Wondering if renting a car in Cuba is the right solution for you? How much does car rental cost in Cuba? Is it easy to drive to Cuba? What is the procedure to follow to rent a car in Cuba?
You’ve come to the right place: here is the answers to all your questions on car rental in Cuba!
Why rent a car in Cuba?
If the vast majority of tourists opts for buses or collectivos to travel around Cuba, renting a car is also quite an interesting option. Other than the question of budget (which we will cover later on in the article), choosing to rent a car in Cuba mainly depends on your frame of mind, the length of your stay and your travel itinerary.
We recommend you to rent a car in Cuba if:
- you like to be free and enjoy spontaneity: you want to be able to make a stop wherever/whenever you like, and to stay places as long as you want
- you want to get off the beaten path and visit places outside of classic tourist circuits
However, we do not recommend renting a car in Cuba if:
- you are only staying on the island for a short while (the minimum rental period is 3 days)
- you’re running on a tight/very tight budget
- you don’t have the best sense of direction
- and of course if you’re not self-confident when it comes to driving
Driving in Cuba: our recommendations
Although the roads are not always in the best condition (beware of potholes!), driving in Cuba is relatively safe.
In order to rent a car in Cuba, all you will need is your national driver’s license and a passport. That being said, drivers are required to be over 21 years old and must have held their driving license for more than 2 years.
Here are some recommendations so everything goes well while you’re on the road in Cuba:
Avoid driving at night
Public lighting is usually quite poor if not completely lacking. Be careful as the sun sets rather rapidly in Cuba. Beware of drunk drivers, even though their number has been decreasing thanks to recent awareness campaigns.
Bring a road map with you
Remember to bring a road map or download an application with offline maps and itineraries.
Signage is indeed cruelly lacking. In cities, it is better to simply ask for directions… and even so reaching your destination can prove quite difficult!
In Trinidad, for example, a large number of streets have recently been renamed. Some Cubans use the new street names while others still use the old ones!
Wondering where to find a good map of Cuba? We highly recommend the maps from CubaVisa: they are specialists in the destination. The site also offers packages including visas for Cuba and a road map: it’s really handy if you live far from the Cuban embassy in London.
Beware of railways and potholes
Even if tracks are covered in weeds and seem abandoned, they can still be active. And as far as we can tell, level crossings are rarely properly indicated nor protected with gates. For your safety, stay focused and slow down!
Watch out for speed cameras and police controls
Unless indicated otherwise, speed limits in Cuba are:
- 50km/h (30 mph) in cities
- 90km/h (55mph) on roads
- 100km/h (60 mph) on the highway
If possible, try and park your rental car in the hotels or casas particulares where you’re staying.
Otherwise, do not hesitate to ask locals to keep an eye on your car so as to avoid unpleasant surprises! That being said, you can park pretty much anywhere in Cuba, unless it’s indicated otherwise.
Beware of hitchhikers
You will see a lot of Cubans hitchhiking along the roads. But be careful: some tourists have reported cases of theft and degradation.
How to rent a car in Cuba?
You’re thinking about waiting to be in Cuba to decide whether or not to rent a car? Bad idea! There’s a severe shortage of cars in Cuba (only 40 Cuban households out of 1000 own a car), so we recommend booking your car as early as possible.
You can make your reservation over the phone, go to a traveling agency or directly on the Internet.
But be careful as very few websites and agencies are trustworthy when it comes to renting a car in Cuba.
Which is the best agency to rent a car in Cuba?
The Cuban State manages all car rentals in Cuba through 2 companies:
- REX (be careful not to confuse it with rexcuba.com, which has nothing to do with REX)
You can make your reservation directly on their websites.
If you would rather make your reservation through a traveling agency, we recommend Cubatravelnetwork. Their customer service is super responsive.
Renting a car in Cuba: what’s the budget?
Prices depend on:
- the season
- the number of rental days (degressive rate)
- and of course the type of car that you want to rent.
To give you an idea of the price, for 2 weeks (gas and insurance included), the rental of an economy-class car will amount to 60 CUC per day during low season and 150 CUC per day during high season.
These prices include the car rental, the fuel and the insurance (between 10 and 30 CUC per day depending on the period and type of car), which is compulsory and covers everything except the theft of the car radio. The “fuel especial”, which you can find in all service stations, amounts to 1.3 CUC per liter.
You will also have to give a deposit (between 150 and 250 CUC depending on the vehicle category).
Renting a car in Cuba: last recommendations
- Bring the car back with an empty tank (except if the agency asks otherwise): you will have to fill up the car’s tank when you first pick it up.
- If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, remember to bring a child car seat with you.
- When you pick up your car, take your time and carefully inspect it in details. Write all your comments on the contract and take pictures if you can.
- Show up on time! Some travelers have had the unpleasant surprise of finding out their car had been rented to other tourists because they were late!