Renting a car in Cuba does not work the same way as elsewhere in the world. Here are our tips to travel with peace of mind!
How to make the right choice?
Which Cuban car rental company to choose?
First specificity: do not expect to find in Cuba the usual international car rental companies (Avis, Hertz, EuropCar etc.), they are simply not present on the island.
Only four rental companies share the territory and they belong to the State. They are Via Gaviota, Rex, Cubacar and Havanautos.
Our opinion: there is no difference between these four agencies. The quality of their services is identical. Of course, Rex has more upscale vehicles, but the service is identical to that of its competitors. In other words, a service that can be very good, normal or… very bad!
Deciphering the situation
It is the choice of the intermediary between you and the rental company, which will make all the difference. Because the level of service provided on-site depends on him.
Moreover, to simplify things, Cuban rental agencies do not deal directly with each other but through intermediaries (Havanautos.com is not the Havanautos website, Rex.com is, etc.).
If it is possible to reserve a vehicle directly with the rental companies, the reality is that there are generally no cars available since the fleet is very small.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended to make a reservation before your departure and as soon as possible.
Renting with Novela Cuba – The advantages
Novela Cuba is one of the intermediaries authorized to work with Cuban car rental companies and has been doing so since 2001. This privileged status and long history make all the difference in a country where the car rental market is managed by the State.
Our goal: is to make you benefit from our expertise and our experience in the field.
For 20 years we have maintained a privileged relationship with Via Gaviota. This close collaboration allows us to ensure the best possible follow-up of your reservation (availability, quality of service, assistance etc.).
Novela Cuba has established itself as the most important rental company thanks to its collaboration with Via Gaviota for the French market. We also benefit from facilities with Rex and Cubacar. Result: thanks to these agreements, we are able to meet your expectations.
Our advantages become yours!
- Telephone assistance from Paris to advise you before booking.
Our Novela Cuba teams answer in French, English, and Spanish from Monday to Friday, 10 am to 7 pm (GMT 1).
- Telephone assistance once you are in Havana.
Our local Novela Cuba teams will assist you in French, English, Spanish, and Russian, 24/7.
- Personalized service from A to Z:
Novela Cuba has its own agency in Havana (office recognized by the Cuban State) and an agency in Paris (also recognized by the Cuban State). This means that we are at your side at every step of your trip. By booking with us, you benefit from the guarantees linked to these two entities.
Start with an estimate
Our rates are available online, so it’s easy to make a simulation!
- Minimum rental period: 3 days
- All prices are in unlimited mileage.
- The rental works on a 24-hour basis.
For example: if you pick up the car at 9am on January 10th and you return it on January 17th at 9am, the price displayed will be for 7 days of rental. But if you indicate the return on January 17 at 11am, the displayed price will be for 8 days rental, one more day.
Some fees must be paid on the site:
- Additional driver fee.
- Drop-off fee: this applies if you pick up the car at one location and return it to a different location.
These amounts vary from one rental company to another and according to the vehicle model. Remember to check the details on our website when you select a model.
The cost of gas: is similar to the one in Europe.
When you make a search on our site, small orange or green lightning appears next to the price. Orange: wait! Green: here we go!
The green color indicates that the availability of the vehicle is real. If you book, you will get an immediate confirmation. In this case, your credit card is charged at the same time as your reservation. You will receive the invoice and the voucher by e-mail.
The orange color indicates that the availability of the vehicle is “awaiting confirmation”. If you make a reservation, you will have to wait up to 48 hours for our services to confirm or not the availability. In this case, your credit card will not be charged at the time of booking. It is only a request for authorization. The card is charged upon receipt of the confirmation. You will then receive the invoice and the voucher by e-mail.
Book in advance
There are few cars on the island. It is very rare to find availability on site. Therefore, the first rule of thumb to avoid any hiccups: make your rental as soon as possible before your arrival in Cuba.
We generally reserve a category of cars in Cuba and not a particular model.
Pay attention to the number of passengers and luggage capacity indicated for each category and its different models.
Picking up the car at the airport or in the city center?
The rental companies have offices located at the airport or in the city center, for most major cities. It is not necessary to pick up the car at the airport if you are already in the city center.
In the case of Havana, we recommend that you:
- Take the car only when you leave the city for the province (no need to have a car in the city where you can take advantage of cabs – old cars from the 50s)
- Also, return the car downtown if you spend the last night in Havana.
- Choose the offices located in the Miramar district because the service is better.
What is the “Refundable Deductible Option” of Novela Cuba?
The deductible is the amount that the client is responsible for in case of damage or theft of the vehicle. With the “Refundable Deductible Option” from Novela Cuba, you will be reimbursed for the amount of the damage deductible. It works in two steps:
In case of damage :
1- The renter debits the amount of the deductible provided in the contract.
2 – Novela Cuba reimburses you once you have returned, upon presentation of the copy of the rental contract that shows the amount of the deductible.
It is not possible to reserve a baby/child seat. Remember to bring it with you.
National or international driving license?
Both licenses are accepted. Photocopies are not valid.
Is car insurance compulsory?
The rental company’s car insurance is unique and mandatory.
Even if you have a credit card with all the insurances included, you must pay the Cuban insurance.
To rent or not to rent a car?
This is the question that the traveler will ask himself. Here are our tips for making the best decision.
To rent a car in Cuba or take the buses and collective taxis?
PROS of the car rental:
• Safety on the roads: there is no insecurity on the roads, as in other places in Latin America.
• The seaside places are generally not frequented by the local population, so there is no public bus to get there (Cayo Levisa, etc).
• The driving is pleasant because there are few cars on the roads.
CONS of the car rental and PROS of public transportation:
• The condition of the cars: they are not new and already have a few miles on the odometer.
• The cost of renting a car, which is higher than in the rest of the world because the car fleet is small.
• Minimum 3 days rental
We do not book bus tickets, see directly on: www.viazul.com
Driving in Cuba
What you should know
Renting a car in Cuba may seem complicated in terms of reservation (Chinese car models not well known in Europe, fees to be paid at the time of reservation and on the spot, etc.) but we are here to help you in these different steps. You should also know that driving in Cuba is not difficult at all: few roads, little traffic.
The state of the roads
Generally speaking, the roads are in good condition, despite some potholes. You don’t need to be an experienced driver or to drive a 4×4.
The only danger you may encounter is the cohabitation of different means of transportation: horsemen, old American cars, bicycles, etc.
It is therefore recommended to drive at medium speed (respecting the 100 km/h limit) and to avoid driving at night, given the poor lighting on the roads.
There are few road signs but there are also few roads (the road network has not changed since 1959), so you will not get lost! And especially the GPS Maps Me application works very well.
Road map – GPS
Before leaving, download on your cell phone the GPS application Maps Me or Osmand, they are free. The rental company does not provide GPS on site.
These applications work very well without an internet connection.
Gas stations and the cost of gas
For many years now, there have been gas stations open 24 hours a day all over the island, allowing a normal supply. The cost of gasoline is close to the one in France.
Parking your car at night
If you are staying in a hotel, there is always a guarded parking lot. And if you are staying in a casa particular, just ask the owner who is used to it and will give you the use of his parking lot or will show you the right place.
Parking your car at night generally costs 2 USD up to 5 USD max.
To take or not to take hitchhikers?
The problem of transportation is real in Cuba, therefore many Cubans hitchhike. However, given the equally large number of “fake hitchhikers” who do not have good intentions, we advise against taking them with you.
Car with driver
If, however, you want to simplify the transportation issue in the most pleasant way possible, opt for a car with a driver. You can also rent old American cars with drivers. We offer both services.