Cuba’s roads are generally in good condition, so there’s no need to be an experienced driver or to rent a 4×4. All you need is a decent vehicle in good working order. You’ll find that the main roads are excellent, but the country roads are often in less good condition, which adds to the adventure of exploring Cuba by road.
The Cuban government has been working to improve the safety of the country’s roads, but there are still many dangers to watch out for. Horse-drawn carts, bicycles, and 1950s-era cars share the roads with modern vehicles, and many of the roads are poorly lit at night. Drivers should take care to drive slowly and avoid night driving whenever possible.
Pick-up at the Airport or Downtown?
Rental companies have airport and city center offices for most major cities. If you’re already in the city center, you don’t need to take the car to the airport. In the case of Havana, we recommend:
- to take the car only when you leave town for the province (no need to have the car in town considering you can use taxis or 50s American cars)
- to return the vehicle in town if you plan to spend the last night in Havana.
In Cuba, there are few signposts. This is not a problem, though, because there are also few roads. You are not likely to get lost. The only difficulty you may have is exiting Havana. If you are approaching the entrance to the motorway, don’t hesitate to ask passers-by for directions.
Car or Bus?
Below are some arguments that might help you make up your mind:
- Roads are safe (no attacks nor corrupt police officers …) & Cuban people drive carefully
- The local population doesn’t live near seaside places, so there is no public bus service (Cayo Levisa for instance).
- The driving is pleasant as there are few cars on the roads.
- Taxis are expensive (Havana-Vinales: 120 USD one-way, 2-hour drive)
- Buses have nothing « folkloric »
As Viazul buses are air-conditioned and leave on time, you will first and foremost take them. But as the price is only in pesos convertibles, too expensive for Cubans, they are usually frequented only by tourists. Please also note that these buses don’t stop everywhere (please check timetables on www.Viazul.com)
But please keep in mind that: Cars are generally not in the same condition as a new car.
Click on the free link on our site’s homepage for a free map of Cuba. The best way to download it is on a tablet or iPad so you can benefit from it as much as possible on site (in areas without internet coverage).
Gas Stations and Gasoline Costs
For many years now, there have been petrol stations open 24 hours a day throughout the island, allowing a normal supply. The cost of gasoline is similar to the one in France.
No GPS is available in your car in Cuba. We recommend that you download the free MAPS ME application to your mobile phone before you leave to take advantage of the GPS service.
Baby / Child Seat
If you want to rent a baby car seat while in Cuba, you will have to pay for it on-site. It’s not 100% certain that you will be able to find one, as this option is not guaranteed by rental car companies. If you have your own baby car seat, we advise you to bring it with you when you travel to Cuba.
National or International Driver’s License?
If you plan on visiting Cuba with your foreign driver’s license, be aware that Cuba accepts both national and international driver’s licenses. You will need to bring your original, however, to ensure that you are permitted to drive. Your national driver’s license will be accepted if it is up to date and reflects your current name and photo. It’s a good idea to bring a photocopy of your license to speed up the process at the border.
Optimize vehicle pick up time (Havana)
In high season (all year round except June and September), it is advisable to pick up your car at the rental company’s offices located at the airport (many cars) or in the Miramar district (few customers). In the offices located in Old Havana, where most travelers are concentrated, however, it is “normal” to wait 2 hours to get your car.
Mandatory Car Insurance?
Car insurance in Cuba is unique and highly recommended. Although the government provides some insurance for vehicles, it is not enough to cover collisions and other incidents. It is also difficult to claim the money you need when an accident happens. Insurance is mandatory, and even if you have a credit card that includes all the insurance you need, you must still purchase Cuban insurance.
Do you have questions? Contact Us.