Matanzas is connected to the outside world through Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport, aka Varadero airport, 20km east of town.
Matanzas is reachable by bike from Varadero. The 32km road is well-paved and completely flat, bar the last 3km into the city starting at the Río Canímar bridge. Bike hire is available at some Varadero all-inclusive hotels.
All buses to Matanzas, long distance and provincial, use the National Bus Station, in the old train station south of the Río San Juan.
Matanzas has decent connections, although for destinations like Cienfuegos and Trinidad you need to change at Varadero, taking the first Varadero bus of the day then waiting for the afternoon Varadero–Trinidad bus.
Víazul has five daily departures to Havana (CUC$7, two hours, 9am, 12:55pm, 2:50pm, 4:50pm and 6:50pm); the 9am bus continues to Viñales. There are also five departures to Varadero (CUC$6, one hour, 8am, 10:05am, 12:05pm, 3:05pm and 7pm), also calling at the airport (CUC$6, 25 minutes).
The nearest car rental to the center is Cubacar in the Playa neighborhood.
Matanzas has two train stations. The main train station is in Miret, at the southern edge of the city. Most trains between Havana and Santiago de Cuba stop here, but services are slow, grubby and unreliable. In theory, there are half a dozen daily trains to Havana (CUC$3, 1½ hours). The Santiago de Cuba train (CUC$27; 13½ hours) should leave in the evening every three or four days. Latest train information is plastered on pieces of paper in the waiting room. Get here well in advance to beat the bedlam.
The Hershey Train Station is in Versalles, an easy 10-minute walk from Parque Libertad. There are three trains a day to Casablanca station in Havana (CUC$2.80, four hours) via Canasí (CUC$0.85, one hour), Jibacoa (CUC$1.10, 1½ hours; for Playa Jibacoa), Hershey (CUC$1.40, two hours; for Jardines de Hershey) and Guanabo (CUC$2, three hours). Departure times from Matanzas are 4:39am, 12:09am (an express service that should take three hours in total) and 4:25pm.
The train usually leaves on time, but often arrives in Havana's Casablanca station (just below La Cabaña fort on the east side of the harbor) one hour late. This is the only electric railway in Cuba. It's a scenic trip if you're not in a hurry, and a great way of reaching the little-visited attractions of Mayabeque Province.