Getting around in La Havana

History Brief

vista ciudad HabanaHavana, Capital City of the Republic of Cuba is home to over two million inhabitants and the main tourist destination of the Island. Founded on November 16th, 1519 (date of the first mass), it is thought that the name of the town was derived from Habaguanex (a local indian chief), who once ruled over the territory.

Havana became a city in 1592 and was recognized as the Island’s capital city by Royal Charter in 1607, becoming a strategic location for navigation, with Havana’s port as its main feature. Its subsequent growth and development led it to become a coveted city, attacked by corsairs and pirates, and for eleven months in the 18th century occupied by the English.

Numerous fortifications were constructed for its protection, while important civil and religious works made the city more prestigious. By the 19th century, Havana had already grown beyond its walls, which were finally demolished to facilitate the unstoppable expansion of the city which would continue during the republican period. By the triumph of the popular insurrection in 1959, which started the so-called revolutionary period, themodern city had been formed, essentially as we see it today.

In 1976, the Cuban government declared the historical area of Havana a “National Monument”, and it was declared as aorld Heritage by UNESCO in 1982. This part of the city is the object of a comprehensive and planned program of restoration carried out by the Office of the Havana Historian.

How to travel around the city

The best way to get to know the city is to remember the three main areas of major tourist interest: Old Havana, Vedado and Miramar, in that order. For traveling around the city there are several options.

Private taxi

This alternative allows you to learn about the city like a local. It has the advantage of providing you with more information about the places to be visited. It takes you less time to travel from one place to another allowing you to visit more places and will involve a lot less walking around in the heat of the day.

State-owned Taxis

Taxis publico HabanaThe state-owned taxis can be identified by their license plates which have a vertical blue stripe at the beginning, a white background and black characters. They are usually yellow or white modern vehicles, although you can also find red, black, or blue ones. Most of them have air conditioning and the prices are very similar to private taxis. A tour around the city will cost between 15-20 CUC per hour.

Private taxis

taxis privados HabanaAll the license plates of the private taxis begin with the letter “P”, and although they include modern vehicles, many are classic models from the 1950’s and 60’s, maintained in very good condition.

The private taxis are divided into two groups: the ones which offer a collective service of transportation and the ones which offer a private service. The collective taxis run along fixed specific routes, with a pre-established destination, picking up people along the way until they complete their trip. Passengers get in and out wherever they want. This is the cheapest service and usually costs between 50 CUC cents and 1 CUC per person. These cars run along the main avenues of the city and are usually a little more ramshackle. For trips to and around Old Havana, Vedado and Miramar, the place to find a private car is at the intersection of Neptuno Street and Prado Avenue. Most of them are old cars from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.

The personalized service is at the request of the client and includes picking up the traveler anywhere he/she wishes, at the time agreed for the destination requested and the taxi will not be shared with anyone else. This service is designed to fully satisfy the client. The price will be agreed between the client and the chaffeur.        

These taxis are usually parked in places which are frequented by tourists, thus offering their service or waiting to be booked. Many of them also work closely with private rental properties or otels and many can be reached by telephone. The right place to find them is near the Capitol Building in Havana. A tour around the city may cost between 10-20 CUC per hour. If the vehicle is a convertible the cost rises to 20-35 CUC.

Regarding the prices, an important difference between private taxis and the state-owned ones is that the latter have fixed rates, very similar to the private cabs, while the private ones work by supply and demand, what means you'll need to negotiate a price beforehand.

By Bici-Taxi

Bici taxis en CubaThis is another possibility of knowing the city. It consists of a tricycle with seats and a roof to protect the client from the sun and the rain. The price is negotiated when requesting its service. You can find this type of transportation mainly on the streets of Old Havana, as they do not run in Vedado and Miramar. A trip around Old Havana should cost between 15-30 CUC.

By horse-drawn Carriage

transporte en la habana A trip on a horse-drawn carriage is always an original and fun way to travel. Prices are negotiated by the hour and depend on the amount of passengers. Again this form of transportation operates mainly in Old Havana and the eastern beaches. Prices are typically between 15-20 CUC an hour, per person.

Horse dran carriages are ideal for adults and children (as a ride or for getting around) comfortable and safe. Various itineraries are available.

One trip that is always recommended runs along the Malecón (seaside), because of its special romanticism, and around Old Havana. You can also book carriage trips on the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bus tour

Bus turistico HabanaThis is the cheapest way to enjoy the main tourist sites. It consists of an open top double-decker bus where you'll feel that you are traveling on a mobile terrace. This option is certainly best if you want to take some spectacular photos.

There are several established routes available, with stops at all the main places of interest. The interval between buses is 30 minutes which allows you to hop on and off as you like. The price is 5.00 CUC per person and free for children under 6 years old (one child per adult). Your ticket offers the right to use the service all day until 5:00 p.m., including 3 routes around the city each over one hour in duration. Tours start from Parque Central.

On foot

You can visit a large part of the historical center and Old Havana, on foot. This offers more contact with the people and the day to day rhythm of the city. Create your own itinery, visit the places you want and spend as much time as you like at each one, creating your own memories and stopping off wherever you like.