Get lost in Habana Vieja
Wander La Habana Vieja, also known as Old Havana. Equal parts crumbling and colorful, old havana streets are filled with vintage cars, sixteen century fortresses and lively locals.
Enjoy a show at the Tropicana
One of the longest running and most impressive shows in Havana. Full of dancing, singing and amazing costumes it is impossible to leave without a smile on your face.
Listen to music at Buena Vista Social Club
If you are a lover of music (and particularly Afro-Cuban) you will have a great time, even if you don’t know a lick of Spanish. Don’t miss it.
Stay in a Casa Particulars over a Hotel
The hotels in Havana are overpriced and we heard from multiple people the rooms were not what they expected. Here (coming soon!) is my full write up on why you should stay in a Casa instead.
See the nacional Ballet perform
The Cuba national Ballet is thriving where almost every other country in the world is struggling. In part that is because the government heavily subsidizes it. Regardless, the result is fantastic. As a dancer myself I can confidently say they are the BEST ballerinas I have seen in my entire life. Plus the tickets are cheap – 30 CUC for the best seats and 10 CUC for the top balcony.
Ride in Vintage american Cars
Ride (or just admire) the vintage cars. If you do ride in one make sure to negotiate fares before you leave. Good news is they are everywhere and quite easy to find. You can also take a tour of the main sites in a vintage American car. Tours leave from Parque Central – it is 50 CUC for an hour.
ive Off the grid
Enjoy being off the grid without a connection to wifi or social media. Or if you have a job like my husband (lawyer) enjoy the office having no way of reaching you.
Sunset at the Malecon is spectacular and you can see locals fishing, couples strolling and people from all walks of life enjoying the evening air.
A beautiful garden that overlooks the water, and the Malecon, is worth the price of their Mojito. The inside of the hotel is nicely done and deserves a look.
walk in Hemingway's footsteps
Follow in Hemingways footsteps with a visit to La Floridita, his favorite bar, and Finca Vigia, his home, for 20 years. Decide for yourself if either is a tourist trap or not.
visit Partagas Cigar Factory
Take a guided tour of the best known factory and see the tradition of Cuban cigar rolling. If you manage a trip out to Vinales, which I highly recommend, visit an organic tobacco farm to see the difference in execution.
Drink all the rum
Cubans love a good party and seem to be nonstop. They wake up early and party late – thank god for Cuban coffee, right? Rum is the liquor of choice and Havana Club is the most popular brand.
Dance the night away or take a lesson
You could just go to any local restaurant, or street corner, and dance the night away but I suggest taking a salsa lesson while in Havana. I recommend Salsador a Cuba, they charge $14 per person per hour and the lesson is one on one. They start with the basics and work all the way up to advanced combinations. It is not unusual to plan 3 or 4 days of lessons, actually it is what most people do! Start with one and you will be hooked!
Get off the main street
Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Havana is very safe and walking around REAL Cuban neighborhoods is both an eyeopening and enlightening experience. You will see kids playing in the streets, groups of men working on vintage cars, local bakeries selling bread to locals for $.04 a loaf and street vendors hawking fresh fruit.
Eat as much as you can
Of course what vacation is complete without massive amounts of great food? Don’t worry, Havana has tons. Between low-cost street food, trendy tapas and cervezas places and locally run paladars you won’t go hungry. Here are my top recommendations for eating in Cuba.
Day trip to Vinales
Walk around the crumbling mansions and take in the local life on the outskirts of Havana. Don’t be afraid to watch a game or two of dominoes, the old abuelos will probably want to teach you a thing or two!