One of the first difficulties visitors to Cuba face (at least those who aren’t participating in a package holiday or haven’t rented a car) is how to get from the airport to their hotel or B&B. We hope to offer some information in how you can do this.
PRIVATE TRANSFERS FROM HAVANA AIRPORT TO THE CITY
You can book a private transfer at sites like Havana Airport Transfers. The price is usually around 30 CUC (up to 4 people) or 50 CUC (5 people or more). However, the 50 CUC fee can be negotiated if the clients are willing to carry its luggage with them.
If the visitors choose this option, a driver will be waiting for them, at the airport, with a sign with their name on it.
This option is highly recommended for those who arrive tired from the flight, people carrying a lot of baggage, old people and families with children, or anyone who prefers the least amount of hassle.
USING STATE TAXIS TO GET TO THE CITY
Stepping outside the airport terminal, the traveler will find plenty of state owned cabs. The official price to the city is 25 CUC. However, many taxi drivers will try to take advantage of the clients and raise this price. After 20:00 (8PM), many of the public taxi drivers increase their fare, so don’t be surprised if the cabdriver raises the price from the official rate to 40 CUC or 50 CUC at 22 h. Often tourists who request the driver to switch the taximeter on, will discover that the taxi driver has figured out how to drive along the longest possible way (particularly if the passenger destination is Old Havana because in the historical area not all the streets are passable).
If you do take a taxi please be aware that many public taxi drivers will try to exchange money for the visitors. Please, do not do it. Inside the airport, there are four CADECA (exchange houses) where you can exchange money at the current rate and receive a receipt for it. Do not let yourself to be fooled by the possibility of a better exchange: the taxi driver will not give you any receipt and there is a risk that the bills you get are fake or out of circulation.
It is also possible that the driver will try to deflect you to another accommodation. He will ask you how much are you paying for your rent and will tell you that he can get you a cheaper or better accommodation, even he can give you bad references to get his own way. Even if you don’t have a place to stay, insist that you do. If you end up staying where he recommends you to, you’ll end up paying more, as the rental house has to pay 5 CUC commission to the driver per night. Be firm with your driver and ensure you get to your destination. It is not a pleasant experience to start your holidays in Cuba staying in an illegal rental house/hostel or a hovel.
This option is recommend for all kind of travelers, above all for those who had visited Cuba at least once before.
USING URBAN TRANSPORTATION TO GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO HAVANA: COLLECTIVE CABS AND BUSES
First, find out what terminal your flight will be landing. If your flight lands at Terminal 3 (most of the European and Latin-American airlines), prepare yourself for a long walk. Before you leave the airport, it could be useful to get a sunblocker (+50 factor) all over the body and to buy some water bottles. You must leave the airport and walk along the road that leads to Terminal 2. This stretch is 1 km long. Go until you reach Terminal 2 (Lat 00218 Lon -82.39456), and look for the bus stop P12. If your flight arrives at Terminal 2, you have been lucky; you just need to walk circa 500 m until the airport exit and cross the road.
If you decide to go on foot, there are no sidewalks and therefore it’s necessary to pay full attention to the traffic. There are neither buildings nor trees to find shelter under. This could seems superfluous information but it is quite important because the heat can be suffocating (that’s why we advise to use sunblocker and be hydrated) or it can be bucketing down. It is not ideal if you are carrying luggage. Once you have arrived at Terminal 2, there are two options: to take the bus (aka. GUAGUA) (P12) or to take a shared taxi (aka. ALMENDRÓN), which runs the same route that the bus does. The bus costs only 0.05 cents CUC and the collective taxi costs 1 CUC. The latter might try to charge you more if they realise you’re foreign.
Regrettably, the urban transportation in Cuba doesn’t work properly, hence the bus scheduels are inaccurate: you can reach the bus stop and get straightaway the P12 and sometimes wait for it an hour or more. This route is long, so it is taken by many passengers. Don’t be frightened if it’s seems impossible to get on and get off the bus with your luggage without have been hit or shoved around. Do not take it personally, there are just many people trying to break the laws of physics in order to occupy the same space at the same time or to breathe a less stuffy atmosphere. If your destination ends at Vedado, you will suffer only half of the nightmare. You must get off at the bus stop for the National Terminus, cross through the Revolution Square down to 23rd avenue, where you will find several transportation options or keep walking until your B&B. If you are staying in Center or Old Havana, then you must get off at the last bus stop, nearby the Capitol, from where you can walk or take a taxi or a bicitaxi (1 CUC up to 10 CUC) to the hostel. At the same bus stop, you can get a collective taxi. You will recognize them easily because the most of the almendrones are American autos from the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s (remainders of Cuban American influenced past). These collective taxis usually take two front passengers and 3-4 back passengers. Wave your hand and they will stop. If you come with a group of three or more people, it would be wise to split up and regroup at a certain point; it is unlikely that these cabs have more than two vacant places.
If you don’t want to carry the luggage on your lap, you can: • ask the driver kindly to put the bags in the trunk or on the roofrack; • negotiate with the taxi driver a price for put the bags in the trunk or on the roofrack in case he is not willing to do it for free; or • put it on the seat next to you and pay for it.
Keep in mind that you should be patient because these collective taxis come and go at his free will and it could pass some time before you can get one. If you don’t want to walk until Terminal 2, you could try luck and go for a bicitaxi or almendron (stood at the nearby of the parking lot or the restaurant) and bargain with the drivers a price (no more than 5 CUC) for a ride to the P12 stop. This option is only recommended if you travel light or you are able to walk carrying weight during 3 km and you arrive in a daytime flight. It is never recommendable walk this route at night as the road is not suitable for pedestrians and poorly lit. Moreover, as it gets dark, there is a sharp drop in the number of buses and collective taxis.
HITCHHIKING FROM HAVANA AIRPORT
As everywhere, people in Cuba also travel by hitchhiking. It’s just to walk 1 km until the road that leads to Terminal 2 and make signs to all the drivers that show up. This option is never recommended, less recommended for girls and least recommended for girls alone at night. It is not worthy to get the fright of your life just for save some money.