Many times before traveling to Cuba we searched through forum posts on the transportation options to travel safely and easily around the country. Transportation options are actually vast in Cuba, including the normal methods of taxi, bus, plane, and even train. And whilst it becomes easy once you reach Cuba, trying to find information before you get there seems almost impossible!
Here is some advice for debunking the mystery of traveling around Cuba, and some handy tips for when you go yourself (because there is no good reason not to go to Cuba!).
Whilst we were in Cuba, we made our way between 3 main areas which included Havana, Viñales, and the Sancti Spiritus region (primarily Trinidad and Cienfuegos). This seems to be a popular ‘triangle’ of destinations in Cuba, though there is plenty more places to see and these transportation options will of course work similarly in other destinations:
The Viazul bus is probably the most popular option for tourists heading to Cuba, as they offer comfortable buses to most destinations in Cuba with a good web presence to give you peace of mind before you go (Viazul website is HERE).
The other good thing about going with Viazul is that you can safely book tickets on their website before you arrive, giving those that need to pre-plan peace of mind. We successfully booked a few of our bus trips through the Viazul website prior to our departure, though we would say that it really is not necessary and you can book tickets on the day of your departure (though the day before is better) usually without problems.
One handy TIP if you do pre-book is to make sure you print a copy of your confirmation before you go to Cuba. It is quite difficult to find places to print for you once you arrive, and even harder if you do not have your confirmation saved as the print services in Cuba require the document on a USB stick to print for you.
Cubanacan / Conectando Bus
Another option for buses in Cuba is the Conectando service which offers very similar routes to Viazul. The only difference between the two companies is that information for Cubanacan is seemingly more difficult to find online, with forum searches eventually yielding information on pricing and routes (there is some great information HERE for Cubanacan / Conectando).
From what we have read, Cubanacan / Conectando is seen to expats as a better option to Viazul, and you can easily book tickets for their services once you arrive in Cuba in any Cubanacan tour office.
One of the benefits (or downsides depending on how you look at it) is that the Conectando buses generally pick-up and drop-off at hotels or similar locations, giving you a few options for where to get on the bus and where to get off.
When people here the word ‘taxi’, they generally assume that the pricing is going to be through the roof. And whilst this may be true in other destinations around the world, in Cuba it is possible to get a private taxi for only slightly more than the bus would cost, and sometimes at the same price as the bus.
For example, going from Vinales to Trinidad on Viazul costs 35CUC per person, whilst in a private taxi it is 40CUC per person (with similar prices in the photo below). However, if you are able to get 4 people together for a trip, you can quite easily go at the same price as the buses, as we did from Trinidad to Havana. Not only are you travelling in the comfort of your own car, but you can stop whenever you want and will reach your destination a lot quicker!
Buses for Tours (Havanatur, Transtur, Transgaviota, Infotur)
Not surprisingly, there are many options to book tours on buses in Cuba. In addition to this, you can also combine a tour with a trip to your next destination with these companies.
We often saw more of the older generation of tourists taking buses with these companies, however there is nothing wrong with taking tours through them for safety and to see what you want to see and they are definitely reliable for that purpose.
You can book through any of the above once you arrive in Cuba, with many cities having ticket offices in the main streets who can help you with your travel plans.
Travel by Plane
It is of course possible to travel by plane in-between cities in Cuba, with the majority of tourists firstly flying into Havana and traveling on from there. Cubana is the main airline of Cuba, and they offer many flights between Havana and other cities within Cuba.
This is obviously a more expensive option than traveling by road, however you cannot beat the comfort and pace of taking a plane!
Travel by Train
Yes you can take a train in Cuba, and we have heard that it is quite a unique experience to be had! Operated by Ferrocarriles de Cuba, as long as you are aware of the lack of departures and slowness of the trains themselves we have heard they can be quite fun also.
The main route runs from Havana to Santiago de Cuba (and back) every other day, also going through Camaguey and Santa Clara. There are other trains that go to other major towns (for example between Havana and Pinar del Rio), though these are less frequent. For more information on the trains themselves, head on over to probably the best website for any train information – Seat 61.
With this information at hand, hopefully your first (or next) trip is made that little bit easier. Please comment below if you have any further or updated information so that we can continue helping all travelers to visit this great country!