It hasn’t been easy for you to get here, so you want to be sure and see all the fantastic places that you’ve always dreamed of!
This all starts in Havana, how could it not? Havana is the Capital of Cuba and a bustling, lively city of beautiful colors, incredible music, and unforgettable culture. Your wildest dreams come true in Havana. Let’s get started on a list of what you cannot miss while you are there!
Explore Old Havana
The city center and the hub of Havana—Old Havana—is a no-brainer. Here you will explore the ins and outs of the city. Old Havana is bursting with stories, pastel-painted houses, authentic meals to be enjoyed and classic drinks to be consumed. There is live music nearly everywhere, and this is the heart and soul of the city. Take your time wandering around and meandering through. You’ll likely discover a few favorite places to return to over and over.
Walk along Malecon
The Malecon is a wide esplanade that stretches the Havana coast from Havana Harbor to Old Havana. It’s a beautiful walk along the seawall and a fantastic place to stretch your legs and get some sightseeing in all at the same time. Although this is an incredible place to visit at any time of the day, it is a must-see at sunset, when the lights of the city and the reflections in the water are their most beautiful. It is picture perfect.
See Morro Castle
This fortress guarding the entrance to the Havana Bay was named after the three biblical Magi and is worthy of a visit during your travels. Anything with the word castle in the title is typically intriguing, and there are undoubtedly a whole host of stories and legends to learn of.
Visit the Capital
The National Capitol Building in Havana, also known as El Capitolio, was the primary seat of government in Cuba until after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and today is the home of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. Many essential moments in Cuban history occurred right in this place. Take a walk around and see if you too feel inspired for change.
See Giant Jesus
If you take the time to visit the Christ of Havana, you’ll be awed by the giant statue of Jesus that stands on a hillside overlooking the bay. This immense statue is the work of Jilma Madera, a Cuban sculptor who won a commission for his work on this project in 1953. The tall sculpture stands over everyone who comes to see and has a majestic presence that is worthy of a visit.
See an optical illusion
On the top floor of the Edificio Gomez Villa in the Plaza Vieja is the famous “Camera Obscura” of Havana. Invented by Leonardo da Vinci, this is an optical device that provides to its viewer a life 360-degree view of the entire city. It is an incredible way to see Havana, one you will undoubtedly remember for the rest of your life!
Relax on a rooftop
If you swing by the Hotel Ambos Mundos, you can grab a drink on their notorious rooftop bar the famed writer Ernest Hemingway was said to have frequented during his time in Havana. The hotel was built in 1924 and remains a fabulous testament to the design and architecture of its time. While you’re here, you should try one of the many classic cocktails that originated in Cuba. There is indeed no shortage of options to choose from. Enjoy the history, the rum, and the view.
Go to church
The Havana Cathedral is one of eleven Roman Catholic Cathedrals that exist on the island of Cuba. Placed in the center of Old Havana, this cathedral was described by novelist AlejoCarpentier as “music set in stone,” a testament to the beauty of this baroque style cathedral. Experience the living music that abounds in this place. Enjoy the architecture and the elaborate design.
See some art
At the Museum of Decorative Arts, there is a wide variety of art that you can enjoy offering a unique insight to wealth, culture and history of the city of Havana. The museum itself was the home of former resident Countess Maria Luisa Gomes Mena Cagiga’s widow. With a name so long, you know there are stories of her just waiting for you to discover them!
See the fish
Sure, there a lot of them surrounding the island, but there is a good amount on the island itself, at the National Aquarium of Cuba located in Havana. The museum was established in 1960 with the intent to focus on research and environmental education—a noble cause! Displayed at the museum are various tropical species and coral. It is a fabulous experience and an opportunity to see what exists in the ocean all around the island of Cuba. This is a fun excursion, especially if you are not the snorkeling type but still want to experience the amazing life forms that surround beautiful Cuba.
Go to the zoo
The Jardin Zoo has a long history and is a great activity if you are traveling with young children. If you are here with your family, you may be looking for activities that involve less lively rum and more family fun. In that case, this is the perfect destination for you, because, in addition to the great variety of animals that are displayed at the zoo, there is also a small train for children to ride. They, and you are sure to enjoy your time here—who doesn’t love the zoo!
Buy some books
If the first thing you do when you get to Cuba is to go on a search for Hemingway’s old hang-out, you’re probably a fan of books so you’ll also be a fan of this plaza! The Plaza de Armas is the oldest plaza in the city, and it is surrounded by restaurants and book stands. It’s pretty much a reader’s dream come true: Cuba, food, and books. What more could a person ask for?
Learn about rum
If you read the previous suggestion and weren’t feeling it, and were left feeling like—yeah, I could ask for more than a bunch of book stands… maybe this is the destination for you. The Museo del Ron Havana Club is a museum dedicated to the history of making rum in Cuba and even includes a tasting room and a liquor shop. It’s both educational and delicious. If you’re interested in the rum culture of Cuba, you are sure to enjoy this stop on your trip!
Watch “El Canonazo de las Nueve.”
This beautiful tradition is one you’ll want to see while you are in Havana. At 9 pm sharp, soldiers gather in the fortress of La Cabana, wearing traditional 18th-century costumes and shooting canons in a traditional warning to close the city gates. If you need another reason to go and watch—besides the beautiful history—your admission ticket includes a drink! This is an age-old tradition, and it is truly an incredible opportunity to be a part of it.
See the most eclectic square
The Plaza Vieja was laid out in 1559. This old and beautiful square is the most architecturally eclectic square in all of Havana. It was originally used for military exercises and in later years was used as an open-air market. Today, it’s a hub of culture and movement. It even has its microbrewery! With an evolution like that, you know that the plaza has stood the test of time and likely will for years to come. The only thing to wonder is what it will become next? Go to see it now so you can be a part of its long history.
Go to the Tropicana Club
Quickly, the most well-known club and cabaret in Havana, the Tropicana opened in 1939 at Villa Mina, an old estate with lush, tropical gardens. It became such a hit that spin-offs can be found in big cities such as New York and Atlantic City. But nothing is as good as the original. The food, the music, the ambiance—this is a place you absolutely can’t miss while you are in Havana.