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Havana Travel Guide: Things to do in Havana Cuba

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The Cuban capital city of Havana requires no introduction. Situated in the Caribbean, Havana is the gate-way to Cuba. With a population of over 2 million (c. 2018) Havana is the cultural, historical and political hub of the country. Truly if you wish to understand Cuba, you have to include Havana in your Cuba travel itinerary. Havana can offer an explanation as to why Cuba had the revolutionary past, its status with the world today and its new future. Havana’s heart is depicted in Old Havana streets – colorful, free and spirited in nature. If you are visiting Havana Cuba read this ultimate guide to the city. This Havana travel guide includes travel tips, sightseeing guide with the fun things to do in Havana Cuba, restaurants and epic experiences to make your travel memorable.

Things to do in Havana Cuba – Havana Travel Guide (with Havana Cuba Streets)

Havana Cuba things to do and unforgettable experiences. Havana Cuba bucketlist items include classic American car ride, learning to make Mojito, watching an amateur boxing, Hamel Alley (Afro Cuban traditions), food and more. This is your ultimate Havana Cuba travel guide. #havana #cuba #thingstodo #travelguide
Things to do in Havana Cuba: Havana Travel Guide

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There is so much to see in Havana. Each neighborhood in Havana city will open up its interesting history and colorful vibe. Havana in divided into the following neighborhoods –

  • La Havana Vieja or Old Havana is the historic colonial heart of Havana (located on the Eastern side of the city)
  • Centro Habana or Central Havana is mainly a residential area and has some commercial buildings too (located on the northern edge by the Malecón/waterfront)
  • Malecón is an esplanade, roadway and seawall which stretches along the coast-line in Havana (consists of the Harbor front and Havana Port)
  • Vedado is an upscale/urban mix of middle- to upper-class houses and businesses (it includes the Hotel Nacional and extends south to the Plaza de la Revolución)
  • Playa is an upscale residential district, where almost all of the embassies and diplomatic missions are set up. Buildings from Batista-era make up this neighborhood. (located west of Vedado)
  • Airport and Nearby – Cuba’s international and major airport area. There is not much to see around here, mostly industrial set-ups

If you only have 3 Days in Havana, read my post to craft your perfect 3 day Havana Itinerary

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Ultimate guide to Havana, Cuba

Old Havana UNESCO World Heritage Site

If you are visiting Havana, you HAVE to visit Old Havana aka Habana Vieja. Built by the Spanish in the 16th century, Old Havana has the heart and soul of the city. Everywhere you go in Vieja Habana, you will find an interesting mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments, colorful private houses with beautiful balconies, gates and courtyards. A pedestrian friendly neighbourhood, Old Havana is also the perfect place to observe and get acquainted with Cubans and their everyday life.

UNESCO declared Old Havana as a World Heritage Site in 1982. Old Havana consists of 5 large plazas each with its own unique architectural character.

The 5 Plazas are – Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza San Francisco de Asis, Plaza del Cristo and Plaza de la Catedral.

Plaza Vieja or Old Havana Square

The image below is that of Plaza Vieja or Old Havana Square. Lined with beautiful buildings,this square was the site of bull-flights, processions and excursions in the past. Plaza Vieja was built in the 16th century, and was popular with the wealthy citizens who witnessed these events. Presently, it is an open square and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants.

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Old Havana Square
Plaza de la Catedral

The second most popular square is the Plaza de la Catedral. The Lonely Planet, describes this cathedral as a “music set in stone”. Havana’s incredible cathedral is dominated by two unequal tower and framed by a theatrical baroque facade. You can climb up from one of the towers, to witness some stunning city views of Havana (for 1 CUC). The remains of Christopher Columbus were kept here, but later taken away to the Seville Cathedral in Spain in the 19th century.

The cathedral can be categorized as an early Cuban Baroque facade because of its many curves and double curves and structures that are ornamental rather than structural. The interior of the cathedral is ornate with white and black marble floors, with massive stone pillars and side chapels. It is built in neoclassical style.

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Cathedral Square, Old Havana

This square is very Spanish – you will find beautiful murals, depicting the colonial era and also amazing restaurants in a nearby alley. It is worth photographing the buildings around the cathedral – they are painted in bright blue color and can really turn out beautifully on canvas!

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Cathedral Square

The other 3 squares are located further away from the Old Havana square. Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Francisco de Asis and Plaza del Cristo are located closer to the Havana Port area, but it is still part of Old Havana.

