Things to Keep in Mind While Self-Driving in Cuba


Things to Keep in Mind While Self-Driving in Cuba

Wish to experience the true Cuban vibes on wheels?

What better way is there than self-driving a car?

But do you know the exact rules, regulations, and driving etiquette in Cuba? Well, self-driving in Cuba is not a hard nut to crack, provided that you know the proper route and have an international driving permit.

But still, this is not enough in the row. You need something more on your plate. This article is your detailed guide about driving in Cuba and exploring this vibrant city to the fullest.

So what are you waiting for?

Grab your essentials and head on your way to this adventurous and magical journey in Cuba.

Some General Information You Should Know Before Starting to Driving in Cuba

Having some advanced knowledge and preparation can go a long way before you plan your trip to Cuba. So here we are with some general information that will help you when you hit the Cuban roads.

Geographic Location

Knowing the geography of any country helps in clear navigation and getting accurate directions.

Now, coming to the geography of Cuba, it is the largest country by land in the Caribbean. This narrow and long Island is covered with high mountains and rolling hills. The nearest country to Cuba is Haiti, which is around 48 miles to the east.

Languages Spoken

When you know the language of Cuba, you can understand things on different levels. Coming to that the Cubans don't have their own local dialect due to their colonization history. Although its national language is Spanish or Cuban Spanish, the diversification has influenced several speech patterns.

Furthermore, you don't have to learn the whole thesaurus of Spanish, just know the basic words and phrases while driving in Cuba. This will help you get along well. Lastly, English is also spoken in large areas and tourist places.


As you already know, gaining knowledge about general Cuban history will help you understand and shape the values and present culture. Cuba was discovered in 1492 by a Spaniard. America claimed Cuba in 1898 after the Spanish-American war. But, Cuba gained independence in 1902. The history of Cuba made a significant impact on the culture, language, art, and lifestyle of Cuba in every aspect.

Do You Need an IDP in Cities and Districts of Cuba?

Now comes the main question.

Well, you need to possess an international driving permit, as it is a requirement in Cuba if you are going to drive here. In case you don’t possess an international driver’s permit, don’t worry. You can get the same on the website of the International Driver’s Association.

Is a Local Driving License Valid in Cuba

As long as you have a National Driver's license and International Driving Licence, you don't require a local driving license in Cuba. In case you are thinking of settling in Cuba or getting a job and wish to apply for permanent residency, you need to get a Cuban license.

Talking of the local driving license, do you know that Cubans drive old cars?

Yes, they do. But why do they drive old cars in Cuba?

The reason behind this is the U.S. embargo in 1962. This prohibited any kind of exportation and importation or commerce between the U.S. and Cuba. It included the cars as well.

Lastly, you don’t necessarily need a local driving license if you are booking a car rental, which is a convenient mode of transportation in Cuba. Rental cars are an apt mode of transportation for all travelers, which gives them the flexibility to explore places in Cuba without having to worry about the timings of the public transport.

Tips for Self-Driving in Cuba

Can you drive to Cuba by yourself?

If you are in a dilemma, well, yes. You can drive to Cuba by yourself. But you need to consider certain tips before hitting the road. Let's have a look at them in detail now:

Buy a Map Before You Go

When you travel with a map, it's more feasible and helps in getting accurate directions. But make sure that you buy the map from your home country. Additionally, try getting maps with the lowest and best scale, which is 1:700000. It will cover most of Cuba.

Furthermore, there is no GPS allowed in Cuba. Therefore, the perfect idea is to download the map and use it offline on your tablet.

Stick to the Main Roads

Another trick to follow while driving in Cuba is sticking to the main road. You must avoid by-passes at every cost as you may end up on some deserted road. These roads are not good for normal car drives. You may witness four lanes when you start off from the by-pass, but it may end with a little dirt road.

Avoid Driving in Cuba at Night

Seeing the traffic in Cuba and poor visibility at night, you must avoid driving at night in Cuba. This is dangerous enough as many cars and bikes run with little to no light. Hence, the danger of accidents increases rapidly.

Follow Your Tracks

Catching signposts while driving a car in Cuba is a must if you are new to Cuba. Even if you lose sight of your destination, try returning to a known route rather than exploring new ones. If you don't do so, you might get stuck somewhere, and only after a lot of circling and hassle will you find the right route.


The contagious rhythm, cigars, and cocktails are to die for in Cuba. If you are a travel freak who wishes to explore the African and Spanish roots, hit Cuba and drive your heart out because this is one of the most exciting islands in the Caribbean.

Traveling and driving in this vibrant place is a joy in itself. Hence, do not let any fear hamper your travel plans. Plan your trip, rent a car, or get help from agencies like RentalCarCuba for renting the car, they will guide you best on your Cuban trip. Remember to consider the above-given instructions before driving in Cuba, and yes, you are good to go now.