Havana Essentials

  • Best time to visit Havana : January February February March April May July December.
  • Best Events in Havana : Festival of Golden Boleros of Havana (june), Carnival (July), Havana Theater Festival (August), International Ballet Festival and Lyric Art Festival (October)
  • Best beaches in Havana: Bacuranao, Tarará, Playa Mégano, Santa María del Mar, Boca Ciega, Guanabo, La Veneciana, Brisas del Mar, Jibacoa, Varadero

Best Bars in Havana by neighborhood

  • Bars in Habana Vieja : Floridita, Cafe O’reilly, Café Paris, Casa Agua del Tinaja, Casa de las infusiones, Ruinas del Parque, Cafe el Escorial
  • Bars in El Vedado : Bar Bohemio, Casa de la Amistad, Encuentro, Fresa y Chocolate, Madrigal, Magic Flute, Up & Down
  • Bars in Miramar : Kpricho Bar

Best Salsa Bar in Havana by Neighborhood

  • Habana Vieja South: Casa de la Cultura de la Habana Vieja
  • Centro Habana: Casa de la Trova, Gran Teatro de la Habana, Peña de la Rumba Callejón de Hamel, Teatro America
  • Vedado: Parisian Cabaret, Tropicana

Best Clubs in Havana

  • Habana Vieja : Home Museum
  • Vedado : Turquino Cabaret, Centro Cultural Bertolt Bercht, Fábrica de arte Cubano, Gato Tuerto, Cofee Jazz, King Bar, Salon Rojo, Yellow Submarine, La Zorra y el Cuervo
  • Miramar : Casú de la Musica de Miramar, Don Cangrejo, El Diablo Tuntun, El Sauce, Espacios, Opera de la calle, Sangri-la

Located on the northwest coast of the island, Havana is by extension one of the sixteen Cuban provinces, often associated with the province of Mayabeque. On the program: history, culture, gastronomy, music and much more! Havana has everything to please! When you leave the city, you can also easily refresh yourself on one of the many beaches east of the capital.

Things To Do In La Habana CubaPin
Things To Do In La Habana Cuba

How to get to Havana ?

Flights to Havana

Most airlines are located on the Rampa in the Vedado district.

AEROCARRIBEAN

  • Calle 23 n° 64, corner of Infanta
  • +53 7 879 7524

AEROPUERTO INTERNACIONAL JOSÉ MARTÍ

+53 7 266 4644 / +53 7 266 4094 /+53 7 266 1133 (flight information)

About ten miles south of Havana.

Good to know: since May 1, 2015, you no longer have to pay the 25 CUC tax at the airport before your return flight, this tax is now included in the price of the plane ticket.

havana beachesPin

how to get from havana airport to city center ?

From Jose Marti airport, several means of transport can be used to get to the city centre:

Getting from havana airport to city center By bus

There are two routes from the airport to the city centre: from Avenida de Boyeros (Avenida de la Independencia) to the University; from Avenida de Boyeros to Ciudad Deportiva, then Calle 26 and Calle 23.

A bus line mainly used by Cubans provides the connection.

It is paid in national currency, 40 centavos of national pesos, and the journey is not direct.

Take the connecting bus between Terminal 3 and Terminal 1 (domestic flights).

At terminal 1, ask for the omnibus that leads to Plaza de la Revolución.

The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours.

havana cubaPin

Getting from havana airport to city center By Taxi

By taxi, you will have access to public taxis, yellow cars with the inscription Cubataxi.

Allow 25 CUC to reach the Vedado district or the historic centre, the Habana Vieja.

You can also take private taxis, now legal since Raúl Castro’s 2011 laws.

Ask to see the driver’s license and negotiate, you can easily reach up to 15 CUC the way, while with the taxis of Cubataxi you will not have the choice, because it is a fare imposed by the company that belongs to the state.

Good To Know : all official taxis have blue license plates.

Getting from havana airport to city center by rental Car

By rental car, go directly to the counters of the different agencies represented at the airport.

It is recommended to book before departure.

AIR EUROPA

  • Centro de negocios de Miramar
  • Calle 23 n° 64 – Between Infanta and P.Vedado
  • +53 7 204 6904 – www.aireuropa.com
  • [email protected]
  • Open from Monday to Friday, from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Saturday from 9 am to noon.
  • One daily flight to Madrid.

AIR FRANCE

  • Between Infanta and Calle P. Vedado
  • Calle 23, n° 64 +53 7 833 2642
  • www.airfrance.com
  • Open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • One daily flight to Paris from José Martí airport.
  • Duration of the flight: from 8:55 to 9:50.

CUBANA DEAVIACIÓN

  • At the corner of Infanta and the Rampa
  • Calle 23, n° 64 – Vedado
  • +53 7 834 4446

IBERIA

  • Between Calle 76 and Calle 78 – 5ta Avenida
  • Centro de negocios de Miramar, edificio Santiago de Cuba (ground floor)
  • +53 7 204 3444 – www.iberia.com
  • Open from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm.
  • One daily flight to Madrid from José Martí Airport.
havana cubaPin

Get to Havana by Train

The timetables are unreliable and the journeys are really much longer than with the Víazul buses.

You might as well be warned, don’t have any illusions and Cubans will tell you themselves: the train is the worst means of transport in Cuba.

Electricity failures, train breakdowns, crowded wagons and cockroaches as surprise guests…

You will be entitled to almost anything! The only positive point: it is the opportunity to meet Cubans.

Two types of trains run on the entire railway network.

The tren francés, the fastest, the least uncomfortable (air conditioning, reclining seats) and the most expensive of the trains.

It was sold by the SNCF in Cuba, hence the name “French train”, but it is an old train; nothing like our TGVs.

Also remember to bring water and food, as there is nothing for that on the train.

Another possibility, the so-called regular trains, even slower (this is really a priesthood) and that we advise against.

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Havana Transportation : How to Get around in la Habana – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Train Station (Estación Central de Ferrocarriles)

  • Avenida Belgica, corner of Arsenal, Habana Vieja +53 7 861 2959
  • Box office open from 8:30 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday, Saturday from 8:30 am to 11 am, closed on Sunday.
  • It’s the main train station.
  • Reservation and purchase of tickets for tourists at the La Coubre train station, Calle Egido, a stone’s throw from the central station.

Towards Sancti Spírítus: departure every other day on a regular basis.

  • Count 13.50 CUC and about 9 hours of travel time.

To Santiago de Cuba: departure every 3 days with the tren francés (air-conditioned cars and comfortable seats).

Count 62 CUC and about 12 hours of travel time.

Stops in Santa Clara and Guantanámo.

With the regular train, daily departure at 8:30 pm.

The journey takes 14 hours and costs 30 CUC.

Stops in Cacocúm (Holguín).

Towards Bayamo: departure every other day by regular train.

Count 25.50 CUC and about 15 hours of travel time.

On Mondays, the train with a departure at 18:45 goes to Manzanillo for 27.50 CUC.

ESTACIÓN DE CRISTINA

  • Opposite the Mercado Unico, Centro Habana
  • Avenida de Mexico No. 7

The station serves Playas del Este. Terminus in Guanabo

havana cubaPin
Havana Transportation : How to Get around in la Habana

Arriving by Bus to Havana

Víazul is the national bus company that tourists can use.

The Ministry of Transport decided in 2008 that the Astro company could no longer be used by foreigners for their comfort .

but they are buses with correct comfort and they are above all much cheaper than the Víazul company’s buses.

For a small extra tip you can try your luck and get a seat.

Compared to Víazul’s prices, you will be a winner when you travel with Astro, even with a small tip.

However, since Víazul’s fares are still very cheap for tourists, the Astro bus solution is only worthwhile if you really have a very small budget.

There is also another company reserved for tourists, Transtur, whose prices are harmonized with those of Víazul but whose tickets can only be booked through local travel agencies.

Only Víazul is represented in the bus stations, but not Transtur, which usually departs from a specific point in the city (address given at the time of booking).

The services are the same, and the agencies will offer you either one of these two companies, depending on the timetable you are looking for.

The buses are comfortable and generally punctual.

It is advisable to buy your ticket at the latest the day before during the holiday season, so that you don’t end up on the road…

You should also be aware that you will need to arrive at the station at least 30 minutes in advance to check in your luggage, which is also a way of confirming your seat…

If you don’t stop 30 minutes beforehand, your seat is usually sold to people on the waiting list at lightning speed!

Important 

since 2015, it is now mandatory to show your passport when you buy your Viazul bus ticket; your first and last names are then scrupulously registered on a passenger list.

Without a passport, any sale of bus tickets will be categorically refused.

VÍAZUL ESTACIÓN DE AUTOBÚS

  • At the corner of Av. Zoológico, Nuevo Vedado
  • Avenida 26 1152
  • +53 7 881 1108 / +53 7 881 5652
  • www.viazul.com
  • [email protected]
  • The Víazul company serves most of the major cities and sites in the country.

Tickets can be purchased on the spot one hour before departure or in travel agencies.

Bus from Havana to Santiago de Cuba

3 daily departures to Santiago de Cuba

  • 00:30 am, 6:30 am, 3 pm.
  • 51 CUC for a one-way ticket.
  • Duration: 16 hours during the day and 13 hours at night.
  • Stops in Santa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín and Bayamo.

Bus from Havana to Camagüey

  • Allow 16 hours
  • 35 CUC.

Bus from Havana to Varadero

  • 4 daily connections to Varadero
  • 6h, 8h, 13h and 17h30.
  • Count 10 CUC one way.
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • Stop in Matanzas.

Bus from Havana to Varadero to Viñales

  • 3 daily connections to Viñales
  • 8h40, 14h and 11h25.
  • Allow 12 CUC for a one-way ticket.
  • Duration: 3 hours 15.
  • Stop in Pinar del Río.

Bus from Havana to Cienfuegos and Trinidad

  • 2 daily departures to Cienfuegos and Trinidad
  • 7h, 10h45 and 14h15.
  • Count 20 CUC for Cienfuegos and 25 CUC for Trinidad, for a one-way ticket.
  • Duration: 5 hours 35 for Trinidad.

Getting to Havana by Boat

MUELLE DE LUZ

Between San Pedro and Santa Clara

Habana Vieja

From this “Quay of Light”, ferries depart for the other side of Havana Bay to Casa Blanca (from there the train from Hershey to Matanzas departs 3 times a day at 6:11, 12:27 and 17:51) and Regla.

Every 20 minutes from 4:30 am to 11:30 pm for one Cuban peso.

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Havana Transportation : How to Get around in la Habana

Where to Stay in Havana

If you want to visit Havana, the Accomodation will make or break your stay. Though there are somes things to consider before choosing the best place to stay in Havana.

Here is the thing :

Havana developed from east to west.

The architecture therefore evolves significantly along the way, reflecting different periods and styles.

Habana Vieja north

Endowed with a very rich history, the old city, the entire Habana Vieja, has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.

It is home to countless monuments and buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

A considerable effort has been undertaken to restore the entire area and is continuing unabated.

It will therefore be particularly enjoyable for you to wander the streets of Habana Vieja, discover its superb monuments and visit its museums.

You will not stop admiring the beauty of its buildings and your digital camera may be saturated from the very first hours of your visit, because you will want to take pictures of everything! The northern part of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) stretches from the port where the Castillo del Morro fortress stands guard to the north of the bay to the picturesque Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza de Armas further south.

On its western slope, this area is bounded by the mythical Museum of the Revolution, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Granma Memorial.

La Habana Vieja south

The south of Old Havana is bounded by the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís and the Plaza Vieja to the north, by the Central Station to the south and by the Zulueta Avenue to the west.

As in the northern part of Habana Vieja, there is no lack of monuments and museums.

This area, however, concentrates a greater number of churches and convents, which are a reminder of the importance of the religious power that was omnipresent for several centuries in Havana.

It is also in this neighborhood that the illustrious Cuban historical figure José Martí was born; one can visit his birth house which has been turned into a museum.

Another national monument is the Havana Club Rum, whose headquarters are based in the Museo del Ron Havana Club.

You will enjoy discovering this museum if only for the tasting of old rum that closes the visit.

Centro Habana

The delimitation of this district is not always well defined, but it is accepted that Centro Habana includes everything west of the old walls, as far as Infanta Street, the border with the Vedado district.

To the north, it can be considered to extend as far as the Malecón and to the south as far as the train station.

This neighborhood is an essential stop for all those who want to immerse themselves in the daily life and realities of the Habaneros.

Superb colonial buildings, mostly decayed, welcome the most popular families.

Few tourist sites in itself, except for the Chino barrio, which is only Chinese by name (apart from its arch and its few Chinese restaurants), and the Malecón, a famous waterfront running 8 km along the north of the city.

El Vedado

The Vedado was a neighborhood of well-to-do families in Havana at the beginning of the revolution and is now a modern district of Havana.

It is essentially residential, although there is a lot of activity, day and night.

Calle 23, also known as the Rampa, has become one of the most lively avenues in the capital: bars, cabarets and nightclubs abound.

The urban plan of the Vedado, designed in a checkerboard pattern and articulated around vast orthogonal arteries, is directly inspired by the North American model.

The Vedado’s openness to the ocean and the Malecón, which runs for several kilometres along its northern edge, gives the Vedado more perspective and ventilation.

Further south, beyond Calzada de Zapata, is the “Nuevo Vedado” where many of Havana’s monuments and museums are concentrated, including the Plaza de la Revolución, the José Martí Memorial and the Colón Cemetery.

From the Vedado, it is very easy to reach Old Havana, which is only 5 km along the Malecón.

The casas particulares are legion there, especially in front of the university or on Calle 21 between Calle J and Calle O.

Miramar

The Miramar is the most posh neighbourhood in Havana and therefore in Cuba.

It is characteristic of the period of the neocolonial republic (1902-1958).

As for the Vedado, the architecture of its streets is very close to that of the streets of North America, because they all intersect at right angles and are not named but numbered.

The embassies and residences there make it a very chic area outside the downtown core.

Geographically, the Miramar is bordered to the east by the Almendares River, to the west by the Palacio de Congresos and to the north by the coast.

To the south, the Miramar is more or less bordered by Avenida 7ma and Avenida 19.

As far as rooms in the Miramar are concerned, the prices are the highest in the whole island, although this area is mainly residential: count 35 CUC minimum.

Not to mention the large taxi budget you will need to get to the centre of Havana.

You won’t find any local shops either.

Things to do in Havana

The Capitol

It’s the border between Central Havana and Old Havana. That building that was intended in the 1920s to resemble Washington’s Capitol, St. Peter’s Square in Rome and the Pantheon in Paris.

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havana cuba

It was finally built to house the Cuban Senate, although it is now the Ministry of Science and Culture as well as the Academy of Sciences.

It is still in a continuous restoration.

Capitolio La Habana Cuba @vinales galleryPin
Capitolio La Habana Cuba @vinales gallery

Old Havana is changing, and the most emblematic buildings are being restored, some are being converted into luxury hotels, capitalism is entering the heart of the Revolution.

Right in front of the Capitol are the cars of the 50’s, Americans, symbol of the city and the country.

Capitolio La Habana Cuba @cubanostalgiaPin
Capitolio La Habana Cuba @cubanostalgia

They are the predominant cars, Americans from the time of Batista’s dictatorship.

Now many are completely rebuilt, with a brightness that gives light to the streets of Havana.

La Habana Cuba @destinationchaserPin
La Habana Cuba @destinationchaser

Obviously it is the tourists who enjoy the walks around the city, nothing cheap by the way.

Alicia Alonso National Ballet of Cuba

It is perhaps the most spectacular building in the city, in the neo-baroque style, full of stone statues.

More typical of the buildings you see on the other side of the pond.

It was opened in 1834, almost two hundred years later it dazzles the beginning of the Paseo del Prado.

La Habana Cuba @jotaciambottiPin
La Habana Cuba @jotaciambotti

The current name is due to the famous Cuban dancer Alicia Alonso, currently director of the National Ballet.

Despite her age, she continues to be recognized throughout the world.

We never get to go in to see a show, but I think it’s really worth it.

Hotel Inglaterra

Together with the National Ballet of Cuba, it stands out for its cleanliness and architecture.

It stands out even more next to the rest of the buildings.

Hotel Inglaterra La Habana Cuba @Cuba street photographyPin
Hotel Inglaterra La Habana Cuba @Cuba street photography

It’s probably one of the most expensive hotels in the city along with the Hotel Nacional or the Habana Libre in Vedado.

Paseo del Prado

Yes, it has the same name as the Paseo de Madrid, and to some extent it reminds you of it.

Its central promenade, full of vigilant lion sculptures, allows you to look to both sides and enjoy some incredible, impressive, yet decadent buildings.

Paseo Marti La Habana CubaPin
Paseo Marti La Habana Cuba

If Havana maintained a state of conservation like European cities, for my taste, it would be the most beautiful city in the world, much more than St. Petersburg.

I love it as it is, but it’s a pity to see some real architectural gems in ruins.

Habaguanex has existed since 1994.

Paseo Del Prado La Habana Cuba @AnonymousPin
Paseo Del Prado La Habana Cuba @Anonymous

It is a project of Eusebio Leal Spengler that aims to reinvest the money raised by tourism in the rehabilitation of the historical center of Havana and in social projects for its inhabitants.

It is financed through the company’s restaurants, hotels and museums.

The good thing about it is that it does not intend to turn Old Havana into a tourist attraction park, but to revert it to the citizens who live there every day.

