The best way to get around Cuba’s capital is unconventionally.
Ok, so the title on this one is a bit of a head-scratcher, in particular for Canadians, who make up the largest chunk of Cuba’s visitors. In a colorful town like Havana, with its Coco taxis, convertible taxis, horse-drawn carriages, and heck even those questionable looking (and potentially illegal?) Bicitaxis, why on earth would you view the city in the most conventional tourist ride to exist?
Well in a place like Havana, the conventional takes a turn to become the unconventional option.
Let’s get real for a second: Canadians are sick of getting reamed by expensive experiences – we’re always hunting for a good deal or for a way to stretch our weak dollar. And we’re always touting ourselves as special for leading the way in our own way. What better way to differentiate ourselves from everyone else doing the exact same things?
So while you may feel well, touristy, by hopping on the one bus meant for tourists, feel assured that your experience will help you feel closer to Cuba.
For starters, the hop on hop off bus comes with a local Cuban tour guide (well at least ours did). While technically, other taxis are driven by locals, we all feel that unspoken hesitation about being too chatty in taxis. So while you may opt for one of the more colorful transportation options, you may be unconsciously opting out of a chance to learn something new from a local.
And for our particular tour, one surprising thing we learned was a new perspective on the Cuban missile crisis. As a Canadian who often gets bombarded with American rhetoric in our media, it is sometimes surprising to remember that there are other sides in every conflict and that not all sides have Americans as the heroes.
And isn’t that why we travel? To open our eyes to new cultures, other histories and to empathize with people who aren’t like yourself?
To enjoy some of the key areas of Cuban history (such as the National Theatre or Revolution Square) as well as even some of the beaches, your best bet is to hop on hop off. The buses run roughly every 25 minutes and give you the flexibility to either see everything all at once or to (as the name suggests) take a stop to soak in a certain spot before getting back on.
And at only 10 CUC (roughly $13 CAD) per day per person, it is an extremely cost-effective way to take in culture and history.