Visit Old Havana

Old Havana

Old Havana is one of the most iconic and tourist-friendly areas in Havana, Cuba. It is full of history, colonial architecture, and vibrant cultural life. Below, I provide a list of some highlights to visit in Old Havana, along with information on prices and hours.

Tourist Map of Old Havana, Cuba

Ready to embark on an exciting journey through Old Havana? Nothing brings you closer to the hidden treasures of this part of Cuba than this interactive map of tourist attractions you can’t miss on your visit to Old Havana.

Where to Stay in Havana? Hotels and Private Houses

I have had the opportunity to explore Havana and discover a variety of accommodations, each with its own style and charm. If you’re looking for a place to stay in the vibrant Cuban capital, here are some recommendations that may suit your preferences:

  • Casa de Yadilis & Joel: If you’re looking for an authentic immersion in Cuban culture and the opportunity to connect with locals, Casa de Yadilis & Joel is an excellent choice. This private house has maintained its reputation over the years and offers you a unique experience.
  • Palacio de los Corredores Hotel: Located in the heart of Plaza de San Francisco. This newly opened hotel offers a privileged location and a charming atmosphere for your stay in Havana.
  • Malecón 663: If you’re looking for a modern and hipster-style experience, the boutique hostel Malecón 663, located on the Malecón, is an excellent choice. Plus, you can expect an exceptional breakfast, considered the best in Cuba by many.
  • Mystique Regis Habana Hotel: Located on Paseo del Prado. It offers breathtaking views of the city center and the Malecón. This hotel seamlessly combines modernity with its own authentic style.

These accommodations are just a few options that Havana has to offer. Whether you desire an authentic experience with locals, a stay in a luxury hotel, or a boutique retreat, Havana has a special place for every traveler. Enjoy your stay in this city full of history and charm!

Must-See Things in Havana

The most touristy area of Havana is the neighborhood known as Old Havana. Most of the monuments and sites to see in Havana are concentrated here. Extending westward, we find Central Havana, very authentic, and a bit further away, Vedado, somewhat more modern.

However, in any of them, you can still enjoy the simplicity of Cuba and its beautiful decay (sometimes on the brink of ruin, truth be told). The infinite range of colors offered by its buildings is magical, and my advice if you’re going to visit Havana in 2023 is to look beyond that first layer of destruction to find its true treasures, of which there are many.

As I always say, I encourage you to start getting to know the city with this free tour of the most important points (it’s a free guided route where you leave a tip at the end at will). It’s the best way to stop feeling like a stranger in a new place in record time. In addition to the generic walk, this specific one about the colonial face of the city is divine. And why not,try a nocturnal one.

Take a Classic Car Ride in Havana

Paseo Martí, near Parque Central, is the key place to delight in American cars from the 1950s. I had read before going that currently in Cuba, they still account for 30% of the total, but I would say the number is much higher!

How is it possible that the first time I visited Havana, I didn’t ride in a convertible classic car? It was one of the most fun experiences of my last trip to Cuba, and I highly recommend it. Nothing identifies this city more than its vintage cars (known as “almendrones”), so don’t think twice and book it for the first day.

Sonia classic car Havana

Hire the Best Tours in Old Havana

Binoculars drawing

It is an ideal place to carry out many activities, as mentioned, and here you can hire them directly, without complications and at a good price, even Free Tours that are free.

The best Tours in Cuba, you can also hire the transportation from the airport to the hotel or to the final destination you need to go to.

Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square, known in Spanish as “Plaza de la Catedral,” is one of the most iconic and charming places in Old Havana, Cuba. It is a popular tourist destination due to its architectural beauty and historical ambiance.

Cathedral Square is a place full of history and architectural beauty that will transport you to the colonial era of Cuba. It is a popular stop for tourists visiting Old Havana and an opportunity to explore the cultural richness of the city.

Cathedral of San Cristobal de La Habana: The square takes its name from the Cathedral of San Cristobal, an imposing baroque church built in the 18th century. The cathedral is known for its impressive facade with two asymmetrical towers and its equally impressive interior with elegant decoration and religious artwork. Entry to the square is free, but you can pay to enter the Cathedral of Havana, which often costs a few CUC (Cuban convertible pesos).

The square and its surrounding buildings reflect Spanish colonial architecture, with colorful baroque and neoclassical-style buildings. The cobblestone streets give the square a charming and picturesque atmosphere.

The Cathedral Square is a lovely place to take a stroll, enjoy the historical architecture, and the peaceful atmosphere. It’s a popular spot for taking photos and exploring the history and culture of Cuba. In the vicinity of the square, you’ll find restaurants and cafes where you can savor Cuban food and traditional drinks. It’s a popular place to taste local dishes and Cuban cocktails.

The Cathedral Square is often the setting for cultural events, such as live music performances and festivals. It’s a place where locals and tourists can enjoy Cuban culture in a beautiful setting. The Cathedral Square is located in the heart of Old Havana, within walking distance of other tourist attractions.

Vintage car Cuba

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas is another of the historic and emblematic squares located in Old Havana. It is one of the oldest places in the city and has a rich history. It was established in 1520, making it the oldest square in Havana. During the colonial era, the square was the political and administrative center of the city, hosting the Palace of the Captains General and other important buildings.

The Plaza de Armas is a historically and culturally rich place in Old Havana. It is a popular destination for history, literature, and architecture enthusiasts, offering a fascinating glimpse into the city’s colonial heritage. If you’re interested in history, literature, or just enjoy a charming atmosphere, Plaza de Armas is a place you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Havana.