In this way, the recovered buildings are used as geriatrics, schools, care centers for the disabled, etc.

Museum of the Revolution

This is an essential visit to understand Cuba today, its past and perhaps the nearest future.

It can be divided into two parts.

First there is an exhibition about the history of the building.

Building of the Government in the time of Batista.

Museo De La Revolucion La Habana Cuba @vinales galleryPin
Museo De La Revolucion La Habana Cuba @vinales gallery

Then it talks about the Revolution.

There are models, photos, posters about the Revolution, how it began, the motives, what was there before, what was sought and what was achieved.

It seems obvious that to some extent there is propaganda.

But knowing how to draw straws, you’ll understand many things.

Why there is a trade blockade, who and what was the reason for the blockade.

On the outside, in the adjacent park is the ship Granma, with which Fidel arrived in Cuba from Mexico.

Obispo Street

Obispo Street is the street that takes you from La Floridita to La Plaza de Armas, a street made for tourists, but which lets you get lost in its transversals.

Calle Obispo La Habana Cuba @lowPin
Calle Obispo La Habana Cuba @low

Plaza de Armas

This is the oldest square in Havana. It was built almost after the foundation of the city. Right next to it is the Castillo de la Real Fuerza.

Plaza De Armas La Habana Cuba @ditaPin
Plaza De Armas La Habana Cuba @dita

Because it was so close, military maneuvers were held there.

If we talk about colonialism and the 16th century and look at the Plaza de Armas, we will realize that we are in Cuba, that it was a colony and that in some way, Cuba’s past is very much linked to the Spanish past.

This square is now a quite interesting second-hand book market, as well as cheap.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

This was one of the places that surprised me the most. It’s one of the oldest fortresses in the entire American continent. It’s right next to the Malecon, and the views from above are beautiful.

It now houses the Museum of Navigation, and this was the part that surprised me the most and I liked it.

Castillo De La Real Fuerza La Habana Cuba @carnotevePin
Castillo De La Real Fuerza La Habana Cuba @carnoteve

It tells the story of how important Havana was in trade with Europe, more so with the transportation of gold and silver.

The ships came from Mexico to Havana and from there they were escorted to Spain, usually Seville, to avoid attacks by English pirates and the English navy.

Havana was chosen as one of the most important shipyards of the Spanish empire, and the largest ship of its time, the Santísima Trinidad Galleon, was built there.

It was used to transport goods between Mexico and the Philippines. This ship ended up in the hands of the English. There is a model of an impressive size inside the museum.

You can see what the interiors of the ship looked like, and what each of its floors were used for. A real gem.

It also contains the Spanish treasures of shipwrecks off the Cuban coast. It is impressive to see the amount of silver and gold, the coins, jewels and ingots.

It is possible that this treasure represents a very small amount compared to what had to be there.

La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio has become so touristy that it has lost a certain charm.

Bodeguita Del Medio La Habana Cuba @jabmprPin
Bodeguita Del Medio La Habana Cuba @jabmpr

We did and we enjoyed an empty place of tourists and we could talk to the waiters.

Full of pictures and walls written in pen remembering who has been there, it is the trace of the past and present.

Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda or Nicolás Guillén passed by this little winery.

It is famous for its mojito, Hemingway has already written on the walls, “My mojito in the Bodeguita, my Daiquiri in La Floridita”.

La Floridita (at the beginning of Obispo Street) is credited with the invention of this cocktail, Daiquiri.

San Cristóbal Cathedral

In another typically colonial square, with a different tower from the other makes this cathedral somewhat different from the rest of colonial cathedrals.

Iglesia San Cristobal La Habana Cuba @veronicasblondediaryPin
Iglesia San Cristobal La Habana Cuba @veronicasblondediary

In the surroundings there are old women dressed in white or bright colors smoking big cigars, very photogenic, for a dollar, they will let themselves be photographed with you.

Mercaderes Street

This street is born in Obispo and dies in front of the Plaza Vieja. It is another of the most well cared for and recently rehabilitated streets. You will notice the difference when you walk around and get lost in old Havana.

Calle Mercaderes La Habana Cuba @giulia ottinoPin
Calle Mercaderes La Habana Cuba @giulia ottino

Plaza Vieja

It’s called Plaza Vieja and yet it seems to be the newest of all. Its origins are also from the 16th century. It was created shortly after the city was founded and has undergone changes, many changes.

Nowadays, buildings with Noucentista stained glass windows, which are said to be inspired by Gaudí, coexist with Baroque buildings.

Plaza Vieja La Habana Cuba @beckwhattheheckPin
Plaza Vieja La Habana Cuba @beckwhattheheck

It is full of terraces and restaurants, as well as strange sculptures and a very striking fountain.

On San Ignacio Street, which leads to the Plaza Vieja, is one of the most impressive baroque buildings in the city, and the best thing is to go up in its 100 year old elevator to the terrace, free of charge, and enjoy beautiful views of the city.

Calle de los Oficios

Calle de los Oficios was also born in Obispo Street, and died in the Havana Chamber of Commerce, opposite the convent of San Francisco de Asís, in the square of the same name.

This street is curious, because here is the only mosque in the city, recently built, 2012 I think I remember.

There is also the Arab house. This street is even better preserved than Mercaderes Street. The buildings have a strong colonial imprint.

San Francisco de Asís Square

This square and its convent make you imagine what colonial Havana was like in the 16th century. It is to feel the light of the square, on the different buildings that compose it.

Watching the balconies, as if you were in a movie of that time.

La Habana Cuba @PicsbyjairoPin
La Habana Cuba @Picsbyjairo

The Malecón

The Malecón is present in Old Havana, Central Havana and El Vedado.

It’s part of the daily life of Cubans, their little sip of rum packaged in tetra brik (no kidding), their guitars.

Some fishermen in search of a good catch.

It’s a very pleasant walk.

El Malecón La Habana Cuba @nats travelgramPin
El Malecón La Habana Cuba @nats travelgram

The music and atmosphere starts at night, although it doesn’t stop being alive at any time of the day.

The Malecón is also the place for jineteros, characters who come to you trying to sell you something, be it rum, cigars, taking you to a bar, etc.

Avoid them, you will end up buying a rum that is not rum, cigars that are not cigars either, and if you go to a bar, you will pay a bill as if you were partying in Oslo.

Come to those who are singing, if you feel like it, and enjoy the Malecón.

I’d like to give some advice here.

Camera and bag robberies happen on the Malecón.

They usually happen when someone grabs the bag or the camera with force and runs away.

El Malecón La Habana Cuba @tripaimPin
El Malecón La Habana Cuba @tripaim

It gets lost in the alleys and goes from hand to hand, you’ll never see it again.

Maybe they show up on a motorbike and pull the bag, just like before, you’ll never see it again.

Cubans tell you to be careful, not to let your bag or your camera be seen.

In the buildings in front of the Malecón, they say, they usually keep an eye out for lonely or absent-minded tourists.

When they see an easy prey, they warn their buddies who are hanging around on the Malecón.

So, go to the Malecón and have fun, but better if you leave your camera and bag at home, especially if it’s nighttime.

Organized Tours in Havana & Surroundings

You can go on wonderful organized excursions in the city or in the surroundings. Among others:

One day excursion in Havana

Tour of the Alamar housing plan. Visit to the Castle of the Three Kings of the Morro. Tour of Colonial Havana. Visit to La Mina bar. Free time. Lunch. Visit to Modern Havana.

Panoramic walk through the city

Visit to the main streets, museums and monuments of the historical center of the city. Visit to the Revolution Square and the Colon Cemetery.

Cuban Party

Departure to Guanabito Farm. The day will consist of a walk through the plantations, a cow milking competition, a cockfight, horseback riding, a Creole party and a meal of roast pork.

Guamá

Boat trip to Laguna del Tesoro, visit to the pottery workshop, lunch in the tourist area and visits to Playa Larga and the crocodile farm.

Varadero

On arrival, free time to enjoy the beach. Lunch and tour of the city.

Marina Hemingway

About 20 minutes from Havana. It is an ideal place to moor the yachts. Every year two important tournaments are held, in May and June: the International Tournament of Fishing of the Needle “Ernest Hemingway” and in August and September: the Tournament of the Castero. It is a very well equipped tourist centre.

Cayo Largo

It can be reached by plane. Upon arrival, a boat trip is made to Playa Sirena, followed by lunch and free time to enjoy the beach.

Best time to Visit Havana

The best time to travel to the Havana region of Cuba is from January to December, where you have a pleasant climate for hot weather and just a little rainfall.

Before you buy your ticket, remember that the country suffers from hurricanes and cyclones, whose season is from June to November.

The average maximum temperature in Havana is 33°C in July and 26°C in January.

Havana’s weather and climate are suitable for a sunny vacation.

Havana’s average climate figure is 9.0. This is based on several factors, such as average temperatures, possibilities of precipitation and the climatic experiences of others.

Havana has the tropical climate of the savannah. It is hot every month, both in the dry and wet seasons.

Average temperature and average rainfall in Havana or the periods when more rain or snow falls, here is all the information so you can be well prepared! Our monthly averages of climate statistics are based on data from the last 10 years.

Holidays in Havana

  • 1 January Commemoration of the Triumph of the Revolution.
  • May 1st Workers’ Day.
  • 26 July: National Day of Rebellion.
  • October 10 Commemoration of the beginning of the Wars of Independence
  • November 16 Anniversary of the Foundation of San Cristóbal de la Habana
  • For other holidays, please refer to the country profile.

Havana Weather & climate

Havana weather is an equatorial climate (Af) according to the Köppen-Geiger classification. 

Havana is a city with high rainfall. Even in the driest month there is a lot of rain. 

Over the year, the average temperature in Havana is 25°C and the average rainfall is 1248.6 mm.

Havana is not one of those destinations to enjoy all year round without worrying about details.

The city is always hot, yes, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about the date of the trip.

Culturally speaking, the city is great all year round, with events like the International Jazz Festival and the International Festival del Cine Pobre.

The high season goes from November to March, when the weather is drier, there are many tourists and consequently higher prices.

July and August are also considered months of high season because of the Northern Hemisphere holidays and, despite the risk of hurricanes, the city is full.

June, September and October are the months when there is the most rain, so avoid visiting the country during these months.

If you travel during this time, keep in mind that the weather may not help the trip’s success.

April and May are good months to travel to the city.

With the exception of Easter week, prices are affordable and the period is not considered high season.

May is a cheap month, and it is also quite hot. In high season periods, especially during Christmas, New Year, Easter and July, make your hotel reservations in advance.

Summer is a time of very high temperatures, with an average of 27ºC. In winter, the average is 23ºC (73ºF); although it is not so cold in winter, it is worth taking a coat for the coolest nights.

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Havana climate every month

The region of Havana has a tropical savanna climate. The average annual temperature in Havana is 30° and the average annual precipitation is 620 mm. It does not rain for 138 days per year, the average humidity is 76% and the UV index is 7.

 EneFebMarAbrMayJunJulAgoSepOctNovDic
Day26°C27°C28°C31°C31°C32°C33°C33°C32°C30°C28°C27°C
Night18°C19°C20°C22°C23°C24°C25°C25°C24°C23°C21°C20°C
Rain26
mm
26
mm
13
mm
37
mm
62
mm
72
mm
69
mm
89
mm
96
mm
82
mm
31
mm
17
mm
Raining Days1199121822212525211410
Dry days201922181381065101621
Sun Hours / day789911111299766
Wind Strenght (Bft)222222222232
Índice UV566777777766

Havana Weather in January

The average maximum is 26° during January in Havana and the minimum is around 18°.

In January it rains for 11 days a total of 26 mm and during this month there are 20 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in February

The maximum average is 27° during February in Havana and the minimum is around 19°.

In February it rains for 9 days a total of 26 mm and during this month there are 19 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in March

The average maximum is 28° during March in Havana and the minimum is around 20°.

In March it rains for 9 days a total of 13 mm and during this month there are 22 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in April

The average maximum is 31° during April in Havana and the minimum is around 22°.

In April it rains for 12 days a total of 37 mm and during this month there are 18 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in May

The maximum average is 31° during May in Havana and the minimum is around 23°.

In May it rains for 18 days a total of 62 mm and during this month there are 13 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in June

The average maximum is 32° during June in Havana and the minimum is around 24°.

In June it rains for 22 days a total of 72 mm and during this month there are 8 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in July

The average maximum is 33° during July in Havana and the minimum is around 25°.

In July it rains for 21 days a total of 69 mm and during this month there are 10 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in August

The average maximum is 33° during August in Havana and the minimum is around 25°.

In August it rains for 25 days a total of 89 mm and during this month there are 6 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in September

The average maximum is 32° during September in Havana and the minimum is around 24°.

In September it rains for 25 days a total of 96 mm and during this month there are 5 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in October

The average maximum is 30° during October in Havana and the minimum is around 23°.

In October it rains for 21 days a total of 82 mm and during this month there are 10 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in November

The average maximum is 28° during November in Havana and the minimum is around 21°.

In November it rains for 14 days a total of 31 mm and during this month there are 16 dry days in Havana.

Havana Weather in December

The average maximum is 27° during December in Havana and the minimum is around 20°.

In December it rains for 10 days a total of 17 mm and during this month there are 21 dry days in Havana.

Pro Tip

For precise weather information on every city in Colombia we recommend the WeatherSpark website which is very detailed.

How to get around In Havana

Bicitaxi

Count between 1 and 4 CUC depending on the race and the distance covered.

With the terrible economic crisis of the 1990s and the shortage of fuel, Cubans have brought back bicycles…

Authorized by the State, these two-seater bicycle taxis, distant cousins of the Indian risckshaw, criss-cross the streets of the capital.

BICITAXI YOANDRY

  • Calle Lealtad n°16
  • Between Animas y Virtudes
  • +53 7 866 6133
  • Yoandry is a spirited young man who knows Centro Habana like the back of his hand.

Contact him if you want to discover this neighborhood locally.

However, you should know that he only speaks Spanish.

BICITAXI ALEXEI

  • +53 5 236 6593
  • 5 CUC every 30 minutes, 10 CUC per hour.

Alexei knows La Habana Vieja very well and proposes to make you discover it according to a circuit of 30 minutes or one hour.

Dynamic, he also has a small hi-fi system integrated in his bicitaxi, a good way to listen to the latest salsa hits between two visits.

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Havana Transportation : How to Get around in la Habana

Cocotaxi in Havana

Resolutely original, these motorized tricycles have a rounded yellow shell, the shape of which reminds one of a coconut.

They circulate from 7:30 a.m. to midnight.

Two seats in the back and the driver who is active in front like a handsome devil.

Count from 5 to 6 CUC to connect the end of Habana Vieja to the Vedado.

There are several stations, in front of the Capitolio, in front of Coppelia in the Vedado, around the Cathedral Square.

Official taxis in Havana

All vehicles are equipped with meters.

You can’t be fooled, and the taxis are usually honest.

They park close to main roads, hotels, tourist centres and airports.

As an example, allow 5 CUC for a trip Vedado-Habana Vieja and 20 CUC to reach the Playas del Este.

Cuba Travel GuidePinPin
Havana Transportation : How to Get around in la Habana

Private and Individual Taxi

With the massive development of self-employment following Raúl Castro’s reforms in 2010 to boost the Cuban economy, it is now possible for any citizen with a driver’s license and a vehicle to become a private driver.

Or a taxi driver on his own account! They have to pass a specific (but relatively easy) exam and then they are issued a license that they have to display in their car.

Normally, the vehicle is safe because it has been checked beforehand by the relevant authorities.

However, take a look inside the vehicle before boarding and check that it is not too dilapidated.

The advantage of private taxis is that they are often much cheaper than official taxis and you can negotiate the fare much more easily beforehand.

This is an opportunity to ride in old cars that can be superb, like some American models, but also more dilapidated like many Russian vehicles less glamorous (and sometimes less reassuring too).

Illegal taxi

In these taxis, no license and even less meter.

On the other hand, you will find a fire bomb in case… The police have the right to arrest and punish them.

As a tourist, you risk nothing except being forced to get out and take another taxi.

To avoid confusion when paying, always ask the price of the journey you want to take before you get in.

However, since it has become possible to become an official self-employed taxi driver, illegal taxis are tending to disappear, as most private drivers prefer to have an official licence and work legally to avoid problems with the authorities.

However, since they have to pay a licence fee to the state, some continue to take clandestine taxis to make more money or simply because they cannot afford to pay for the official examination required to obtain the licence.

To find out if you are dealing with a legal private driver, check if he has a license plate that says “Taxi” and ask him for his official license nicely so as not to rob him.

Driver ELIO

Calle San Juan Bautista n°59

Vedado

+53 5 283 6178 / +53 7 883 6713

[email protected]

Between Calle 35 and Calle 37.

Airport transfer at 15 CUC, Round trip Havana/Playas del Este at 20 CUC, Vedado-Habana Vieja between 4 and 5 CUC.

Elio is a nice young driver who speaks good French.

He knows Havana like the back of his hand and will be able to advise you for your visits.

He has an official driver’s license and is one of the thousands of Cubans who have turned to self-employment following the reforms of Raúl Castro launched in 2010.

Elio has a fairly old car, a Lada from the 1980s, but it is up to standard and the engine is in good condition.

He took us on a tour of part of Havana in his vehicle and it went very well.