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas is Havana’s oldest square which was laid out in the early 1520s, soon after the city’s foundation was set up. Filled with cobbled streets and a historic centre, this square was styled as an Arms Square in the early 19th century. This square hosts a book market, which is quite popular. It is a delight to browse through the market stalls and shop (or window shop) books, fruit stalls and other Cuban artifacts.

Plaza San Francisco de Asis

Plaza San Francisco de Asis has its origins in the 16th century.  It was used as a marketplace and this square also witnessed the unloading of slaves that the Spanish brought into the country. Prior to building of the Old Havana Square, Plaza San Francisco de Asis was used as a cockfight ring. In late 17th-century and 18th centuries, many wealthy nobles built their homes by the plaza.

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Plaza San Francisco de Asis
Plaza del Cristo

Plaza del Cristo was a church site where sailors once came to pray before embarking on long voyages. Presently this is a new tourist hot-spot with its edgy bars and shops. This square is also popular site for live concerts, including Cuban music.

Hotel Ambos Mundos

If you happen to like Plaza de la Catedral and spend more time there, you will find your way to Hotel Ambos Mundos. Located at the intersection of Bishops and Merchants Streets in Old Havana, this hotel houses the legacy of writer Ernst Hemingway. It was home to the popular writer for seven years in the 1930s.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Ernst Hemmingway’s legacy in Havana Cuba (Hotel Ambos Mundos – the building in pink/red)
El Floridita Restaurant

Another historic site of Ernst Hemingway’s fame is the El Floridita Restaurant. This restaurant sits just on the edge of Old Havana. Hemmingway frequented this place when he lived in Havana. He used to order daiquiris here – that was his favorite drink. The restaurant is very popular with tourists and they make daiquiris in batches, right in front of your eyes! Daiquiris cost 6 CUC. There is a big statue of Hemmingway inside the restaurant.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Old and Centro Habana
The Museum of the Revolution

The Museum of the Revolution or Museo de la Revolucion is a museum located in the Old Havana. This museum is dedicated to the history of pre and post Cuban revolution. The Cuban revolution started under Fidel Castro’s leadership to overthrow the tyrant Batista regime. This period was marked by immense nationalism within the country and had international repercussions especially with United States. The revolution saw the overthrow of Batista rule and under Fidel Castro – a new government was formed. The museum speaks volume on the struggles during the revolutionary era.

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The Trio – Museum of the Revolution

The entry fee to the museum is 8 CUC per person. You are allowed to photograph inside and outside of the museum.

Granma Memorial

A few steps away from the museum is the Granma Memorial – the Granma memorial has the yacht (real, not a replica) that was used to transport 82 fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico to Cuba to overthrow the regime of Batista. In the memorial site, there are other vehicles and aircraft remains from previous struggles and movements.

National Fine Arts Museum of Cuba

Situated close to the Granma Memorial is the National Fine Arts Museum of Cuba. This museum is not very crowded. And if you like fine arts and would like to learn about the arts during the revolutionary period – this is the place to visit.

Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym

Amateur boxing is popular in Havana. Just like cigars, mojitos and classic cars – boxing is also part of Cuban culture. There is a hidden gem in Old Havana where you can actually visit and check out amateur boxers! And that is the Rafael Trejo boxing gym. We are told that there are world class athletes and amateurs who frequent this place. This was an interesting place to explore. A ring full of athletes – professionals, amateurs and kids – practicing this art alongside trainers and having a great time!

If you are exploring Old Havana and have time on your hands, consider visiting this boxing gym. Boxing lessons in Havana will certainly make for an unexpected yet an interesting memory.

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Boxing Ring – Gimnasio de boxeo

Outer Old Havana

Statue of Jose Marti

Right outside Old Havana, you will see a square, with a statue of Jose Marti. Jose Marti was a Cuban National Hero and he was very politically active, and is considered an important symbol of Cuba’s bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century. (This memorial is different from the Jose Marti monument at the Plaza de Revolution). This square is an open area where locals sit and have a healthy banter and debate. The square is lined with vintage cars that you can rent. (Hint: This is the spot where you will find all your Instagram-worthy Havana Cuba pictures)

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Jose Marti Memorial
Great Theatre of Havana Alicia Alonso

Located very close to the Jose Marti Square is the Great Theatre of Havana Alicia Alonso (also called Gran Teatro de La Habana). The theatre is named after Cuban’s first ballerina – Alicia Alonso.  It is also a living theatre. Much of the architecture and chandeliers/ interiors are from Galicia in Spain. You can book for guided tours of the theatre for 5 CUC. The inside tour of the theatre is totally worth it – as you can capture some unforgettable memories from the theater’s balconies!

