You often don’t need to worry about finding a Cuba taxi, at least in Havana and the major cities or towns, because most of the time they find you before you have had time to need a taxi!
A taxi in Cuba can be anything from a uniformed yellow and black one, to a private car with a taxi sign, to a classic old American car operating as a standard taxi.
Drivers take cash payments (unless you have a pre-booked pre-paid private taxi booked online), preferably in Euro as foreign currency is a combination of a necessary and scarce commodity in Cuba.
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Urban Taxi In Cuba
In all Cuban cities and towns, even villages, you will find a variety of taxis in the form of classic American cars, standard yellow and black, rusty old Lada cars, and even mini-busses.
In order to operate as a taxi, you do need to be registered in Cuba, but that does not stop some drivers from running what we would call “pirate taxi” businesses on the side.
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You don’t need to worry too much about that, as unregistered taxis normally don’t want foreign passengers as they might be identified as illegal pirate taxis with a yuma in the back seat.
What you should look for is the classic taxi sign, which indicates a registered operating taxi.
Taxis in Cuba do not have meters, so make sure you agree on a price before you get in – not when you arrive at your destination!
Also, the value of the Cuban peso against the dollar or euro fluctuates, so check out the latest official and unofficial value of the CUP on this webpage.
Cuba Taxi Privado And Taxi Colectivo
There are two types of taxis available in Cuba; taxi privado and taxi colectivo.
Taxi privado are simply normal taxis that you book for yourself, for a specific fare, that you hail on the street, or even book online in 2023.
A taxi colectivo is a taxi that you share with other people, so you pay for a seat in the taxi.
For you as a tourist, taxi colectivo is something you typically would book for a longer journey, like from Havana to Vinales, Trinidad, or Varadero.
The Cuban “Rutas”
In Havana and some of the bigger cities, there exists a mixture of this, which is called rutas.
These are mini-buses or bigger cars that act like buses and drive fixed routes in Havana, where the rice is super low.
The price from Old Havana to Vedado is 5 CUP in January 2023, which is around 5 cents (but then again you have to expect long queues).
For comparison, a private taxi in January 2023 for the same distance is about 1500 CUP (around 10 euros).
Havana Taxi Options
When you are a tourist in Havana, unless you are determined to try living like a Cuban, stand in lines, and wait for the guaguas and rutas, I recommend taxis to get from A to B.
Get price advice from the host in your casa particular on what the price would be for the distance you are traveling (maybe they even know a taxi guy (very rarely a girl) and will hook you up with a driver.
Many Cubans are also members of taxi WhatsApp groups where they can publish a request, like “from address – to address, one person, one suitcase”, and get an offer with price from a taxi.
If your casa host has this, ask them for help!
Bicycle Taxis in Havana
If you need (or just want) transport over a very short distance, like within Old Havana or Central Havana, you can easily hail a bici taxi on the street!
Finding them is not hard, they will be trying to hail you all around the tourist areas in Havana all the time. Bici taxis are a very common transport for local Cubans, so this is not a “tourist trap” that someone is trying to pull.
Smart when it is super hot, you have been doing too much shopping, or have sore feet – try a bici taxi! Or when you are going out for dinner in heals in Havana – the bici taxi is great!
The price should be around 500 CUP for 2 persons for a distance of around 5-6 blocks, and remember to agree on the price before you enter the bici taxi seat (as you are a yuma, the asking price will probably be a bit higher).
Cuba Public Transportation – Guagua’s
There is a bus system in Cuban cities, commonly referred to as Guagua’s, and there is an overview online for this system in at least Havana.
Buses can be found along major routes throughout the city, but there are issues.
The system is super unreliable, so if you manage to figure out which bus (or buses) you need to get somewhere, you can expect to wait for an unpredictable period of time as the bus arrives when it arrives.
You will also have to “do lines”, hacer colas, as there are a lot of locals trying to get somewhere as well.
You can expect these colas to be seemingly uncoordinated, but make no mistake – people have a keen control of who is where in the line. Cubans are experts on standing in long lines.