Finally, if you practice kitesurfing, know that Elio has been doing it for years and he will be happy to take you to Playas del Este if you wish.

He also rents with his mother two nice apartments in the Nuevo Vedado.

CUBA TAXI

  • +53 7 855 5555 / +53 7 855 5556
  • Official taxis.
  • 24 hours a day.
  • Count 4 to 7 CUC per race in Havana.

Rent Bicycle in Havana

Hotel receptionists, owners of special casas and the Infotur tourist office will be able to give you direct information about possible rentals.

Generally count 3 to 4 CUC per day.

Be careful however when you park your bike! An anti-theft device is not enough because thieves in Havana are very well equipped and your steed would disappear in less than two minutes.

In fact, you must take care to park your bike in parking lots specially designed for this purpose, where a security guard is systematically watching.

These parking areas are generally found near major roads, but ask the locals if you can’t find them.

You then only have to pay the guard 0.25 CUC to watch your bike.

This is the only way to avoid having your two-wheeler stolen, which also avoids having to reimburse the full price to the rental company…

Renting a Car in Havana

The rental system remains relatively expensive in Cuba.

Count between 55 and 100 CUC per day, depending on the model you choose.

For gasoline, the same price is displayed on all pumps in the country.

If you are looking for an agency, do not hesitate to go to the lobby of any major hotel in the city.

Prices are the same everywhere, because Transtur, the government company, manages all the rental agencies on the island.

Three branches of Transtur manage three different categories of cars: economical for Cubacar, more spacious for Havanautos, and more luxurious for Rex.

In terms of infrastructure, you will have no problem to drive around Havana.

The roads are of good quality and the signage is relatively good.

The Cubans will often propose to watch your car for the night for 1 or 2 CUC.

Do not hesitate to accept to protect yourself from theft or damage.

At the time of recovering your car, take your driver’s license, your bank card and your passport with you.

Good to know: if you can’t negotiate prices in Havana, it is possible to do so in other cities of the island, less frequented by tourists.

CUBACAR

  • +53 7 835 0000 / +53 7 273 2277

Cubacar offers the most affordable prices: Korean cars, Kia or Hyundai.

HAVANAUTOS

This is the intermediate category with brands like Toyota or Nissan Samsung.

REX

  • José Martí Airport
  • +53 7 642 6074 / +53 7 683 0303
  • www.rex-rentacar.com
  • Offices accessible at José Martí airport in terminals 2 and 3.

Rex only offers large luxury sedans: Seat, Audi, Skoda, BMW… Price accordingly and driver rental possible.

Jose Marti Airport

Havana airport, named José Martí airport in honor of the famous Cuban independence fighter, is located 15 km from the city center.

The airport is organized into 4 terminals, of which the 3rd is the largest.

You will find at Havana airport ATMs and currency exchange offices.

Internet access (for a fee) and public telephones are also available.

The airport has 2,000 parking spaces spread over 3 terminals and modest duty free shops for last minute shopping. Be careful, thieves are rampant in Havana airport. (We still haven’t mourned the loss of our camera!!!).

Keep your belongings (very) close to you and don’t let them out of your sight.

Getting to the center / beaches of Havana from the airport

Taxis are available at the airport exit.

To get to the center of the city, the trip will cost you between 20 and 25 CUC for 20 to 30 minutes in a cab.

To make your arrival in Cuba as smooth as possible, you can also book your transfer right now. This is where it happens!

Administrative formalities upon arrival

Upon arrival at the Havana airport, you will of course have to go through customs.

There, the customs officers will make sure that you have completed the necessary administrative formalities to enter the country (tourist card and insurance).

Since Cubans like to take their time (that’s an understatement!), the passage through customs can be a little long.

Administrative formalities at departure

When you leave the country, you will have to go through customs again at Havana airport, where customs officers will make sure that you have not exceeded the legal quantities of cigars and rum that tourists are allowed to bring back from Cuba.

Events in Havana (Full List)

Events in January

  • January 1st: At midnight on December 31st, the triumph of the revolution is celebrated.
  • 7 January to 4 February: Winter ballet festival called Pro Danza Center.
  • January 8th to 19th: Cubadanza, winter Cuban dance festival, at the Contemporary Dance Company.
  • January 28th. Anniversary of Jose Marti.

Events in February

  • International Book Fair at Fuerte de San Carlos de la Cabaña.
  • February 24th. Anniversary of the attack on the presidential palace.
  • Festival Del Habano

Events in March

  • Havana Biennial

Events in April

  • April 19th. Bay of Pigs Victory Celebration.
  • La Huella de España, Spanish dance festival, in several places and organized by the Spanish Embassy.

Events in May

  • May: the International Festival of Guitar of Havana takes place in several places of the city of Havana.
  • May 1st: Fiesta del Trabajo, includes a popular parade in the Plaza de la Revolución, with a speech by Fidel Castro or some of his collaborators.
  • May Cubadisco

Events in June

  • Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament

Events in July

  • July 25th, 26th and 27th. The attack on the Moncada Barracks is commemorated with a political speech and a musical and dance show in the evening.
  • Havana Carnival, mid July-mid August, all over the city.
  • Cuballet de Verano, summer ballet festival, at Pro Danza Centre.
  • Cubadanza, summer Cuban dance festival, at the Contemporary Dance Company.

Events in September

  • Havana Theater Festival

Events in October

  • Festival of Contemporary Music of Havana, in UNEAC and other places of the city.
  • Latin American and Caribbean Music Meeting, at Casa de Las Américas.
  • Oct 10th Commemoration of the beginning of the first war of independence
  • Havana International Ballet Festival, at Gran Teatro Internacional

Events in November

  • Marathon Maracuba Marhabana
  • Havana International Fair
  • Celebrations for the Foundation of the City
  • Havana Contemporary Music Festival

Events in December

  • Festival of the New Latin American Cinema, in several theatres of the city.
  • International Crafts Fair
  • International Jazz Festival, at the Casa de la Cultura de Plaza, La Zorra y el Cuervo, Jazz Caffé, and other venues of the city.

Best Restaurants in Havana

In Havana, we eat rather well since many paladares (private restaurants) have opened following the self-employment reforms of 2011.

You’ll find both beautiful colonial houses offering typical Cuban cuisine like the San Cristobal in Centro Habana, as well as ultra-design restaurants that seem to have been imported straight from Miami, such as Café Laurent in the Vedado or Rio Mar in the Miramar district.

But in general, with a few exceptions, state restaurants are to be avoided because the service is much slower and the quality of the cuisine is quite average.

Especially in comparison with the paladares where very creative Chefs are in charge and emulation is the order of the day, due to the competition between these different establishments run by private individuals.

Typical Dishes to Try in Havana

The joy, the explosion of flavours and the welcome typical of Cubans is also reflected in the colourful, sensual and mestizo food of this “pearl of the Antilles”.

Its variation is due to the fusion of cultures, presided by the Spanish (with the well-known Jewish and Arab component) and the African, but also the arrival of Chinese, Europeans…

preceded by the culture of the aboriginal “Tainos” who populated the island when Columbus arrived.

  • The Congri Rice cooked with red beans.
  • El Ajiaco Masses of pork with potatoes, yucca, plantain, malanga, corn and pumpkin.
  • Futú Fried bananas, grains and aromatic herbs. Dish of African origin.

see also : Cuban Food & Drinks: 26 Dish you need to know

Restaurants in Havana Vieja North

In Habana Vieja, in general, you will find many restaurants offering traditional Cuban cuisine and rather state restaurants established there for decades.

In this particularly touristy area, the emphasis is on authenticity, but it is not necessarily where you will eat best.

Finally, you should know that if you eat on the terrace, maybe after your second meal in the neighborhood, you won’t be able to hear the small music group that sings the latest hits from the Buena Vista Social Club or Guantanamera.

But who says tourism in Cuba, sometimes says kitsch folklore…

Good and cheap

Al Medina
  • Between Obispo and Obrapía Calle Oficios n° 12
  • +53 7 867 1041
  • Open every day from noon to midnight
  • Count from 10 to 15 CUC the meal.

Live music in the patio at the end of the afternoon.

Arabic cuisine, with classic dishes from North Africa, the Near and Middle East.

Even vegetarians will find their happiness thanks to the vegetarian mezze (8 CUC).

The setting is however much more attractive than the cuisine, but the whole is still good value for money.

Al Medina is housed in the house acquired in 1689 by Bishop Diego Evelino de Compostela to house the San Ambrosio College, the first college for the religious instruction of children in the city of Havana.

The red stone arcade of the building, the roofs and galleries, the large interior patio decorated with flowers and a vine that covers it entirely offer a synthesis of the Moorish style inherited from Spain, which strongly influenced Cuban architecture in the 17th century.

Poems by José Martí can be read on the ground floor and the first floor. The lesser-known poems are on display on the first floor.

One poem praises the Arab men and women and, right next to it, there is a long poem about the… hashish that the hero of the Cuban Revolution used to consume.

The restaurant has also become a meeting place for the Arab student community on certain nights of the week.

However, the place used to be a former monk’s convent, so…

DOÑA EUTEMIA
  • 60 Callejón del Chorro near Plaza de la Catedral
  • +53 7 861 1332 / +53 5 270 6433
  • [email protected]
  • Open every day from 11am to 11pm. Starters between 2 and 5 CUC,
  • Dishes between 7 and 12 CUC, cocktails between 2 and 3 CUC.

One of the best paladares of the Habana Vieja.

Here you can eat traditional Cuban cuisine very well prepared in a colonial-style house.

The terrace is very pleasant because it is installed in a small dead end particularly quiet.

However, don’t forget to book if you go there to eat at the weekend because it is often full to bursting point!

Excellent value for money.

HANOI
  • Calle Teniente Rey At the corner of Bernaza
  • +53 7 867 1029
  • Cuisine criolla. Open every day from noon to midnight.
  • Count between 5 and 10 CUC the dish.
  • Excellent value for money.

You will settle down in the room, which overlooks the Plaza del Cristo always very lively, or in the patio.

Typical Cuban dishes (try the chicken salad, a treat!), accompanied by a good beer (Cristal or Bucanero).

Digestion is also easier after drinking the excellent mojito (2 CUC), which is much cheaper than at the Bodeguita del Medio.

Music groups perform frequently.

MONEDA CUBANA
  • Calle San Ignacio n° 77
  • +53 7 867 3852
  • Well located a stone’s throw from the cathedral.
  • Open every day from 12:30 to 10:00 pm.
  • Count from 8 to 10 CUC for a menu.

Antonio, very sympathetic owner, multiplies the passions.

Fan of football, especially Atletic Bilbao, he also collects tickets from all over the world, especially those issued before the Cuban revolution.

As for cooking, it is conventional, but always very correct and copious.

Warning: don’t confuse this restaurant with the establishment of the same name on the corner of Calle Empedrado and Calle Mercaderes, Calle Ignacio, as it is much less good!

Good tables

BAR CAFETERIA CABAÑA
  • Calle Cuba n° 12 At the corner of Peña Pobre
  • +53 7 860 5670
  • Open every day from 10am to 11pm.

Small restaurant specializing in chicken dishes, faithful to the roots of Cuban cuisine.

Accompaniments based on white rice, black beans, potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Not really great gastronomy, but the portions are copious.

Nice view on the entrance of the bay of Havana.

BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
  • Between Cuba and San Ignacio
  • Calle Empedrado n° 207
  • +53 7 867 1374
  • [email protected]
  • Located a stone’s throw from the cathedral.
  • Open every day, from 10:30 am to midnight for the bar, and from noon to midnight for the restaurant.

One of the most touristy restaurants in the capital.

Not so much because of its cuisine, which is mediocre and expensive, but because the writer Hemingway used to eat there at the time.

The faded blue walls, covered with graffiti and black and white photos of the stars who passed by, try to revive the whole thing.

Classic dishes based on rice, black beans and other meats, from 9 to 20 CUC for a lobster.

In short, you’ll go there more to soak up the myth than the rest…

Narrow but still lively bar with mojitos at 4 CUC: the legend has a price!

LA DIVINA PASTORA
  • Cabaña Route, Parque Morro-Cabaña, La Habana del Este
  • +53 7 860 8341
  • Take the tunnel at the end of the Malecón, and take the first right at the exit in the direction of Castel del Morro.
  • Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from noon to 11pm. Menu 25 CUC.

Watching the sunset from the restaurant’s lawn, facing Old Havana, by the sea, and right next to the San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress, will remain in your memories for a long time.

Plan to dine early – good fish and seafood – just to be able to reach the fortress for the cannonball ceremony at 9pm.

LA DOMINICA
  • Calle O’Reilly, corner of Mercaderes
  • +53 7 662 918
  • Italian food. Open from noon to midnight. Dishes from 10 to 20 CUC.

Probably one of the best Italian restaurants in Havana.

Preferably prefer the terrace, to enjoy the lively street and the beauty of the heritage of Habana Vieja.

The portions are generous, and the pasta is naturally always al dente.

A weakness for penne alla pulcinella, with anchovies and a tasty tomato cream.

LA MINA
  • At the corner of Obispo Calle Oficios
  • +53 7 862 0216
  • Cuisine criolla. Open every day from 9am to 1am.
  • Count 15 CUC for a meal, from 7 to 1O CUC for a pollo asado or a bistec de ternura.

On the magnificent Plaza de Armas, the establishment benefits from a beautiful shaded terrace always pleasant.

In front of the big trees and the stalls of the booksellers, the urban agitation will not have any more hold on your neurons.

Settle down quietly and savour the moment…

Try the finely sliced pork in Creole or the tamal en cazuela (fresh corn, grated and seasoned with spices and pork meat).

It is also possible to enjoy a well-deserved ice cream in this heat, light years away from ordinary worries.

RESTAURANTE EL TEMPLE
  • At the corner of Calle Narcisso Lopez Avenida del Puerto
  • +53 7 866 8807
  • [email protected]
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Count 35 CUC for the meal and 10 % more for the service.

One of the best tables to eat seafood or fish in Havana.

Blue and white checkered tablecloths, blue ceiling, all within a stone’s throw of the sea: the maritime tone is set.

On the wall, photos of all the personalities who have eaten there, among them: Dany Glover, Bill Murray, Sean Penn, Omara Portuondo, Sting…

Charles Aznavour came, insisted the boss, but they didn’t have time to take a picture of him.

In short, an excellent address if you like seafood.

Best Restaurant in Havana Vieja South

ORIENTAL CAFEDEL
  • Plaza San Francisco de Asís
  • +53 7 860 6686
  • Open every day from noon to midnight. Dishes from 10 to 25 CUC.

A very elegant café-restaurant, with an architecture and careful decoration.

On the menu, fish with shrimps à la havanaise, lobster rings with lemon, chicken with pineapple and ham, cannelloni with ham and chorizo, and excellent French cakes.

Excellent menu and wide range of wines.

EL MESON DE LA FLOTA
  • Calle Mercaderes n° 257 Between Amargura and Teniente Rey
  • +53 7 863 3838
  • Located near the Plaza Vieja. Count from 9 to 18 CUC, depending on the dishes. Flamenco show from 8:30 pm to 10 pm.

The sign declines the maritime universe in all its forms.

Charming setting with its wine display, its exposed stone wall and the few barrels placed in the corners.

Also with replicas of galleons and other elements related to the world of the sea.

Once seated at beautiful wooden tables, all you have to do is order and enjoy, in the evening, beautiful flamenco shows.

FACTORIA PLAZA VIEJA (OLD WALL BAR)
  • Calle San Ignacio
  • At the corner of Muralla (Plaza Vieja)
  • +53 7 866 4453
  • Open every day, from 12 to 2 am.
  • Skewers from 4,75 to 15 CUC, dishes from 7 to 14,50 CUC, sandwiches from 6 to 10 CUC.

Terrace and interior particularly pleasant for this elegant brasserie with its yellow façade and beautiful Hispanic arches, overlooking the Plaza Vieja.

Choice between fast food at low prices – good tapas and hearty hamburgers – or more solid and well-cooked dishes, especially grilled dishes.

Beer lovers will be overjoyed, as they are homemade!

The simple sight of the vats is enough to convince you of this.

Best Restaurants in Havana Center

In this district less frequented by tourists than others, you will find mostly small shops for locals where you pay in Cuban pesos, and some very good paladares like the San Cristobal.

The advantage is that in this neighborhood, a little far from the tourist beaten track, it is a little cheaper than in La Habana Vieja or the Vedado.

For a change of atmosphere, don’t miss out on a Chinese meal in the mini Asian quarter around the corner.

In this district less frequented by tourists than others, you will find mostly small shops for locals where you pay in Cuban pesos, and some very good paladares like the San Cristobal.

The advantage is that in this neighborhood, a little far from the tourist beaten track, it is a little cheaper than in La Habana Vieja or the Vedado.

For a change of atmosphere, don’t miss out on a Chinese meal in the mini Asian quarter around the corner.

La Juliana

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image

A small pizzeria where you eat standing on a corner of the table.

It is always full because the pizzas are delicious.

Also spaghetti and creamy juices.

This address, very appreciated by the locals, is a small piece of authenticity not far from the Chinese district often a little too invaded by tourists.

Tientan

  • Calle Cuchillo n° 17 Between Rayo and San Nicolas
  • +53 7 861 5478
  • [email protected]
  • Open from 11am to midnight.
  • From 1.50 CUC for a soup to 20 CUC for a full meal.
  • Good and cheap

A change from the traditional Cuban cuisine for a very interesting quantity-quality/price ratio.

