Tips for independent travellers to Cuba

If you’re travelling independently, don’t even think about arriving in Cuba without your first few nights (or entire holiday if you want a smooth ride) booked at Cuba’s BBs (casas particulares) or hotels. The Cuba Travel Network website offers live availability for hotels. For BBs use,,, and guidebook recommendations, or try for stays with locals.

Online bookings for the country’s only scheduled tourist coach service, Víazul, can only be made seven days in advance, so you need to plan ahead. You must print your reservation to receive your ticket at the bus station. Many routes are oversubscribed. If your travel plans aren’t fixed, turn up early at the station and join the queue.

If you can’t get a seat, persistent private taxi drivers (boteros) outside all bus stations will gather up travellers and charge them the same as or less than Víazul. It’s a door-to-door service but nervous passengers should be aware that they drive like the wind.

State agency Cubanacán’s Connectando Cuba is a coach transfer service that runs from hotel to hotel for the same price as Víazul; book at Cubanacán hotel desks.

Taxis in Havana are getting expensive. Ask your BB owner to show you how to take a almendrón (a collective taxi – a cheap and fun way of riding in the classic, battered American gas guzzlers that are synonymous with Cuba) for between CUP10 (30p) and CUP20 a ride across the city.

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