On the guagua’s and rutas, you pay with CUP, starting from 1 CUP for short distances on some buses, to 20-25 CUP for longer distances on the rutas.
The local guauga’s are often crowded and uncomfortable, but they offer a uniquely Cuban experience that can’t be found anywhere else!
Long Haul Taxi Colectivo Cuba
If you are a group, or you don’t mind sharing a taxi with other travelers, I recommend a taxi colectivo for some distances.
In particular between Havana and Trinidad, or Cienfuegos, where the driving time in a taxi is significantly shorter than the bus!
When you book a taxi from Havana to, say, Trinidad, you might experience that that price is higher than the price from Trinidad to Havana, when you are going back.
The reason for this is simply that the price level in the capital Havana is a bit higher than in the countryside (maybe apart from Varadero where there are a lot of tourists with money).
If you want to book a taxi colectivo from your casa or hotel, ask your host or the hotel staff and they will help you. Remember to also get and accept the price before you agree to the seat!
The distances from Havana – Vinales, or Havana – Varadero is rather short, and it is super easy and quick to take the Viasul bus. With the prices being low that is absolutely a very good option.
You can also prebook and prepay long-haul transport online, either from the airport to your destination or from one destination to another.
If you decide to book any form of an organized tour in Varadero, Havana, or other destinations, transport, and pick-up at your hotel or casa particular are normally included in the itinerary.
Price Example Taxi Colectivo Long Haul
A seat in a taxi colectivo in January 2023 from Havana to Trinidad (around 4 hours with a taxi) is around 35€-40.
From Havana to Vinales in a taxi colectivo, the price should be around €25 in January 2023, and from Havana to Varadero around €30.
Old Classic American Cars
The streets of Cuba are still filled with classic American cars from the 1940s and 1950s, even though nothing in this segment has been imported from the US since 1959!
Strangely, the vintage American cars in Cuba have become a symbol of Cuban culture despite their origins, and owners of these elegant cars are taking really good care of them (as parts are hard to find).
Some of these are standard taxis, some are used as colectivos, and some are used for tours of destinations like Havana and Varadero.
Exploring Cuba in a classic American car is a bit like a bucket-list thing to do, and for getting an overview of Havana in a nice and interesting way, I recommend doing this as a tour of one or two hours!
Long Haul Bus
Bus between destinations in Cuba is quite reliable, in contrast to the city guagua’s. At least that is the case for departures, although there is the occasional breakdown of a bus.
I have traveled extensively with the Viazul bus service, which operates between the major destinations in Cuba with no problem so far. And it is convenient, as you can book your trip online.
You can even take the Viazul bus from Havana to Santiago de Cuba! It will take closer to 20 hours, but it works – I know because I have done the journey on a return trip!
Price and time examples for the Viazul bus January 2023:
|Havana – Vinales||3,5 hours||$12|
|Havana – Varadero||3 hours||$9|
|Havana – Trinidad||7 hours||$21|
|Havana – Cienfuegos||5,5 hours||$16|
|Havana – Santa Clara||7,5 hours||$18|
|Havana – Santiago de Cuba||20 hours||$57|
Airport Taxi Cuba
A taxi from Jose Marti International Airport to Old Havana in January 2023 should be around €25.
You can hail one outside the arrival gate when you get there, or you can book one online before you arrive if you like someone to pick you up with your name on a sign!
In Varadero, the prices will vary a bit, as the Hicacos Peninsula where all the resorts are is very long. You can expect the price to be between €25-35.
Explore Cuban Destinations!
There is a lot to do outside of sizzling Havana! I have traveled in Cuba for years, and here is everything you need to know about other fun destinations:
Wrap-Up Cuba Taxi
Wow, I hope I have remembered all the little and big things about Cuba taxi service, the formal and the informal, the legal and the shady!
One thing is for sure, there are a lot of taxis in Cuba, so finding one will not be a problem. Finding one that has a seatbelt probably will be a problem, and guaranteeing that it will not break down is hard to do.
So my best advice is to enjoy the ride, agree on the price before you get in, and expect that all things will go well!