Restaurant on two floors with a terrace overlooking the street, the “Temple of Heaven” is certainly the most Chinese address of the barrio chino.

The house offers an authentic Chinese cuisine, the cooks being all from

the old Middle Kingdom. Lobster is also on the menu.

You can even try your hand at Chinese checkers with the owner.

Very Chinitos

  • Calle Dragones n°355 Between San Nicolás and Manrique
  • +53 7 863 3388
  • Open between noon and midnight.
  • Count from 3,50 to 5 CUC the dish.
  • Good and cheap

Chinese and Italian cuisine, depending on whether you choose the ground floor or the first floor.

Impeccable service.

Some examples of prices: chop suey with pork or fish 2 CUC, sweet and sour chicken 2 CUC, spring rolls 1 CUC, Chinese soup 1 CUC, arroz frito (Chinese rice) 1 CUC. 

La California

Opened for more than a year, this establishment offers an excellent cuisine prepared by a renowned Cuban Chef, Masita, who has made his mark in the country’s top hotels.

Between traditional Cuban dishes, varied international food (very good fish fillet with cream and delicious grilled lobster) and typical Italian dishes including creamy wood-fired pizzas and pasta, your taste buds will be served.

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But what really makes the charm of this restaurant is the place, quite magical.

It’s like being transported back to the early 20’s and 30’s with a period decor everywhere.

In the large sheltered and flowered patio, you can see hanging on the walls: an authentic transistor, a Singer sewing machine and a lighthouse bulb.

The “Bar Bleu”, an old-fashioned bar ideal for an aperitif, looks like a mini-museum because antique objects abound there as well, among vinyl records, an old clock, and vintage photos.

You’d think you were there.

As for the Colonial Lounge, a little more chic, it contains a record player as you don’t see any more and beautiful paintings.

After the meal, head upstairs to the living room, a smoking room that also serves as a wine cellar, to recover from your culinary and visual emotions.

To find out why the restaurant is called “La California”, ask to speak to Antonio, the manager, who will be happy to tell you the unusual story of this name.

Casa Miglis

Michel Miglis, motivated Greek half Swedish, and in love with Cuba had the idea to open this restaurant 3 years ago and it does not fail to fill up. He has created a fusion cuisine, at the same time Nordic, Mediterranean and Cuban, without forgetting vegetarians.

We recommend the Swedish toast speciality Skagen with shrimps or the very good ceviche, without forgetting the chili con carne or the marmite de la mer.

In the end, it’s a delight and a change from the usual rice with black beans…

You will also appreciate the pure and design decoration in the Swedish style, where the Cuban touch is never far away thanks to some vintage objects.

To digest, don’t miss a visit to the art gallery at the back of the restaurant, where you will discover works of art by local artists.

Very good cocktail bar. An address of choice.

La Guarida

  • Between Gervasio and Escobar Calle Concordia 418 +53 7 866 9047
  • www.laguarida.com
  • [email protected]
  • Open every day from noon to 4pm and from 7pm to midnight.
  • Count from 25 to 35 CUC per person. Reservation recommended for dinner.
  • Good Tables

Shot locations of the famous film Fresa y Chocolate, directed in 1993 by the Cuban director Gutierrez Alea.

One of the city’s best paladares (local restaurants) opened its doors in 1998 on the third floor of this beautiful decati palace, with a slightly surrealist atmosphere. Ideal for a romantic dinner for two, just to get back in the scenery.

Spanish speakers will also take a look on the stairs at Castro’s declaration (Patria o muerte): a whole programme…

Be careful when leaving the restaurant, the steep stairs can be slippery!

A sign in Spanish warns you with humour: “Be careful going down the stairs, we’d like to see you here again”.

Havan Gourmet Restaurant

  • At the corner of Calle Virtudes Prado n°309
  • +53 7 862 3626 / +53 7 862 3625
  • www.havana-gourmet.com
  • [email protected]
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Count between 10 and 25 CUC the meal according to the chosen restaurant.
  • Reservation recommended.
  • Good Tables

4 floors, 4 restaurants, 4 atmospheres, all in a beautiful colonial building of the Federation of Associations of Asturias.

The restaurant Gijones specializes in fusion dishes and good wines,

  • Bar Oviedo in tapas and cocktails,
  • La Terraza (on an open-air terrace) specializes in grilled meats
  • Bar Asturias nibbles on Cuban and Mediterranean dishes.
  • Xana, on the ground floor, offers Italian cuisine at low prices, the cheapest of all.

So you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants all under one roof.

Every Saturday you can enjoy a dinner concert (45 CUC) at the Gijones restaurant. Ask about the programme.

San Cristóbal

  • Calle San Rafael n°469
  • Between Calle Lealtad and Calle Campanario
  • +53 7 867 9109 / +53 5 339 4017
  • Open Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to midnight.
  • Count 20 CUC the meal.
  • Good Tables

The style of this restaurant is unique.

You arrive in a large colonial house that opens onto a long and beautiful patio where you can dine in the cool.

All around, the rooms have been transformed into smaller, more intimate dining rooms.

The furniture is period furniture and the rooms have been redecorated with contemporary art, antiques and also objects related to the Catholic religion and the Santería.

Not to mention the photos of the personalities who have eaten in the restaurant and who are scattered around; you will recognize the famous Beyoncé in particular. The mystic-megalo-arty set is however successful and you feel good immediately when you arrive at San Cristobal.

On the food side, it is a festival of flavours at the crossroads of international and Cuban cuisine. But our culinary favourite goes to the house speciality: Hemingway lobster at 50 CUC and to share.

A little expensive, certainly, but what a treat!

It is a lobster strewn with pieces of grilled lobster, accompanied by two shrimp skewers and two fish fillets.

For the small hungers, prefer the Mercedes, a delicious assortment of tapas for only 6 CUC.

Finally, you should know that waiter Mario speaks French perfectly and, here, he is nicknamed “Très bien” precisely for this reason.

In short, nothing to complain about. Very good address.

Taberna Castropol

  • Between Calle Genios and Calle Crespo
  • Malecón n°107 +53 7 861 4864
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • From 15 to 20 CUC the meal.
  • Good Tables

A restaurant on two floors with a different atmosphere for each floor.

On the ground floor, the white walls, the high ceilings and the pretty patio decorated with plants give the whole a hacienda look.

On the first floor, everything is much more chic (almost too much so) and you will enjoy the pleasant terrace overlooking the Malecón.

As for the dishes, nothing to say, because the cooking is really good and the portions are consistent.

The menu is varied; you’ll find wood-fired pizzas as well as grilled meats and local fish.

Attentive service. A good address.

Best Restaurants in Havana El Vedado

In the Vedado, one of Havana’s liveliest neighborhoods, you’ll find a jumble of state restaurants and paladares that have multiplied at the speed of light in recent years.

Some of them are really good, and even if it’s often a bit more expensive, it’s really worth it.

Our selection presents you with establishments that have given back to gastronomy its letters of nobility in Cuba.

Gourmet break

COPPELIA

Calle 23, at the corner of Calle L

Open every day from 10am to 7pm.

The Coppelia remains the most famous glacier in the country.

You can find its branches all over the island. Very popular meeting place for the inhabitants of the capital, customers settle on the 1st or 2nd floor.

Remember, however, that you are not in Rome or Naples! Nothing to do with Italian ice cream…

Coppelia’s ice creams are particularly sweet and the artificial flavours, you’ve been warned. 

Good and cheap

CARIBEÑO
  • Calle 21 n° 62, at the corner of Calle N
  • +53 7 830 0383
  • Open from noon to midnight. Between 4 and 10 CUC the dish.

The sign opened in the 1940s.

The price-quality ratio for the delicious Cuban and international cuisine on offer is one of the best in the city, which makes up for the somewhat sad setting of the place.

The homemade dish, the grilled pollo will delight you.

Note that in the evening, from 11pm, the restaurant turns into a cabaret.

THE CATEDRAL
  • Calle 8 n°106 Between Calzada and 5ta
  • +53 7 830 0793
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Count 5 CUC the meal.

This new restaurant with a simple setting is excellent value for money, one of the best you can find in Havana.

The menu is simple, consisting mainly of pasta dishes, classic Cuban dishes and pizzas, but the portions are consistent and the prices are really low.

A large pizza costs between 2.95 CUC and 5.95 CUC.

As for the mojito, it is really cheap at all: 0.95 CUC! And it’s good, we tested it.

A good plan for wolf hungry people and tight budgets.

EL PERRO CALIENTE
  • Avenida 23 At the corner of Calle K
  • Open 24 hours a day. 10 Cuban pesos for the sandwich and 10 Cuban pesos for the drink.

A little hungry? Head for El Perro Caliente, the home of the hot dog, where you can treat yourself to a small sandwich with delicious chicken or pork sausages for a riquiqui price, at any time of the day or night.

This typically Cuban address is also the opportunity to live a very local experience, far away from other tourists.

The proof: you pay in Cuban pesos and not in CUC. Enjoy your meal!

EL GRINGO VIEJO
  • Calle 21 no. 454, between Calle E and Calle F
  • +53 7 831 1946
  • Open every day from noon to 11pm.
  • Dishes from 6 to 15 CUC.
  • Ring at the black gate of n°454 Calle 21 until we come to pick you up.

The restaurant is located in the basement.

Once inside, you’ll feel like you’ve left Cuba to eat in a restaurant… American.

This very family paladar is regularly visited by artists from the capital.

Original dishes and good wine list.

NEREI
  • Calle 19, at the corner of Calle L
  • +53 7 832 7860
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Dishes from 10 to 20 CUC.

Good Cuban and international cuisine relatively elaborate, served on a shaded terrace of very pleasant Creole style.

Rare enough to be noted, the quality of the bread, almost faithful to our French bakeries.

PUNTO G
  • Calle 17 n°360
  • at the corner of Calle G
  • +53 7 832 8354
  • Open every day from noon to midnight.
  • Count 10 CUC the complete meal with drink.

A small unpretentious paladar at the corner of Calle G (hence its name) where typical Cuban dishes are eaten.

The portions are generous and the service is fast. Very correct prices.

LA ROCA
  • Calle 21 No. 102, corner of Calle M
  • +53 7 334 501
  • Open from noon to 2 am.
  • From 10 CUC the meal.
  • International cuisine.

Quite diversified range of meat, seafood, fish, pasta and rice !

Note the quality of the lobster. Special mention in the cellar with more than a hundred wines on the menu, including good wines from France, Italy, but also from Chile and Portugal.

The setting is simple and unpretentious, yet pleasant. Note that the restaurant turns into a comedy showroom from 10pm (5 CUC per person).

UNION FRANCESA DE CUBA
  • Calle 17, at the corner of Calle 6
  • +53 7 842 4493
  • Located near the Riviera Hotel.
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • From 5 CUC the dish.

The establishment has several floors.

On the ground floor, it is the restaurant of international cuisine; on the first floor, it is a pizzeria; on the second floor, it serves grills (parrilladas) and Cuban dishes with a terrace as a bonus.

Nothing to do with high gastronomy, but you get your money’s worth. 

Good tables

ATELIER

In a superb white-walled villa, a restaurant, with both a design and old-fashioned setting, is located on the 1st floor.

Works of contemporary Cuban artists decorate the restaurant room with great taste.

The proposed author’s cuisine is delicious.

We particularly appreciated the lobster escabeche and the chicken fajita.

A very good address.

CAFE LAURENT
  • Between Calle 19 and Calle 21 – Calle M
  • +53 7 831 2090 / +53 7 832 6890
  • [email protected]
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Between 30 and 35 CUC for the meal and 10 % more for the service.
  • Reservation recommended.

On the top floor of a large building of the Vedado, an extraordinary paladar with a superb view of the city from the terrace or the outdoor bar.

Inside, it’s chic, cosy and designed to the point where you feel like you’re in Miami at times.

The sails, the blinds, the paintings, the furniture from the 1950s, everything has been carefully studied and it’s really successful.

On the drinks side, it’s champagne, cocktails and Rioja wines, and on the food side, it’s a festival of scents and colours.

Your taste buds will love the seafood and meat specialities divinely prepared and presented.

We highly recommend the grilled lobster, which is delicious and hearty, for only 16 CUC.

On the service side, the ladies will appreciate José and Lorenzo, two beautiful dark Cubans, nice as all, but above all very professional.

So, it’s true, it’s a bit expensive, but the prices are more than justified.

It’s really a very good Vedado table.

LECHANSONNIER
  • Calle J n°257 between Calle 15 and Calle Linea
  • +53 7 832 1576
  • Open every day from 5pm to midnight, on Friday and Saturday the evening continues with music until 6am.
  • 30 CUC the meal.

No sign at the entrance of this restaurant, so it is not easy to find it but it is at the same time what makes all its charm!

Only the regulars, or the clever ones, have access to it because they have the address.

You have to climb a staircase to reach the door of a beautiful colonial house.

There, just ring the bell and an elegant waitress will come and open it for you.

However, it is impossible to imagine a restaurant hiding in this house from the outside!

The interior is carefully decorated in a design style, with beautiful contemporary works of art on display here.

The lights are subdued and the whole setting is truly harmonious.

On the food side, the French influence is very much present as the establishment is also based in Paris at 14 rue Eugène Varlin in the 10th arrondissement.

You can therefore recharge your batteries on a culinary level if you are homesick for it.

The wines will help you there because many come from France.

The bar with blue lights is ideal for an aperitif or a small digestive, to the sound of soft lounge music.

A good address.

EL COCINERO
  • Calle 26 – Between Calle 11 and Calle 13
  • +53 7 832 2355
  • Open for lunch and dinner.
  • Reservation recommended at the end of the week.
  • Count from 20 to 25 CUC the meal.

The establishment, opened less than a year ago, is original because it is installed in an old olive oil factory, a big tower that you can see from far away on the road and that you can’t miss!

To reach the restaurant, you have to climb the spiral staircase of the tower, which gives a bit of a lighthouse feeling.

When you get to the top, it’s up to you to see if you prefer to sit on the large lounge terrace or rather in the room, more intimate perhaps and less show off.

The decoration is tasteful everywhere and you can see it even in the plate where the presentation is refined.

Your taste buds won’t be disappointed either because everything, or almost everything, is delicious.

So much so that the French expats of Havana have taken over the place, but so has the local bourgeoisie.

Result: at the weekend, you have to think about booking if you want to dine at Cocinero.

A very good table to discover.

AT FRAGNOL
  • Calle H n°107 Between Calle 5ta y Calzada
  • +53 7 832 2146 / +53 5 3979 127
  • [email protected]
  • Open from 19h to 22h and later on reservation.
  • Count from 17 to 22 CUC the complete meal.

At the end of a small residential street in the Vedado, you can’t miss the yellow front of this establishment with a cat, the famous Monsieur Chat, drawn by the illustrator Thomas Vuille.

A few traces of yellow cat paws, painted on the ground, will show you the way, not far from the entrance.

Sitting on the terrace of a superb colonial house, you will have the impression of being received by a friend, or rather a friend because Chantal is the character here.

This colourful Frenchwoman, who is not lacking in guile, is the owner of the place. She is full of good advice about Cuba where she has been living for several years, and with good reason: she married a Cuban who works with her.

But above all, she has an undeniable quality: she is a cordon-bleu and she has passed on her know-how to her teams.

The house specialities are crab pie, grilled lobster, rossini beef fillet (depending on beef availability) and a smooth octopus for the main courses, and homemade profiteroles or flambéed pineapple for desserts. From the beginning to the end of the meal, you’ll be delighted.

It’s easy to understand why the delegation of the French Film Festival comes to dine there every year; in 2014, the director Christophe Barratier, President of the Festival, accompanied by, among others, actors François-Xavier Demaison and Pierre Niney were there, even privatizing the restaurant.

And in 2015, the festival delegation returned with Costa-Gavras as guest of honour.

In short, it’s a really good address, original and gastro, not to be missed.

RESTAURANT 1830
  • At the corner of Calle 20 Calle Calzada
  • +53 7 553 090
  • [email protected]
  • Open from noon to midnight. From 15 CUC the meal.

A restaurant facing the sea, installed within the walls of a superb 19th century mansion, with a pretty Japanese garden.

One of the best tables in town, run by the French chef.

Best Restaurants in Havana Miramar

In this residential part of the capital where the embassies are next to posh houses, it is rather chic paladares that have the upper hand.

The quality of the food is there and it is undoubtedly there that the most bling-bling restaurants are to be found.

It’s a change from the small boui-boui where you eat a piece of pizza in the street in Centro Habana! Another decor, another atmosphere…

Beware of the menu rates which are a little higher than elsewhere but even in the Castro country, quality has a price.

Good and cheap

CARBONCITA
  • Calle 3ra n°3804
  • Between Calle 38 and Calle 40
  • +53 7 203 0261 / +53 5 290 4984 (mobile) / +53 5 290 4948 (mobile)
  • Open every day from noon to midnight.
  • Count 10 CUC the meal.

The best Italian restaurant in the capital!

The speciality are the pizzas with wood fire.

They are prepared with love by an Italian, a real one, Don Ciccio.

Also on the menu: pasta al dente and delicious antipasti. And everything is at a mini price!

You can enjoy your meal without ruining yourself in an enchanting setting since the restaurant is located in a magnificent colonial villa.

You can eat inside as well as in the charming patio. An excellent address!

