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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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|
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:
FAQs Taxi In Cuba
What Do They Call A Taxi In Cuba?
Taxi is an international word, and a taxi is called a taxi also in Cuba.
As you have seen, there are three types of taxis in Cuba, you have taxi privado, taxi collective, and bicycle taxi!
Are Taxis In Cuba Expensive?
A private taxi service in the cities of Cuba is not super cheap, and they will “adjust” the prices since you are a foreigner.
As the normal salary for a Cuban is around $30-40 per month, Cubans generally can not afford to take a taxi. When they do, they often share, and the prices they pay will be a bit lower than your price.
Is It Easy To Get A Taxi In Cuba?
In Havana and the major cities, it is easy to get a taxi during the daytime and early evening; you will find them parked along the sidewalk of the streets marked with a taxi sign on the roof or in the window.
Late at night or super early in the morning, it can be more difficult. If you need to get to the airport or somewhere very early, it is smart to book one in advance.
Ask your hotel or casa particular host for help to make your booking, and stress that the timing for a pick-up is IMPORTANT and that you need to be somewhere on time!
Yes, Cuban-time really is “a thing”!
How Do You Pay For A Taxi In Cuba?
You pay in cash, preferably with US dollars or euro!
Also, make sure the driver understands where you are going, and that you agree on the price before you get in the taxi if you hail one on the street.
Even if your casa or hotel books one for you (unless it is an organized tour with a fixed price), you will need to negotiate the price yourself directly with the driver, so be prepared!
Why are US citizens not allowed to travel to Cuba?
This is NOT correct. US citizens ARE ALLOWED to travel to Cuba.
Americans can choose a reason for Cuba travel among 12 pre-approved reasons for traveling to Cuba, determined by the US Government.
Can US citizens travel to Cuba as a tourist?
Technically, US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to Cuba as a tourist. Americans choose between 12 pre-approved reasons for Cuba travel, among which the most common one is “to help the Cuban people”.
What are the 12 requirements to travel to Cuba?
You can read about the 12 pre-approved reasons to travel to Cuba for US citizens here.
The easiest and most common reason for Cuba travel is “to help the Cuban people”. There is no paperwork or application process connected to this, you just choose your reason and state that reason if anyone asks.
What happens if a US citizen travels to Cuba?
Nothing happens if a US citizen travels to Cuba, apart from hopefully, the US citizen will have a fabulous holiday and encounter with Cuban culture.
Selected airlines sell this visa/tourist card, or you can buy one online.
What documents do I need to travel to Cuba?
You need the following documents to travel to Cuba:
- Passport valid for 6 months after date of entry
- Cuban tourist card / tourist visa
- Proof of travel insurance, including health insurance
- Fill out the d’viajero.cu digital document before your journey
Do Americans need to be vaccinated to enter Cuba?
No, there is no requirement for specific vaccines prior to entering Cuba. Your country’s health department probably has recommendations for what vaccines you should consider before entering Cuba.
How Do I get a tourist card for Cuba?
You might also be able to buy a Cuban tourist card from your airline or at the airport prior to departure.
It is possible to buy a Cuban tourist card at Miami International Airport at the check-in counter with American Airlines and Delta Airlines.
How Do I Get A Tourist Visa For Cuba?
- Buy one online from Easy Tourist Card
- Buy one from your airline if they offer this
- Buy one at the airport of departure if they offer this
- Buy one from the Cuban Embassy in your country
Is Travel To Cuba Allowed Right Now?
Yes, Cuba travel is allowed right now. There are no COVID or health restraints from entering Cuba right now.
There are no political constraints from entering Cuba right now for most international travelers.
American citizens need to, in addition, choose one of the 12 pre-approved reasons for traveling to Cuba (Americans can not travel as “tourists”) and follow some simple guidelines for traveling in Cuba.
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!
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