You have four (4) transport options from the José Martí International Airport in Havana to the city center. Those options are private airport transfer service, hotel transfer, taxi and La Nave (Cuban Uber).
In this complete guide to the transport options available at the José Martí International Airport (HAV), I explain the benefits and drawbacks of each. And these same transport options do also work between Havana and Varadero. And from the Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport (VRA) to Varadero.
How to get from the José Martí International Airport (HAV) to Havana
How Far Is josé Martí International Airport From Havana?
José Martí Airport is about 19 km from the suburbs of Havana in which a tourist would be staying. And the trip from the airport can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Travel time will depend on traffic and the transport method you’ve selected.
The average travel time from the José Martí International Airport for me, when traveling by private airport transfer to Vedado, is about 25 minutes.
If you’re landing in Havana but want to go to Varadero instead of Havana, private transfers are available from Havana to Varadero. And you can transfer from Varadero to Havana using the same method.
Transport Options From José Martí International Airport
There a four (4) main methods you can use to get to the city from the José Martí International Airport in Havana. I’ve outlined their advantages and disadvantages below, along with their costs.
I was using La Nave (Cuba’s Uber) and occasionally taxis. But I’ve switched to private airport transfers. For half the price of a taxi and less than a La Nave, I can have an English speaking driver waiting for me when I land.
Your four (4) transport options to the city from José Martí International Airport ranked in order of difficulty are:
Private Airport Transfers In Havana
By far the easiest option to get to Havana from the José Martí International Airport is by private airport transfer. Private transfer services are incredibly cheap and convenient in Cuba. It’s also what I use in Bogotá and Buenos Aires.
For as little as $12 (USD) you can be taken in a modern private vehicle directly from the airport to your hotel or other accommodation. And for larger groups you can even hire a modern 14 seat mini bus for less than $141 (USD).
The driver will be waiting for you when you land at the time you have set when booking. Your driver will speak English and will load and unload your luggage for you. You will then be chauffeured directly to your accommodation in complete comfort.
Hotel Transfer To And From Havana Airport
If you’re staying in a (good) hotel in Havana they will often offer free transfers between the José Martí International Airport and the hotel.
You should check with your preferred hotel to see if they offer free airport transfers before booking.
Remember, this is Cuba. If you don’t ask for a transfer to and from Havana airport before booking they will likely offer it to you after booking for a fee. And that fee will be equivalent too or higher than a private airport transfer (above) and our next two (2) transport options (below).
Taxi To And From Havana Airport
The yellow taxis in Cuba are all government owned and operated. But this doesn’t mean they are like government regulated taxis elsewhere in the world.
The yellow taxis in Havana have no meters. You will need to negotiate a price with the taxi driver before agreeing to ride with them. And the price can change during the trip. It’s also likely that they will try to short change you (scam).
Typically, yellow government taxis make up the price they will charge you based on how much of a foreign sucker you appear to be. They will also want to be paid for your trip to or from the Havana airport in USD or Euro.
The prices I hear most often quoted to tourists range from $25USD to $50USD. But I have heard some prices being quoted as high as $100USD.
Now, none of the prices the yellow taxis charge are realistic prices. You will notice in Havana that none of the locals use the yellow taxis.
The yellow taxis are always sitting around tourist hotspots waiting for foreigners. This is because the prices being quoted are ridiculous.
The sole benefit of the yellow taxis are that they are always around the airport. And you don’t need an operational mobile phone or local currency to get one to Havana. But again, they will try to extract as much cash from you as they possibly can.
I never pay more than the local peso equivalent of $15USD to $18USD for a one way trip to or from the Havana airport. I’ve even paid as low as $15USD for a round trip.
I was personally using the next option in this article, La Nave. But I have now switched to private airport transfers because I can book them in advance with my card and have them waiting for me at the time I’ve set.
La Nave – Cuban Uber To And From Havana Airport
I’ve previously covered La Nave on this website. But here’s how to get a La Nave to and from Havana Airport (José Martí International Airport).
To use La Nave and to guarantee it works you will need four (4) things.
First, you will need a local SIM card in your phone or SIM capable of roaming in Cuba. Second, you will need the La Nave mobile application on your device. The third thing you will need is local currency (Moneda Nacional known as CUP).
Finally, to guarantee that La Nave works for you at all times and does not drop out, you should have a VPN on your device. A VPN for Cuba is not optional. And you shouldn’t visit Cuba without a VPN.
La Nave will work without a VPN most of the time. But on some occasions you will need a VPN to make La Nave work or you will see ‘bad gateway’ and the app will glitch.
But besides La Nave sometimes not working without a VPN, most other foreign websites and apps will not work at all without a VPN. Remember, Cuba is under sanctions and most foreign services including the app stores are blocked without a VPN.
I use and recommend NordVPN for Cuba. But you can use whatever you like as long as you have it on your device before arriving into Cuba. After you arrive in Cuba putting a VPN onto your device is a much more complicated process I’ve detailed here.
My last trip to the Havana Airport from Central Havana (Feb 2023) using La Nave cost me $3000CUP. Or $17USD at peak hour based on the prevailing exchange rate on that day.
La Nave will also email you an invoice. So after the trip you can prove your travel or claim your expenses. You can see my own La Nave invoice from Vedado (Havana) to José Martí International Airport in the images below.
The La Nave invoice comes in useful if you need to prove you avoided Cuban Government hotels and services (Americans) or if you’re traveling for business and need to detail expenses for tax.
Cost Comparison Table – What You Can Expect To Pay
To help you make an informed decision, here’s a handy cost comparison table for the four (4) main transportation options available from the José Martí International Airport in Havana to Centro Havana:
|Transportation Option||Average Cost (USD)|
|Hotel Transfer||Free if agreed with hotel before travel|
|Private Airport Transfer||From $12 USD|
|Havana Airport Taxi||From $25 USD|
|La Nave (Cuba’s version of Uber)||Cuban Pesos $3,000 – CUP$5,000 (Payment in CUP)|
Havana Airport Duty Free & CADECA
You’ll see a lot of ‘duty free’ stores and a currency exchange (CADECA) inside the Havana airport. Don’t buy anything from the vendors at the airport. Duty free is a scam in Cuba.
The price for a bottle of duty free rum from the Havana airport is almost double what it will cost you outside the airport. And the little knick-knacks sold inside the secure area of the airport can be bought from market stalls all over the island for a fraction of the price.
If you want a keychain, take a free Casablanca neighborhood tour and visit any of the vendors outside Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro. If you want a bottle of rum, cigarettes or some cigars as a souvenir, buy them from a local bodega or kiosk.
When buying from local vendors your money goes to those locals and not the Government. Plus you’ll pay half what the Government will try to charge you at the airport.
Havana Airport Hotels
Havana doesn’t have the types of airport hotels you see in other countries. And it also doesn’t have the type of traffic and congestion you’ll see in places like Bogotá or Buenos Aires. There’s no need to look for a hotel close to the airport if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
Get an airport transfer ($12 each way) or a La Nave and stay in the suburb of Vedado, which is 20 minutes away from the Havana airport. There’s plenty of hotels in Vedado around La Rampa, but you will find better deals on Airbnb.
Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?
I’ve made my Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba available on this website. And I recommend you to read it before traveling to Cuba. It will help you navigate Cuba and Cuban society.
My Complete Guide To Cuba will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the most Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba here.