DONCANGREJO
  • Between Calle 16 and Calle 18 – Calle 1ra,
  • +53 7 204 3837
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • From 20 CUC.

Located in front of the seafront, is one of the most attractive options for lovers of fish and seafood (crabs, shrimps, lobsters, crayfish).

On weekends, live concerts on the large outdoor stage set a great atmosphere on the large terrace, not to mention the 2 outdoor bars where you can drink until you’re thirsty between two dance steps.

A sure value, gastro and festive at the same time.

EL PALIO
  • At the corner of Calle 1ra and Calle 24
  • Calle 24 +53 5 293 5842
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Starters from 2 to 6 CUC, dishes from 6 to 10 CUC, desserts from 3 to 5 CUC.

A small restaurant with a pretty terrace set in a pretty garden.

The welcome is warm and the dishes are varied, because you can eat local as well as international. Seafood, fish, meat, pasta…

You will have the choice.

On the wine side, the establishment has a very good menu composed mainly of Spanish and Chilean wines.

Javier, one of the waiters, speaks French rather well and will be happy to practice it with you.

Very good value for money.

Good tables

LA COCINA DELILIAM
  • Between Calle 13 and Calle 15
  • Calle 48 n° 1311
  • +53 7 209 6514
  • Closed on Saturdays. Open from noon to 3pm and from 7pm to 10pm.
  • From 25 to 30 CUC the meal.

Copious and original Cuban cuisine, like this delicious chicken mousse.

Impressive floral decoration and large garden.

LA FONTANA

Ring the bell at the gate and wait for us to open. Reservation recommended.

In front of the large entrance gate, you don’t imagine for a moment that such a beautiful restaurant is just behind.

And yet, as soon as the doors open, you are transported to another universe with a restful atmosphere.

First you walk along a stone path surrounded by small rivers with multicoloured fish, then you arrive in a large patio where there is a beautiful fountain (hence the name of the restaurant) around which the tables of the restaurant are arranged.

An outdoor bar with tapas and excellent cocktails is around the corner.

Close to the bar is a stage for concerts which take place from 8pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

On the food side, everything is good: beef, fish, seafood and even rabbit are on the menu.

In the evening, after dinner, take the few steps down to the end of the patio and you’ll find yourself in a night bar with a DJ where you can party until you’re thirsty.

Or how to make a 2 in 1 establishment.

All in all, this paladar is one of the most original paladars we’ve seen in Havana, and we loved it!

PALADAR VISTAMAR
  • Between Calle 22 and Calle 24 Avenida 1ra
  • +53 7 203 8328
  • Open from noon to midnight.
  • Dishes from 13 to 18 CUC.

In a design building by the sea with a beautiful swimming pool (swimming not allowed) near the terrace, you are here in a particularly refined paladar.

The restaurant specializes in fish and seafood.

The grilled lobster with garlic is a delight.

For more romance, a small room with an intimate atmosphere has been set up near the bar.

A very good address.

RIO MAR
  • Calle 11 Between Calle 3ra and Final. La Puntilla
  • +53 7 209 4838
  • [email protected]
  • Open every day from noon to midnight.
  • Count 30 CUC for a complete meal.

Located in the heart of the residential area of Miramar, this establishment resembles one of those trendy Miami Beach restaurants where you can find design, refined furniture and lounge music.

The owner is a Cuban who lives in Miami, so it all makes sense!

The most of the Rio Mar is its terrace and its sublime view of the sea…and the river.

It is indeed at this place that the Almendares river joins the sea (hence the name of the establishment).

So book a table on the terrace for a romantic dinner, you will love it.

On the cooking side, creativity is at the rendezvous and the original dishes will surprise your taste buds.

However, avoid carpaccio, where too much balsamic vinegar spoils everything.

Best places to Dance Salsa in Havana (live Music & Shows)

Casas de la Cultura
Every neighborhood in Havana (and Cuba) has its house of culture, where artists and neighbors meet at weekends for parties, concerts, poetry readings, music and dance performances
Perfect for those who wish to experience the cultural vitality of Cuba
We mention only the most active one
For more information, check with your hotel, or with the owners of particular casas who will be able to direct you.

Casa de la Cultura de la Habana Vieja

  • Calle Aguiar No 509, between Amargura and Brasil
  • Tel : +53 7 863 4860
  • Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 6pm.

Certainly one of the most active casas de la cultura in the city. Old and young people from the neighbourhood compete in liveliness.

  • Noches del Bolero, the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month.
  • Peña del Changüi and Peña del Danzón, on Wednesdays at 7 pm
  • Peña del Són, Thursday at 7 pm
  • Peña juvenil del Rap, at 4 pm, and Noche variada at 7 pm, on Fridays
  • Sábado afrocubano at 4pm, and peña Reggae at 7pm on Saturday.

Casa de la Trova

  • Calle San Lázaro No661 Between Padre Varela (Belascoain) and Gervasio
  • A stone’s throw from the peña de Yoya
  • Open from Thursday to Saturday, from 6pm to very late depending on the atmosphere.

Good concert hall, mainly for listening to sound

Excellent performances on Fridays in general.

Gran Teatro de la Habana

  • At the corner of Calle San Rafael Paseo de Martí
  • Tel : +53 7 861 3077
  • Box office open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday until 3pm
  • 20 CUC the entrance.

Built in 1833, it will see the greatest glories in the history of the show, including Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt

Prestigious companies, such as the Bolshoi, will also perform there

Home to the Cuban National Ballet, founded in 1948 by Alicia Alonso, the theatre also has several spaces for film and theatre

The spacious García Lorca Hall is the perfect venue for major ballet performances and symphony concerts, and is also the home of the National Ballet of Cuba, founded in 1948 by Alicia Alonso

It is a major centre of national culture and hosts the annual International Ballet Festival (first week of November)

Finally, note the excellent acoustics and original architecture.

Peña de la Rumba Callejón de Hamel

  • Callejón de Hamel
  • Between Aramburu and Hospital
  • Sundays from noon to 3:30.
  • Every Sunday, the callejón de Hamel comes alive to the sound of rumba, a dance that goes back to the slaves from Africa

It is an extremely popular festival, with dancers and musicians who devilishly link the sequences to the rhythm of the drums

A great atmosphere is guaranteed

It will also be an opportunity to discover the exceptional murals by Salvador Gonzàlez Escalona, whose work began in 1992

Drawing his inspiration from African culture and Santería, the artist stages the Yoruba cults, the Abakua sect, the Congo cult of Bantu origin and the Araras

The Callejón de Hamel, a space for community expression, has established itself as one of the most original artistic and alternative places in the city

If you are in Havana on a Sunday, we really recommend you to go to the callejón de Hamel, as it is a unique place, but beware of pickpockets, as they are legion on the spot despite the police presence.

Finally, note that it is in the neighbourhood that Angel Diaz founded the musical movement of the rope, which originated from the Spanish bolero.

Teatro America

  • Avenida Galiano, between Neptuno and Concordia
  • Tel : +53 7 862 541

It is a musical theatre of Cuban humour and folklore

The programming of the shows is announced on the radio and/or by posters on the doors of the theatre and, of course, spread by word of mouth.

Parisian Cabaret

  • Calle O and Calle 21 Vedado In the Hotel Nacional
  • Tel : +53 7 836 3663
  • www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com
  • [email protected]
  • Show every day from 10pm to 2am
  • Meals from 9pm for those who wish to dine on site
  • Entrance: 35 CUC or 60 CUC with dinner included.

Located within the walls of the Hotel Nacional, the Parisian Cabaret is a possible alternative to the Tropicana

Easier to access and much cheaper than its competitor, the show is no less good

Starting at midnight, dance teachers take to the stage and give a free collective class; the public is invited to join them on stage to compose a mini-choreography: atmosphere guaranteed until 2am.

It is recommended that you buy your tickets for the show directly at the Hotel Nacional rather than from a travel agency where it is always a little more expensive.

Tropicana

  • Línea del Ferrocarril and Calle 72, Marianao
  • Tel : +53 7 267 1717 / +53 7 267 0110
  • Shows every day from 10pm to 11.45am, music until 1am
  • Count from 70 to 90 CUC.

The Tropicana was once home to the high society of Havana and rich American businessmen

G. Cabrera Infante dedicates the first three pages of his novel Three Sad Tigers to this famous cabaret

The great figures of Cuban music played there: Perez Prado, the king of the mambo, Benny Moré, Rita Montaner, Bola de Nieve as well as the American Nat King Cole and the French Josephine Baker

Big shots from the North American mafia also haunted the place, at a time when Havana rhymed with gambling and prostitution

In 1959, the cabaret came under state control

Today, the troupe has 200 dancers performing on the open-air stage

Exceptional show, and big atmosphere guaranteed

Most hotels offer all-inclusive packages (transport, meals and shows).

Our advice for tight budgets: go instead to the Cabaret Parisien show, which is half the price, but just as impressive

The only real difference with the Tropicana is that the show is not outdoors, but indoors.

Havana Nightlife

Nightlife in Havana at Glance

  • Cabarets: Most major hotels have a cabaret. The shows are not lacking in sensuality.
  • Nightclubs and clubs: They are also integrated in the hotels or next door. Techno music, but also salsa accompanied by orchestras. With the help of tourism, jineteras and jineteros are very present.
  • Peñas, casas de la Trova, casas de la Cultura and fiestas: For those who wish to get to know Cubans, far from the overly touristy itineraries.

Why Nightlife in Havana is so particular ?

In Havana, when night falls and the lights come on, the capital comes alive… which doesn’t mean that there aren’t nice places to go out during the day.

Everything here conspires to make your night out the most beautiful noche feliz.
A few cuba libre in the company of Cuban friends, and “mañana será otro día”, as they say here.

It’s hard to know which is the best place at the best time. In Havana, the reputations of the clubs are made and undone quickly …

Ask the locals, they usually know which are the most lively places at the moment.
Unfortunately, rather reserved for Spanish speakers (although music is a universal language), peñas are probably the most authentic form of expression of Cuban culture.

These literary gatherings have their origins in the evenings that used to be organized in the artistic circles of Cuban society.

At these gatherings, people would gather with friends (usually at the home of one of the participants, sometimes in a café) to read poetry, sing and make music.

Many works of Cuban culture and personalities from the world of the arts thus made their first public appearance.

The peña is also a way to have fun, with family or friends, by getting together regularly to give free rein to what could be called the Cuban soul, most often singing in a choir, and unpretentious, with a musical accompaniment: piano, wooden crate or bottle struck with a spoon.

There are also more formal peñas, organized around an artist, but the public is generally called upon to play a rather active role.

At the moment of the descarga (common improvisation), anything can happen… The bolero singer can change into a rumbero, while the pianist starts playing the conga.

Without any further ado, here the list of best clubs in Havana :

Home Museum

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 4pm to 7pm and from 7pm to 4am.

Entrance from 5 to 15 CUC in the morning from 16h to 19h (depending on the band playing) then from 20 to 30 CUC for bands from 22h.

Located in the same building as the Teatro Cuba, a small jewel of Cuban Art Deco.

Good to excellent musical programming. The Egrem company indeed watches over the grain. You can quench your thirst in one of the bars on the ground floor or at the troquet on the first floor.

  • Between Concordia and Neptuno Streets…
  • Avenida Galiano & +53 7 862 4165
  • [email protected]

Turquino Cabaret

Perched on the 25th floor of the Tryp Habana Libre Hotel, this establishment takes its name from Mount Pico Turquino located on the Sierra Maestra: it is the highest peak in Cuba.

And you will see, indeed, that the panorama is exceptional from the cabaret.

Just for that alone, the place is worth the detour. After the show or concert, you can go to the disco.

As for the clientele, the Turquino remains one of the most distinguished nightclubs in Havana.

  • Calle L, between Calle 23 and Calle 25
  • +53 7 834 6100
  • Open from 10:30 pm to 3 am. Entrance 10 CUC.

Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht

In this cultural center, the atmosphere is always good.

Concerts take place around 9pm every evening.

On Friday and Saturday, it is then a DJ who takes over from 1am.

If you’re feeling hungry, you can have a sandwich (3 CUC) in the cafeteria (open from 11.30 pm to 2 am) located outside on the esplanade, at the top of the stairs.

In any case, you should know that when the DJ settles down on the turntables, the track gets hot and you dance until you’re thirsty under the spotlights.

Trendy Cuban clientele.

  • Calle 13, corner of Calle I
  • +53 7 832 9359
  • Entry from 5 to 10 CUC.

Fábrica de Arte cubano

Open early 2014, this is the new trendy place in Havana.

The brand new design places, with their immaculate white walls are sublime.

Installed on several floors, this “Cuban art factory” bears its name well, because not only do you discover works of art by contemporary Cuban artists – sometimes a little provocative – as you wander through the different rooms, but you can also listen to local stars singing live, like the superb concert given by Omara Portuondo, the diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, during our visit.

Several bars are set up beyond and you’ll even find one with good espresso coffee and cakes.

The nearby terrace is a great place to get some fresh air.

The only criticism that can be made of this establishment is the system of payment for drinks: at the entrance you are given a card to be stamped each time you drink and you pay at the end…

But if you lose the card, you have to pay 30 CUC at the exit obligatorily, that is to say the totality of the potential consos, even if you consumed less and, do not dream, it is non-negotiable.

A little complicated and stressful as a system because you always wonder if you have not forgotten the card somewhere, between two rooms and, here, it’s big!

But if not, nothing to complain about, the site is exceptional and the idea is original.

At times, it feels a bit like Art Basel in Miami or in the middle of a Fiac in Paris. Don’t miss this new Cuban-Alternative place when you visit the capital.

  • Calle 26, at the corner of Calle 11
  • Open Thursday to Saturday from 8pm to 4am, Sunday from 8pm to 2am. Entrance 2 CUC.

Gato Tuerto

Mythical place of the artistic community of Havana between the 1970s and early 1980s.

Postmodern decor, for a music essentially focused on the rope and the bolero.

Piano bar and concerts every Friday and Saturday from 11.30 pm.

Restaurant accessible on the first floor (from noon to midnight); you will enjoy its colourful walls where paintings or photos of local artists are hung and don’t miss the beautiful view of the Malecón.

  • Calle O 14, between Calle 17 and Calle 19
  • +53 7 838 2696
  • Open from 10pm to 4am.
  • Entrance 5 CUC.
  • From 20 CUC the meal in the restaurant upstairs.

Coffee Jazz

The Irakere group and its leader Chucho Valdés, often performed there.

Today, the new generation is taking over.

From 1am, it’s time for disco and DJ.

Trendy and sophisticated atmosphere with a superb view of the Malecón thanks to the large bay window.

Beware of the slightly steep stairs on your way out, especially if you’ve been drinking a lot of mojitos…

  • Paseo, corner of Avenida 1ra
  • Open from noon to 2am.
  • Entrance: 10 CUC from 8.30 pm (drinks included).
  • Attention, the concert usually starts at 11 pm.

King Bar

A small bar where the dance floor lights up from 10pm on weekends.

The DJ plays the best salsa and international hits in a crazy atmosphere where everyone dances tightly together.

This bar is home to most of Havana’s gay male community and it’s a big flirting spot.

But straight guys are also really welcome in a good-natured party spirit, a bit like the Queen in Paris in the belle époque.

The mischievous spirits won’t fail to laugh when they look at the very symbolic logo of the establishment…

Proof that mentalities are changing towards the gay community in Cuba.

Mariela Castro, great activist against homophobia is not for nothing!

  • Calle 23Between Calle E and D
  • +53 7 833 0556
  • Open until 3:00.

Salon Rojo

Small hall combining old style and more modern trends. Proximity assured with the artists. Not negligible, the bar offers an excellent selection of cocktails.

  • Calle 21, between Calle N and Calle O
  • +53 7 834 6560
  • Open every day from 10pm to 4am.
  • Entrance from 10 CUC (without consumption) to 20 CUC (with consumption).Prices vary according to the concerts.
  • Matinées : Friday and Sunday from 4 pm to 9 pm.

Yellow Submarine

Who said that in Cuba we don’t like Rock? It’s in this submarine-shaped bar that all the Rock fans in Havana meet.

The Beatles are largely in the spotlight and you can meet real people who could easily be confused with members of Led Zeppelin.

That’s right! In Havana, we also like Rock. Fans will love it.

  • Calle 17 at the corner of Calle 6
  • Open from Tuesday to Sunday. Free from 2pm to 8pm.
  • Paid admission from 9pm to 2am; the rate varies according to the notoriety of the group.

La Zorra y el Cuervo

Located on the Rampa, this club, with an atmosphere both friendly and intimate, is mainly oriented towards jazz.

First performance from 11pm. One of the most interesting addresses in this area with the Jazz café. A real pleasure for the ears. Jazz lovers will be delighted!

  • Calle 23 no. 155, between Calle N and Calle O
  • +53 7 833 2402
  • Open from 10pm to 2am. Admission: between 10 and 20 CUC depending on the concert (two drinks included).

Casa de la Música

Housed in a superb building in the Miramar district, this house of music generally presents good bands. Very varied programming, covering all Cuban musical genres.

Above, the Diablo Tun Tun to extend the night. Egrem shop, also accessible to leave with the instrument of your choice.

  • Avenida 35, corner of Calle 20, Miramar Playa
  • +53 7 204 0447
  • [email protected]
  • Open from 5pm to 9pm and 11pm to 3am.
  • Admission from 10 to 20 CUC depending on the concerts.

