Cuba Transportation

Your Cuba transportation options are pretty varied, but it all depends on where you want to go on the island and how much money you want to spend.

Buses

If you want to save yourself the cost of a rental car, or just let someone else do the driving, you can easily visit most of Cuba by bus. There are two main bus lines for traveling between cities in Cuba: Viazul and Astro. Overall, Viazul is the more expensive option targeted at tourists. Their coaches are large, comfortable and air-conditioned and the fares are in convertible pesos.

Routes vary, but you should be able to get bus service through Havana, Varadero, Trinidad, Holguin, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba and many other tourist-oriented towns. There are other small bus lines serving some of the provinces but the service isn’t very reliable.

Cuba transportation

One of the El Camello buses in Cuba

Havana also has a public bus system for getting around within the city, but most other towns do not. The buses in Havana used to be a very unique vehicle called the El Camello (“the camel”), and was a split-level trailer pulled by a big rig truck. These buses have recently been replaced with more typical city buses.

Train

There is also the train option if you want to get between cities in Cuba. The main line is run by Tren Frances, and the routes run the length of the island. So you can take the train between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, with stops in between. Other train routes can take you to Sancti Spiritus, Manzanillo and Cienfuegos.

It’s cheaper than taking a Viazul bus, but not as comfortable or reliable.

Plane

Aside from your initial flight to Cuba, you can also fly to get around the island. Domestic airlines like Cubana de Aviacion or Aero Caribbean have frequent short flights between the cities and beach areas of Cuba. Check the list of airports in Cuba to see if there is one near your destination.

Taxis

For Cuba transportation within cities, taxis are the most common choice though many Cuban towns are small enough to explore on foot. Taking a taxi between cities is going to be quite expensive, so try the bus instead. There are the “regular” taxis (both legal and unlicensed) and there are also neat little three-wheeled motorbikes called coco-taxis. The back two seats are enclosed in a big yellow ball, which sort of makes them look like half a tennis ball on wheels.

Hitchhiking

Maybe not for everyone, but there is one more way to get around Cuba: hitchhiking. Oddly enough, it’s actually a regulated system and perfectly legal. It’s called “El Amarillo”, after the yellow uniforms that the attendants wear. There are designated stops for hitchhiking, where you can wait and sometimes get food, water or washrooms.

The attendant takes down where you are going, and flags down a car to ask the driver for a ride. If they are heading the right way, you get a ride though you have to pay a small fee to the attendant (not the driver).

Your ride may not be that comfortable, and might even be perched out in the back of a truck. It’s the cheapest way to get around, and fun if you don’t mind the adventure of it.

Overall, Cuba transportation is decent and you do have many options, but don’t ever plan your timetable too tightly when taking public transit. Buses and trains aren’t always right on time, and delays can be common.

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