina Hemingway
Phone: (53 7)-24-1707
Chateau Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-24-0760
Bellocaribe Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-33-6032
La Pradera Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-33-7467
Tarará Residential
Phone: (53 7)-97-1696
Crucero Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-33-0284
Melia Habana Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-24-3236
Parque Central Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-66-6507
Vedado Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-53-5506

 

Havanautos
Website:http://www.havanautos.cu
Email:havautos@imagenes.get.cma.net,reshautos@cimex.com
Operation Center: Ave 5ta y 84. Miramar.
Phone: (537) 24 2718,  (537) 24 2104.  Fax: (537) 33-0760.
Available 24 hours a day, every day.

Agencies:

Agency
Contact
Jose Marti Airport
Phone: (53 7) 33-5197 Terminal 3               (53 7) 33-5215 Terminal 2
National Hotel
Phone: (53 7) 33-3192
Sevilla Hotel
Phone: (53 7) 33-8956
Riviera Hotel
Phone: (53 7) 33-3577
Habana Libre Tryp Hotel
Phone: (53 7) 33-3484
Neptuno/Triton Hotel
Phone: (53 7) 24-1181
Servi Cupet 11 y Malecon
Phone: (53 7) 33-4691
Calle 500. Guanabo
Phone: (53 7) 96-2694
Tropicoco Hotel
Phone: (53 7) 97-1535
Villa Panamericana
Phone: (53 7) 95-1037

 

Via Rent a Car
Website: http://www.gaviota.cubaweb.cu/espannol/rentcar/index.php
Email:dtor_av@gaviota.gav.tur.cu
Operation Center: Ave del Puerto. Edificio La Marina. 3er piso. Habana Vieja.
Phone: (537)  66 6777.  Fax: (537) 33-2780/33-1879.
Agencies:

Agency
Contact
Jose Marti Airport
Phone: (53 7)-33-5155
El Bosque Hotel
Phone: (53 7)-24-3429 Ext. 611

 

Panautos
Website:
http://www.cuba.cu/turismo/panatrans/panautos.htm
Operation Center: Calle Linea y Malecon. Vedado
Phone: (537) 55-3255.  Fax: (537) 55-5657
Agencies:

Agency
Contact
Jose Marti Airport
Phone: (53 7)-33-0306
Ave. Zoologico y 26. Nuevo Vedado
Phone: (53 7) 66-6226

 

Gasoline: Obtaining fuel is no problem as many hardcurrency Servi_Cupet gas stations are scatered around Havana, and Cuba, selling gasoline at US $0.90 a liter (wich works out to US $3.40 per gallon).  Most are open 24 hours a day. Even so, it's always wise to keep the tank at least half full to avoid unnecesary detours to obtain fuel. There are almost never lines at Servi- Cupet. Aside from selling fuel, Servi-Cupet gas stations are often good places to buy cold drinks and stock up on groceries.

TWENTY FOUR HOUR GASOLINE STATIONS IN HAVANA

Vedado and Plaza de la Revolucion

Ave Indepencia y Conil
Calle L y 17                   
            

Playa (Miramar and Beyond) Ave 5ta y Calle 112                                      
Ave 31 y Calle 38   
Ave 13 esq. Calle 84.                                
Ave 33 y Calle 70                   
Calle 41 y 72 (Marianao)                         
Suburbs Autopista y 224
Ave. Indepencia y 271. Boyeros        
Ayesteran y Boyeros                         
Dolores y 24. Lawton        
Vento y Santa Catalina. Vibora                 
Via Blanca y Rotonda de Guanabacoa  
Rotonda de Guanabo (Playas del Este)   
Valle de Berroa, Habana del Este      

 

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By Taxi

Havana has a superb taxi system. Hundreds of taxis serve both the tourist trade and the local population. If you use a tourist taxi four or five times a day, the cost may approach that of renting a car.               

Most licensed turistaxis are operated by state organizations, all of wich charge in dollars. The cheapest is Panataxi tel- 55 5555, which provides efficient radio-dispatched taxi service using new Peugeots. It's used by Cubans and foreigners alike. It's rare to have to wait more than a 15 minutes for a taxi to arrive.                                                                                      

Taxis exclusively serving the tourist trade use modern cars: Subarus, Hyundais, Peugeots and Mercedes. Prices vary slightly according to size: the larger, the more expensive. These hang around outside tourist hotels but can also be radio disptached. The following companies operate tourist taxis: Habanataxi tel- 41 9600, Taxis-OK tel- 24 1446, Taxi Transtur tel- 33 6666, Transgaviota tel- 66 6777, Turistaxi  tel- 33 5539.                                           

Tourist taxis are slightly more expensive than Panataxi cabs. Rates vary sligtly depending on the size of the car. By international standars, however, Havana's  taxis are relatively cheap and you will rarely pay more than US $10 or so for any journey within town/ Taxis are metered and strictly controlled; drivers are assiduous in using their meters, which begin at US $1. Nighttime fares cost about 20% more.

The taxi companies all offer special long distance and hourly rates (the cost normally compares favorably to hiring a car for the day). Although relatively expensive, they are a value option for three or four passengers sharing the cost.

Classic Cars: The charm of travelling with time. Tour Havana in a fancy Classic exclusive vintage cars, providing the original posibility of a special journey.  You can rent classic cars for a city tour through  Gran Car   tel- 33 5647 or 40 1955, for US $15 per hour (20 km limit the first hour, with shorter limits per extra hour). Day rates decline from US $90 for one day to US $70 daily for five days (120 km daily limit).

Cocotaxis: It could be the strangest taxi you'll ever take in your life. These brigt yellow motorized tricycles look like scooped out Easter eggs on wheels, like something out of a children's picturebook. Most depart from the outside the Hotel Inglaterra on Parque Central. They can charge US $5 per hour for up to three people.

