Havana is such a vibrant city, with an ever changing and eclectic mix of architecture ranging from colonial houses, through to communist era tower blocks and ultra-modern hotels. It seems every time we visit something is different. It's a wonderful place to explore and spend time in. No matter how many times we visit, we always find something or somewhere new.
One question we get asked a lot is how to get about the city without getting lost; from the outside it can seem a daunting task; the narrow streets and alleyways of Old Havana can feel like a maze, each corner you turn looks much like the last and it can be easy to get turned around, but, it’s really not as difficult as it might appear, so here are some of our top-tips for getting where you want to go.
Yes, the best way to get around Havana is under your own power. Sure it’s not as quick, but you’ll see more, encounter more and feel more connected to the place than any other option.
If you’re worried that you might get lost, then don’t. Firstly, getting lost in a new city often leads to the best encounters and gives you a chance to find things you might otherwise have missed, secondly Havana is an incredibly safe place full of friendly people who will be happy to point you in the right direction if you get turned around and thirdly, here’s a couple of extra tips to remember when you’re walking that will minimise your chances of going wrong:
Get a local guide. There are plenty of people offering walking tours and other guide services. Many can now be found online before you even arrive, but if you haven’t done that, just ask at your accommodation and if they don’t know someone, they’ll know someone who knows someone!
Havana is laid out, mostly, on a grid system, with main roads running east-to-west and smaller streets and avenues going north-to-south. It also helps to remember that the main east-to-west roads all run in parallel with the Malecon and it’s famous sea-wall. So if you know where the sea is you know which direction you’re headed.
Download an offline map! Although mobile data is becoming more common in Cuba, the connection can still be unreliable and there are plenty of areas where you may find yourself without a signal. Having an offline map on your phone, or even a good old fashioned paper map in your backpack is essential
These are our second favourite way to get from A-B in Havana, after walking. Not necessarily the fastest way, but a brilliant and fun option and no chance of getting lost as these drivers (pedalers?) are all local and know the city inside and out. Most bici-taxis will also offer a mini tour of some of Havana’s top highlights which is well worth taking advantage of. So grab a couple of cold beers and hop on. Remember to tip the driver… and give him a beer!
The fun little scooters are brilliant if you want to go a little further or get somewhere faster than a bici-taxi. They tend to stick more to the main roads and you’re less likely to get a tour of the backstreets but you get the wind in your hair and a quicker journey. Again, do tip the driver, but not with beer
4/ Taxi collaborativo.
Get around like the locals! These older, privately owned cars are how the locals get about. They’re usually a very cheap alternative, but expect to be crammed in with many other people and don’t expect to go straight to your destination as anyone who got in before you will be taken where they’re going first. Enjoy the experience of mingling with the locals and taking the less direct route
5/ Government taxis.
These are easily identifiable as they’re all bright yellow and have Taxi written clearly on them! They almost always now have a meter so you can see what you’re going to be charged and are the easiest way to cover longer distances quickly
6/ Come with us!
OK it’s a shameless plug for our upcoming holidays, but if you want to visit Havana, see the sights, meet the people, have a wonderful and immersive experience and get the benefit of being guided by professional photographers who know the city inside and out then you really should be signing up to join one of trips!