The only way to get to Havana from Russia is by plane. Those who are in a hurry and do not want to save money choose Aeroflot direct flights from Moscow Sheremetyevo. From June to October, Nord Wings flies to the Cuban capital from Sheremetyevo. True, landing at Varadero airport, from which you can go to Havana by a comfortable bus (2 hours 40 minutes) or by taxi (2 hours).
Air France and KLM flights with a transfer in Paris or Amsterdam cost a third less, but the total travel time increases significantly. You also have to fly from St. Petersburg to Cuba with at least one transfer. Fast and expensive – Aeroflot via Moscow, cheaper, but longer – with Air France via Paris.
According to Wholevehicles, Old Havana is relatively small so you can get around on foot, but traveling to outlying areas will require transport. If intercity buses in Cuba are very good, then urban transport usually scares tourists. Local buses are divided into two types: “gua-gua”, similar to our minibuses, and larger “camellos”. Cubans will be happy to help you find your way, but you need to be prepared for the crush, noise and lack of air conditioning.
There are two queues at the stops: one for those who want to ride sitting, the second for the rest of the passengers.
The most convenient way to get around the city is by taxi. The cost of the trip depends on the car: it’s cheaper to ride in old Soviet cars, they will ask for more modern foreign cars, the most desirable (and most expensive) are old American cars that have become a symbol of Havana for many travelers. A trip around the city on such a retro car will cost 50-65 CUC, an ordinary taxi will give you a ride for 10-15 CUC. The prices on the page are for August 2021.
It is better to find out the price in advance, especially if there is no counter. For any additional services, such as a city tour, you may be asked to tip.
Another interesting option is “coco-taxi”. These are small motorcycles with two seats in the back. On them you can get to the right place with the breeze. There are a lot of bike rental points in the city, but you need to understand that the traffic in Havana is intense and not always logical, and bike paths are not everywhere. It is not worth leaving the bike on the street unattended.
- Center of Havana
All accommodation options in Havana are divided into three groups: beach hotels, city hotels and the private sector. Beach resorts mainly include very good resort complexes, which are located far from the center. Urban are represented by a full range – from modest and inexpensive to truly luxurious. The most interesting option is the private sector. Houses with rooms for rent, marked with white signs with blue chevrons and the inscription “Arrendador Inscripto”, they offer very cozy and clean rooms.
The main difficulty for travelers is that there are practically no hotels in Havana in international booking systems. You can use Cuban sites or look for accommodation on the spot.
A double room in a 3 * hotel will cost 60-70 CUC per day, a five-star room costs 150-300 CUC, and you will have to pay 40-50 CUC for accommodation with local residents.
Rent a Car
It is not necessary to take a car to move around Havana, but it can be very useful for exploring other regions. Rental prices in the Cuban capital are unexpectedly high, but the roads are generally good, with the exception of narrow streets that can be broken. There are many rental points in the city, in addition, you can rent a car in hotels and even rent it from local residents.
It is better to use official services – they issue a car with black tourist numbers. The police are loyal to such transport, and there are a lot of them in Havana. You can park in the city for free, but sometimes there are thefts, so tourists are advised to leave the car in paid guarded parking lots.
No less popular is the rental of mopeds, this does not even require any permits, but it is still better if the driver has a license so that he understands the situation on the road and does not risk himself. In Old Havana, with its narrow streets, this mode of transport is much more convenient than a car.
What to bring
Havana is the best place for shopping in Cuba, there are many shops, several malls, open markets and hundreds of shops at hotels and other tourist places.
In Havana, tourists can only pay with convertible pesos, “cookies”, while non-convertible ones are available only to local residents.
A classic souvenir – cigars – is sold in every store in Havana, but it’s best to go to the shop at the Partagas factory (Calle Industria, 520). The products are considered the most famous in the world, and the production process is interesting because during the work one of the employees reads fiction aloud to the others. Another traditional Havana souvenir is Havana Club brand rum, which is produced right in the capital. It also produces excellent perfumes and cosmetics of the Suchel Camacho brand, a state-owned company that makes perfumes and creams. Works of art are often brought from Havana, for example, paintings in the Afro-Caribbean style. A particularly good selection is at the Feria de Tacon on Avenida Takon.
In order to avoid problems when exporting paintings, you need to issue a special permit, it is taken from merchants or in the gallery. This document confirms that the work is not recognized as a national treasure.
Cuba is the world’s leading drug manufacturer, with a very high level of pharmaceuticals (as well as medicine), and prices are very modest. It is most advantageous to buy drugs in stores at the airport.