By: Fiona Moriarty, Hipmunk
You did it -- you bought your ticket to Cuba! Hello sunshine, fancy cigars, and Cuba Libre cocktails. Booking the trip is off the To-Do list, but what about getting around town? We've put together a list of Cuba's most popular and affordable transportation options, so all you have to do is enjoy your getaway.
Train: Cuba has a rail system that runs the length of the country. Take the Main Line (which touches the country's biggest cities) and avoid delays that plague smaller lines. Tickets must be purchased at the train station at least one hour in advance. Train fares vary, but a trip from Santiago de Cuba to Havana will cost around roughly the equivalent of $50 to $65 American dollars. The type of seating on the train will also range in terms of comfort and, a word to the wise, bring toilet paper!
Buses: Taking the bus, or "omnibus" as it is called here, is a popular way to get around Cuba. Foreign passport holders will want to take a ride from a bus company like Viazul -- don't worry, their website is in English, too! Tickets are usually one-way and cost anywhere from $6 to $15. They can be purchased from an established travel agency in just about any major city. Unfortunately, local buses in many Cuban cities are notoriously hard to ride if you're a tourist. The best bet is renting a car or taking a taxi for local excursions.
Car Rental: Renting a car for your personal use is easy to do. It will cost you anywhere from $45 to $85 a day (although discounts may exists for multi-day rentals), including mileage and insurance through a state-run rental agency. A few things to know: Driving at night is dangerous and inadvisable, as there is no lighting on highways and plenty of small bicycles and horse-drawn buggies to watch out for. It is suggested that tourists book a car in advance, and reputable agencies in Havana are steps away from major hotels. The office of car rental agency Havanautaos is just one block from the gorgeous and historic St. John's Hotel on Calle 0.
Tourist Taxis: Taxis are one of the most popular, albeit more expensive, ways to get around major cities. Tourist taxis are government operated and run on a meter, although not all drivers turn it on. They tend to charge more in bigger cities and beach resorts.
Communal Taxis: These are often privately owned vehicles that operate more like a bus service than traditional taxis. Most of these are unidentifiable from other taxis except they are often older American cars, and the driver will stop at the start of his route and shout his destination out to all who are interested. These taxis have fixed fares and will usually cost around $10 for shorter rides and $20 for longer distances.
Bicitaxis or Ciclotaxis: Ciclotaxis are cute, three-wheeled bicycles built for two passengers. In bigger cities you will see these everywhere. The ride costs about the same as a taxi (roughly $1 a meter) but negotiation seems to be the name of the game with these rides. Taking a ride in one of these trike taxis is easy to do in Havana. Stay at the beautiful and historic Hotel del Tejadillo Boutique and hop a ciclotaxi around the Havana Harbor or into the city-center of Old Havana (Havana Vieja).