Travel by Viazul Bus (How to Book Bus Tickets in Cuba)

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Booking Viazul bus tickets in Cuba can seem like a daunting task and I’d be lying if I said it won’t consume some of your precious vacation time.

However, it is an affordable and efficient way to get around Cuba so it is worth the small amount of hassle you will encounter to purchase tickets for your routes.

Prior to leaving for our trip to Cuba, I scoured the internet trying to find a way to organize travel inside the country. I came up with a few things that looked promising but in the end, failed and we were forced to fly to Cuba without any plans.

While many forums told us this was just how Cuba works, I was nervous that we wouldn’t be able to travel to the places we wanted, on the days we wanted.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Cuba (Travel Guide).


Viazul vs Transtur: Bus Tickets in Cuba


While the bus ticket system that I found online for Viazul, Cuba’s main bus company, leads you to believe that you can book your tickets online, every single route I tried to reserve said sold out.

You can imagine this sent me into a state of planning panic but decided to believe the many forums in that we could book things once we are on the Cuban ground.

Lina Stock - Viazul Book Bus Tickets in Cuba

All of that advice proved to be right. We had no problem booking bus tickets for our desired two week Cuba itinerary once we were in Cuba. Don’t panic, just go with it because it’s just the way it works in Cuba.

Planning a trip to Cuba? We booked our flights to Cuba with CheapAir and can recommend. Check flight prices and schedules to Cuba.

Booking Bus Tickets in Cuba on Viazul

Viazul Bus Station in Varadero Cuba
Viazul Station in Varadero

While not being able to book bus tickets in advance can be cumbersome and pain, the process of purchasing tickets at a physical location is pretty painless.

The first thing you want to do when you arrive in Havana (assuming you start your travels here) is ask about taking a taxi service to the Viazul bus station. From Centro Havana, a taxi cost us $12CUC round trip from our casa to the bus station.

Hot Tip: Ask your taxi driver to wait for you so you don’t have to renegotiate with someone else.

Once you arrive, you will want to queue in the ticket purchase line. This will undoubtedly be the most frustrating part of the process as Cubans don’t understand the concept of queuing and frequently cut the line and refuse to stand at the back.

You’ll eventually get to the ticket counter. Be prepared in advance with your bus route, date and desired time written on a piece of paper in Spanish as most agents do not speak English. If you speak Spanish, then no need to worry.

Bus fares in Cuba (As of Jan 1, 2020)

  • 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)
  • Viñales – Trinidad $37 (12 hours)
Booking Viazul Bus Tickets in Cuba - LIna Stock
Viazul Ticket Booth in Havana

Present your passport and let the agent know the information on the bus trip you want. She will check availability and then book the ticket for you.

The tickets are printed on plain paper and are actually a receipt, not your boarding ticket. Do not lose this piece of paper; you need it to check-in the day of your bus trip when you receive your real ticket. Pay for your tickets with cash, only in CUC.

You’re all set and just need to show up on the day of your Viazul bust trip at least 20 minutes in advance to check-in. This counter will generally be inside the station near the boarding gate.

The clerk will take your receipt and issue you an actual bus ticket. Once the bus arrives, be aware that there is no assigned seating and be on the ball if you are traveling with someone that you want to sit with. If you are not, you may have to ride separately.

Viazul Bus Ticket in Cuba

Despite not being able to book in advance, the process is quite simple. The worst part is taking the time to stand in line when purchasing the ticket but the ride is actually quite pleasant and easy.

Hot Tip: When you arrive in your new destination, hop right into the ticket purchase line and buy your ticket to the next destination. This will save you a return trip to the bus station and in most cases ensure that you will have a seat on your desired date.

Booking Bus Tickets in Cuba on Transtur

If you are looking to book a Viazul ticket and find your route is sold out for the date you want, it is worth looking into a possible Transtur route service before committing to an overpriced taxi collectivo.

Transtur is a viable, affordable option that offers some, not all, of the same routes that Viazul runs for the exact same price and usually in shorter completion time.

Cubanacan Office - Lina Stock Booking Bus Tickets in Cuba

Transtur does not have a posted nor set schedule and they do not run out of every city or between all the popular routes like Viazul does.

