As Cuba's capital and largest city, Havana is a great place to start any road trip around this beautiful country. Though its easy to get many places by car, travelers should be aware of some of the differences between driving in Cuba and driving in their home country to make the most of their experience.
Renting a Car in Havana
For travelers arriving at Havana's José Martí International Airport, it's easy to rent a car and then start touring. Rental companies such as Cubanacar, Fenix, Rent a Car, Transtour, Via Rent a Car, and Rex (which offers limousines and luxury cars) operate at the Arrivals area of the airport. Sunnycars also offers rentals at the airport and at other locations throughout the city.
Visitors need a passport, driver's license, and deposit to rent a car. The minimum age for drivers is typically 21, but sometimes more expensive services ask for a minimum age of 25 or 30.
Driving in Havana
Visitors who rent a car in Cuba should feel comfortable handling cars with manual transmissions. There are not many automatic transmission options available. Drivers should also prepare themselves for other differences when it comes to the roads.
Road signs are not as common as visitors might hope or expect, so it's key to get a good road map and carefully check the route before heading out. When there are signs, they're in Spanish. Road services such as gas stations are also not as common as in other countries. When travelers do find a gas station, it's useful to fill up instead of waiting to find another.
Most of the main highways in Cuba are in good condition. City road and side road, however, might not be maintained as well, so drivers should pay close attention to the condition of the road they're on.
Things to Do in Havana
No trip to the city is complete without visiting Old Havana. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts baroque and neoclassical buildings along narrow streets and elegant public squares such as Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja. Travelers should be sure to see Catedral de San Cristobal. When it's time to refuel with drinks and seafood, check out La Bodeguita del Medio, where Hemingway used to hang out. Visitors not staying in Havana should make sure they leave a rental car in a fenced-in lot only.
At sunset, stroll along the Malecón. The famous boulevard runs from Old Havana to the Vedado and Plaza area. It's the perfect spot to take in a variety of architectural styles and mingle with locals while enjoying the fresh ocean air. Hotel Nacional de Cuba provides a respite for visitors with tired feet.
Art lovers must also pay a visit to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the museum of fine arts. The museum spans two buildings. The Palacio del Centro Asturiano is home to a huge collection of ancient art along with offerings from European masters. The Palacio de Bellas Artes boasts an exciting collection of Cuban art that covers artists from the 17th century to the current day.
The best way to see Havana is by car, so don't wait to rent a car. Use the Skyscanner tool to find a discount car rental beforehand.