Don Cangrejo

Admittedly, it’s a bit far, if you stay in the Vedado or in the centre of Havana, but to party and listen to live music in the open air, in an atmosphere worthy of a big music festival or Ibiza, this is really the place to come

Concerts by well-known and renowned Cuban artists take place from Thursday to Friday from 10 pm, setting the mood from a large stage overlooking the terrace where the spectators are seated

We dance, drink a good mojito at one of the two large outdoor bars and have fun until the end of the night, right by the water..

The Don Cangrejo is right on the seafront, which makes the place all the more magical.

  • Between Calle 16 and Calle 18
  • Calle 1ra
  • Tel : +53 7 204 3837
  • Thursday to Friday from 10pm to 4am. Entrance: from 5 to 10 CUC, depending on programming.

El Diablo Tuntun

The Casa de la Música de Miramar is the perfect combination of piano bar and salsa, but above all it is the epicentre of reggaeton in Havana

A lot of people are there (especially from 3am, when the Casa de la Música closes), perfectly aware of the very caliente atmosphere

A good way to immerse yourself in the delirium of Cuban parties and to extend your evening until late at night.

  • At the corner of Calle 35, Calle 20, Miramar
  • Tel : +53 7 204 0447
  • Open every day from 11pm to 6am
  • Entrance at 5 CUC in the morning (from 15h to 20h) and from 10 to 15 CUC in the evening
  • 2 concerts per day: the first in the morning, the second in the evening

El Sauce

A large outdoor bar with a huge garden that has a capacity of 1000 seats

The musical program is different from what is traditionally found in Havana’s concert halls and discos

The boss of the place, the famous and very nice actor Luis Alberto García shouts it loud and clear “Here you will never hear a note of reggaeton”

So we come here to listen to Cuban fusion music, jazz and other music of the moment

On Sunday afternoons, it’s the discotheque “la Maquina de la Melancolia”: this party that starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm is dedicated to people over 30 years old

The retro and disco music, with Luis Alberto García at the controls, is a delight! We had a lot of fun and we highly recommend you to go

Also, there is a small restaurant on site that serves traditional Cuban cuisine at a fair price (between 3 and 6 CUC per dish)

A good address.

  • Avenida 9na
  • Between Calle 120 and Calle 122
  • Tel : +53 7 209 2261
  • Open Tuesday to Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday until 1am, Saturday until 2am, Sunday until 10pm
  • Admission: 2 CUC but prices may vary according to the fame of the bands playing
  • Cocktails at 2 CUC

Espacios

This is one of the most popular night bars in Havana at the moment and it is also one of our favorites

Located in a large house, this bar has several areas (hence the name) including pleasant lounges in cosy rooms and a beautiful patio with tropical vegetation that immediately immerses you in a holiday atmosphere

The outdoor bar only prolongs this feeling

A pure moment of happiness when you enjoy your mojito or Cuba libre

Concerts take place on certain evenings, in which case you have to pay admission (2 CUC), but on that evening you are entitled to a free tapas set

When you’re there, keep an eye out between cocktails because the singer Raúl Paz is a regular there – we’ve met him there! – and even one of Fidel Castro’s sons, it seems

In short, Espacios is a sure bet and it could well become the HQ for your Havana night trips.

Opera de la Calle

Created by a Cuban tenor, this cultural space with bar and restaurant is really original because it is the only one where you can see open-air operas.

They are modern operas in a contemporary style and it is worth the detour. Performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays only. The rest of the week, various concerts take place. No performances on Monday and Tuesday Piano bar on Wednesdays.

  • Calle 4 Between Avenida 7ma and Avenida 9na
  • Tel : +53 7 207 6885
  • Open every day from noon to midnight.

Sangri-la

A night bar where the track gets very fast while the best Cuban songs of the moment but also international hits resound

Fiesta guaranteed! Be careful not to leave your stuff lying around on a chair while dancing though, as robberies have been reported.

  • Avenida 19 – At the corner of Calle 42
  • Open from 10 pm to 6 am

Cinemas

A land of cinema and an essential cultural vector, cinema is surprisingly one of your best chances to blend into Cuban society

Cinema tickets being affordable (2 to 3 Cuban pesos or 0.15 CUC), the seventh art is very popular among the inhabitants of Havana

In spite of the schedules, the Cubans usually enter after the beginning of the film: continuous coming and going is guaranteed! The show is also in the room, people participating in the session aloud, whistling or laughing loudly without worrying about their neighbors..

Here, a “shush” would be incongruous, even unthinkable.

Every year during the first half of December, Havana hosts the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (www.habanafilmfestival.com); an unmissable event for Latin American producers, directors and artists.

The Festival del Cinema Pobre in Gibara in April is one of the fastest growing cultural events in Cuba in recent years.

Cuba also promotes foreign film production, with a strong theatrical success of European and North American films

Every year, in April or May, the French Film Festival takes place

Organized since 1992 by the director Christophe Barratier – we owe him the film Les Choristes (2004) – and his associate Nouredine Essadi, with the constant support of the Alliance française de Cuba and the French embassy in Cuba, this festival is today considered as the great annual meeting of French culture in Cuba

It is the only film festival that crosses the entire island of Cuba, all the way to Santiago de Cuba, since the French films in the program are screened in many cinemas in Cuba for several weeks after the launch of the festival in Havana

Illustrious personalities from the French cinema world come to present their films in the Cuban capital (Isabelle Huppert in 2012, Sandrine Bonnaire in 2013, François-Xavier Demaison in 2014, Costa-Gavras in 2015).

To find out all about the French Film Festival in Cuba, whose 18th edition took place in 2015, go to: www.cinefrances.com

CINEMA LA RAMPA

  • Calle 23 n°111, at the corner of Calle O
  • Tel : +53 7 878 6146
  • Closed on Wednesdays.

Offers retrospectives and houses the archives of Cuban cinema.

CINEMA RIVIERA

  • Calle 23 n°507, between Calle G and Calle H
  • Tel : +53 7 830 9564

Latin American, North American and European films

Also concerts.

CINEMATECA CHARLES CHAPLIN

  • Calle 23 n°1157, between Calle 10 and Calle 12
  • Tel : +53 7 831 1101

A large hall and a particularly interesting programme drawing on a rich archive collection

It is one of the institutions that supports the Festival del nuevo cine latino-americano and the Festival du cinéma français

Don’t hesitate to call to find a Cuban film that you have been wanting to see for a long time.

CINEMA YARA

  • Calle 23 and Calle L
  • Tel : +53 7 832 9430

Programming of American films and art films.

HABANA CAFE

  • Paseo, between Calle 1 and Calle 3
  • In the Hotel Melia Cohiba
  • Tel : +53 7 833 3636
  • Open from 8pm to 2:30am
  • Entrance from 10 to 15 CUC.

Installed within the walls of the Meliá Cohiba Hotel

1950s retro decor, with some old American cars (Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick) and photos of Hemingway in the background

Concerts starting at 10pm

Good to know, the best bands of the Cuban scene (Azur Negra, NG La Banda and Los Van Van) usually play on Sunday night from 11pm

Clientele almost exclusively tourist.

PEÑA DE LA UNEAC

  • At the corner of Calle H, Vedado – Calle 17
  • Open every Wednesday, between 5 and 8 pm

Rumba and bolero alternating depending on the week.

To penetrate the heart of the cultural life

The peña sits within the walls of the Uneac (Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba).

TEATRO AMADEO ROLDAN

  • Calle Calzada no
  • 512, between Calle D and Calle E
  • Tel : +53 7 832 1168

Its two concert halls with excellent acoustics delight music lovers

Home to the National Symphony Orchestra, it hosts classical music concerts, especially on Sundays

Latin jazz is also performed there.

TEATRO MELLA

  • Calle Línea no
  • 657, between Calle A and Calle B
  • Tel : +53 7 830 5651

Shows essentially turned towards ballet

You can also see the remarkable performances of the Conjunto Folklórico, occasional plays and sessions dedicated to music halls (Humour Festival).

TEATRO NACIONAL DE CUBA

  • Calle Paseo, corner of Calle 39 (Plaza de la Revolución)
  • Tel : +53 7 878 3193
  • Theatrical, choreographic and musical programming

The two main halls: Covarrubias (about 800 people) and Avellaneda (2,500)

The ensemble is completed in the basement by a café-cantante with excellent artists and a cabaret on the top floor.

Miramar

TEATRO KARL MARX
  • Avenida 1ra, at the corner of Calle 10
  • Tel : +53 7 203 0801

As ugly as one could wish, but huge (5,000 seats), it was restored in 1975 to host the first congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (before the Palace of Conventions was built), it hosted memorable shows, such as that of the Russian ensemble Moïsséiev, which found there a stage big enough for its developments

Today under-used, the maintenance of this monster is probably too expensive, and is preferably reserved for concerts that attract crowds – salsa groups (Irakere, NG la Banda, etc.), singers from the Nueva Trova (Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez) and, on Sunday mornings, it is the turn of children’s shows.

Theaters

Theatrical performances are usually held on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 pm, Sunday at 5 pm

Sunday mornings are reserved for children

At the theater, the show is also in the hall: people talk, gesticulate, arrive late and greet friends

But, above all, we don’t hesitate to let the artists know what we think of their performance..

If the play doesn’t please us, we get up and leave without waiting for the curtain to fall!

Best Bars in Havana: Café, Cocktails & Rooftops

It is in the Habana Vieja that you will find the most pleasant cafés to relax in the late afternoon, but also lively bars to party late (but rarely beyond midnight due to neighbourhood problems).

In the Vedado the afternoons are quieter, but once night falls the atmosphere is more festive and the bars close much later than in Old Havana.

Bar el Floridita

It is impossible to omit the address: in the 1930s and 1940s, a plethora of artists followed one another there.

In the front row of them, Ernest Hemingway who spent his evenings there, quietly sipping the house daïquiri.

A statue pays homage to the writer.

Because of its past, the Floridita inevitably attracts many tourists, because it is an unmissable place in Havana.

  • At the corner of Monserrate
  • Calle Obispo n° 557 & +53 7 867 1300
  • www.floridita-cuba.com/
  • [email protected]
  • Open every day from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm.

Cafe O’reilly

Two possibilities: either you can normally sit at the bar while sipping your beer, or you can climb up the beautiful wrought iron spiral staircase to the first floor.

At this level, the tables on the balconies give a small glimpse of the street scene (the café is close to the cathedral).

Indeed, Havana is almost like a theatre.

  • Calle O’Reilly n° 203
  • Open every day from 10 am to midnight.

Cafe Paris

Placed in the heart of the Habana Vieja, the world generally hurries to the counter from the opening until very late.

Excellent cocktails in general and good music in particular

The small hungers will be satisfied with a pizza or other similar odds and ends.

  • Calle Obispo, corner of San Ignacio
  • Open every day until midnight. Cocktails from 4 to 5 CUC.
  • Opened in 1924, the café faces the Ambos Mundos Hotel.

Casa del Agua Tinaja

The most original shop in the city, La Tinaja (the jar), where you can buy filtered water for just a few coins, as a souvenir of the old casas del agua (water houses).

The Havanese used to get their drinking water there.

Pedro Pablo Oropeca, the 71-year-old boss, has been working at the Tinaja since 1960 and he is a real character!

He will surely want you to take a picture of him, tell you lots of anecdotes and explain to you that he firmly believes in the virtues of his filtered water, much better than bottled water according to him.

If you linger a little while in the shop, you will see that Cubans parade to the counter to buy a glass of water.

It is a show of local life that is really simple and authentic. A unique address that we recommend.

  • Between Calle Oficio and Calle Mercaderes
  • Calle Obispo n°109
  • Open during the day only. 25 cents convertible peso for a glass of filtered water.

Casa de las Infusions

Formerly known as Columnata Egipciana, this house has two superb interior patios, havens of freshness and discretion.

The terrace allows you to observe the passers-by and soak up the atmosphere of Old Havana.

You will find there, at quite affordable prices, a wide choice:

  • infusions and teas
  • coffee in all its forms (cappuccino, cinnamon, iced or hot, coffee with old rum)
  • excellent cocktails (2 CUC on average)
  • natural fruit juices (1.50 CUC)
  • ice creams
  • cakes
  • sandwiches (from 1.75 to 2.75 CUC).

You will also appreciate to let yourself be lulled by the pieces played by the pianist at the end of the afternoon.

A very pleasant address.

  • Between Calle Obispo and Calle Obrapía
  • Calle Mercaderes n°109
  • +53 7 864 9013
  • Open every day from 9am to 9pm.

Ruinas del Parque

Next to the square with the statue of Sancho Panza, a pleasant open-air bar, with concerts in the evening.

You really feel like you’re on holiday there.

Perfect to rest at the aperitif time, after a long day of walking in Old Havana.

  • Between Calle Compostela and Calle Aguacate
  • Calle Obispo
  • Open from 9am to 11pm. Beers at 1,50 CUC and cocktails from 3 to 4 CUC. Pizzas from 3 to 10 CUC, sandwiches from 2 to 4 CUC.

Cafe el Escorial

A pleasant terrace overlooking Plaza Vieja, where you can enjoy most of the world’s coffees.

Coffee lovers will appreciate it! The more daring will be able to try the mojicafe or the coffee daïquiri.

  • At the corner of Calle Muralla
  • Plaza Vieja
  • & +53 7 868 3846 / +53 7 868 3545
  • [email protected]
  • Open from 9am to 10pm.
  • Espresso 1,15 CUC. Cappuccino 1,50 CUC.

Bar Bohemio

Situated on a huge veranda where the weather is good, this bar is the perfect place to relax in the early evening, or after dinner, in a lounge atmosphere and cosy setting.

The vintage decor, the light curtains hanging from the arcades and the terrace set in the heart of a mini tropical garden, give a nice touch to the establishment and you feel immediately at ease.

Delicious tapas to accompany cocktails in case you get hungry!

  • Calle 21
  • Between Calle 12 and 14
  • & +53 7 833 6918
  • Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm to 2am during the week, and until 3am on weekends.

Casa de la Amistad

  • Paseo No. 406, between Calle 17 and Calle 19
  • & +53 7 830 3114
  • Open from 8am to 5pm, in theory… Indeed, the schedules are variable and the closings at the day often random, it is thus better to phone before going there.

To be warmly recommended to all those who want to have a drink in a superb colonial building.

Terrace extremely welcome and musical groups often well felt. Possibility of fast food.

Encuentro

Set on a large terrace, this bar overlooks the Vedado.

In a design and trendy setting, you can enjoy a good cocktail and nibble some Cuban tapas while admiring the view.

In spite of the clips scrolling on the flat screen, the place is calm and restful, ideal to remake the world with friends or to have a drink with your lover.

The amateurs of hookah will be delighted because here we are equipped, even if it remains a little expensive (10 CUC the hookah).

Smoking hookah in Havana has a price and it is a form of luxury in the country of the cigar.

Only disadvantage: if it rains, the bar closes because the terrace is not covered.

  • Calle Linea n°112
  • Between Calle L y M
  • & +53 7 832 9744
  • www.casakmilo.com
  • Open from 6pm to 6am.

Fresa y Chocolate

The sign takes its name from the famous Cuban feature film Fresa y Chocolate, directed by Tomas Gutiérrez Alea in 1992.

It’s true that the proximity of the ICAIC (Institute of Cinema) favours closer ties, as does the clientele, who very often come from the world of entertainment.

A lot of concerts are generally held on the terrace until 10 pm or midnight.

  • Between Calle 10 and Calle 12
  • Calle 23
  • & +53 7 836 2096

Madrigal

A bar set up in a loft with a beautiful terrace.

The establishment belongs to the director Rafael Rosales who named it after a film he made together with the famous Fernando Pérez.

It is the ideal place to meet artists while enjoying a good cocktail accompanied by delicious tapas. The right place for a “before”.

  • Calle 17 n°809 altos
  • & +53 7 831 2433
  • Open Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 6pm to 4am. Closed on Mondays. Cocktails at 2.50 CUC. Tapas between 1,50 and 5 CUC.

Magic Flute

If you are a fan of live music, especially jazz, salsa, or flamenco, don’t miss this new bar in Havana.

Almost every night, it welcomes talented bands and singers with smooth voices.

You will also appreciate the design setting of the place and especially the beautiful terrace with its so chic swimming pool, its seats so in that it feels like Miami, and its sublime view of the Malecón that reminds you that you are in the beautiful Cuban capital, and how.

  • Calzada n°101
  • Between L y M
  • & +53 7 832 3195
  • Open until 4am. Live music from 9pm to midnight.

Up & Down

If you are a fan of live music, especially jazz, salsa, or flamenco, don’t miss this new bar in Havana.

Almost every night, it welcomes talented bands and singers with smooth voices.

You will also appreciate the design setting of the place and especially the beautiful terrace with its so chic swimming pool, its seats so in that it feels like Miami, and its sublime view of the Malecón that reminds you that you are in the beautiful Cuban capital, and how.

  • Calle 5ta
  • at the corner of Calle V
  • & +53 5 333 3006
  • Open every day from 3pm to 3am.

Kpricho Bar

A design bar with sleek furniture where contemporary artworks are on display all year round, the exhibition changing every month.

Concerts take place on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Cocktails are excellent and the lounge atmosphere is pleasant for a drink.

This new address should have some great days ahead of it!

  • Calle 94
  • Between 1ra y 3ra
  • & +53 7 206 4167
  • Open from 6pm to 6am.

