There is so much more to Cuba than the resorts may have you think. Stop lolling on the beach and start exploring!
Viazul is the go-to inter-city bus company for convenient, comfortable and efficient service to most cities around the country, from Santiago to Viñales.
Where to buy tickets: Tickets can be bought in person at the local bus office.
Alternatively for advance planners, tickets can be bought online up to 30 days in advance of your travel day. If you do this before arriving in Cuba, be sure to print a copy of your ticket. As anti-intuitive as this may sound, the local bus office system cannot link to your pre-purchased ticket - you need a paper copy.
Side note: Printing a copy in Cuba is difficult unless you have the file saved on a USB stick. Don't even think of printing from your email - believe me, I tried. The short explanation is that internet access is not offered at the same place as printing services.
For more information, go to the English website at: www.viazul.com/index.php
Helpful hints before departure:
- Arrive at the bus depot at least one hour in advance of departure.
- The Havana bus depot requires everyone to 'check-in' at a separate desk from where you bought your ticket. This should be done when you first arrive, an hour before departure.
- The 'designated' seat number printed on your boarding pass (received when you check-in) does not actually mean anything. In practice, seating is first-come, first-seated.
- The first row of seats behind the driver are typically reserved for the second bus driver and used at the driver's discretion. Ask the driver politely before sitting in one of these seats.
- Luggage is transported in the baggage compartment below the bus. Some stations charge an extra fee for each bag. The process and rate varies by location and seems dependent on who is working at each depot. Be sure to have some small change handy and don't be afraid to negotiate if the rate seems steep.
- Lastly, enjoy the ride!
More off-the-beaten-track destinations can be found in Dust in My Pack, available at most online book retailers.