8 Things To Do In Havana: Complete Guide To Cuba’s Capital
HAVANA, Apr. 29th Bienvenido a La Habana! No, not Little Havana in Miami; we’re talking about Cuba’s capital city, an enchanting and vibrant metropolis that has captured the hearts of travelers for decades. Havana is a destination unlike any other with its colorful architecture, vintage cars, salsa music, and world-renowned cigars.
Whether visiting to bask in the sun on the pristine beaches, revel in the vibrant nightlife, or immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the city, there’s something for every type of traveler in Havana.
Of course, no trip to Havana is complete without indulging in the city’s culinary delights. Savor the mouth-watering local dishes at Paladar La Guarida or uncover Hemingway’s Havana by sipping a daiquiri at El Floridita bar.
When the sun sets in Havana, the city truly comes to life. Dance the night away to the rhythms of salsa and rumba at some of the best clubs in Latin America.
With so much to discover in Havana, eager travelers will leave with a heart full of incredible experiences and unforgettable memories. Ready to explore the Cuban capital?
Top Things To Do In Havana
From exploring the historic streets of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts stunning colonial architecture, to the legendary Malecón promenade, this guide covers the most exciting and essential things to do in Havana.
Explore Central Havana
La Habana Vieja, or Old Havana, is the city’s beating heart, where the past and present blend seamlessly into a colorful, vibrant tapestry of history and culture.
Wander cobblestone streets lined with colonial-era buildings, marvel at the stunning Baroque and neoclassical architecture, and breathe in the aromas of Cuban coffee and cigars.
It’s possible to walk from one end of Old Havana to the other in about 25 minutes.
Visit the imposing Plaza de Armas, the oldest square in Havana, or tour the opulent Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Savor a cup of coffee at the popular Cafe El Escorial, people-watch from a balcony, or simply get lost in the lively street life.
Drive A Classic Car
Today, savvy operators offer classic car tours, gliding visitors past Havana’s colonial gems and communist-era landmarks. For a more intimate experience, book a personalized tour, complete with a driver who doubles as a tour guide, sharing insider knowledge of the city’s rich cultural offerings.
Catch Seascapes At The Malecón
A trip to Havana is incomplete without a stroll along the Malecón, the city’s iconic seawall. This five-mile-long esplanade has acted as a gathering place for locals and tourists alike for over a century.
Originally built to protect the city against the stormy seas, it has seen its fair share of changes over the years. Today, visitors can take a leisurely walk or ride a vintage car along the Malecón while soaking in the stunning views of the sea and city skyline.
Visitors can watch fishermen cast their lines into the sea, musicians play traditional Cuban tunes, and dancers sway to an infectious beat. Don’t forget to stop by the nearby outdoor bars to indulge in some refreshing mojitos as the sun sets over the horizon, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink.
Visit El Morro Castle
El Morro Castle, also known as the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, is a must-see stop on any Havana itinerary.
Built-in the 16th century to protect Havana’s harbor from pirates and invaders, the castle has a rich and tumultuous history.
Its thick walls watched as the Spanish repelled English and American invasions and later as it became a prison for revolutionaries, including the famed Che Guevara.
Visitors interested in learning about Che Guevara’s influence on the Cuban Revolution can visit the Museum of Che’s Rule here.
Today, visitors can walk along the battlements of the castle, which offer breathtaking views of the sea and city. Inside, the castle is home to several exhibits, including a maritime museum and a collection of cannons.
Be sure to catch the nightly canon ceremony, where soldiers dressed in 18th-century garb fire a cannon to signal the closing of the city gates.
Address: 5J2V+34X, La Habana, Cuba
Hours: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm
Tickets: 6 CUC for general admission; 2 CUC to climb the lighthouse
Getting to El Morro Castle in Havana, Cuba requires taking a ferry or a taxi.
However, travelers looking to combine several sights into one day can visit El Morro as part of a classic car tour or another sightseeing tour in Havana.
Tour A Cigar Factory
Many believe that Cuban cigars are the finest in the world, renowned for their rich, complex flavors and exquisite construction. Havana is the epicenter of cigar production and the perfect destination for those who wish to learn more about the history and craftsmanship behind these iconic smokes.