However, when they do operate between a route the prices are equivalent to Viazul and the routes tend to be a bit shorter because they make fewer stops between destinations.

We used Transtur to travel from Viñales to Trinidad because it saved us 2 hours of travel time. The cost was the same ($37CUC) and the bus was of the exact same quality, a coach bus with air conditioning and reclining seats.

The bus made a potty stop 3 hours in and then a lunch stop around noon at a nice, affordable bus stop with a restaurant and a little park with many animals to look at.

Transtur buses can be booked through any Cubanacan Travel Agency office around Cuba. They will be able to tell you which routes are available, the cost of the tickets, travel time a ticket cost.

A Note About the Taxi Collectivo

Havana Two Week Cuba Itinerary

Every time you visit a travel agency or a Viazul bus station in Cuba you will be accosted, in a polite way, by many enthusiastic taxi collective drivers.

They have all the lines in the book and are very eager to tell unsuspecting tourists that they can take you to any of the most popular destinations, Havana, Cienfuegos, Viñales, Trinidad, Varadero, Havana…… for the same price as the bus and much faster.

Don’t fall for this. Do your homework, check out the guidebooks as they all list bus prices and do the math. The taxi collective really only works out to be cheaper if you have a group of 4 and can split it.

The hard sell will involve telling you that taking Viazul is too much work and they drop you at the bus station that is so far away from things and you will have to take a taxi.

This is not the case in 90% of the cities and for us, we only had to take a taxi to our casa from the bus station in Havana.

Viazul Bus Station in Trinidad Cuba
Viazul Station in Trinidad

I am not saying you shouldn’t use them, they will certainly be faster than taking the bus and offer you the chance to stop off when you want for bathroom breaks, lunch and photo stops but just be warned that the line they sell isn’t entirely true.

If getting from point A to point B for the best price is your main goal, take the bus.

Want something other than Viazul?

A great company we use all the time is G Adventures. Below is a list of tours in Cuba you should check out. Take those tours your friends and family members will be jealous of.

Top Tours in Cuba

  • G Adventures – Cuba Libre 8 days, Havana to Havana. Walking through the pincushion hills, wandering amongst orchids and lush mountain coffee plantations—see another side of the island on this week-long tour through the ‘Garden Province’ of Cuba. Tour a tobacco plantation, snorkel crystal-clear waters full of colorful coral and search for the pirates of lore along the Guanahacabibes Peninsula. Soak up local culture in a homestay for an immersive experience that travelers rarely get to know. Let our experienced CEO lead you off the beaten path and discover the cultural treasures of Cuba.
  • G Adventures – Cuban Rhythms 8 days, Havana to Havana. For too many people, Cuba is nothing more than a beach resort. That’s crazy; the island practically buzzes with energy and you should do likewise – get moving. Journey through the culture-soaked streets of Trinidad and Old Havana for your fill of drinking and dancing. The music here pours out of open windows. Hit the beach and explore the outdoors, then connect with the locals in homestays and make friends for life as you hit the sites with other young people like yourself. Boring? Impossible!
  • G Adventures – Cuba Explorer 9 days, Havana to Havana Explore a side of Cuba that few rarely get to experience on this nine-day adventure. Cruise Havana’s history-infused streets in a classic car and stroll along Trinidad’s cobblestone avenues to the rhythms of music floating from open windows. Tour a tobacco plantation for a taste of iconic Cuban culture and luxuriate in the view of the island’s rolling western hills. Travel by private air-conditioned vehicle is well-paced, so you’re refreshed and ready to explore the island’s vibrant culture and tropical airs.

Check out all of Gadventures tours in Cuba today!

