Santa Clara's Abel Santamaría Airport (tel. 42/21-4402; airport code SNU) accepts both national and international flights. The latter are predominantly international charter flights bringing tourists on package tours to la Cayería del Norte.
Víazul (tel. 7/881-1413 in Havana, or 42/22-2523 in Santa Clara; www.viazul.com) travels daily to Santa Clara on the Havana-Santiago de Cuba, Varadero-Trinidad, and Havana-Holguín lines. From Havana, the bus departs at 9:30am, 3pm, and 10pm arriving at 2:10pm, 7:10pm, and 2:05am respectively; the fare is CUC$18. From Santiago, departure times are 3:15pm and 10pm, arriving at 3:20am and 8:30am respectively; the fare is CUC$33. From Varadero to Trinidad, the bus leaves at 8:15am and arrives at 11:30am; the fare is CUC$11. From Trinidad to Varadero, the bus departs at 2:50pm and arrives at 5:45pm, costing CUC$8. From Holguín to Havana, the bus departs at 9:20am and arrives at Santa Clara at 5:50pm, costing CUC$27. From Havana to Holguin, the bus departs at 9:20am and arrives at 12:40am, costing CUC$18. From Santiago to Varadero the bus departs at 10:35pm and arrives in Santa Clara at 7:40am, costing CUC$38. The main bus station is on the western edge of town, on the Carretera Central, between Independencia and Oquiendo.
Santa Clara sits right on the Carretera Central, and just off the Autopista Nacional, 270km (168 miles) east of Havana. It's a straight shot on the highway and generally takes about 3 1/2 hours.
Autopista Scam -- Many visitors to Cuba rent a car in Havana and set off looking for the Autopista A1. However, the Autopista isn't marked or easily identifiable, so some visitors spend hours negotiating their way out of the city, leaving themselves as easy targets for scam artists. Some wily Cubans flag tourist cars down (identifiable by the T-branded red license plate) and offer to escort them to the correct turn off. One report Frommer's received suggested that the Cubans did escort the tourists to the right exit, but then demanded CUC$40 for their troubles. Another report suggested that Cubans returned the travelers to the same (wrong) spot but still demanded CUC$20. We have also heard reports that some Cubans are stealing signposts to divert and charge tourists. To avoid the scam, drive down the road you believe is the Autopista and then ask somebody if you're on the right road. If you are on the wrong road, it is easy to make a safe U-turn.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.