10 best beaches in Havana

Along 30 kilometers east of Havana there is a strip of white sand beaches where you can spend a day or an afternoon to be back in the city and have your night off or a walk in La Habana Vieja, the vibrant El Vedado or the Malecón, dance or listen to jazz?

They are beaches just a few minutes from the city centre, but the change of atmosphere is 360 degrees.

Bacuranao

Bacuranao is 10 miles from downtown Havana.

It is the first beach when you take the Vía Blanca, the highway that links the Cuban capital with the city of Matanzas and Varadero (from the Havana tunnel, another highway, the Monumental, joins the Vía Blanca before reaching the eastern beaches).

Less than a kilometer long, the strip of fine sand at Bacuranao is about 30 meters wide and is planted with coconut trees.

The beach is frequented all year round by Havana residents, mostly in the spring and summer months (April to September).

It is the most accessible for the inhabitants of Alamar, a suburban neighborhood one kilometer away, so it is often very crowded, although it slowly gets quieter after 6 p.m., when there are still two hours of light left and the water is still warm.

Bacuranao is a few meters from the Vía Blanca.

At one side of the beach there is a small tourist village.

To get there you can take taxis or (much cheaper) several public bus lines: P3 and P11 from El Vedado to Alamar (and then walk to the beach), and the A40, which goes from La Habana Vieja to Guanabo.

Public buses cost less than one Cuban peso (five cents).

From the old train station in Old Havana, there are collective taxis, old American cars known as “almendrones”, which cost 20 pesos, 1 CUC (one dollar) or a little more and are shared with several people.

And for this and other beaches you can use the yellow minibus service, Metrotaxi, with fares of five and ten pesos but which can easily be extended to 2 CUC or more depending on the driver, the time and the day, and taking into account that in Cuba the driver will always notice that you are a tourist, even with a backpack.

Tarará

Tarará is 18 kilometers and less than 20 minutes by car from the city.

For some Havanese it is the best of the Eastern Beaches.

In Tarará there is an exclusive residential complex built in the 40’s and 50’s, which was later dedicated to social programs of the revolution, a city for students and between the 80’s and 90’s a recovery center for children affected by the Chernobyl accident.

On this Havana beach there is currently a residential centre for tourists, a shopping centre, a café-bar, swimming pools and a marina.

It is the place with everything one looks for in a Caribbean beach: a wide strip of fine white sand, transparent and turquoise waters.

A beach to enjoy privacy in a setting where coconut trees, varied coastal vegetation and tranquility stand out.

The most expensive taxis take you directly to the beach.

You can also take a public bus (A40) or an almond tree, get off at the highway and then walk several minutes on a secondary road.

Playa Mégano, on the east coast of Havana.

Travelling along the Vía Blanca from Havana, El Mégano is the next stop after Bacuranao and Tarará to see that in the Playas del Este each beach seems better and more beautiful than the other.

It is a small beach between Tarará and Santa María del Mar, near the Vía Blanca and with higher waves.

There are beautiful sand dunes covered with very green creeping plants and among them coconut trees that provide shade.

The water is clean, the color blue-green that attracts swimmers so much, and the sand is very fine and white.

It is one of Havana’s favourite beaches for families in the summer.

A warm natural scenery and peace to enjoy in the water or under the rustic umbrellas.

There are services and light meals available at the hotel Villa Mégano, about 100 meters from the beach, and also private houses that offer accommodation and food to travelers.

Santa Maria beach area.

Santa María del Mar

Santa María del Mar is as beautiful as El Mégano, but with about four kilometers long and four hotels (Blau Club Arenal, Club Atlántico-Los Pinos, Atlántico-Las Terrazas and Tropicoco) that offer a greater variety of services.

There are restaurants and cafes in the hotels, but it is possible to find small stands where drinks and snacks are sold at lower prices, the best option for Cubans and foreigners on a tight budget.

For many Cubans, the strip formed by El Mégano and Santa María is as splendid as Varadero, the most famous Cuban beach, one of the three best in the world according to Tripadvisor users.

To get to Santa María you can also take a taxi from anywhere in the city, but there are cheaper alternatives such as the public bus, the almond trees and the Tour Bus from Central Park, which costs 5 CUC.

Once you have paid the ticket, you can come and go from the beaches at any time between 9.00 and 18.00.

This is also a way to get to the rest of the Playas del Este.

Boca Ciega

Walking eastward along the sandy shore of Santa Maria del Mar you reach the low mouth of the Boca Ciega River.

On the other side begins the beach of the same name.

Boca Ciega, 1.6 kilometers long, is like a quiet and remote refuge between the two most frequented beaches in this area of Havana’s beaches: Santa Maria and Guanabo.

With very clean waters and fine white sand, its sandy strip is about 30 meters long and there are dunes covered with low green vegetation.

The general atmosphere is one of pleasant tranquility.

Restaurants and private houses offer accommodation, snacks and a la carte meals, and there are always vendors on the beach selling drinks and fruit.

Sunset in Guanabo.

Guanabo

If Santa Maria is the beach of hotels and more tourist atmosphere, Guanabo is where you can combine a day at the beach with an approach to the daily life of Cubans.

It is a small city of about 15 thousand inhabitants, whose history dates back to the 18th century but grew strongly in the second half of the 20th century, when it became a vacation spot where modern residential lots were built.

Guanabo, a 4 kilometer long beach located 27 kilometers from Havana, is today an urban center with private houses for rent, shopping centers and small shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, but also with markets where Cubans buy much of their diet, including vegetables and fruits.

For those who decide to stay, the nightlife offers music, dancing or just a nice time at the table of a café near the sea.

Taxis, almond trees, public buses and the Tour Bus leave from Via Blanca by turning left and taking a steep route down to Guanabo’s main street, which runs for several kilometers about 30 meters from the beach and gives you the opportunity to decide which part of the beach is best to stay.

At the end of Guanabo the main street turns right and connects to Via Blanca again.

One kilometer away is “el paradero”, the final stop of the public bus A40 and the popular colectivo taxis or almendrones that come and go to and from La Habana Vieja.

“El paradero” is in an area known as Brisas del Mar.

La Veneciana

This is the next strip of beach east of Guanabo, one of the small gems in this collection of sun and beach experiences that are the East Beaches of Havana.

About 800 meters long, secluded and very quiet, you can sometimes see fishermen throwing their nets from the shore.

Frequented by bathers looking for tranquility: single travelers, couples or families.

It may not have the glamour of Santa María or Guanabo, but it satisfies those who seek a Havana beach not only for bathing and sunbathing but also for relaxing, breathing the sea air, resting, conversing or reading.

It is a good option for those traveling with small children.

Brisas del Mar

Conveniently located in a residential vacation development that dates back to the 1950s, it is an area with large spaces between one residence and another.

At times you can even see cows and horses grazing in the fields inland, near the Via Blanca highway.

It is the last white sand beach in the strip known as Playas del Este de La Habana.

Very little frequented, quiet and with a very gentle slope under the waters that makes it low in most of its route, Brisas del Mar is ideal for families with small children and for those who want to get away from the crowds and noise.

Jibacoa, Mayabeque

Always travelling east, 25 kilometres from Guanabo and 50 from the centre of Havana, is Jibacoa beach.

In this area there is a chain of small beaches of fine sand and turquoise waters, warm and clean, which contrast with the green of the trees and nearby hills about 100 meters high.

Jibacoa, in the shape of a half moon, is for those who want to explore further the beaches near Havana and be in a place where the beach meets nature.

There are hotel facilities on one side of the beach, and opportunities to go hiking, horseback riding or snorkeling and appreciate the colors of the coral reef.

There are camping centers nearby at affordable prices, very convenient if it’s late to return to Havana (or perhaps because the site is too beautiful to spend only a few hours there).

There is a public bus (number 699) that leaves several times a day from Old Havana to Santa Cruz del Norte.

From that small town you can get to Jibacoa faster in a local taxi.

Another option is to take a bus or a taxi from Peñas Altas, “the stop” located at the end of Guanabo beach.

Transfers can be found from hotels in Havana, but at higher prices.

Playa de los Enamorados, Jibacoa, Mayabeque province

An even quieter and more secluded place in the Jibacoa area.

Playa de los Enamorados is in a small inlet that cannot be seen from the Vía Blanca highway.

Ideal for couples and single travelers looking for privacy.

It is possible to find small beaches like this one, of great beauty, if you keep exploring the shore towards the east.

Dry dock.

Varadero, province of Matanzas

Varadero is about 120 kilometers from Havana, a little over an hour’s drive on the Via Blanca highway.

Cuba’s most internationally known beach is on a sandy peninsula with more than 30 kilometers of coastline, 22 of which are covered with the finest and whitest sand that can be found, bathed by transparent waters with warm blue-green tones.

It is a great resort resort all year round.

Dozens of hotels, discos, cabarets, shopping centers, marinas and many other attractions make Varadero the number one sun and beach destination in Cuba.

It may be an expensive place, but it is not exclusive.

There are rentals in private homes and there are also cafes, pizzerias, supermarkets and other facilities that can allow you to stay in Varadero, have a good time and enjoy yourself to the fullest without having to pay for a room in a five-star all-inclusive.

It is possible to get to Varadero or the city of Matanzas by bus from the National Terminal, near the Plaza de la Revolución.

Outside the terminal itself there are collective taxis for the price of 5 CUC to Matanzas.

Once in that city, you can take a taxi to Varadero, which is very close, arranging a price with the taxi driver, or even one of the many buses that operate all day long and reach the beach for only one peso (five cents).

If you plan your trip well and leave Havana early, it is possible to be back in the city at night.

A few tips for Havana Beaches 

Best to go to the beach in Cuba 

For sun and beach activities the best time in Cuba is between the months of May and September, but even in the fall and the weak Cuban winter (November to February) it is possible to enjoy the beach (sometimes, beyond the combination of sun and beach, we look for the experience of walking on the sand, breathing the air and feeling the tranquility while listening to the sound of the sea).

The beaches are more crowded on weekends and during the holiday season (July and August).

See also:

Keeping cool

 It is appropriate to bring a small fridge or one of those bags that keep the temperature if you throw ice in it.

It is actually cheaper to buy drinks in shopping malls or small stands on the beaches than in hotels and cafes, but the problem is that sometimes they are not very cold.

Protect yourself from the sun: The higher the sunscreen factor, the better.

A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or 50 will help ensure that the beach experience is not ruined later by skin discomfort.

Don’t overdo it either and avoid too much exposure between 11am and 3pm.

Be informed: Apps created in Cuba can be very useful during your stay in the country.

For example, AlaMesa allows you to locate restaurants by location, cuisine and price range, and Habana Trans shows you which routes to take and how to get there.

They are apps that work offline, very convenient in Cuba.

Souvenirs & Handcraft in Havana

The Cuban capital is the ideal place to stock up on souvenirs before returning home.
Cigars, rum, handicrafts… You should find what you are looking for without any problem!

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shopping in havana crafts

Buying cigars in Havana

To buy cigars in Havana, there are several options available to you.

We recommend 3 in particular, both located in the Centro Habana neighborhood:

  • Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás: calle Industria e. Barcelona y Dragones, one of the most prestigious in the country.
  • Real Factories Factory Shop. Industria No 520. Tel: 7 826 0086. The oldest cigar factory in Havana.
  • The cigar store of the Hotel Sevilla.

You can pay in every stores by credit card.

Buying rum in Havana

As with cigars, there is no shortage of stores selling rum. You will find it in the capital’s major hotels. In Old Havana, the Casa del Ron offers the best and most select types of rum on the island.

Adress: Obispo No. 2 e/ Bernaza y, Avenida de Bélgica, La Habana, Cuba.
Havana Club. San Pedro No 262. Tel: 7 624 108.

You will also find some at the duty free shops at Havana airport.

@havana clubPin
@havana club

Be careful though: if your flight is not direct, your bottles may be confiscated during your stopover.

Beware, there are limitations on the amount of rum, cigars and cigarettes.

Buy jewelry and handicrafts in Havana

To shop for jewelry and local handicrafts, we recommend the small market located on Calle Obispo.

Jewelry, handbags, wooden objects…: you should find what you are looking for.

Main Shopping Areas in Havana

From Havana it is essential to bring the world famous Havana cigars and the excellent rum, but you can also buy popular crafts, musical instruments -maracas, bongoes, güiros, tumbadora-, paintings and Santeria objects.

In the Crafts Palace (Cuba 64, corner of Tacón) the building was the old Pedroso Palace. Nearby, between the Cathedral and the Port, there is a popular handicraft market.

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In La Travesía (O’Reilly corner Monserrat) there is an Afro-Cuban handicraft market. In the Manzana de Gómez (San Rafael corner Agramonte) there is a group of European-style shops to buy souvenirs.

In the Maison in the Miramar neighborhood you can find antiques, fashion and jewelry. A curious visit is to the Botica de Santa Catalina (Obispo corner Mercaderes) to buy herbs and medicinal plants from the world famous Cuban pharmacopoeia.

The Area of Self-employed Women (Máximo Gómez corner Suárez) is a flea market where among many other things you can find music and woodwork.

And, in the Partagas Factory (Industria 520 corner Barcelona and Dragones) is the right place to know the process of manufacturing the famous cigars… and of course a good place to buy them.

In all the hotels of the city there are shops and, several commercial centers offer all type of stores in their facilities

Antiques, fashion, jewelry and gifts In La Maison, Avda. 7ª y 16. Miramar.

Handicrafts, paintings and silk screen printing. In La Casona, c/Muralla, 107 esq. San Ignacio. Old Havana.

Experimental Graphics Workshop. Callejón del Chorro No 6 Old Havana. Tel: 7 862 0979. Art Gallery. Brabados and painting.

Tourist souvenirs In Manzana de Gómez, a group of shops where you can also buy everyday objects.

Afro-Cuban Art and Craftsmanship In La Travesía, O’Reilly Street, Montserrat. There are very interesting exhibitions.

Silver and coral jewelry, Cuban music records and memories In the Palace of Crafts, Palacio Pedroso. 64 Cuba Street. Old Havana.

And, also: Area of Own Account Sellers. Máximo Gómez No 259 at Suárez. Permanent Market. Old books, leather belts, Santeria articles, etc.

shopping in havana crafts @Pin
shopping in havana crafts @

Handicraft Fair (Old Havana). Open-air craft market. Old Havana Heel. Paintings, guayaberas, wood carvings, Che Guevara souvenirs, a little bit of everything.

Handicrafts Fair (Vedado). Vedado boardwalk. Practically the same as in the Old Havana Market. Here, also stamps, coins, bank notes, etc.

Cuban Fund for Cultural Goods. Wall 107 corner of San Ignacio Habano Vieja
Tel: 7 862 2633. Government Store. Handicrafts. For every purchase they give a receipt to avoid problems at the exit customs.

shopping in havana crafts @skarletoharaPin
shopping in havana crafts @skarletohara

Galleries of Paseo. Street 1 & Paseo. Commercial gallery with “brand” shops.

ICAIC promotions. 23rd & L Vedado Streets. Tel: 7 832 9430. Fabulous sale of Cuban film posters.

FIXED PRICE OR “BARGAINING”
In Intur stores the price is fixed. Bargaining is allowed in the flea markets.

Havana Wiki : History

Brief Historical Description 

It is one of the cities with more historical tradition in the New World.

It was founded in 1515 by Diego Velázquez, with the name of San Cristóbal de la Habana in a place of the southern coast, near the current population of Surgidero de Batabano, a few years later towards 1519, his inhabitants moved to the northern part of the island.

Due to its privileged situation it became an important point in the route between America and the Peninsula and for this reason it frequently attracted pirate attacks.

In order to defend it, a defensive system based on fortresses was built in the 15th century and completed in the 17th century.

In 1592 it was declared a city by Philip II and in 1607 it became the capital of the island by Royal Decree, an honor that was held until then by Santiago de Cuba.

In 1762 it was conquered by the English and was returned to Spain by the peace of Paris (1763), in exchange for the territory of Florida.

During the 18th century it began its economic growth that continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 1898, taking as a pretext the bombing of the battleship Mane, in its port, the United States declared war on Spain and on 1 January 1899 the island proclaimed its independence under American occupation.

The city acquired a modern physiognomy and until the communist revolution it was a paradise for American tourism.

Since 1959 it became one of the revolutionary centers of Latin America and Africa.

The fall of communism in the USSR and the American Blockade give it an uncertain future.

The Foundation

Sebastián de Ocampo, the first sailor to approach the area of the future Havana in 1508, made a stopover in the bay which today houses the port of the capital.
In 1511, Diego Velázquez left to take possession of Cuba, accompanied by Hernán Cortés.

A merciless conquest began, pursued in Mexico in the name of the sovereigns of Spain.

In 1519, Pánfilo de Narváez, commissioned by Diego Velásquez, founded the city of San Cristobal de La Habana.

The first mass and the first cabildo (ecclesiastical council) were held on November 12, 1519, under a ceiba, on the very spot where El Templete, a monument erected on the Plaza de Armas, still stands today in memory of these events.

Aware of the exceptional configuration of the bay, the Spaniards set up a large port, where all the ships loaded with the riches of the New World would stop on their way to the Iberian Peninsula.

Very quickly, the city established itself as a major commercial centre and one of the bridgeheads of the conquest of America.

When Havana became the capital

Havana became the capital in 1553 (after Santiago), and it was a magnet for corsairs, freebooters and other pirates in Caribbean waters.

