From the faded charm of the colonial architecture to the classic cars and rhythms of the Cuban salsa bars, Havana holidays are full of vibrant contrasts. This lively capital is the best place to begin or end your holiday to Cuba.
Havana’s colonial history casts light and shade over the city with its communist presence, and everywhere you look you’re greeted with revolutionary slogans, murals of Fidel and Che Guevara, and monuments to the heroic worker. In the Plaza de la Revolución, there is a famous ironwork mural of Che on the Ministry of the Interior along with his famous motto – “hasta la victoria siempre” (towards victory always) – as well as a large memorial to Jose Martí, the 19th-century independence hero revered by Fidel Castro.
In the evenings, Havana comes alive with music, and the locals hang out on the Malecón, the seafront road near the city centre, to enjoy an evening sipping mojitos in one of Hemingway’s old haunts, or living it up at one of the all-singing all-dancing salsa shows such as the legendary Tropicana Club.
Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Habana Vieja, a heady concoction of striking architecture and bustling street life or visit one of the main squares in the evening and experience the magical nightlife in the bars, restaurants and cafes that rub shoulders with Art Nouveau and faded colonial buildings.
Whether you choose to explore Havana on foot or by bike on our Cuban Highlights Ride, among colourful colonial buildings or along the pristine coastline, you’ll experience its charismatic soul and no doubt fall in love with the city on our Havana tours.
Tour the city in a classic car: Famous for its classic cars, there’s no better way to explore Havana. As you drive through the streets lined with notable monuments, cathedrals and palaces, and with the breeze in your hair, you’ll get a true sense of the city’s past and present influences. The 1950s cars that you find in Havana are surprisingly immaculate, and you’ll feel as though you’ve gone back in time, especially as you ride through the old parts of the city.
Explore Old Havana: At the very heart of the Cuban capital is Old Havana. This buzzing city has an intoxicating energy that will lure you into its charms with its fine colonial architecture, lively squares and faded grandeur. Known locally as La Habana Vieja, the Old City is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is filled with ancient plazas where cobbled streets weave between brightly- coloured buildings. Around every corner you’ll find an architectural treasure that depicts a different era from Art Deco to Baroque. There are four main plazas in the Old City but if you want to see the cathedral, head to Plaza Vieja which was formerly the religious centre.
Drink a Mojito: First created in Cuba, the Mojito is synonymous with the country and there’s no better place to try this authentic drink than at one of the bars in Havana. Fusing white rum, sugar cane, lime juice, mint and soda, this tangy cocktail is delicious. You’ll find lots of places dotted around the city where you can enjoy the cocktail, and La Bodeguita del Medio is where Ernest Hemingway is said to have written “My Mojito, in Bodeguita, my Daiquiri in El Floridita.”
Walk along the Malecón: Spanning 8km along the length of the city of Havana, the Malecón is a promenade and stretch of road that runs along the coastline. Flanked by eclectic Neoclassical and Art Nouveau architecture, this is one of the most outstanding areas in Cuba. Originally the promenade was created for the middle classes in the early 20th century, but it soon expanded out towards the east of the city. The evening is a great time to visit the Malecón as beautiful sunsets cast a warm glow over the water and lively Cuban beats pulsate throughout the streets.
Learn how to Salsa: Havana tours wouldn’t be complete without trying out some salsa moves. Deep-rooted in Cuban culture, salsa music and dancing can be heard in many of the bars and clubs of Havana. This passionate dance gives you a real taste of authentic Cuban culture and is great fun to learn on your trip. Even if you think you have two left feet, you’ll love the experience and it’s also a good way to interact with the locals and enjoy their culture.
Cuba has the most beautiful scenic mountains, forests, beaches, lowlands, and wildlife. The roads are pretty awful in Cuba, but our driver did a great job of navigating the potholes. Cuba’s towns and cities are a beautiful example of people who have the least being happy to share what little they have. The locals were all friendly, generous, and welcoming, not to mention happy to put up with me murdering the Spanish language in an attempt to communicate. Trinidad is party central! Every night of the week, bars and clubs have excellent live bands, and so many amazing dancers. Havana is packed full of culture, and although a lot of the city is run down and falling down, you can see where restoration work on the colonial style building has been completed to a very high standard, and where it is ongoing. The Rum museum (Museo Del Ron Havana Club) is well worth a trip, the basic tour lasts about 1/2 hour and includes a generous sample of the 7 year old Havana Club rum for 350 pesos, which at the time was less than £4! Generally prices in Cuba are very low, and thankfully now you only have to deal with Cuban pesos and Euros, whereas in the past there was also CUC too!
wow what an amazing and diverse country!! one moment you are in the stunning serene countryside learning about tobacco the next you are in a loud, vibrant city full of unexpected things and history at every turn.
From being invited to dance in a restaurant by an after work group who were out drinking one night in Havana to blackouts, from salsa dancing with a live band to the beautiful beaches a treasure trove of a trip that I will never forget.