Havana Travel Guide


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Getting Around Havana

The best way to get around Havana is on foot. Many of Havana's most popular attractions, including Habana Vieja, El Malecón and Museo de la Revolución, are less than a mile away from each other. Taxis are both plentiful and a great means of transportation, and one tourists will likely be unable to resist. Those vintage American automobiles you've likely seen in pictures and videos of Havana are actually taxis, and open to tourists to use. Local buses are best left to those fluent in Spanish and although hitchhiking is a perfectly legal and a popular means of getting around the island for Cubans, travel experts strongly advise leaving that to the locals. The best way to get from José Martí International Airport (HAV) to the city's center (Old Havana – located about 15 miles north) is by taxi, which can be found outside the airport terminal.

There are direct flights from the U.S. to Cuba. Alaska Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit and United fly to Havana, though most of the cities that service Havana flights are in Florida.  At present, only one American cruise line, Carnival, is authorized to conduct cruises to Cuba under the people-to-people travel category. And of all Carnival's cruise ships, Fathom is the only one allowed to sail to Cuba, departing from Miami. Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, including its three brands Norwegian, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, have recently gotten approval from the Cuban government to conduct cruises from the USA, with itineraries scheduled to start running in April and May 2017.

On Foot Just because Havana is Cuba's biggest city doesn't mean you have to travel far to get to its main points of interest. All of the city's most sought out attractions, as well as many of its best dining and entertainment options, are concentrated in and around the pedestrian-friendly Old Havana (Habana Vieja). The neighborhood is continually lauded by travelers as the most beautiful part of the city, with its colorful buildings and diverse architectural styles helping it earn the distinction of a UNESCO World Heritage site. What's more, the area is completely flat, making it easy to traverse in Havana's high heat.

There are many different types of taxis that populate the streets of Havana. Cubataxis are modern cars that are clearly marked. These taxis service tourists and aren't shared the way colectivos are. Colectivos are easy to spot: They're the early 20th-century American cars that Havana has become famous for. Instead of taking one passenger wherever he or she likes, colectivos run on a fixed route and only take off until the taxi is full, so you may find yourself sharing a ride with some Cubanos. For colectivos, simply state the street you're looking to go and the driver will let you know if it's on the route.

Gran Cars are a happy medium; old-fashioned automobiles made for tourists, however they are said to come with a higher rate. Standard taxis are metered and tend to start at 1 convertible peso ($1) then range from 0.50 to 1 convertible peso for each additional kilometer traveled after. Don't worry if drivers decide to ditch the meter and negotiate a rate beforehand, it's common here and not always a tactic used to dupe tourists. It's important to note that taxi companies Turistaxi, Transgaviota, Taxi OK and Panataxi all are considered part of the Cubataxi family and have similar rates. It's also worth knowing that Bicitaxis, rickshaw-style taxis, aren't allowed to transport tourists by law.
Bus Much like on other Caribbean islands, taking public transportation in Havana may be a challenge for tourists. Public buses (guaguas) are crowded and operate on unreliable schedules. According to the U.S. State Department, they're also prime spots for pickpocketing. Typically, these local buses will not offer rides to visiting foreigners. Your best bet is to get on a Habana Bus tour hop-on, hop-off bus, as it appeals to tourists and has routes that go to various points of interest in the city.
Car With Havana's pedestrian-friendly streets, and fleets of taxis, renting a car is unnecessary and ill-advised. It can be dangerous, especially at night, since many roads and city streets are unlit. Even during the day, it can be difficult to navigate Havana's streets thanks to a lack of signage and ambiguous road rules. If you do decide to rent, keep in mind you must be 21 with a valid driver's license showing a year of experience. You'll also need to budget for a daily insurance fee.

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