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Cuba – Grand Theatre of Havana

The exterior of the theatre is as stunning as the interiors. At the front porch, there is a restaurant as well.

The interiors of the theatre are beautiful with the frescoes in the auditorium, ballroom and designs on the wall. There is a painting and exhibition hall located inside as well.

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Grand Theatre of Havana
El Capitolio

El Capitolio, also known as the National Capitol Building of Havana, was the organization of government in Cuba until 1959 (after the Cuban Revolution). Its design is compared to that of the United States Capitol, but is not a replica of it. The Capitolio was one of the tallest buildings at one point of time and also housed the world’s third largest indoor statue. It is now home to the Cuban Academy of Sciences.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
El Capitalo

Centro Havana – Central Havana

Centro Havana is similar to Old Havana in its general feel and density. Many of the buildings date back to the colonial period and has some interesting mix of old and new structures. Although not a UNESCO heritage site, you can still find some edgy and cool buildings to photograph. In central Havana, you will have commercial office spaces and the area is a little crowded as Cubans venture out and about to make a living.

It’s a safe, middle class neighborhood where tourists can experience the “local” life. You will not find a ton of restaurants, bars or shops that cater to visitors in this area. Central Havana didn’t receive much TLC like Old Havana did, you will find many buildings here that are in varying states of disrepair and some deserted or even crumbling down.

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Havana
Callejon de Hamel

Callejon de Hamel is a narrow alley located in Central Havana, dedicated to the Afro-Cuban cultural heritage. Hamel Alley is filled with lively colorful murals and sculptures made from bathtubs, hand pumps, and pinwheels. The buildings are lined with brightly-colored paintings and objects, which depict rituals and deities. This alley was the brain child of Cuban artist Salvador Gonzáles Escalona. This colorful lane with bright messages (including the popular story of Happy Prince) makes this site very unique and special. This alley offers visitors to Cuba’s capital a taste of the city’s local art.

Rumba is very popular as the art is dedicated to the Afro-Cuban relationship. And every Sunday, there are rumba sessions held here for tourists to enjoy. (The alley is located about a 15 minute walk east of the Hotel Nacional)

Book a tour to explore the Afro Cuban Religious walking tour

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Hamel Ally Havana Cuba

Malecon – Havana Habour Front

The Malecón area consists of the esplanade, roadway and seawall which stretches along the coastline in Havana, Cuba. It includes the Havana Harbor to the north side of the Centro Habana neighborhood and ends in the Vedado neighborhood.

You will find Cubans enjoying a walk along the 8 km coastline on a hot day, to enjoy the breeze from the waves. Most of the cruise ships to Cuba dock here for a day tour of the Havana city.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havanaMalecon Havana

El Morro or the Morro Castle

The Malecon has private business centers and also historical buildings. These historical structures from the Spanish colonial era include fortified gates, and these buildings that were later used by the Cuban revolutionary players, including Che Guevara. One of the architectural site was – El Morro or the Morro Castle (the image is below). The city of Havana needed protection from pirates and enemies of the sea, so the Spanish rulers constructed the Morro Castle to protect their land. Entrance to the El Morro costs 6 CUC and it is totally worth it to capture some amazing views of the Caribbean sea and also the nearby La Cabana Castle.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
El Morro

Inside El Morro, there is a exhibition hall and a church as well. Right across from El Morro is La Cabana Fortress.

La Cabana

La Cabana was built in the late 18th century as an upgraded fortifications to the existing El Morro fortress. La Cabaña was the second-largest colonial military installation in the New World by the time it was completed in 1774. Over the next two hundred years the fortress served as a base for both Spain and later independent Cuba. La Cabana was used as a prison by the government of the leaders Fidel Castro. Che Guevara also used La Cabana as a headquarter and military prison for several months.

The complex is now part of a historical park, along with the El Morro fortress, and houses several museums open to the public. Every night a cannon is fired at 9 pm, the so-called El Cañonazo de las 9, a custom kept from colonial times signaling the closure of the gates in the city wall.