Calezas (Horsedrawn Buggies): Horsedrawn calezas (open air coaches) offer a popular way of exploring the historic quarter of Old Havana, although the buggies are barred from entering the pedestrian only quarter. They are operated by Agencia San Cristobal. Calle Oficios #110 e/ Lamparilla y Amargura. Tel- 33 9585. Their official starting point is the junction of Empedrado and Tacon, but you can hail them wherever you see them. Others can be hailed outside the Hotel Inglaterra on Parque Central. Expect to pay US $3 per person per hour in low season, US $5 in high season (Oct-April)

Ciclotaxis: Hundreds of tricycles taxis ---"rickshaws"--- ply the streets of Habana Vieja and Vedado. They offer a relaxing (and cheap) way of sightseeing and getting around if you are in no hurry. You can go the full lengt of the Malecon, from Habana Vieja to Vedado for US $3, not much less than a taxi ride, but would you want to pedal two passengers for less?. You can hire them by the hour for about US $5. Most have fashioned their seats from car seats and offer shade canopies.      

Illegal Cabs: Illegal cabs driven by freelance chauffeurs  are everywhere too. Most are beat-up Ladas or American jalopies. You'll find freelance driver guides outside the largest tourist hotels, and outside discos late at night. Fares are negotiable and you often can hire a car and driver for the whole day for US $20. But you'll usually pay end up paying more than you would in a tourist taxi. Educate yourself about turistaxi fares to your destination beforehand, as many drivers attempt to gouge you. Beware scams.                                              

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By Bus

Another choice to travel around Havana, or to other cities in Cuba are the tourist bus, The main tourist bus companies are Viazul, Transgaviota and Rumbos (Vaiven).

The Rumbos S.A  Company operates a splendid minibus service for tourist. The Vaiven Bus Turistico makes a circuit of Havana on a continual basis (vaiven means "roundtrip"  or to "go and return").You will be able to admire the city’s colonial architecture and visit commercial, financial, cultural, and historic centers in the modern area. And if the night takes you by surprise, the traditional cannon shot ceremony, at 9:00 o’clock sharp, can be a good option.


With Rumbos you can have a great time sightseeing Havana: from the International Conference Center to Revolution Square and the Morro- Cabaña Complex, to mention but a few. Tickets are sold at the Rumbos Cuba tourism bureaus or on the bus for just U.S. $4.00. They are valid for only one day and include guide service.
For any information, please, call 66 9713 and 24 9626 al 28

Schedule: 9:00 a.m. to 9:40 p.m.
Frequency: 50 minutes
Number of stops: 23

Viazul is by far the best bus company in Cuba. They offer travels to almost every important tourist destination in the island. For rates, destinations and other services please check their website at http://www.viazul.cu/home_eng.htm

Transgaviota is another company where you can rent   bus travels. For more information,  check their website at  http://www.gaviota.cubaweb.cu/espannol/transgaviota/index.php

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Airplanes, internal flights

Cubana, the cuban goverment owned airline is the only one that provides internal flights in Cuba from Havana to:

  • Baracoa  (US$78)
  • Bayamo  (US$59)
  • Camagüey (US$51)
  • Cayo Largo
  • Ciego de Avila (US$43)
  • Nueva Gerona (US$16)
  • Guantanamo (US$73)
  • Holguin (US$79)
  • Las Tunas (US$77)
  • Manzanillo (US$59)
  • Moa (US$73)
  • Santiago de Cuba (US$68)

Check-in is 60 minutes before flight time and the baggage limits is 20 kilos. Most of Cubana's internal flights are on Antonov AN-24 propeller aircraft, although Yakolev YAK 42 jets are often used to Camagüey, Holguin, and Santiago de Cuba. Domestic fligts are 25 % cheaper when booked in conjunction with an international flight on Cubana. Ask your travel agent to check with Cubana about this. Inside Cuba you can often book through an hotel tour desk or a local travel agency for the same price that you'd pay at the local Cubana Office. Reserve as far in advance as possible if you want to be sure of a seat, although dollar-paying foreigners do get some preference.

For other information, but not expect nothing special, you could check their website at: http://www.cubana.cu 

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Distances in Cuba

All the distances are in Kilometers (Km). Multiply by 1.61 to convert to miles  

Pinar del Rio

 

147

La Habana

 
264 98

Matanzas

 
421 256 241

Cienfuegos

 
425 270 199 61

Santa Clara

 
513 348 284 145 85

Sancti Spiritus

 
588 423 359 220 160 75

Ciego de Avila

698 533 469 330 270 186 110

Camaguey

 
822 657 594 455 395 310 235 125

Las Tunas

         
899 734 671 532 472 387 312 202 77

Holguin

       
897 733 670 531 471 386 311 201 76 73

Bayamo

     
1024 869 797 658 598 513 438 328 203 134 127

Stgo. de Cuba

   
1074 910 847 702 648 563 488 378 253 182 177 86

Guantanamo

 
28 180 278 433 467 553 658 338 861 938 937 1064 1113

Viñales

106 85 183 338 372 458 533 643 766 843 842 969 1018 110

Soroa

     
309 140 42 192 199 285 360 470 593 670 669 796 845 337 225

Varadero

   
954 178 109 130 105 216 292 400 524 602 673 798 880 382 263 152 Guamá  
679 519 458 259 319 173 98 207 331 409 407 534 584 756 631 458 390 Cayo Coco
823 658 579 382 446 296 220 112 209 287 358 483 565 850 755 582 512 319 Playa Santa Lucía
967 802 723 526 593 440 364 256 132 54 125 250 232 992 897 724 656 463 341 Guardalavaca


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