The rush to travel to Havana has increased now that more U.S. carriers began offering direct flights to Havana at the end of 2016. Why is everyone in such a hurry, what is their to do? Check out these tops things you must experience while in Havana!
Authentic Cuban Food
Seems cliche, but it is really hard to find consistently good food in Havana. Talk with the locals to avoid tourist traps. One gem we discovered from a local is El Trofeo which is in the same building as Los Nardos and Asturianito. All three were recommended by our tour guide. The staff was very friendly and after a gamble of various restaurants I finally felt like this is it! The prices were very reasonable. It is across from the Capital (Capitole) Your taxi driver may recognize if you ask in Spanish to go to the three restaurants across from the capital. Be careful of people nearby trying to sway you to come to their restaurant. El Trofeo has a lot (3 flights) of stairs which may be why we were able to get right in. There were lines to get in the other places. For one minute I felt like I was in LA, VEGAS or Miami trying to get in! LOL While you're in this area take note or a photo of the beautiful Capital building and the Gran Teatro de La Habana.
A Live Music Show
Music is all over Havana but why come all this way and not see a live show filled with great music, Latin dances and dinner and/or drinks? There is usually an admission cost and additional cost for dinner. Some admission costs include food. Check to see what all is included before purchasing. Some popular recommended places are Buena Vista Social Club and Habana Cafe (next to Hotel Melia Cuba)
Enjoy the sites of the city from a hard top or convertible. It typically last 2 hours. Add a English tour guide for an additional small fee. Old Car Tours provides a 2 hour city tour that allows you to see the four districts in Havana: Centro Habana, Vedado, Nuevo Vedado and Miramar. The guide and driver were awesome and the cost was more reasonable than some of the other tour companies I researched.
Stay in a Casa Particular or Cuban Airbnb
Hotels in Havana can be really expensive depending on the time of year. Check out staying in a Casa Particular which is basically a bed and breakfast. There are also AirBnb's that are reasonably priced. If it's your first time you can save $35 off by using my referral discount! The host was awesome and coordinated our airport ride.
Need tips on what to look for before booking an Airbnb? Read A First Timer's Guide to Airbnb.
[caption id="attachment_1776" align="aligncenter" width="374"] View from Balcony of Airbnb[/caption]
Ice Cream at a Coppelia (Ice Cream Parlor)
One of the world's largest Ice Cream parlor which was once made to serve up to 1,000 people with 26 flavors. It is an interesting architecture with a surrounding park. Now it has only a few flavors but is still delicious and cool to see this historical place. It is located on Calle 23.
A Quick Trip To The Beach
If you can't make it to the Varadero (2 hrs away) check out Playas De Este (Eastern Havana beaches) which is about 30 mins from Havana. Expect to pay around 30 CUC or more depending on the taxi. Santa Maria which is in the Playas De Este area is a nice beach. Don't forget a towel or expect to pay almost 20 CUC for one. They also have chairs and umbrellas for rental and some food/drink service on the beach.
Have a Daiquiri at the Floridita
Known to be Hemmingway's old hangout spot, you will find live music, signature daiquiris and people lined up to take a photo with Hemmingway :) Seat yourself and tip the great band.
Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba. Reserva:(53-7) 867 1299,
Walk Opisbo Street
While you're in the area of Floridita, walk down the same street to see many shops, more music and street food. This street is very lively and you will find better souvenirs here. Be careful not to spend up all your CUCs on souvenirs!
Immerse into the Art and History
Havana offers a plethora of photo opportunities rich in art and culture. Check out the Jose Fustor Art Gallery aka Fusterlandia. Also visit the Havana Cathedral.
For The Culture
When in Cuba, the signature drink is Cuba Libre which is made with TuKola (Cuban coke, don't ask for coke lol) and the Havana Club Tres Anos Rum. If you're into Cigars, you can score a Cohiba starting at 15 CUC. Want to bring Cigars back to the States? Read Ready to Jet-Set to Cuba to find out the maximum amount allowed.
Visit Hotel Nacional
As you may have guessed by now Cuba is filled with music. This historic hotel is well known due to the amount of celebrities that have stayed. At night you can stroll their terrace with views of the Malecon and listen to music. They have a band starting at around 9pm most nights. Just up the hill from the hotel is another famous place called Hotel Capri. Don't eat the food in this area. Head back to Calle 23 if you are hungry.
As you can see, there is plenty to do in Havana. You can even schedule day trips to the countryside. A good 3-4 days is necessary to see most of Havana. What are your favorite things to do in Havana? Comment below!