A visit to a cigar factory is a must for any true connoisseur, and Havana is home to some of the best. The Romeo Y Julieta Cigar Factory offers fascinating tours that take visitors through every step of the cigar-making process.
From the harvesting of tobacco to the rolling and packaging, guests will gain insight into the art and science of cigar production.
And, of course, no trip is complete without a chance to try one of these legendary cigars for themselves.
Address: 4JHJ+G69, Benjumeda, La Habana, Cuba
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am to 2 pm
Visit Plaza de la Revolución
Standing tall and proud, Plaza de la Revolución is a symbol of Cuba’s revolutionary past and present. This vast public square has hosted numerous political rallies and events, including speeches by Fidel Castro.
Towering high above the plaza is the Jose Marti Memorial, an impressive monument dedicated to Cuba’s national hero. Travelers can take a guided tour from Havana to explore the plaza’s monuments and learn about Cuba’s history. It’s also a great spot to snap photos of the giant mural of Cuba’s revolutionary hero Che Guevara.
The Colón Cemetery is less than a mile away for travelers interested in planning their day in Havana to see both major attractions.
Snap Photos At Fusterlandia
Fusterlandia, the wacky brainchild of artist José Fuster, is a must-see stop on any traveler’s itinerary in Havana. The entire neighborhood is a surreal smorgasbord of colorful mosaics that cover every surface in sight, from houses to park benches to lamp posts.
Fuster’s work is heavily influenced by the art of Gaudí and Picasso, and his vibrant designs are interspersed with sculptures of all shapes and sizes, including a giant dolphin and a towering rooster. Visitors are free to roam the streets and snap photos to their heart’s content, and the artist himself can sometimes be found working on new designs in his studio.
A visit to Fusterlandia is a true feast for the eyes and a reminder of the power of art to transform entire communities. Just remember to bring a fully-charged camera; it’s one of the most Instagrammable spots in Havana.
Getting to Fusterlandia requires a car. It’s 30 minutes west of central Havana, making it one of the best things to add to any itinerary that includes exploring Cuba beyond Havana.
Explore The Ernest Hemingway Museum
The Ernest Hemingway Museum, house inside Finca Vigía, showcases his time in Cuba and is a must-see for literature enthusiasts.
Nestled in the charming neighborhood of San Francisco de Paula, visitors can explore Hemingway’s sprawling estate and get a glimpse into his personal life.
The museum features an impressive collection of manuscripts, photos, and memorabilia highlighting Hemingway’s prolific career. After all, this historic home is where he wrote: “For Whom the Bells Tolls.”
While it’s not possible to enter the house itself, guests can peek inside to take in the distinctive Caribbean design and gain insight into his most beloved works. A tour of the Hemingway Museum is a journey into the mind and soul of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.
Address: 3P93+3WX, Finca Vigía Km. 12 ½, J Sosa, La Habana, Cuba
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm
Tickets: 125 CUP per person
Best Time to Visit Havana
With its tropical climate and warm temperatures year-round, Havana is a city that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. However, for those looking to experience the city at its best, the ideal time to visit is between January and February.
This is when the dry season is in full swing, and the weather is perfect for exploring Havana’s charming streets and historic landmarks.
During the dry season, Havana’s average temperature hovers between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with low temperatures rarely dipping below 65 degrees. The air is crisp, and the skies are clear and blue, making it the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities.
While hurricane season does technically overlap with the wet season (May to October), visitors shouldn’t worry too much about the chance of inclement weather. Cuba’s location in the Caribbean means that hurricanes are relatively rare, and if they do occur, they usually happen in August or September.
The Best Way To Get Around Havana
With so much to see and experience in Havana, the best way to get around is on foot or by classic car.
Navigating the streets of Havana is an adventure in itself, and there’s no better way to soak up the city’s infectious energy than on foot. By wandering the colorful streets, visitors can observe the vibrant architecture, savor the strong aromas of roasted coffee and street food, and observe locals in their daily routines.
Havana’s major landmarks are also conveniently located within walking distance of each other. For example, the Museo de la Revolución, La Habana Vieja, and El Malecón are all less than a mile from each other. This makes sightseeing on foot a top choice for visitors.
