How to Navigate Havana

How to Navigate Havana

Contrary to popular belief, the absolute most efficient way to navigate Havana is by foot. It is cost effective and fairly easy to manage as the majority of Havana's popular tourist attractions are less than a mile away from each other in proximity. Believe it or not, Havana's top three places to visit which includes Museo de la Revolucion, Habana Vieja, and El Malecon are only a mile away from one another. However, if foot travel isn't necessarily your thing, than travel by Taxi is another great option.

Initially, you will have to take a taxi from the Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) to Old Havana as it is 15 miles North of the city. Walking 15 miles is not really feasible with luggage in tow. Luckily for foreigners, Taxis in Havana are extremely easy to hail as they are both in abundance and a safe means of transportation. Not to mention, Havana's taxis look exactly like the traditional taxis out of the old photographs and videos making them extremely hard for tourists to resist.

While buses are readily available for travel, they are best left to those whom are fluent in Spanish as it is a popular way for locals to travel around Cuba. Hitchhiking is also another means of travel in Havana and truly around the whole island as it is perfectly legal. Nevertheless, tourists are strongly and an emphasis is placed highly on strongly, advised against hitchhiking as it is terribly unsafe. Utilize your common sense when it comes to means of travel around Havana, Cuba.

Let us rewind for a moment and talk about how to arrive to Cuba in the first place. There are numerous direct flights from the United States of America to Cuba on airlines such as SouthWest, Spirit, Alaska Airlines, Frontier, Delta, and United. Similarly, there are several other affordable flights with one layover commonly in Florida. A little known fact, is that initially only one cruise line avenue was available for travel from the U.S. to Cuba through the Carnival Cruise line. However, they are no longer the only authorized cruise line to travel Americans to Havana. Presently, the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings as well as several Royal Caribbean Cruises also offer travel to Havana as they were recently granted tour approval from the Cuban Government in June of 2017.

Travel By Foot

Even though Havana may be Cuba's largest city does not necessarily mean it take hours to travel to its main attractions. Fortuitously, Havana's main points of interest are condensed into one highly concentrated area. The majority of Havana's delectable dining and amusement is located in one select region that can be easily navigated by foot within the ever pedestrian friendly Old Havana. Plus, the area is continuously visited by a plethora of revolving travelers making it extreme tourist friendly. One will not want to miss this beautiful cities brightly colored buildings and various distinct architectural styles that have earned it an official title as one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites.

How to Navigate Havana

Old Havana

Travel By Taxi

While tourist may prefer the look of the old traditional Cuban taxis, which are still in use, there are several different types and styles of taxi available to the common traveler. Cubataxis are Cuba's most modern type of taxi and are easy to spot as they are clearly labeled. The benefit of utilizing a Cubataxi is that they solely service tourists and do not work in the same way that colectivos do, meaning they are not shared. While Colectivos are noticed for their 20th century American look and feel, they are taxis that err towards the size of bus which many travelers/locals ride together upon. Plus, they run on pre set routes. When looking to ride a Colectivo, just state the street of your destination to the driver and they will relay to you if that stop is along its route.

Gran Cars are the middle ground between the futuristic Cubataxis and the old fashioned Taxis found in Cuba. Their only downfall is that they charge a higher rate than other means of travel. The standard rate for a taxi ride is typically metered by kilometers and will begin at 1 convertible peso for the first kilometer and then can range between .50 to 1 convertible peso for every additional kilometer. Another means of payment can be a pre negotiation of fees before travel begins and understand that this is not a tactic used to dupe tourists. It is truly an effective way to save money on transportation. Utilize your bargaining skills if the driver permits. Another little known fact about the Cuban taxi service is that companies like Panataxi, Turistaxi, Taxi Ok and Transgaviota are all actually apart of the Cubataxi family and share practically identical rates. Another bit of useful knowledge is that Rickshaw style and Bicitaxis are not allowed to transport tourists as it is against the law.

Travel By Bus

Bus transportation in Havana may prove to be quite difficult for tourist traveling. This is due to the fact that Guaguas (public buses) are awfully crowded with a high concentration of locals and run on a highly unreliable route schedule. Not to mention, the U.S. State Department has declared them as one of the top locations to be targeted by pickpockets and they usually do not offer rides to foreigners anyways. Honestly, your best option is to include yourself on a Havana Bus tour that allows several stops including a wide variety of tourist hot spots and must see locations within the city.

Travel By Car

Renting a car in Havana, Cuba is not only unnecessary it is also unwise. First of all, it is dangerous to travel the city's streets alone at night because most of them are poorly lit making it extremely hard to navigate. Second of all, even during the most lit hours of the day, Havana can be difficult to navigate due to the language barriers, lack of signage, and off base laws of the road. And thirdly, with all of the pedestrian friendly walkways and taxi options - renting a car is just plain wasteful monetarily. Although, on the slight chance that you do desire to rent a car in Cuba, you must be over 21 years of age and hold a valid driver's license proving you have over one year of automobile driving experience. A daily insurance fee will be collected in addition to the daily rental fee, so make sure to budget for the full cost of rental as well.