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana

Cristo de La Habana

The Christ of Havana or Cristo de La Habana is located in the Havana suburb of Casablanca near La Cabaña. The Christ of Havana is a large sculpture representing Jesus on a hilltop overlooking the bay in Havana.

Local guide says that the statue was sculpted to depict a cigar in the right hand and a mojito in the left hand, honoring popular Cuban culture.

Vedado

Vedado is a large residential neighborhood a few miles west of Old Havana. Vedado has upscale/urban mix of middle- to upper-class houses and businesses (it includes the Hotel Nacional and extends south to the Plaza de la Revolución)

In the mid 19th century, this area which is now Vedado, was covered by forests. “Vedado” means “forbidden” in Spanish and it was aptly named so as it was non-navigable. With residential establishments and numbered streets now, Vedado is one of the easiest places in Cuba for outsiders to navigate.

Hotel Nacional

Vedado landmark hotels like the Hotel Nacional (pictured below) which is an iconic landmark of Havana. The hotel has its links to the infamous Havana conference of 1940s, were a historic meeting of United States Mafia and Cosa Nostra leaders was held in Havana, Cuba. The hotel has also inherited its association with the pre-revolutionary period, as witnessed with the bullet holes in the hotel’s dome/entrance. The hotel has a historical tour that runs from 10:00- 06:00 everyday except for Sundays.

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Nacional Hotel

One of the most popular historic site in Vedado is the Revolution Plaza and the government offices.

La Fábrica de Arte Cubano

La Fabrica del Arte Cubano is an art gallery and a night club in Havana, Cuba. The Fábrica’s gallery and stage are huge and they were established inside of a former cooking oil plant near the Almendares river in Vedado neighborhood.

La Fabrica (Cuban Art Factory) is the go to place for art galas and youngsters looking for a great (and cheap night out).  This is your place to see the new and emerging (and FUN) Cuba.

Plaza de la Revolution

Plaza de la Revolution  is an important square in Havana. The square was built in the 20th century and has been used for all political rallies since Fidel came to power. The square can house more then 1 million attendees.  Pope John Paul II, during his 1998 first visit by a Pope, and Pope Francis in 2015, held large Masses there during papal visits to Cuba.

The square has a big statue of Jose Marti – he is idolized in Cuba and in most historic places you will see references to Jose Marti. The famous image of Che Guevara from one of the government buildings is located right across the square. There is nothing much to see here, other then the statue and the images of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro from across the square. The square is not crowded so you can take great pictures, minus the tourists.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Plaza del la revolucion

The abandoned US embassy is located in Vedado, facing the Malecon.

Miramar and Playa

Playa is an upscale residential district, where almost all of the embassies and diplomatic missions are set up. The municipality of Playa has a very modern feel – the streets appear to be planned, lined with trees and flowers. This neighborhood is also very clean. It is worth driving by this area as you will find some interesting monuments and buildings along the way.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Havana Cuba Travel

Restaurants and Food in Havana Cuba

Now lets talk food and drinks! Old and Centro Habana, Vedado has lots of options for food, bar and restaurants. In Havana, there are state owned restaurants and private restaurants or casa paladars. The state run restaurants are cheaper as compared to private own restaurants. Private/in house restaurants, called casa paladars offers authentic Cuban food. By US or Canadian standards the food is still cheaper. The cheapest meal that I had was for 5.5 CUC which included a drink, dessert and a full meal. This was at Old Havana – at the El Pina del plata Restaurant (located beside El Floridita)

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Food in Havana Cuba

Popular Cuban dishes include black bean rice, plantains, roopa vieja (shredded meat), chicken tomato or pork salsa – they all tasted great. Pork and beef are popular dishes, followed by shrimps and chicken.

If breakfast is included as part of your hotel deal, it will most likely include baked items, fruits, salad, pork sausage.

Some of the tried and tested restaurant recommendations are –

  • Bianchini (located by the Cathedral Square, you will find the best cappucino here)
  • El Pina del plata Restaurant (Shredded beef vieja with rice, my favorite)
  • Cafe Suzia and Ron Habana Club (balcony restaurant served the best Chicken Salsa and plantains)
  • La Luz (another coffee place in Old Havana, serves the best Cuban coffee, side cafe)
  • Chen Chelia (delicious lunch in a colorful shack, tried Chicken Tomato)
  • Ruinas del Parque (Roast Chicken and Rice, plain but decent portion, food was okay. Ambiance was great)

As far as Cuban cocktails, bars and drinks goes, Mojito is popular in Cuba, along with rum. I have tasted one of the most refreshing mojitos in Havana. Daiquiris and Pina Coladas are popular too. Popular beer include Cristal and Bucanero.

