What to do in Havana
Isolated for a long time, Cuba has opened up again internationally in recent years. As a result, tourism isbooming and the island has become a popular destination for all types of travelers .
Its capital, Havana , is a small wonder that you will love to discover. I am sure that like me, it will leave you with a strong impression and that you will rethink with nostalgia … Between mythical cars , omnipresent music and dance , rich architecture full of history and welcoming people , you will not know where to turn .
To help you organize your stay in Havana , I give you my best advice: the top 20 sites and activities to do in Havana , ideas for family visits and suggestions of itineraries to adapt to the length of your stay. trip !
Visit Havana with your family
If you are traveling with your family to Havana , you will probably have to reconcile pleasant visits for the youngest , and not too expensive for parents. Here are my tips …
First, and this is a tip for all travelers on a tight budget : as soon as you arrive in Cuba , go into the first bank exchange about twenty CUC (convertible pesos, the currency used by tourists and worth around € 1) against CUP (Cuban pesos used by locals).
1 CUC worth about 25 CUP, it will make you a good sum that could save your wallet!
Indeed, you will find in Cuban cafeterias (recognizable by their fast-food look , frequented only by locals , and mainly serving sandwiches, omelettes or pizzas) dishes at 10-15 CUP, much less than one euro . Knowing that these same dishes will be sold a dozen CUC in restaurants for tourists …
Admittedly, the quality is lower than in restaurants, but I bet your children will be happy to have lunch of a hot cheese panini, and this will significantly reduce your budget (from 10 to 20 times cheaper than if you went to the restaurant).
1. San Cristobal Cathedral
His full name is Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception . It is a majestic building with a Baroque facade , built in the 18th century by the Jesuits on the site of an old hermitage. Try to do it in the early morning or late afternoon to enjoy the calm, and quietly admire this masterpiece.
Also, the Cathedral Square is one of the 5 main squares of Havana and one of the most beautiful places in the city . Perfect for posing and having a coffee!
2. The Old Square
The ” Plaza Vieja ” is another must in Old Havana . It is a beautiful renovated square with eclectic architecture with several restaurants and cafes. It is on the site and nearby several nice stops: the microbrewery La Factoria , the rum museum , the chocolate museum , the museum of pharmacy and especially the Place Saint Francis of Assisi where you can climb the bell tower for get the most beautiful view of the city!
Unusual stop: a camera obscura located on the top floor of the highest building in the plaza that offers a 360 ° panoramic view in real time of Old Havana with magnifying lenses.
3. The Place d’Armes
The Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city Havana is lined by several interesting buildings.
Built in the early 16 th century, this is where the city was founded and in particular, according to what is said, the location of the Templete . It is a building that looks like a miniature Greek temple , which can easily go unnoticed, which contains a museum.
Do not miss the Palace of the Captains General which contains the city museum which presents the history of Havana since its foundation with period furniture, uniforms, different objects and photographs. Personally, this is one of the tours I liked the most because in addition to being a great expo complete, the building is a magnificent example of Cuban Baroque , with a very nice green interior patio .
A nice cool break that feels good!
Also the Palace of the Second in Chief , the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, is also worth seeing. The building first hosted a post, then offices and the residence of the Vice-Captain General of Cuba , before becoming a cultural center .
4. The Capitol
El Capitolio is another must-see monument , located on a busy avenue that can be spotted from afar. Built on the model of the Capitol of Washington , it was once the seat of the Cuban government and today hosts the Academy of Sciences .
Very photogenic , we find this building on a large number of postcards of the country. You can also admire the 3rd largest statue in the world , representing the Republic.
5. The Paseo de Martí
This is one of the most popular avenues in Havana : the Paseo de Martí , also called Paseo del Prado , is 1 km long and, like the Malecon , it never fails.
Departing from the San Salvador de la Punta Fortress, this beautiful paved and shaded avenue brings together locals, tourists and street vendors. You can choose from dozens of paintings , bring back little things as a souvenir or just relax and enjoy the happy scenes of Cuban life.
Neighborhoods of Havana
Havana contains 15 official municipalities , I will mention here only those with a tourist interest.
- Habana Vieja : it is the most visited district of the city , and rightly so. It is in Old Havana , a UNESCO World Heritage Site , that the main monuments are located . This is where you can get lost in the cobblestone streets following the frenzied rhythm of salsa at the corner of the streets …
- Centro Habana : Located just west of the historic heart of the capital, Centro Habana has the highest population density in Havana. Mainly residential, this very popular area has many bars and clubs , as well as Chinatown . I particularly enjoyed this area because it is popular and not very touristy: the scenes of everyday life abound there, the inhabitants are warm despite their poverty sometimes apparent, and it is here that you will discover the true Havana .
- Vedado : further west, the Vedado is a neighborhood with well-gridded streets, including the Columbus Cemetery . The Malecon finishes its race, which will leave you no doubt the opportunity to lose you in its alleys . Like Centro Habana , this district is popular and will allow you to soak up the daily life of Cubans .
- Revolution Square : slightly to the south , this small neighborhood encompasses the streets around the square. Here too, there are few tourists , prices are skyrocketing and it is possible to make beautiful meetings .
- Miramar : located just west of the city, it is a very upscale residential area . There is not much to see in terms of tourism, so take a look out of curiosity but do not linger.
Where to eat in Havana?
Van Van Restaurant : for the budget minded, this is an establishment that does not look like much but offers delicious local cuisine , in a decoration acclaimed by consumers.
Restaurant La Guarida : renowned gourmet restaurant and quite expensive. You will not be disappointed by the quality of service or the ingenuity of the dishes.
And more generally, head to the cafeterias frequented by locals, scattered by dozens throughout the city. If you are not looking for great food but rather an authentic atmosphere at (any) low price, this is definitely the right choice. My advice : Avoid the pizzas that are served … the worst I could eat!
Transfer from Havana airport
In order not to take the lead with transportation and have a reliable and safe service, I recommend you to book your driver in advance via GetYourGuide:
The one-way airport-city center is less than 9 euros.