Taxis & Vintage Cars
How to travel Cuba by Taxi
Due to the problematic public transportation system, there is nearly no way to avoid taxi rides travelling Cuba. Compared to similar vacation destinations, the prices for all kind of taxis are quite high in Cuba. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know before traveling Cuba by taxi. So get on the road with us!
On the socialist island, you can choose between private and state-run taxis. If you are searching the most convenient way to travel short to medium ways, you should take one of the state-owned cabs that carry passengers in modern vehicles at regulated prices. Alternatively, you can go in one of the typical historical American cars, which operate as private cabs and are also very popular.
All vehicles in the modern state fleet are air-conditioned and in general pretty comfortable. On the other hand, most of the private taxis are the classic US cars from before the revolution, which Cuba is famous for. They are operated under special license that allow the drivers to offer their services to foreign visitors. If you want to take a stylish trip in one of the vintage cabs, you should look out for a GRANCAR sticker, that is typically located at the doors.
Short distance rides
When going on short distances, you can try and stop practically every passing vehicle with a hand signal. This is the usual procedure in Cuba, because in norm almost all drivers offer their services as a cab at least temporarily. Before getting into a vehicle, you should settle the destination and the fare.
Experience has shown that only in Varadero, drivers with the appropriate licenses can transport foreign visitors. In this important touristic destination, the police controls are stricter than in the rest of the country. However, you don't need to worry about getting a vehicle in Varadero, because there are enough licensed cabs.
In most cases, foreigners hardly have to bother to get a taxi, because drivers stop and offer their services when they see them on the roadside. Especially in larger cities and holiday destinations, you can generally get a taxi at any time of the day without long waiting.
The state taxis are modern, air-conditioned vehicles. The drivers usually wait at airports, in front of large hotels and near other touristic places. Even travelers arriving at the airport late at night don't need to be worried: There are enough taxis available around the clock. In Havana and Varadero, you can constantly order drivers by phone to any desired location at all time. The phone numbers are 855 5555 (Havana) and 45 61 4444 (Varadero).
Drivers should transport passengers by taximeter. It is common for tourists to be asked for flat rates, especially in Havana. Therefore, you should better find out before you start your tour whether they are driving with a taximeter. If this is not the case, it is advisable to agree on a price before starting the journey. The guide price is that short distances should not cost more than 5 USD. In case of medium distances, around 1 USD per kilometer is a reasonable price.
Longer journeys and airport transfers (details & prices) have official fixed prices, which usually are respected and often negotiable. In principle, state taxis are also suitable for longer distances. If you value ease, you can take an official taxi comfortably, flexibly and, above all, quickly. If there is more than one person, a taxi is a relatively cheap option. For longer journeys, the price is around 60 USD per 100 km and one pays in cash directly to the driver.
If you want to go from Varadero to Havana, for example, a taxi ride costs around 100 USD. With three people, this would match to a good 30 USD per customer. For the same route, the Viazul bus costs 10 USD per passenger. In addition, there is the transfer to and from the bus station, which would typically cost about an additional 20 USD by taxi. As a result, it can be said that a taxi is around twice as expensive as a bus. A good thing is that you save time and don’t have to change buses, so that you arrive more comfortably and faster. When there are few people and longer distances, bus travel is much more economical.
Check out the following overview to know the prices for selected routes. The estimated prices are current (2021) and quite precise, so you don't expect unpleasant surprises.
Taxi fares for the main connections
Traveling in a historical road car can be realized with significantly more charm. While many vehicles for Cuban transportation are in a deplorable condition, most of the classic automobiles used for tourism are lovingly maintained. It is common for modern technology to be found under the hood. For vacationists, it is particularly relevant that most vehicles have also been retrofitted with air conditioning. These cars are worth a small fortune in Cuba.
The prices of the private vintage taxis are freely negotiable. Depending on the distance of the drive and the condition of the vehicle, the prices can be higher or lower than the state equivalent. Driving through Cuba in a lovingly cherished American carriage is an unforgettable experience, but it also has its price.
In Havana, the typical city tours in the classic cars cost 35 USD an hour. If you want to cover shorter distances, you can calculate 1 USD per kilometer.
You can also arrange longer trips, where the price for 100 km is often around 50 USD. If you need a private driver for several days, you should calculate with a daily price of around 100 to 200 USD, depending on the vehicle and the desired routes. Both aspects define the price range. But if you want to cover many kilometers in a short time, you will tend to be at the upper end of the price range.
The drivers are organized on their own on site. They typically wait in front of the big hotels. For travelers staying in a “casa particular”, it is advisable to ask the owner for a driver.
If you travel alone or with a few people, it is cheaper to get a shared taxi with other vacationers. In case you are staying in a “casa”, you can ask there what prices are reasonable. Different private accommodations typically cooperate and fill vehicles with different travelers. This is particularly the case on the most frequented routes, for example between Viñales and Havana.
Overall, rides can be cheap, even if the hosts usually receive a small commission. If you are daring, you can also try bus stations, regular shared taxis for Cubans run from there.
Regular prices for main routes
From/to Santa Clara
Cuba & Coco-Taxis
In addition to the modern vehicles, the state operator Cuba-Taxi also has another fleet of old and often rickety Russian Lada taxis. These vehicles do not have air conditioning. It is also not possible to order them by phone. The rides in the rattling boxes are usually a bit cheaper, but the old Cuba taxis have nearly any tourist significance.
On the other hand, the relevance of tourism is all the greater for coco taxis (“egg taxis”). The bizarre-looking, TUK-TUK-like vehicles operate in tourist destinations such as Varadero and Havana. The city can be experienced most passionately in a “Coco”. The passenger is directly exposed to the impressions - and in Havana - to the city's urban fumes. The Coco is one of the few vehicles in Cuba that is often driven by women.
In Havana, Coco Taxis can be found in the area of Parque Central or Hotel Nacional. In Varadero, they usually run along the main street (Avenida 1ra). Remember to agree the price before departure! The drivers typically make smaller tours for 5 to 10 USD. Officially, an hour in the Coco costs 15 USD.
There are also three-wheeled taxis in many smaller towns. They operate as shared and individual taxis. Such a mototaxi is ideal if you want to get from A to B quickly.