Try opting for a roof top bar for a memorable Havana experience, with mojito or a daiquiri. Most restaurants and bars will have open space for table or roof top tables. Some of the options to consider as Bar Nautica (Hotel Nacional), El Floridita, Roof top Bar at Hotel Parcque Central Iberostar, El Pasillo.

In the evenings, most restaurants have live music/band. It really provides a great Cuban experience, with some nice Rumba music in the background. Food at restaurants with live music are priced slightly higher then restaurants that don’t.

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Streets of Havana

Havana Experiences for Cuba Travel Itinerary

Havana travel and itinerary is incomplete without some special experience. Even if you are traveling to Havana Cuba by cruises, you must include one of these bucket list items.

There are lots of options to make your trip to Havana memorable. Some of the options include – taking a cooking/drink class, classic car ride, going to a cigar factory and watching the process, trying some Cuban cigars, Spanish legacy of Cuba at Malecon, amateur boxing, etc. I enjoyed the 3 handpicked experiences – making a mojito, watching amateur boxing practice and my favorite – classic car ride!

 

Mojito Lessons in Old Havana Cuba

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Mojito Lessons in Old Havana

Who doesn’t love a refreshing mojito on a hot and humid day? And how about learning how to make a mojito? Well, you can bake your cake and eat it too. In this case, learn to make an authentic Cuban mojito and relish it too. Locally Sourced Tours has mojito classes that are conducted at Casa Alta, in Old Havana. They teach you to make the drink with fresh ingredients like lime, mint & spearmint, Havana Club Rum, brown sugar, sparkling water, and ice.

Recipe: Start with squeezing lime into the glass, add fresh spearmint/mint and press them to release juice. Add sparkling water and brown sugar (1 spoon-full), stir it. Add ice and top it off with Havana Club rum. Garnish with spearmint leaves!

Did you know Mojito is a Cuban drink and originated in Cuba?

Amateur Boxing

Amateur Boxing is popular in Havana. There are rings and practices studios where tourists are allowed to watch or even participate. Men and women alike can participate in boxing. Women can only compete at a regional level.

Classic Car Tour

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Classic Car ride in Havana Cuba

When you travel to Havana Cuba, do not skip this : get a classic car tour! This experience is like no other and should be included in your Havana Cuba bucket list. I don’t think there are very many countries in the world where you can ride in a 1950 Chevy (pink, green, yellow – any color you like). Book or hire an open classic american car, drive along the Havana port or the Vadedo area and enjoy. Always fix the fare first before you ride. If you are planning to do some sight-seeing, these cars will also wait for you while you get all the exploring done.

With awesome reviews > Book a Classic Car tour here

Havana Cuba Tours

You can experience Havana on your own, but if you like the company of a Cuban to take you around, then I do have some recommendations. We did a Havana walking tour and completely enjoyed it. Our guide was Roberto who was very friendly and he shared many unknown facts about Havana and life in Cuba in general. If you wish to get up close and personal about Havana, booking a tour is a way to go. Also remember you are helping a Cuban – tourism is the only and the most profitable business here.

Book a Havana Walking Tour here

 The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
View of Havana City

Another way to experience Havana is by taking a City Tour bus. The city tour lasts about 2 hours on an open top bus and it takes you on a tour to the waterfront, the city center, revolution plaza, embassies, Vedado and more. It doesn’t cover Old Havana as its inaccessible by vehicles, however, you will pass by Plaza d’ Armas, Old Havana port and the biggest hospital in Cuba. All of this for 10 CUC. You can find the Havana City tours departing from the Jose Marti Memorial Square in Old Havana, every 2 hours. (the last tour starts at 07:00 pm)

If you are feeling adventurous, don’t be afraid to explore Havana on your own. Cubans are friendly and if you know where you wish to go, they will help you get there. Also download maps.me – a free non-wifi gps app. This app will come in handy, especially when you are trying to venture into Old Havana, the first time.

Havana Travel Tips

Havana (and the rest of Cuba) is served by the Jose Marti International Airport. For entry to Cuba, most countries have access to visa on arrival  which is called a Cuban tourist card. It costs $25 USD.

It is recommended that travel insurance is purchased before to arrival in Cuba (coverage up to 50,000 USD).

