Travelling by Viazul Bus in Cuba

Viazul is the national bus company designed for tourists and covers almost the entire island. The buses in Cuba are spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned and generally clean although some of the routes had gross toilets.

Viazul Bus in Cuba

Routes and prices for buses in Cuba

Viazul buses are not cheap compared to many Latin American countries averaging $3 per hour of travel.

Bus fares in Cuba

  • Havana – Varadero $10 (3 hours)
  • Varadero – Santiago de Cuba $49 (15 hours)
  • Santiago de Cuba – Baracoa $15 (4 hours)
  • Santiago de Cuba – Trinidad $33 (11 hours)
  • Trinidad – Havana $24 (6 hours)
  • Havana – Viñales $12 (3.5 hours)

Map of Cuba - Viazul Buz

Note: There is another long-distance bus service that caters to local Cubans. Apparently it is less reliable, slower (with more stops) and much cheaper. These buses usually leave from the same terminals as Viazul so if you are on a tight budget ask if you can get a local ticket. I have no idea if this is allowed – but worth a shot!

Booking your seat

Bus routes between Trinidad, Havana and Vinales get fuller than others, even in the low season so get there early. If possible, buy your ticket the day before by visiting the bus stop, or rock up an hour before the departure time and buy your ticket on the day.

In some places our casa hosts called ahead to book our seats when we were running late. We are unsure as to how concrete these bookings are.

Toilet Stops

The one thing that lets down the Viazul services is the toilets. Bus toilets on buses worldwide are seldom good experiences and Viazul toilets are variable on the bad side.

Half of the toilets on our journeys worked and were passable, a couple of times the toilet doors were locked by the driver and twice the faulty toilets meant the stench of urine permeated through the bus for the whole journey. Gross!

Luckily the bus usually stops at least every hour and you can use the toilets in the terminals.

Unluckily the toilets in the terminals are usually disgusting – reminiscent of Hong Kong in the bad old days. Filthy, broken doors, no running water, poos and wees galore and an aggressive woman who charges you for the privilege – and no, that does not include loo paper.

Depending on the route and the driver the buses occasionally stop at private houses, or at touristy food stops. These toilets are usually much cleaner – even the long drops, so make the most of those.

Tips for travelling by bus in Cuba

1. Bring warm layers. Like most buses in Latin America they get very cold, especially if you intend to sleep.

2. Many toilets in terminals are paid and do not have change. Bring lots of coins and plenty of tissues! Loo paper does not exist in the Viazul Bus network.

3. Bring all the food and water you will need for the entire journey. Most terminals have no food or drinks except for Havana (café by day, biscuits by night). If you do the trip from Baracoa – Santiago de Cuba – Trinidad for example this is a 16 hour journey with no access to food. Casa hosts are often happy to pack you a meal for the journey if you ask them and bring plenty of biscuits.

4. Your best bet is to bring plenty of high energy snacks from whatever country you are coming from. Things like nuts, dried fruit, muesli bars can’t be bought in Cuba and on long bus journeys will be a welcome meal or snack if you forget to bring one with you.

5. Familiarise yourself with bus fares and timetables on the official Viazul website, ideally before you arrive in Cuba.

Taxis

As you enter a bus depot there are usually taxi drivers offering their services for a similar price as the bus.

We took one taxi service to Havana from Viñales with a pretty unfriendly driver. It was a vintage old car that we shared with another couple. It was faster, cooler but a lot less comfortable than the bus. I guess the value of the taxi service would depend on the comfort of the car you get.

Jintero’s (touts)

At the end of each journey you will be met by a desperate crowd of touts offering casa particulares and taxi drivers.

Occasionally the owner of a casa particular is there with some sort of way of identifying them as such, but usually the touts will bring you to a casa with the expectation of receiving a commission from the casa. If this happens you will probably pay more than the normal rate to compensate for their fee.

If you already have a casa booked, they will usually have a representative there with your name on a sign. This is to prevent touts pretending that you are booked with them and stealing your business.

The touts can be a little full on, especially if you have travelled all night. Just remember they are annoying but generally harmless.

Want more?

Post By Serena Star Leonard

Serena Star-Leonard is a business coach, writer and blogger travelling around the world for 3.5 years and counting. As well as capturing stories of inspiring people who are making a difference to their communities, her passion is to help people find a way to do the things they love for a living.

Website: → How to Retire in 12 Months

Connect

  • Pingback: Adios Baracoa! And some shoplifting. | lovefromcuba()

  • Pingback: HELLO Trinidad! Getting meds in Cuba | lovefromcuba()

  • Pingback: Budget Travel in Cuba: Staying in Casa Particulares | Five Point Five()

  • Joey

    Are there other buses than viazul? In case a bus is full, will it be possible to take a local bus? This is for the Havana-Vinales route. Thx for the information!

    • Hi Joey, Viazul is the only tourist bus service. There is a local’s bus, BUT you may not be allowed on there, we never tried and I haven’t heard of anyone taking the local bus. If you are worried you could get a bus ticket the day before your journey if it is a busy time of year.
      If the bus is full, you could take a private car to Vinales, if there are 4 of you if should be the same price as the bus. Have fun in Cuba!

    • Juancarlos C

      Yes there are other Transport options besides Viazul, but as mentioned before might not be as reliable.
      The other bus company is called ASTRO (about 1-5 cuc cheaper than visazul) and usually shares the Terminal with Viazul or/and stops near railroad stations. Foreigners are allowed to purchase tickets but usually in another office/ticket window.
      Often times Door to Door shuttles are available to popular destinations such as Vinales and if you calculate the cost/time of getting to the bus station it often will work out the same or even cheaper than Viazul. You could ask about them at most tourist office,Hotel information desk or Travel Agencies like Havanatur which has an office in most cuban cities.
      Last but not least,Often times outside the bus station there will be taxi drivers gathering up other travelers who are going your same route and share the cost the ride. I believe to Vinales it might be between $15-$25 depending on the type of Car and number of Passengers.

  • Juancarlos C

    Great Helpful Advice about Bus Travel in Cuba 🙂

  • Pingback: Travelling To Cuba Tips | Travel Battambang Cambodia()

  • Pingback: Travelling To Cuba Us | Travel Battambang Cambodia()

  • Sue Ashman

    for the independent traveller how easy is it to find an English speaking guide?

    • Hey Sue, I am not sure to be honest. We met some people who spoke some English here and there, but didn’t come across any guides. I suggest learning some basic Spanish before you go, even just a few sentences will help you connect with the local people! Sorry I can’t be more help.

      • Sue Ashman

        thanks Serena,, just arrived back after 27 days in Cuba. We decided on a mixture of tour and independent travel. Worked out OK.

  • Lynne Lloyd

    I see you can buy tickets online at the viazul website. Has anyone done this and if so was a print out copy of the ticket accepted over there?

  • ayaka

    hello I am trying to book a bus ticket from Viazul website 4 days in advance. but I can’t slect the date that I want to. from one wek ahead is selectable. it means it’s alraady full? but even if select different destination it ends up with same…what is the problem?

  • Juan Criollo

    Hi! can anyone please tell me if the buses depart on time? are they committed with their schedule? thank you very much!