Driving in Cuba
In Cuba you drive on the right hand side on the road, same as in North America and you will need your international driver's license. Driving in Cuba is very laid back. There is no rush hour traffic and not many cars on the road. Most of the cars are older American model cars (50's and 60's) and some European Lada and Skoda. Although highway speed is 100 km/h you will hardly see anyone doing the limit. Speeding is a rare thing in Cuba although some tourists seem not to pay attention to speed limits. Speeding fines are usually determined by the police officer and are paid on the spot.
If you are staying in Varadero we recommend drive from Varadero Cuba to Vinales which is just north of Pinar Del Rio.
Divining from Varadero to Havana is fairly straight forward. It is approximately 150 km and will take you about 2 hours assuming you don't get lost on the way.
There are 2 ways to get to Vinales from Havana. One way you can drive on the north side of Cuba along the shore heading west. The road looks way bigger on the map than it is in reality. Expect a lot of slow driving, your speeds dropping below 20 km/hour very often. Roads closer to Havana are actually in pretty good condition. Further you move away from the city road conditions worsen. A lot of places have no shoulder, be careful when you wish to pull over for that special photo moment.
Very often roads are very twisty and tight. Don't expect much traffic either. You will come across a lot of slow moving trucks, horse carriages and of course hitchhikers. Hitchhiking is very popular in Cuba, your car will have special tourist license plates (they are dark red and begin with letter T). It is up to you if you wish to pick anybody up on your way. Don't expect locals to know or understand much English.
Driving west on the north shore of Cuba takes you through various small towns and villages and you get to see the real Cubans and they way they live their lives. Expect also to get lost a lot on the way. There are hardly any road signs there. It is hard to know where to turn and how far it is to your destination. Picking up a hitchhiker might not be a bad idea after all.
Second way to get to Vinales is taking main highway Autopista Este Oeste (A4). Distance is approximately 350 km from Havana.
It will take you approximately 6 to 7 hours to cover the distance. Don't think that you will be able to do this in 3-4 hours, it will take you approximately 7 hours. Yes, 7 hours to do 350 km seems a bit extreme but Cuba does not have luxurious highways as we do in North America.
When driving, especially during summer months, temperatures soar way above 40 degrees Celsius. You have a very good chance of getting a flat tire. You should be prepared, make sure you have a spare and you know how to put it on yourself.
In case you're wondering what's in Vinales? Mogotes, caves, tobacco plantations, scenery, scenery and more scenery. There are only 2 places in the world that have Mogotes, Cuba Vinales and Vietnam.
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