Currencies – Cuba has 2 sets of currencies. CUP or the Cuban Peso and CUC or Cuban Convertible Peso. CUP is used by the locals. Hence its their national mode of transaction, also referred to as the “moneda nacional”. As far as conversion goes, 25 CUP = $1 USD

Tourists use the other currency, which is the CUC. Conversion is 1 CUC = $1 USD. Tourists can only exchange currencies in the country. There are currency exchange offices in the airport as well as in the hotels, banks and exchange offices (called CADECAS) throughout Havana. Most hotels and tour agencies would have debit machines, but you are better off carrying cash. Also carry US/CAD/Euro currencies for exchange.

For more information on Cuba tips, read Things to know before traveling to Cuba

Havana Hotels – Havana is a tourist spot and so there is no dearth of hotels in the city. I do recommend staying closer to Old Havana as you can walk down and explore the UNESCO heritage site or grab a bite to eat at a casa paladar (Cuban owned restaurant). Most hotels have restaurants and rooftop bars in their buildings. There are Airbnb options available as well and are offered through the Airbnb website. Airbnb are called Casa Particulars. Some hotel recommendations in Old Havana include Hotel Plaza (budget and vintage), Hotel Iberostar Parque Central, Hotel SaratogaThe Windows of Old Havana . All the accommodations listed here are very close to Old Havana and easily accessible on foot. Taxi services are available from 5-10 CUC to the Malecon or Vedado from here as well (taxi rates).

Choose hotels Havana for your trip



Booking.com

Local Commute – It is fairly easy to cover a lot of the city of Havana by walking. There are taxis available, including the vintage American cars. There are 2 types of taxis – state owned yellow cabs (marked by plain white licence plates) and privately owned American vintage cars (licence plates are marked with a P called taxi particular). State owned taxi fares tend to be cheaper and the operator has a metre that they can use to charge accordingly. You can easily negotiate prices with private owned taxis. For 30 CUC, we rented a taxi for half day and we drove along the harbor-front (malecon)

We also rode on coco-taxis (like the Asian Tuk-tuk and Rickshaw) and they are mostly used for short distances. Pissi Taxi can be rented for commute in Old Havana or anywhere where cars are prohibited. They are a tad expensive than taxis (or sometimes almost equal. In either case, you have to set the fare before the ride). Intercity buses are available. Locals use them extensively. They are usually crowded, but they do have a good bus network. For 1 CUC you can travel anywhere within the city.

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Vintage Cars in Havana Cuba

For Tours outside of Havana – You can also use state taxis to reach resort towns of Varadero, Santa Marta, Trinidad from the Havana International Airport. If you booked a package trip, airport transfers will be included (just ask and confirm). Colectivos can also pick and drop you between 2 major cities/towns, but I would arrange for them ahead of time and consider local laws before availing those services.

Here are some popular destinations to travel to from Havana –

  • Havana to Varadero – 2 hours and 10 minutes (by car)
  • Havana to Trinidad – 4 hours (by car)
  • Havana to Vinales – 2 hours and 30 minutes (by car). Ideal for a day trip from Havana. Book a day tour to Vinales
  • Havana to Coco Cayo – 6 hours by car or you can take a 50 minute direct flight

Perfect time to Visit Havana is NOW!

We returned from Havana a few months ago and had an amazing experience in the city. The people are warm and friendly and it is a safe place for tourists. Most paladars or your food will costs less then what it is in most countries. Flying from Canada, we didn’t face any visa or entry issues at the Havana airport. We did meet a lot of travelers from Europe, South and Central America and the Caribbean countries. With changes in the political scene, tourism is on the rise, but Havana still has its vintage old city charm. It is worth it to visit Cuba Havana right now and experience its colorful streets and culture, before it gets too commercialized.

C’mon, ‘Havana Havana’! Get ready.

Last Update:  April 30 2019

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Pin – Ultimate Havana Travel Guide – What to do in Havana Cuba

The Ultimate guide to Havana Cuba is here! The one stop for all things Havana - sightseeing, local experiences, restaurants and other travel tips #havana
Ultimate Havana Cuba Guide

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50 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, your photos are amazing! I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba and Havana would be the perfect first stop since most of the flights would go through there. Loved this thorough guide!

  2. Havana looks so pretty! I love your photos 😀 I’m really keen to go to Cuba soon, especially Havana. Will be bookmarking this guide for when I do!

