8 Great Things to Do in Havana Cuba featured on McCoolTravel
Only 90-miles South of Key West and under an hour flight from Miami, Havana awaits you. There is no other city like Havana. With its explosion of color and contrasts from the old, crumbling buildings to the world famous, pristine 1950’s American classic cars, Havana is fascinating. It’s a bustling city, full of life, and considered an artistic hotbed.
With nearly thirty trips under my belt to Havana in the last five years, let me share with you the eight greatest things to do in Havana.
1.Explore Old Havana’s Four Squares on Foot
With Old Havana’s narrow, cobblestoned streets, the best way to experience it is on foot. Wear comfortable shoes while bringing a hat or parasol for shade. You can do it all in one day, but take your time to peek into stores as well as buy street snacks like mani (peanuts), churros (fried dough), or fresh coconuts.
The best route is to start in Plaza de San Francisco, admiring the church, and making sure to touch the beard of a bronze statue called El Caballero de Paris (The Gentleman of Paris) for good luck. Shortly, you will pass the aqueduct and arrive at the most colorful square, Plaza Vieja (Old Square). Don’t miss the opportunity to take a load off and experience the best café cubano in all of Havana at El Escorial.
For those with a sweet tooth, stop in at el Museo de Chocolate (Chocolate Museum) for an assortment of dulces (sweets). Then get a bird’s eyes view from the rooftop terrace of Hemingway’s Ambos Mundos Hotel for great photos and preview of Cathedral Square. The Cathedral is worth a visit inside, but most continue up the street for liquid inspiration as well at another Hemingway haunt, Bodeguita del Medio, for a refreshing mojito. As a finale, meander around the Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), which has a daily book fair with books in Spanish and English as well as posters, memorabilia, and more.
Take in One Show if Not Two
Music, art, dance, and rhythm are components of Cuban life. So much so, many would say every Cuban is a musician, artist, poet, or dancer. It is as if creativity is a part of Cuban DNA. With that said, on a visit to Havana, it would be a sin to return without experiencing at least one show.
For those that are looking for Buena Vista Social Club entertainment in the style of Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer, there are various shows and performances around town. My two favorites are Guarijido or Café Taberna for 30-40CUC ($35-$45 for show and drinks). If you are in the mood to be blown away by a combination of Cuban music, dancing, and costumes, you must go to the Tropicana. However, be warned the tickets are pretty pricey at 80-90 CUCs per person (roughly $90-$100 for show and drinks). That price gets you quite a bit of rum and mixers as well as a YOLO experience. If you are more of a jazz lover without the need for dancers and the whole production, there are two clubs worth visiting, the Jazz Café or La Zorra y El Cuervo.
FAC – Fabrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory)
The Cuban Art Factory is a relatively new addition to Havana’s scene. This factory turned into art and entertainment space is a must. Open Thursday through Sunday nights, this unique space is a walking art gallery of multi-media exhibits as well as a venue for music, film, and dance performances. For an entrance of 2 CUC (roughly $2.30), it is a blend of both Habaneros (locals to Havana) and visitors alike. There are various bars as well as small cafes throughout, but none take cash. Upon arrival you receive a passport, which serves as your exit pass, but also as your bill. You pay for what you have consumed on the way out.