If you’re planning a trip to Cuba, you might be wondering if it’s possible to explore the country with a schedule that works for you.
What if you wanted to soak in the beaches, resorts, historic sites, and parks as you drive across Cuba?
How long does a trip across Cuba take, and what visas and licenses do you need to make the trip?
In this article, we’ll explain how long this trip will take you in distance and time so you can make any necessary preparations along the way.
We’ll also outline where you can get a rental car and what navigation systems look like in Cuba.
So if you’re ready to begin your Cuban adventure, read on to find out more.
How Long Does It Take to Travel Across The Country?
If you were to drive across the country, the distance is 800 kilometers and can take between 9 and 10 hours.
This, of course, will depend on the traffic that might build up near places such as Santa Clara, Las Tunas, or Bayamo.
But as fewer cars are on the roads than you’d expect, this might not be an issue in some regions.
It would be best if you consider that traveling between cities can be challenging to navigate for some, as a drive between two destinations can be a day’s driving away.
Driving at night is also an issue as there don’t seem to be many streetlights, leading to more accidents.
So whichever way you travel, you should have a good idea of the route you want to take and always follow Cuba’s driving regulations.
Do I Need A Visa?
Suppose you’re going to Cuba for tourist reasons.
In that case, you’ll have to secure a visa and fit into Cuba’s 12 broad and legally permissible purposes, so tours set up are generally allowed under these purposes.
Most people organize their plans through an agency such as OnCuba travel which can help them with hotels, rental cars, and excursions should they want any recommendations.
One of the purposes you could enter Cuba is under the support of the Cuban people.
For this purpose, you’d have to consider activities that support the Cuban people, such as eating at privately owned restaurants, buying local art and souvenirs, and staying at a privately owned home instead of a hotel.
It’s clear to see then that Cuba values the transactions and business of any visitor, whether they be exploring the country or looking for opportunities in the country.
Your trip must include daily activities emphasizing contact with the Cuban people, as It can be an effective way to immerse yourself in the culture.
Still, before planning any activities, you’ll need to organize anything you do in Cuba through a licensed tour operator and have a passport and a pink tourist card if you’re a US citizen.
In this way, you can get organized experiences emphasizing cultural immersion and will ensure that you meet the requirements of your stay.
What About A Driving License?
You’ll need an international driving license if you were to take out a rental car, and it would be wise at this point to maintain high standards when you’re driving on Cuban roads.
The driving style in Cuba is known for being pretty laid back as there aren’t many cars on the road.
It would help if you kept in mind that the speed limit on Cuban highways is 100 Km/h, which is about 62.14 miles per hour.
Suppose this sounds a bit too slow for a highway.
In that case, you have to consider the quality of the roads, which might not be as high quality as you’re used to back home, and you’re going to want to follow this speed as speeding fines are usually determined by the police officer who stops you.
The fine you pay is generally paid on the spot, so you want to ensure that you have some funds in case you accidentally clock a higher speed, as it’s pretty easy to achieve and go over.
You also want to treat officers, as well as all Cubans in general, with courtesy, and to go one step further, you could learn a little bit of Spanish to make these interactions easier.
Some Tips For A Successful Trip
Now you have some idea of what a trip around Cuba looks like, you can begin to make your preparations, but don’t be dismayed if you find that you don’t have the freedom to go anywhere or purchase anything you want.
You might find certain excursions to be more centered around what you want in your vacation, and to help you enjoy your time even more, we have provided some tips to make sure your trip runs as smoothly as it can.
- Check the conditions of your tourist card– You want to keep this card safe as you’ll need it when you depart. If you lose it, you could see delays that will undoubtedly see you have a difficult and time-consuming experience when traveling home. Most tourist cards have a limited stay of 30 days, and if you want to extend it, you’ll have to pay $40-$50 USD to extend your stay to 60 days, but no more.
- Consider your hotel options wisely– Many hotels around the country can be expensive and limited in some circumstances. If you find an affordable room, you might lack amenities such as air-conditioning, comfortable furnishings, hot water, and internet access. The best advice is to look out for vacation rentals or private homes, which you’ll find are more to your liking.
- Renting a car has its problems– You might find that the process of renting can be tiresome, with long wait times and vehicles being delivered in poor conditions. You’ll also find that gas stations are far and few in between, so you’ll want to fill up before you set off. There’s also the problem with rental cars not having GPS systems, so you’ll have to use a map or online GPS service if you can access it.
- Have a good knowledge of your route– Doing some preliminary research on the area you want to drive through will be helpful, as it’s been known that some small cities can be challenging to navigate. Perhaps planning your own course and maybe asking the locals for traveling advice might serve you well here.
Driving around Cuba might seem hazardous and unpredictable, with roads not up to standard, and you must remember that you’re entering a country with infrastructure and culture that is different from your own.
The highlight of your trip will likely be immersion in the Cuban culture and expanding your horizons, so you have some options as to what type of experience you want with many travel packages and options available.
So the next thing you can consider is how much enjoyment you’ll get from your Cuban adventure, and now you know what driving around the country is like.
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