As you noticed recently, since this year we are more active on YouTube, but no worries, we didn’t forget about written articles. Elodie’s last article, inspired me to write about our last trip before covid-19 situation closed the borders.
As you follow us on our YouTube channel a few weeks ago, we published our vlogs from there (one about things to do in Havana and one about wedding in Cuba). To summarise our trip, I would like to share with you 4 things that you must do and see in Havana, when you visit the capital of Cuba.
- Vintage tour around the city
How many times have you seen the vintage on the pictures of Havana? I’ve seen a lot, that’s why in my opinion, this is what you must do. At the scheduled time on the day of your tour, your driver will pick you up from your hotel or AirBnb in the Cuban capital in a classic car, ready to begin your ride around the city. You’ll be taken to see the most emblematic places of interest in Havana, visiting Plaza de la Revolución, or Revolution Square, and driving around the outskirts of the lush Almendares Park.
Your vintage car your which will last around two hours, it will include one of the most famous areas of the city: the Malecón, the seafront promenade. Explore the streets and avenues around the John Lennon Park, the Vedado and Nuevo Vedado districts, and the Colon Cemetery.Finally, at the end of your classic car tour, you can choose to be dropped back off at your accommodation, or to delve deeper into the historic centre of Havana: discovering the World Heritage Site on foot at your own pace. During the tour you can stop the car and take as many pictures as you want. Also if you have any car preferences (colour, model etc), you can request that during your booking HERE.
2. Take a free walking tour
Have you ever done a free walking tour? What is really cool is that you can see the city with a local tour guide and learn more about it. The tour starts at Hotel Inglaterra, the oldest hotel in the city and one of the places where Winston Churchill used to stay. Opposite the hotel, you’ll see Parque Central, a park which is the green heart of the city, which is also surrounded by emblematic buildings such as the famous governmental building, El Capitolio.
While you discover some of the city’s fascinating history, you’ll continue the walking tour past the Partagás tobacco factory. This is currently closed for renovation work, but your expert guide will explain all about the Cuban cigar making process. Next, you will head to the Parque de la Fraternidad Americana, an area of parks which was created in 1928 and symbolises the relations between Cuba and the rest of the continent. There’s a lot of history to be told here! Then you will leave the most touristy places behind and make your way to some lesser known sights such as the essence of Havana from yesteryear. You’ll be able to discover the customs and habits of the locals and see what life is really like here.
Your free walking tour will then head to Bar Floridita. Standing tall next to the famous Bacardi Building, with its Art Deco architecture and 1940s and 50s atmosphere, this bar is the birthplace of frozen daiquiris and was a regular hangout for Ernest Hemmingway. No trip to Havana would be complete without seeing this iconic place! If you want you can finish the tour there (like us) or you can walk farther and finish your free tour of Havana in Plaza Vieja in Old Havana.
If you are lucky in the bar you can meet some celebrities or actors like us, where we had the opportunity to meet Ben Affleck.
To book the free walking tour you need to book: HERE
3. Learn Havana dance
During our walking tour, we noticed that live music is everywhere and so many people were dancing salsa at the bar. This is the good opportunity to make the most of your time in Havana embracing Cuba’s incredible culture of music and dance. That’s why we decided to go for cuban dance classes. We picked the Salsa Estilo Cuba Dance School located in the neighbourhood of El Vedado. The class will take approximately one hour.
The English-speaking instructors, professional dancers from prestigious centres, will welcome you to the class. Their knowledge of Cuban folklore and traditions will give you a great introduction to the island’s captivating rhythms.
During the class, you’ll have the opportunity to try different styles of Latin dancing, including salsa, merengue and the cha-cha-cha. If you can get your head around the steps for these famous dances, you’ll also give the Cuban rumba, the mambo, bachata, tango and kizomba a go! Once you’ve managed to keep up with your dance partner, all you’ll have to do is let yourself move to the beats of the Cuban music, a fusion of African and Caribbean melodies. Pure passion! After the class for sure you will be able go to the dance floor and show your skills.
You can book the class before you arrive in Havana HERE
4. Have a drink on a rooftop bar
What is really cool in Havana you have plenty of rooftop bars where you have plenty of typical drinks from Mojito, to Cuban rums, cocktails, beers etc. Also the hotels have rooftop bars and they are also available for non hotel guests.
The best hotel terraces are:
- Hotel Habana Viareja (the terrace is hidden, so it’s good to get inside and ask, because it’s on the other side of the street
- Hotel Paseo Del Prado (at the terrace you have the view of whole Malecon)
- Hotel Parque Central (located in city centre, next to La floridita)
- Hotel Parquard (with the view of Castello and Havana port)
This is what you can do in Havana in a nutshell, if I missed something, feel free to add your suggestions in the comment sections.
- The local currency for tourists is CUC, not CUP, so be sure, that you exchange the right one
- If you exchange your currency, make sure that you have euro (it’s higher, than american USD
- To get around the fastest way is to take a coco taxi. The price around city centre is 10 CUC
- Make sure that you spend your money or exchange your money at the airport before you cross the security gates at the airport. After the security control the shops and restaurants accepting only USD, Eur and Canadian dollars