You’ve booked your airfare. You’ve gotten your paperwork approved. Now check off one last box: securing a rental car in Cuba.
As much as bookings to the stuck-in-time island have exploded, tourist infrastructure struggles to keep pace—here, it’s nearly impossible to train-hop between cities, buses don’t run on schedule, and even domestic flights are unpredictable. Driving allows for unparalleled freedom to explore, but it’s a complicated process just to get your car booked.
Luckily, Travel + Leisure has you covered, both when it comes to renting a car in Cuba and navigating the constantly-changing rules associated with visiting in the first place. Before finalizing your plans, make sure you know the latest on traveling to Cuba without a group (and still qualifying for a people-to-people trip), that you’re up to date on the latest hotel developments on the island (which will soon offer you the choice between authentic-feeling homestays and more comfortable luxury digs), and that you’ve got the 101 on commercial flights to the island nation.
We’ve also come up with the perfect day in Havana—a short video that’s part of T+L’s new Overnighter series, highlighting the must-see spots in major cities around the world. Consider it Part One of an epic journey to Cuba, which might get capped off with a road trip like the one I recently wrote about in T+L’s May 2016 issue. It hits colonial cities like Trinidad and Cienfuegos before making a pit stop for underwater adventures in the Bay of Pigs. (For travelers that would rather have a bespoke experience planned for them, there’s also this eight-night trip of a lifetime from Black Tomato, planned in collaboration with T+L editors.)
Regardless of the format or length of trip you choose, make sure that you budget some amount of time to drive beyond Havana and get a taste of Cuba’s verdant landscapes. Vintage car or not, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Here, a few tips for navigating the road.