  3. This brought me right back to the trip I took here a few years ago! Great photos, you captured a lot of my favorite things about Cuba and a few things I’ll have to do the next time I visit 🙂 Thanks for sharing your knowledge & experience about the place!

  4. I love their taxi names like “coco” and “pissi” – I’ve never heard of them! Thanks for all the amazing photos, I must now go find me some black bean rice and plantains! OMG!

  5. Fantastic guide, so many beautiful photos too! I’d love to go one day and surprise the trip for my partner too!

  6. This is so comprehensive!! Looks like you covered just about everything haha. How weird that they have two different currencies for the locals and the tourists. Havana sounds really interesting and I love your pictures!

  7. Your photos are very beautiful. Cuba is a dream destination, I really hope to get to experience some day soon… Until then – thanks for the useful tips. Will come very handy once I start planning the trip

  8. I’d love to visit Havana! Such a colorful city full of old constructions. Don’t know why but I love this combination. One question – you said the city is safe, but did you go somewhere in the evening? Or walked alone? I’ve heard that solo female travelers had a not so pleasant experience in the evening. I’m always with my camera, which is not small, that’s why I’m wondering it. Thanks!

    1. Hi Bruna! Havana is one of the safest cities that I have been to. Here is what we have experienced – we ventured to old Havana and have stayed out till 10-11:00 pm for dinner or a stroll. The streets are full of people at all hours (both men, women and even families with kids). Our flight reached Havana at 12:05 am – although most restaurants were closed by then, we had transport available and the area was safe. We left airport at 1:15 am ish to reach our hotel in Old Havana. We did book airport transfer (via Air Canada). But even private transport or taxi (state owned/pre-paid) would be safe.
      One another thing is that, Cuban women are very empowered, I saw more women on the streets than men, walking or enjoying life (without any male companion) at late night.
      As a tourist, of course be vary of scams. Being a popular tourist area, people will try to sell cigars (bad/fake/dunno), or sell “cheap” items or offer tours. Cubans are very friendly with fellow Cubans and tourists, they are helpful, they will give you directions, offer help. Depending on where the tourists are from (country and culture wise), people might find it overbearing or intimidating.
      I hope you visit Cuba, I/we really enjoyed the happy and cultural vibes in Havana. I could carry my iphone and camera (and even passport with me) and never had any instance of bag snatch or theft.

  9. I came *this close* to doing a study abroad in Cuba in college but ended up going to Argentina instead; Cuba is still on my bucket list, though. Your photos are gorgeous! I’m especially intrigued by the idea of a mojito class!!!

  10. I love that Havana is EXPLODING with color. From the candy-coated cars to the pastel houses. It’s just alive and thriving with culture and rich with history!

  11. Loved your pictures. Thanks for such an informative guide. I am definitely bookmarking it for my Cuba visit whenever I plan that.

  12. Oh my goodness we were just in Cuba in March and took a few similar photos as you!! I loved seeing all your gorgeous pictures!!

  13. We have Cuba on our radar for next spring. Your post is incredibly useful! So complete and full of interesting ideas. I pinned it for future refeence. Thankd!

  14. I’m hoping to visit Havana soon (hoping Trump doesn’t mess that up too much more than he already has for Americans…)! Interesting about the museum. Is it accurate, or is most of the information heavily slanted toward the government’s view?

    1. Most of the things in the museum were very factual – facts that happened in Cuba. I found it to be very credible. It didn’t draw much attention to its impacts or consequences in US or rest of the world.It was museum of the Revolution highlighting activities that happened in Cuba

  15. This post is just so helpful and comprehensive 🙂 I’ve never been to Cuba so I’ve pinned this for later xx

  16. This is a very comprehensive guide. I have bookmarked it. You have a very vivid description that makes one feel ready for Havanna. You have nice photos.

  17. What a comprehensive guide! I have been to Cuba three times, but none of those times I have made it to Havana. It looks like there is so much to see that one day would not do it enough justice anyways!

  18. This indeed was the Ultimate guide! Excellent work on giving us great tips. I’m more confident now that I could make this trip and that it would turn out great. I’m a Foodie, so I was pleased to read your recommendations too. Great photos!

  19. I would love to visit Havana and Cuba in general! Your article seems incredibly comprehensive, and I’ll be saving it for when I finally book my trip =)

  20. Wow, what an amazing guide to Havana! I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba for ages, so this will be super helpful when I finally do get there. Your photos are amazing too!

  21. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come back in the future. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!

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