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The capital of Cuba, Havana is a colorful city with a year-round tropical climate, surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. This Caribbean island nation is known for its stunning beaches, tobacco fields and cigar industry, Spanish Colonial architecture, and thriving salsa dancing and music scene, to name a few. From museums and theatres to old school architecture and 1950s cars, a fascinating history awaits visitors when they come to Havana.
Things to Do in Havana
For a taste of Cuba’s history, visit El Capitolio—an iconic 1920s landmark. The Castillo de la Real Fuerza is a fort and maritime museum located in the downtown neighborhood of Old Havana (second most populated part of the city), as well as the baroque Catedral de San Cristobal and Plaza Vieja. Go for a walk at The Malecon—Cuba’s version of the Vegas strip—where you can enjoy five miles of beautiful coastline with a backdrop of musicians, bars and street vendors. Stroll the grounds of the University of Havana, which was founded in 1728 and remains a site of social and political organization for today’s youth culture. Known for its vibrant music scene, Havana is home to a series of famous nightclubs like La Zorra y El Cuervo and 1830. The residential area of Vedado is home to the remains of former palatial estates and mansions from the 20th century, while Old Havana has lots of colonial-era buildings and architecture from the 1960s and ‘70s that pay homage to the past. Stop for lunch at Plaza Vieja, and take in an arts performance at Teatro Nacional, which hosts some of the top performers in Cuba. Go for a hike at Pico Turquino, which is the highest point on the island, and visit Finca Vigia—author Ernest Hemingway’s home from 1939 to 1960, which has now been converted into a museum. Delve deeper into Cuba’s political past with a visit to The Museum of the Revolution, which is housed in a former presidential palace and is one of Havana’s most popular attractions.
Day Trips Near Havana
The small town of Vinales is three-and-a-half hours from Havana by bus, and is a beautiful area that offers horseback riding, biking and day hikes. There are also several places to go dancing around here, if you’re looking for a fun night out on the town. If a beach is what you’re after, Havana Riviera is a stunning beach that is just 30 minutes away from the Centro Habana neighborhood. Another fun attraction is the Hershey Train, a four-hour adventure ride that makes over three dozen stops throughout different towns, including Yumuri Valley and Matanzas. Fun fact: it was established by the Hershey chocolate company in the early 20th century. If you travel an hour east of Havana, the village of Jibacoa consists of several beaches and a small scenic cliff side town, and is a great place for snorkeling, hiking and caving. If you’re looking to travel to another island, Jamaica, Haiti, The Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands are just a few hours away by plane. A flight from Havana to Miami last just over an hour, making it a very convenient day trip.
Two of the most popular areas to stay are Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and Habana Centro, especially if you want to be right in the middle of everything. These areas are super happening with music venues, museums and beautiful architecture, but they are densely populated and tend to be on the noisy side. Vedado is another great neighborhood to stay in, with a more suburban atmosphere that includes peaceful houses on tree-lined streets in close proximity to places like the Habana Libre Hotel. Find property rentals in Havana
Transportation in Havana
There are many different forms of transportation available around Havana. Locals use the regular bus service, but visitors are advised to avoid these buses for safety reasons, such as being robbed or pickpocketed. Taxis are the most popular method for tourists to get around, and the almendron (a 1950s car operated as a coach taxi service) operates on a fixed route, dropping off and picking people up along the way. There is also the Viazul coach bus, which many foreigners use and is considered safer than the regular bus.