When traveling in Havana, one of the best ways to get around is by hopping into one of the many taxis that dot the city streets. While there are a variety of taxis to choose from, two of the most common options are:
Cubataxis are modern cars that are easy to spot and clearly marked. These taxis are dedicated to serving tourists, which means travelers don’t have to worry about sharing their rides with anyone else. Cubataxis offer a convenient and comfortable way to travel around Havana, with air conditioning and modern amenities to ensure the ride is enjoyable.
On the other hand, colectivos offer a more traditional way to experience Havana’s streets. These classic American cars from the early 20th century have become something of a legend in Havana, and taking a ride in one is an experience in itself.
Colectivos operate on a fixed route, meaning that travelers can’t dictate their route or final destination. However, they offer a fun and sociable way to get around. To take a colectivo, travelers should simply state the street they want to go to, and the driver will let them know if it’s on their route.
For travelers seeking a truly local experience, Havana’s guas-guas, the city’s articulated metro buses, offer a unique and budget-friendly way to explore the capital. These buses run on 17 established routes connecting central Havana with the city’s suburbs. While they can be hot and crowded, they provide a glimpse into the everyday life of Cuban residents.
The hub for many of the guas-guas routes is Parque de la Fraternidad, located in the vibrant neighborhood of Central Havana.
Guas-guas fare: Whether heading to the historic district of Old Havana or the peaceful beach town of Playas del Este, the guas-guas can get travelers there for a fare of around 10 pesos.
Previously, guas-guas did not pick up foreigners. They’re also a hotspot for pickpockets. Those traveling alone or visitors unfamiliar with Havana and the local culture might be better off catching a tourist bus.
Don’t want to worry about navigating bus routes in a new city? Explore the city with ease and convenience by hopping aboard the Havana Bus Tour, a hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus service that runs on two main routes throughout the day.
Meandering through the heart of the city, the open-topped T1 route takes in most of the must-see tourist sights in Centro Habana, Vedado, and Miramar, showcasing the city’s stunning architecture, abundant culture, and rich history. The single-story T3 route, on the other hand, runs to the white-sand beaches of Playas del Este, making stops at the city’s historic forts along the way.
To catch a ride, simply head to the main terminus at Parque Central opposite the iconic Hotel Inglaterra and hop on the next departing bus, which runs every 20 to 30 minutes.
The all-day tickets for the Havana Bus Tour cost the equivalent of approximately $10 USD, and while they must be paid for via credit card upon entering the bus, they offer unlimited rides, allowing travelers to see and explore Havana at their pace.
Where To Eat In Havana
Cuba’s culinary scene is flourishing, with Havana at the epicenter of it all. From traditional Cuban dishes like ropa vieja to fusion cuisine with a modern twist, these dining spots will tantalize anybody’s taste buds. Just be sure to save room for Hemingway’s favorite daiquiri.
Address: #358, La, Amargura, La Habana, Cuba
Hours: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm
Recommended: The Breakfast Plate is a favorite among travelers, as are the pancakes and iced latte
Address: 57 Concordia, La Habana, Cuba
Hours: Daily from 8:15 am to 6 pm
Recommended: Everybody raves about the quality of their coffee, which can be ordered alone or enjoyed as a combo meal with an omelet or other dish
Address: #60-C, Callejon del Chorro, La Habana, Cuba
Hours: Daily from 12 pm to 10 pm
Recommended: Don’t leave without sampling the sweet fried maduros (plantains) and the vaca frita
Address: Reina #473 Esquina Belascoaín, Havana Cuba
Hours: Daily from 12 pm to 11:30 pm
Recommended: From Ropa Vieja to roasted pork leg, this is the perfect place to sample Cuban and Caribbean fare
Address: Juan Delgado 255, Havana 10500 Cuba
Hours: Daily from 7 am to 11 pm
Recommended: Travelers can’t miss the opportunity to try the classic Ropa Vieja in this fine dining setting, but the beef carpaccio is also a guest favorite
Address: Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate, Habana Vieja
Hours: Daily from 12 pm to 1 am
Recommended: This bar has a history of over 200 years and was Hemingway’s favorite bar, so it’s impossible to visit without trying the Papa Hemingway
For travelers interested in exploring Hemingway’s Havana, the Hemingway Tour, which whisks travelers away in a classic car, ends at Bar Floridita with a daiquiri.
