How would you like to get from the Jośe Martí airport to downtown Havana, PreBooked, Pre-Arranged, Chartered Shuttle Buses and Coaches, Taxi to Havana, By Local Bus or Rent A Car, the choice is yours
Pre-booked OR Pre-arranged Chartered Shuttle Buses & Coaches
Many travellers arriving into the airport will already have had their transfers pre-arranged and paid for in advance by their tour operators. It’s easy to find them in the main hall after you pass customs - they will be waiting with signs and displays of your tour operator’s logo or your name.
Taxi to Habana
First, don’t stress or worry. On exiting the airport via the arrivals hall, state taxis will be located on your left hand side in a big long line - just head to the first in the queue.
Agree the fare first. The rates are pretty fixed from the airport and will set you back around $25CUC or maybe $20CUC if you speak Spanish. The ride from the airport to Habana is around 30 to 40 minutes depending on the time of day and the weather.
For those who are experienced, hardened, wise or on a budget, you might get a much cheaper deal if you head upstairs to the departure floor. Once there go outside and negotiate with the Maquina taxis (Maquinas are pre 1959 North American cars). Also look for Ladas who are dropping passengers off as they should charge less. Aim for around $15CUC.
On the way back to the airport, grab a taxi that is NOT parked outside a hotel, or simply negotiate a rate, again from $15CUC.
There are public buses “near” to the airport, but I would not recommend using them if you’re laden with luggage.
Although learning to navigate Habana like a local might sound like fun, I’d only recommend it if you speak Spanish. You will also need local national pesos and if it goes wrong you’ll need to know how to use the Maquinas.
In the afternoons or evenings you could wait where the taxis load passengers (to the left of the main exit as you walk out) and try to get on one of the long and white bendy buses that run for airport workers. They stop in the middle of the road. Well, they slow down rather than come to a complete standstill. They should follow Boyeros Avenue, better known as Independence Avenue, to the Plaza del la Revolucion (look for the building with the giant face of Che). Get off near or at the Omnibus National Bus Station, where local city buses pass frequently, and then take a Maquina.
The best option is to walk to the bus stop of P12 or P16, which is around 1.5km away. Cubans believe walking more than 2 to 3 blocks is an unimaginable distance so don't believe them if they say it’s too far. Turn right out of the arrival hall door and head towards Terminal 2. Both the P12 or P16 will take you to the Plaza del la Revolucion, or if you find it’s too far or get lost like I did on my first try, use a Maquina and you are most likely to arrive near to Capitolio.
It is really not that hard, you just need a sense of adventure and confidence. Others have, like the Kombi Crew below in the video
My mother believes that this route is only for the adventurous traveller. We should all listen to our mothers!
The arrivals hall has several car rental companies, including Rex, Rent a Car, Fenix and Cubanacar. Whatever happens, it is going to be expensive!
My advice is don’t drive for long distances at night. Driving is safe in Cuba but could be scary for European or North American drivers at night as the streetlights are very different and car headlights are more powerful than generally allowed in Europe; they can be dazzling for drivers who are unaccustomed to them. I have experienced the odd phenomena on large highways or motorways of feeling that oncoming cars are heading directly towards me, only to find that they are a safe distance away when passing. This is due to the different types of headlight height and positioning of pre-1959 cars and more modern vehicles. It just takes a bit of getting used to. When driving outside of large cities, it's going to be very dark so take care.
Travel Times By Road
Habana Airport to Habana downtown is around 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the time of day and the weather. Habana Airport to Varadero Resorts and Hotels is around 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the time of day and the weather.