More on Cuba:



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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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16 thoughts on “Travel by Viazul Bus (How to Book Bus Tickets in Cuba)”

  1. HI,
    Thanks for all the tips! I am planning on going to Cuba in May, do day trips to Varadero and Vinales but was wondering if it is worth staying a night in Trinidad? I wanted to go to Topes de Collantes but I dont know when the bus arrives and leaves Trinidad and if the tickets are round -trip and prebooked? Any advice would help Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Kelly, Trinidad is AMAZING and you should give yourself at least 3 days there – we put together a massive guide to the city: https://www.divergenttravelers.com/trinidad-cuba-guide/
      Topes de Collantes is a full day tour from Trinidad, so you need one full day for that. You can buy tickets to Trinidad from Havana and Vinales and all tickets in Cuba are sold as one way. YOu have to buy them at the bus station in the city you are departing from once you are already in Cuba. Booking online is not possible. How many days will you be in Cuba? Vinales isn’t a day trip from Havana either. Have a look at our Cuba section, where we’ve written a lot of content from our two visits (5 total weeks): https://www.divergenttravelers.com/category/cuba/
      Cheers!

      Reply
  2. Hello,
    We will be arriving and spending a few days in Havana before travelling on to Vinales, Cienfuego and Trinidad. Travelling by bus seems to be a convenient way to do this. Can you tell me if these buses have an area for luggage?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Is there only one bus station in Havana? I am trying to get from the Havana airport to veradero and it looks like I have to take a taxi from the airport to the bus station. The airport website says there is a counter in the airport to buy a bus ticket so that sounds a little less stressful than jockeying for position at the main station.

    Reply
    • Your best option is to take a taxi from the airport to the bus station that is located in the new area of Havana. I don’t recommend getting a ticket at the airport because the bus doesn’t stop there on the route to Varadero. Enjoy Cuba!

      Reply
  4. Hi
    I’m flying into Varadero and wondering how I would go about booking a bus to Varadero Beach resort area before arriving or are there buses there that go hotel to hotel?
    Don’t really want to pay the high taxi fare
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Rose, taxi is likely going to be your best option unless you are staying at a resort that includes airport pickup. I would recommend checking with them first. Enjoy Cuba, it’s fabulous!

      Reply
  5. Hi, thanks for the great post! My husband & I are flying into Havana in the morning & will go straight to Trinidad as we want to come back to Havana for NYE. But we will most likely miss the last Viazul bus at 10:45 am. Do you know of any other later buses either with Viazul or Transtur or do they all leave in the morning? If not, is our only alternative to catch a taxi ($150-$200USD) or stay in Havana a night and leave the next day? If there was a way to fly from Havana to Trinidad that would be ideal as we don’t have a lot of time, but I can’t find any info on that either.

    Any advice appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Clare, yea, I would recommend staying in Havana that night and then taking the bus in the morning versus taking a taxi. You will have a hard time negotiating a fair price to Trinidad from the airport at that time of night too. There are some really nice casa particulars located within walking distance of the Viazul bus station in Havana, grab one of those for $35-$40/night and then hop on the bus in the morning. You cannot fly to Trinidad, the closest airport is Santa Clara which is still around 2 hours drive from Trinidad. If you haven’t booked your flight to Cuba yet though, you could fly into Santa Clara and then take a taxi to Trinidad. Just a thought. Good luck and enjoy Cuba!

      Reply
  6. Hello,
    Just wondering, did you book tickets for the Vinales-Trinidad Transtur service in Havana or Vinales?
    I’ve secured reservations online with Viazul for all my other routes around Cuba except for my Vinales-Trinidad journey!
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Clair, yes, we booked our bus tickets on Transtur from Viñales to Trinidad when we arrived in Viñales. It was easy. Lucky that you were able to secure bus tickets online for Viazul. We tried this prior to arriving in Cuba and the site would not work, so all our tickets were booked in Cuba on a point to point basis. Never had any troubles getting seats or making the arrangements, it just takes time. Transtur is actually much easier to buy tickets for and use because the offices that sell the tickets are right in the town centers, where the Viazul bus stations are sometimes a taxi cab away. Have fun, Cuba is great. We’re headed back early Feb to lead our photography tour!

      Reply
      • Hello,
        The viazu website is working but for next week it is sold out.
        We can not find transtur on the web. We would like to do 2 Bookings

        from home in stead of standing in the queue.
        You know were we can book them online?
        Kind regards

        Reply
        • I would not recommend not booking online. Everything or most of everything in Cuba is done by walking up in person since they do not use the interent. Internet can only be found in public parks so most booking places may let you book online but when you get there they will not have your booking.

          Reply

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