A trip to Cuba is the perfect opportunity to experience addressing a classic car. When walking the streets of Cuba, vintage Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles cruising by with their signature rounded hoods and bugeye headlights are a common sight. Looking closely at these mid-century classics, you can see passionate owners driving with the utmost intimacy. Many of these people are self-taught mechanics whose creativity and resourcefulness has kept their cars stylish and running for decades.
While Cuban’s are casually accustomed to riding in these antiques, there’s still an undeniable wonder that comes with being in a car that’s so rare in today’s day and age. For travelers, indulging in this experience is one of the most impactful ways to feel the pulse of everyday Cuban life. To maximize your travel experience, take a ride back in time with one of the following vintage car experiences.
1 – Hop on a Taxi Botero
Amongst the crowd of classic luxury automobiles cruising the Cuban streets, some cars are used for public transportation by everyday workers, students, and travelers alike. These special taxis run on fixed prices and pre-established routes like any public bus or train. For example, taking the Capitol of Havana as a reference point (considered as Km. 0 in Cuba) and nearby Fraternity Park, can be delineated four main routes:
- Capitolio-Guanabo. It leads directly to East Havana Beaches, the best beach area in Havana.
- Capitolio-Santiago de las Vegas. Runs through the streets Simón Bolívar (Reina), Salvador Allende (Carlos III) and Boyeros (Independencia), crossing the towns Centro Habana, Plaza and Cerro to reach the southern part of the city.
- Capitolio-Diez de Octubre. The first part of the route is similar to above, except that at one point deviates by Vía Blanca o Santa Catalina avenues towards the town Diez de Octubre, the most populous of Havana.
- Capitolio-Paradero de Playa. This route crosses the Neptuno Avenue to El Vedado. At this point some boteros go along 23rd Avenue to 41st Avenue, which reaches the municipality of Marianao; while others will on Línea Avenue to go to the exclusive area of Miramar.
The commonly shared cabs create an ideal environment for you to meet and interact with locals during your travels. Popular Cuban music played in most taxi boteros also provides an authentic glimpse into the country’s culture and everyday rhythm.
The way to take a botero taxi is the usual: to make a sign at the edge of the road and to wait until some car stop. Before getting into a taxi is important to check what the route will be. It is important to know that the fee can be 10 CUP (0.50 dollars) or 20 CUP (1.00 dollar) according to the distance in the taxi.
2 – Explore Cuba in an Almendrón
Looking beyond Havana, one of the most popular ways to tour the rest of the island is by way of an Almendrón, which is essentially a preserved American Car built in the 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s. Some private drivers will take you on cross-country tours in these classic rides visiting various villages and cities, and taking part in fun activities like piña colada tastings and swimming in caves. These tours also offer the convenience of an English speaking guide.
3 – Cruise Havana in style.
For those who wish to make a fantasy come true, the Private City Tour: Walk & Drive (in a Classic Car) is an excellent choice. This city tour has great ingredients: beautiful views, glamor, history and architecture. You’ll have the opportunity to admire the city’s main attractions cruising in a classic car and to walk around the colonial area of Havana, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 and New Wonder City in 2014. A ride along Havana’s famous Malecon in a convertible is a very exciting experience, which should not to be missed.