Getting around by hire car
Travelling through Cuba independently by car is fun and more adventurous than package bus tours. Being able to speak a little Spanish can be an advantage, but it’s not essential. Driving on your own gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace, wherever you like and the ability to stop off whenever and for how long you want. Once you leave the city, you’ll notice how quiet and peaceful the roads are. Since there are very few vehicles in Cuba, there’s also very little traffic. You may however see people and animals walking by the roadside and unfortunately you may also encounter a pothole in the asphalt now and then. If you plan on travelling to Maria la Gorda, the Sierra Maestra and/or Baracoa you’ll have a few sandy and gravel roads to travel across, but other than that, it’s tarmac all the way.
Getting around by group transfer
A group transfer is usually a minibus or coach with a local Spanish speaking driver, who travel between destinations at set times and follow a timetable. The driver will pickup other international travellers at several hotels in the departure city, and drop you and them off at several hotels in the arrival city. Often they will also pick up and drop off in other towns along the way. The obvious benefit of using these group transfers is that they cost a lot less than a private transfer, the downside is that they can take a little longer due to the pickups and drop offs. Pick up and drop off points for the group transfers are often at a nearby location to your accommodations.
Getting around by private transfer
A private transfer is a private driver and taxi who you’ll have all to yourselves. They’ll collect you from your hotel door and drop you off at the door of your next accommodation. This is a good opportunity to speak to a local and practice your Spanish although they will usually have a bit of English! The benefit of private transfers is the flexibility to travel further afield where the group transfers do not venture, also to travel at the time of day you prefer. The downside is that they are more expensive than group transfers. We tend to use a mix of both types of transfers which also gives you a wider experience.
Getting around by bus
If you are trying to save the pennies for a few extra Mojitos, then a marvellous way to get around this fantastically diverse island is by bus. Sit back and relax whilst you are whisked from location to location, sharing the ride with like-minded travellers. Your tickets will be booked and managed by us here at Rickshaw and given to you on your arrival into Cuba. When it’s time to travel to your next destination, simply head to the bus terminal, pass over your ticket and away you go on your Cuban adventure. Buses may take a little longer then private transfers, however they’re great to meet like-minded travellers, enjoy the passing views and give you time to finish that book you never got round to. Make sure to pack a jumper as the air conditioning can make you chilly after a hot day in the Cuban sun. For a great money saving option, taking the Guagua is mejor!
Travelling with meaning
By far the most sustainable way to explore Cuba is by foot, this is the best way through the cities and the countryside to make sure you get up close and personal with your surroundings! You can pick up a map from the reception of your hotel or try out your Spanish by interacting with the locals who know where the hidden Cuban highlights are. In Cuba non-Cubans are not allowed on public transport as this is a government subsidised service reserved for locals only therefore it’s a bit difficult to travel sustainably here but where possible we suggest group transfers. In Viñales there is a hop on – hop off bus which will take you around the sites of interest such as the prehistoric mural and stunning view points. In Havana there is also a hop on – hop off bus service to nearby Playa del Este if you fancy cooling off in the sea.
Learn about our authentic Cuba self drive trips which include Havana, Trinidad, the Viñales tobacco region, and more.
6 min readRead More - Self drive in Cuba | All you need to know