Prior to taking my first independent trip to Cuba as an American, I was partially unsure of where I was going to stay during the entirety of my trip and how I was going to get around the country.
While I was prepared with a little bit of information going into Cuba, I figured that I would just go with the flow and figure most things out when I got to the country.
I booked a room for on AirBnB in Havana a few weeks prior to my arrival, and decided that I would work out accommodation in whatever cities I planned to visit along the way when I reached each destination.
Figuring out the transportation system worked out really well with the help of some other travelers that I met along the way and with the help of the Cuban family that I stayed with in Havana.
Below is a simple guide to transportation and accommodation options for your trip to Cuba.
Transportation in Cuba
Navigating your way through the island-nation of Cuba can be very easy and affordable. Depending on where you are traveling to within the country, there are several options for getting around including by taxi, plane, train, car, and bus.
There are a few taxi options for getting around Cuba (with options varying by city) including Bici-Taxis, Cubataxis, non-metered vintage taxis, Coco Taxis, and colectivos.
Bici-Taxis (pictured above) are inexpensive three-wheel taxis that are powered by human peddling. This kind of taxi is mostly used by locals, although you may see the occasional tourist riding in one.
A colectivo is a share-ride Cuban taxi, where up to five or six people can be sharing a ride in the same car. These extremely affordable and popular kind of taxi rides run in one-way routes, and can be picked up along busy routes within the city.
Tip: When hailing a taxi that does not have a meter, make sure to negotiate a price with the driver before getting into the car.
For a full list of all of the different types of taxis that exist in Cuba, check out this article by Cuba Junky.
- Read how to Take A Bici Taxi to Explore Cuba (Best Cuba Guide)
- Read about the Taxi Colectivo system in Havana (Cuba Junky)
Flights, Train, and Car Rental
- Flights: Three airlines operate domestic flights within Cuba: Cubana Airlines, Aerogaviota, and Aero Caribbean. Tickets can be purchased directly through the airlines websites, or with a Cuban travel agency.
- Train: Seat 61 provides an excellent guide for navigating Cuba’s train system
- Rental Cars: TripAdvisor has great information for renting a car in Cuba
Viazul is a Cuban bus company that operates 20 inter-city routes throughout the country. Tickets can be purchased at Viazul bus stations on the day of travel, however you may not be guaranteed a seat, so it is better to purchase your tickets in person as far in advance as possible.
Things to note:
- Viazul buses come equipped with air conditioning
- Buses stop at a rest stop during all journeys (I advise bringing your own food as only the bus drivers are served real meals)
- Tickets must be purchased in CUC
For alternative bus options, check out this handy guide by Fodor’s.
Accommodation in Cuba
Hotels & Resorts
There are a number of both Cuban and foreign-owned hotel chains in Cuba. There are five major Cuban hotel chains including: Islazul, Cubanacán, The Gran Caribe, Gaviota, and Habaguanex. Foreign-owned hotel chains can be found in Havana and major tourist areas, such as in the beachside town of Varadero.
For more information about hotels in Cuba, check out this great guide by Rough Guides.
Casas Particulares & AirBnB
Casas Particulares (or ‘Casas’) are government-approved homes in Cuba run by Cuban families that rent out rooms to tourists. Set up like a homestay situation, casas provide a private room and meals (which may or may not be included depending on the casa) for a low price.
Casa owners promote their available rooms using business cards, which they give to their guests to distribute along their journey.
It is very easy to find casas particulares; you can either book directly through the website AirBnB prior to arriving to Cuba, you can go with the flow and find your own casa when you arrive to Cuba (they are denoted by a small sign near the door that looks like a blue anchor on a white background), or you can check out this handy list of casas from Cuba Junky.
First time booking on AirBnB? Here is a $25 credit towards your stay!