Book bus tickets ahead if possible. Viazul is the national company but they frequently get booked up and therefore delay travellers. Astro buses are meant to only be for the locals but you may be able to get tickets if you speak reasonable Spanish.
Take warm clothes for the buses. The air conditioning is always on full blast and you will be freezing if you’re just wearing shorts and t-shirt. A hoodie and a blanket will make the experience much more pleasant.
An alternative to the Viazul and Astro buses are the slightly more expensive tourist minibuses which are available between the main tourist spots such as Havana and Varadero. They’ll usually drop off and pick up from hotels too.
If you’re not short on time, trains can be an interesting but slow way to travel round the country. Again, try to book tickets beforehand and be prepared for uncomfortable seats, limited facilities, and long delays.
Hitchhiking is legal in Cuba and it is a much used way to get around. It’s actually against the law not to pick up hitchhikers if you’re driving a government vehicle and have space. There are set checkpoints where they have to stop and let people in. It can be a great budget way for backpackers to travel and meet locals.
For those confident about driving in another country and wanting to get off the beaten track, hiring a car can be a fantastic idea. The rates aren’t cheap and the vehicles will often have seen better days. If you want to follow Cuban driving etiquette, make sure you pick up hitchhikers.
Hiring a motorbike is a slightly cheaper option to hiring a car and is a great way to get around Cuba with many locals using this form of transport too.
Cuba is a fairly flat country and hiring a bike, or bringing your own, can make for a brilliant adventure. It’s fairly popular in Cuba so you should be able to meet plenty of other cyclists whether they’re tourists or locals, to have a chat with. And of course it’s a really healthy and cheap way to get around too.
There are several different types of taxis available. Official ones will have a meter and the classic cars will often work on a price agreed up front, and sometimes be shared. Then there are the adorable coco taxis. These are tiny and yellow and are the shape of a coconut, hence the name. They’re great for getting around cities, as long as you don’t have much luggage with you: again, agree a price up front.
Flights are an option if you have more money than time. It’s expensive to fly within the mainline, but flights to the Isla de Juventud are surprisingly not too pricey at around $80 for a return ticket. Book with Cubana airlines.
Whichever option you go for, travelling in Cuba is full of delays, problems, and breakdowns. If you accept this and prepare for it you’re less likely to get annoyed if and when it happens.