In 1555, Jacques de Sores, a famous French pirate, attacked Havana, seized the fortifications and plundered the city.

All the archives disappear in the fire.

In response to this disaster, the first governor of Cuba, Hernando de Soto, ordered the construction of a vast defensive complex including several fortresses: Castillo de la Real Fuerza (1558), San Salvador de la Punta and Los Tres Reyes del Morro (1589-1597).
In 1561, the Spanish Crown ordered the concentration of ships from the colonies of the New World in the port of Havana, now secured: Veracruz in Mexico, Portobelo and Nombre de Dios in the Central American isthmus, and Cartagena de Indias in the Viceroyalty of the New Grenada (Colombia).

From these faraway lands, gold and silver, plants for dyeing fabrics or alpaca wool for weaving sumptuous capes decorated with the feathers of exotic birds, arrived in Cartagena de Indias.

The precious woods were destined for the carpenters of Granada and the skins for the tanners of Cordoba.

All these riches are accumulated in the port’s warehouses and are added to the fruits and vegetables, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, manioc and cocoa, and then shipped.

The most important import from Cuba is undoubtedly tobacco, which is gradually being introduced into the brilliant salons of Madrid, Seville and Toledo.

Strategic, Havana is as much strategic for the colonies of America as it is for the East.

From 1565 onwards, ships from Manila and the Philippines unloaded porcelain from China, embroidered silk coats, pearls, perfumes, ivories and lacquers.

In 1592, King Philip II of Spain wanted to make Havana the key to the New World.

In 1598, there are nearly 4,000 inhabitants.

In 1665, the governing queen Marie-Anne of Austria recognized the coat of arms of Havana, to which was added the motto Siempre fidelísima ciudad (City Always Faithful).

The coat of arms is composed of three castles in silver on a field of azure, symbol of the three fortresses that watch over the port, and a golden key that was to open the road to the Indies.

Prosperous capital in the heart of the sugar and tobacco industry

The increase in the cultivation of sugar cane and tobacco intensifies labour requirements.

From the second half of the 17th century, Havana became one of the major centres of the Caribbean slave trade.

Between 1600 and 1862, the number of slaves on the island rose from 4,000 to 445,000.
With the boom in sugar production in the 19th century, Havana enjoyed the benefits of prosperity.

The downtown area was transformed.

New arteries are built such as the paseo de Carlos III (current Salvador Allende), Balascoain, Galiano, Alameda de Isabel II (current Paseo del Prado), Infanta.

The streets were lit and the first section of the railway, linking Villanueva, Havana and Bejucal, was inaugurated in 1837.

The telegraph began to operate in 1853, and the expansion of the

The telegraph came into service in 1853, and territorial expansion made it necessary in 1863 to demolish the wall surrounding the capital.

A true pearl of the Spanish Empire, Havana is endowed with splendid palaces.

The commercial activity intensifies, combined with a very rich social and intellectual life.

Corollary of these evolutions, it is at this time that the independence claim emerges.

Nothing goes any more between the colonial power and the Criollos, descendants of the Spaniards, who now reject the guardianship of Madrid.

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Havana History: from the foundation to today

The Independentist aims

In 1810, the first conspiracy against Spain was fomented in Havana. Severely repressed, it did not prevent the rise of the protest.

Nearly 60 years later, in 1868, the first Cuban War of Independence broke out, which ended in 1878 (Ten Years War).

A new war of independence led by José Martí began in 1895.

On February 15, 1898, the explosion of the American cruiser Maine in Havana’s roadstead served as a pretext for Washington to intervene, although before them, Spanish troops had to surrender to the Cuban indpendentists.

On January 1, 1899, the Republic of Cuba was proclaimed.

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Havana History: from the foundation to today

The American playground

The Spanish domination was followed by that of the United States.

The already well-off social classes enjoyed renewed prosperity, but misery persisted among the most disadvantaged strata.

Many Americans made Cuba “their playground” in the 1920s, while the United States was undergoing Prohibition.

Bars, cabarets and casinos were established in Cuba, especially in Havana.

Corruption, gambling and prostitution hit the Cuban capital hard.

Faced with the social disintegration aggravated by the economic crisis of 1929, anger and discontent gained ground.
The Revolution triumphs in Havana
After their exile in Mexico, the revolutionaries clandestinely landed in December 1956 on the south-eastern coast of the country and began the armed struggle from the Sierra Maestra.

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Havana History: from the foundation to today

The revolution will finally triumph in 1959

Camilo Cienfuegos was the first to enter Havana, at the head of his men, followed by Ernesto Che Guevara on January 4, and Fidel Castro on January 8.
As soon as he came to power, the government tries to build Cuba Nueva.

Assets belonging to foreign companies are nationalized.

Cuba continues its march towards the communist dream

The 1970s, a period of Soviet domination

A heavily centralized economy and the failure of the industrial growth project of the 1960s, combined with the long and heavy embargo imposed by the United States, are helping to curb Cuba’s economic development.

The country barely avoided suffocation thanks to Soviet subsidies estimated at 5 billion dollars.

Havana is directly affected by these financial difficulties and the daily lives of its inhabitants are affected.
Período especial and extreme poverty in Havana
At the end of the 1980s, the disappearance of the socialist camp – with the end of the USSR in 1991 – led to a sharp worsening of economic difficulties.

Lacking everything (food, electricity…) the inhabitants of Havana try as best they can to cope.

The inhabitants of the capital who lived this period tell that the cats and rats of the capital disappeared because the Cubans were dying of hunger, and that the melted cheese of the pizzas was replaced by melted plastic to fill their bellies so much the fridges were empty…

This period is modestly referred to by the authorities as the “special period”.

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Havana History: from the foundation to today

The economic crisis  strikes Havana

Despite the end of the period of specialization made possible by the market reforms of 1993 to 2000 (self-possession of foreign currency, establishment of small agricultural cooperatives, development of private employment, opening up to foreign investment) and a certain return to growth, Cuba is still experiencing serious economic problems.

The situation is aggravated by the financial crisis of 2008-09.

The dismissal of at least a quarter of the country’s civil servants, which will begin in 2011, bears witness to this difficult situation; 1.3 million employees will be laid off from state-owned enterprises by 2013.

Havana, where the main state-owned enterprises are located, is particularly hard hit by these redundancies.

Raúl Castro’s reforms

Reforms with a liberal tendency were launched by Raúl Castro in August 2010 to save the Cuban economy, and this shift was confirmed at the VI Congress of the Cuban Communist Party in April 2011.

It is now legal to set up a small business on one’s own.

Hundreds of private companies are starting to emerge in Havana, boosting the local economy.

The capital now has an exponential number of privately owned businesses, and new ones are opening every day.

These range from manicure shops, paladores, private chauffeurs and fitness clubs to privately owned businesses.

Everyone in Havana wants to have their own business!

The city today

A mixed city.

Resolutely colourful, like the rest of the country, Havana mixes whites, blacks and mestizos, who live together in harmony on the same territory.

In this area, the results obtained by the Revolution are quite clear.

The racism that prevailed up to the 1950s has been replaced by a new kind of racism.

This has been followed by an unprecedented and fertile social mix, unfortunately sometimes tinged with prejudices firmly rooted in mentalities.
A rehabilitated historic district.

Over the past thirty years or so, the historic district, the Habana Vieja (Old Havana), has been continually restored and the results are remarkable.

A rehabilitation which may seem miraculous but which can be explained by the government’s pragmatic awareness of the tourist manna that Habana Vieja represents, a real architectural and historical jewel of the capital and the country.
A safe city.

Despite the crisis, however, Havana remains a particularly safe city because of a severe crackdown on crime.

If a Cuban steals from a tourist, he or she can face very heavy penalties, usually up to prison.

In Vedado, for example, the busiest streets are filmed 24 hours a day.

However, even if thefts are severely punished, and remain quite rare, it is necessary to remain vigilant.

There is little risk of robberies, but if you don’t look after your belongings, they can be stolen from public places.

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Havana History: from the foundation to today – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

History of the streets of Havana

The first survey of the town was carried out by decree in 1763 by the Count of Ricla, who then delimited four districts. At the same time, the streets were named and the houses numbered. In Havana, as elsewhere, most of the names have been borrowed from illustrious people. See below for details on the origin of some of the names.

  • Aguacate (lawyer). There grew a generous avocado tree with tasty fruit, unfortunately shot down in 1837.
  • Aguiar. From Don Luis José de Aguiar, Royal Councillor and illustrious citizen of the city.
  • Amargura (bitterness). During Lent, the Passion procession left the Franciscan residence every evening and went to the Church of Cristo, where the faithful did penance. Avenida de los Presidentes (Avenue of the Presidents), or Calle G, one of the main arteries of the Vedado district. All along the avenue, statues of the presidents of the Republic were erected by them and then unblocked after the victory of the revolution.
  • Baratillo (flea market). This is where the first retail outlets were located.
  • Callejón de Justiz. This alley owes nothing to justice, but to the residence of the Marquis de Justiz y Santa María, at the corner of Baratillo.
  • Callejón del Chorro (water jet alley). Fountain where the Havanese used to get water.
  • Callejón de San Juan de Dios. One of the walls of the Hospital San Juan de Diós overlooked this alley.
  • Calzada de San Lázaro (Saint Lazarus Causeway). This paved street led to the Hospital de San Lázaro, built in 1746.
  • Camino Militar (Military Way). It linked the city directly to the Castle of Príncipe.
  • Capdevila. The name of the Spanish soldier who defended the medical students, who were shot in 1871 by decision of the Council of War.
  • Cárcel (prison). One of the walls of the enormous prison that occupied the present Parque de los Mártires overlooked this street.
  • Carlos Tercero (Charles III). This wide avenue, built in 1835, was the site of the statue of Carlos III a year later. It kept this name until 1974, when it was renamed Salvador Allende in homage to the assassinated Chilean president.
  • Compostela. From Bishop Don Diego Evelino de Compostela, who had his house built there at number 155.
  • Cuarteles (barracks). Its two extremities were bounded by the San Telmo barracks and the Artillery barracks.
  • Cuba. This homonymous street of the country still gathers a large number of historical buildings, cultural institutions and public services.
  • Desamparados (abandoned). It ran along the wall of the southern zone, the loneliest part of the city.
  • Empedrado (paved). This is the first cobbled street in Havana, and it is believed to have been paved before 1770. It connects the cathedral to the San Juan de Diós square.
  • Galiano. In reference to Don Martín Galiano, the Minister of Fortifications, who had a bridge erected, which was named after him and which was destroyed in 1839.
  • Lamparilla. A devotee of souls used to light a lantern there every night, in his room, in the house on the corner of Habana Street… It was on this same street that the vacuum cleaner dealer and his capricious daughter of Our Agent in Havana, Graham Greene, lived.
  • Luz (light). No more luminous than any other, but this is where Don José Cipriano de La Luz, General Councillor of the Postal Service and, as such, an illustrious figure in the city, lived. Located between Cuba and Damascus, it is home to beautiful colonial houses with tiled roofs. You can also see the Art Deco buildings and the housing of the médico de la familia (the local family doctor), a post-modern glass construction.
  • Mercaderes (merchants). Before the revolution, when private trade was allowed .
  • Morro. From this street, before the royal prisons were built, you could see the Morro castle.
  • Muralla (wall). The gate of the royal wall was opened here in 1721.
  • Neptuno (Neptune). Named after the Neptune fountain, once located on Isabel II’s promenade. Today it is located on the Malecón River, opposite Old Havana.
  • Obispo (Bishop). Attended by the bishop of the city at the time the streets were baptized.
  • Obrapía (pious work). The most illustrious of its inhabitants, Martín Calvo de Arieta – commander of the cavalry companies – included in his will a sum of 5,000 pesos (in 1679, a colossal fortune!) which was to be used to provide the dowry for five orphan girls each year.
  • Oficios (trades). It was in this street that the craftsmen’s stalls were concentrated. In 1584, when Havana had only four streets, this was the main one.
    O’Reilly. General O’Reilly was the first to enter Havana through this street after the English surrendered the city to the Spanish crown in 1763.
  • Peña Pobre (poor hill). From here one could see the loma del Angel (Angel Hill), which itself had been named Peña Pobre.
  • Refugio (refuge). In the 19th century, Captain General Mariano Rocafort, surprised by a big storm, took refuge in the apartments of a mulatto widow. The sun had long since reappeared while he was still there.
  • San Ignacio. This was the name of the Jesuit college and the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which later became the seminary and the cathedral. It was formerly known as Calle Ciénaga (Swamp).
  • Tejadillo (small roof). In this street there was a house with a small tile roof, which was to serve as an example to its neighbours with its (too) modest cow dung covering.
  • Teniente Rey (Lieutenant Rey). Nothing to do with the king… At the corner of La Habana, lived the lieutenant of a governor of the island named Felix de Rey.
  • Zapata. In homage not to the famous Mexican revolutionary, but to Dr. Salvador José Zapata who donated his property (8 houses) to contribute to the education of Cuban youth.

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Frequently Ask Questions

Where to eat in Havana?

Restaurant Van Van: for small budgets, this is an establishment that doesn’t look like much, but offers delicious local cuisine in a decor that is very popular with consumers.
– Restaurant La Guarida:
a famous and rather expensive gastronomic restaurant.
You won’t be disappointed by the quality of the service or the ingenuity of the dishes.
-La Mina in La Habana Vieja: with its nice terrace, this restaurant invites you to a delicious shady break on the Plaza de Armas.
– And more generally, head to the cafeterias frequented by locals, scattered by dozens throughout the city. If you’re not looking for great food but rather an authentic atmosphere at (very) low prices, this is definitely the right choice.

Best time to visit Havana

Havana welcomes tourists all year round, as its tropical climate gives it temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C. The lowest temperature is 18°C, so you will never feel cold in this city. Of course, the dry season is the best time to visit Havana, which is between December and May.
If you want to enjoy all that the Cuban capital has to offer, avoid the months of June to October as much as possible, as hurricanes can make their appearance. However, during the rainy season, hotels are cheaper and you will find more tours and organized trips.

What to Pack for Havana ?

Due to the predominant tropical climate, you should include in your luggage:
– Swimming suit and sandals
– Light clothing, especially in the summer
– Light colored clothes and cotton fabrics, flannels, shorts
– If you travel in the winter season, a Lightweight jackets or a wool sweater can be sufficient, mainly, for the nights; and closed shoes, but comfortable.
– Accessories such as sunglasses, hats and sunscreen.
– If you have indicated some medicine or specific health treatment, you should take it with you during the trip.

When are the Holidays in Havana ?

– 1 January Commemoration of the Triumph of the Revolution.
– May 1st Workers’ Day.
– 26 July: National Day of Rebellion.
– October 10 Commemoration of the beginning of the Wars of Independence
– November 16 Anniversary of the Foundation of San Cristóbal de la Habana
– For other holidays, please refer to our complete guide : Best Time to Visit Cuba

What is the time Difference in Havana ?

Standard time: UTC/GMT -5 hours.
Cuba adopts a summer timetable between the months of March and October with one hour in advance.

What is the Voltage in Havana ?

Note that it is 110/220 and 60 Hz frequency. Generally, plugs are flat-pinned, so you may need an adapter for certain electrical devices.

Is Havana Worth Visiting ?

Havana is a synthesis of all Cuba, capital of the island and one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America.
The charm of the “Pearl of the Caribbean” continues to act, whoever knows it returns enriched and conquered.
Renewed, it offers everything imaginable in terms of colonial architecture.
Its most important neighborhoods, Old Havana, Vedado, Miramar, Centro Havana and the Malecón will make you enjoy the memories of the old architecture.
Havana is the tropical splendor, which gathers the best of Spain, the best of Africa and the best of the Antilles. Havana, with its old American cars, its hustle and bustle, its bare buildings, its history, its people and its rhythms leaves no one indifferent.

How is Everyday Life in Havana ?

In this country there are two very different ways of life, that of the Cuban and that of the tourist. For the tourist everything is possible, everything is easy, but for the Cuban who lives very special moments, life is hard. However, the difficulties don’t end with the cheerful character of the Cuban and his hedonistic sense of life, always ready to enjoy the good times.

Can I pay with Credit Card in Habana Cuba ?

Some establishments accept credit cards, but ideally you should always carry money in cash to make any payments.
Keep in mind that American Express cards, credit cards and traveler’s checks issued by U.S. banks or their branches are not accepted.

Where Can I buy Rum or Cigars in Havana ?

If you want to buy traditional products such as rum, coffee, tobacco and music, choose the specialized or authorized shops and establishments for their sale. That is the only way you can be sure of acquiring authentic quality merchandise. Never make this type of purchase in the street or from unknown people

Can I Drink Tap Water in Havana ?

Although tap water can be drunk, it is recommended that you buy bottled water.

Is Tipping Compulsory in Havana ?

Most services in Cuba do not include tipping. This is more than welcomed if you wish to offer it.

How is the Weather in Havana ?

On average, the hottest months in Havana are April, May, June, July, August, September and October.
The rainiest months in this city are May, June, July, August and September.
The most favorable months for swimming in Havana are April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November

How Many days should I stay in Havana ?

We can only advise you to take the time to discover this city of crazy charm. 3 days would be a minimum.

Now Your Turn

Now I would like to know, do you have any question ?

Or maybe do you have some information to add ?

Either way, let me know in the comments below

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