Getting around in Cuba
  • so i'm going to cuba with some mates and we need to know if there's a cheap way to get from city to city. we're just going to be backpacking, so don't want to spend all our money on planes and that. is it safe to hitchhike or is there a cheap bus from havana to santiago?
  • Getting around in Cuba is easy because of a network of buses. There are two kinds of buses in Cuba: long-distance coaches run by various companies, including Viazul and Astro. Viazul is more comfortable and reliable, but charges tourist prices and has a smaller network than Astro. Astro is used more often by locals, but it is more difficult to buy tickets unless you speak Spanish. There are also provincial buses that are more dilapidated but much cheaper. There is often a queue of locals, and there is a higher price for tourists.

    Cuba has a formalised hitchhiking system whereby officials known as ‘Los Amarillos’ (for their yellow uniforms) arrange for rides at designated points in the city. There is a charge of roughly 20 pesos for a ride, which goes to the Cuban government. It's easier to get a ride at night though, when the Amarillos aren't on duty and the drivers can pocket the money for themselves.

    The Tren Francés, running between Havana and Santiago, is the only reliable train service in Cuba. It runs on alternate days.
  • This is all great info from Earth Mother above! - The train running from Havana to Santiago is often delayed or stopped on route and notoriously take many hours longer than predicted.
    It is very crowded and even local Cubans travelling this route prefer the buses over this, my family and friends will only take the train if the planes and then buses are full..... but the flight is the best and quickest way.

    Viazul has an express night bus between the two cities, so you actually don't lose too much time in traveling and can get more time in Santiago itself, my favourite place in Cuba : )
    You can also book Viazul online in advance and see the routes and times for all buses throughout the country. see: www.viazul.com

    A really good way to get to Santiago is to hire a car. THis gives you a fantastic trip throughout the country on your way from west to east if you are wanting to do it slowly, although make sure you have a good map, or ask around there is always some local looking for a ride to Santiago and they can act as your guide/translator!

    Hitch hiking is good but takes aaaaaaages to get between these two cities. so it depends on the time you want to spend doing the trip I suppose.

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