La Bodeguita del Medio
Address: Empedrado No. 207, La Habana Cuba
Hours: Daily from 8 am to midnight
Recommended: La Bodeguita claims to be the birthplace of the mojito, and they often have live Cuban music in the evenings
Where To Stay In Havana
Havana offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. While there are plenty of all-inclusive options in Cuba’s capital, it’s worth staying in Havana.
Travelers won’t want to miss the vibrant architecture and historic charm of La Habana Vieja or the breathtaking ocean views of the Malecón.
Address: 109 Consulado, Havana, La Habana, 10200
Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast available (for CUP 1700 per person), free parking, air conditioning, four minutes walking to El Malecón
Cost based on double occupancy: Starting at $64/night
La Reserva Vedado
Address: 508 Calle 2, La Habana, Cuba
Amenities: Breakfast included, free Wi-Fi, pet-friendly, parking, air conditioning, bar, business center, spa center, terrace, and gardens
Cost based on double occupancy: Starting at $161/night
Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel
Address: Avenida Paseo 206, Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, 10400
Amenities: Breakfast included, Free Wi-Fi, spa, air conditioning, bar, free parking, on-site restaurant, business center, room service, bike rentals, terrace, and gardens
Cost based on double occupancy: Starting at $249/night
How To Spend The Perfect Day In Havana
As the sun slowly rises over Havana, the city awakens to a new day filled with endless possibilities. To experience the true essence of this vibrant capital, travelers are encouraged to spend a day slowly savoring the city, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells.
The perfect day in Havana starts with a hearty breakfast of café con leche and pan con timba, a popular local dish consisting of grilled ham, cheese, and tomato on Cuban bread. The next stop should be Havana’s famous Malecón in a classic car, a scenic drive that offers stunning ocean views and iconic buildings, such as the Hotel Nacional and the Castillo del Morro.
A visit to the famous Revolution Square, the cultural heart of Havana, should also be on the itinerary. The square is home to several iconic landmarks, including the José Martí Memorial, the towering steel silhouette of Che Guevara, and the majestic National Theater.
After a busy morning exploring the city, it’s time to take a break and savor some of Havana’s finest cuisine. With a mix of fresh seafood, local Cuban specialties, and international flavors, the food scene in Havana is diverse and flavorful. Visitors can sample some of the best Cuban fare, including ropa vieja, arroz con pollo, and plantain chips.
In the afternoon, explore Havana’s charming old town, which is among the best-preserved colonial towns in the Americas. Visit the cobblestone streets of Plaza de San Francisco de Asís and admire the architecture of the Baroque-style Havana Cathedral, a stunning example of Havana’s colonial history. Other must-see attractions include the revitalized Gran Teatro de La Habana.
In the evening, experience the magic of Havana’s nightlife by hitting up the famous Tropicana cabaret show or the atmospheric Fabrica de Arte Cubano. End the perfect day in Havana at El Floridita with a daiquiri in hand, enjoying the company of fellow travelers and locals alike.
Q: What is Havana best known for?
Havana is the capital city of Cuba and is best known for its vibrant and colorful streets, vintage cars, delicious food, and famous cigars.
Q: How many days are enough in Havana?
Three to five days are recommended to truly experience all that Havana has to offer. A four-day Havana itinerary, for example, allows time to explore the colorful architecture of Old Havana, visit the historic forts, sample the local cuisine, and soak up the energetic nightlife.
Of course, those looking to venture outside the city and explore more of Cuba may want to plan for a longer stay.
Q: Is Havana a walkable city?
Yes, Havana is a highly walkable city due to its compact layout and moderate climate. The old town, with its narrow streets and colonial architecture, is particularly ideal for strolling and discovering hidden gems around every corner.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the famous Malecón, the city’s beloved waterfront promenade, or explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Vedado and Miramar, where many of the city’s cultural institutions and embassies are located. However, to explore beyond Havana, travelers will need to rent or hire a car.