Plaza de Armas

Monument to Carlos Manuel de Cespedes: In the center of the square stands an equestrian statue of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a Cuban independence leader from the 19th century. The statue was erected in honor of his role in the struggle for Cuba’s independence.

The Plaza de Armas is often the venue for cultural events, such as live music performances and art exhibitions. It’s a place where visitors can experience the culture and daily life of Cuba.

Used Book Market: Plaza de Armas is known for its used book market, which often sets up in the square. Here, you can find a variety of old books, magazines, and collectibles. It’s a popular place for literature and history enthusiasts. Open from Monday to Saturday.

Around the square, you’ll find well-preserved colonial buildings housing shops, art galleries, restaurants, and museums. The architecture of the area is beautiful and evokes the city’s history. It’s a pleasant place to relax and enjoy a coffee or a meal while observing life in the square.

Old Havana

Chocolate Museum

The Chocolate Museum, located in Old Havana, is a delightful place for chocolate lovers and those interested in history and the production of cocoa and chocolate in Cuba. Open every day, you can taste delicious Cuban chocolates at a reasonable price.

The Chocolate Museum is housed in a restored colonial building and is a relatively new attraction in Old Havana. The museum is dedicated to celebrating the history and culture of cocoa and chocolate in Cuba.

The Chocolate Museum in Old Havana, a must-stop on your city tour. The Chocolate Museum is a unique and pleasant establishment located at the corner of Mercaderes and Amargura streets in Old Havana, the Historic Center of the Cuban capital. Here, you can learn about the history of this delicious product on the island, see its preparation process, and taste the delicate drinks, chocolates, and bars made here.

chocolate museum

It is identified by an oval wooden sign hanging on the wall along Mercaderes, featuring a relief cocoa fruit and around it, in white letters on a green background, the name of the museum. As you approach, the smell of chocolate enters your nose and spirit, inviting you to cross the threshold. Once inside, the spell is complete, and you can’t think of anything else but enjoying any of the delights they offer here.

Posters and advertisements from old Cuban chocolate industries and other regions decorate the walls. Adding to the interior design are display cases showcasing items that tell the story of cocoa, seeds, ingredients for making chocolates, tools used in preparation, and antique chocolate cups.

The museum features a variety of interactive exhibits that explain the chocolate production process, from cocoa harvesting to the manufacturing of final products. You can learn about the history of chocolate in Cuba and its cultural significance.

Cocoa in hands fruits

Chocolate Tastings: One of the most popular experiences at the Chocolate Museum is chocolate tasting. Visitors can taste different types of Cuban chocolate, from dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It is also possible to taste hot chocolate drinks and other chocolate-based delights.

Through the left door, you access the chocolate shop where there are two rooms, one is air-conditioned, and the other is a small courtyard at the back of the establishment, which most visitors seem to overlook.

In either of the two rooms, you can sit and savor calmly and for only 0.55 CUC, a cup of hot chocolate with nuts, flavored with spices, accompanied by a chocolate bonbon. If you prefer to cool off with cold chocolate, the accompaniment is the same, and the price is 1 CUC.

Chocolate Shop: The museum has a shop where you can buy Cuban chocolate products, such as chocolate bars, bonbons, and other chocolate-related souvenirs. It’s a perfect place to buy gifts or mementos.

Chocolate Making Classes: The Chocolate Museum offers classes and workshops where you can learn to make your own chocolates. It’s an educational and fun experience for chocolate lovers.

Cocoa fruit

Revolution Museum

The Revolution Museum is a true historical treasure in Old Havana. This museum is an impressive tribute to the Cuban revolution and its history, and I want to share my own experience exploring it.

Schedule: Open every day, except Mondays, and the museum entrance has a price of about 8 CUC.

The museum is located in the former Presidential Palace, and the architecture itself is a testament to Cuba’s colonial past. The elegant columns and neoclassical facade are impressive, and it’s hard not to be amazed by the majesty of the building. The striking statues and monuments in the surrounding gardens transport you to a time of change and struggle.

Inside the museum, the exhibition halls house an astonishing array of objects, documents, and artifacts that tell the story of the Cuban revolution. From historical photographs to military uniforms and weapons, each exhibit provides a detailed insight into the events that led to the revolution and the subsequent changes in Cuban society.

One of the highlights is the “Granma,” the yacht that brought Fidel Castro and his revolutionary group from Mexico to Cuba in 1956.

You can’t miss the room dedicated to Che Guevara. His iconic image is everywhere, and the exhibit features an impressive collection of his personal belongings and photographs that showcase his commitment to the revolution.

Che Guevara

Batista’s plane: In the outdoor courtyard, there is a military plane that once belonged to dictator Fulgencio Batista. Seeing it there, surrounded by cannons and tanks used in the revolutionary struggle, is a visual reminder of the dramatic changes that occurred in Cuba.

The Museum of the Revolution is a place that evokes a mix of emotions for the historical events and, at the same time, a profound reflection on the impact of those events on people’s lives.

A visit to the Museum of the Revolution is an enriching and educational experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the history of Cuba and gain a better understanding of its revolutionary legacy. It is a must-visit destination if you are in Old Havana and are interested in Cuban history and culture.

The Capitol

The Capitol is another iconic place in Old Havana, and my visit there was simply amazing. Let me take you through my experience and share some recommendations on what you can’t miss.

As I entered the Capitol, I was amazed by its architectural grandeur. This neoclassical building, resembling the Capitol in Washington, D.C., is a masterpiece of architecture. The imposing columns, domes, and sculptures that adorn it are impressive. The history and beauty of the place are palpable from the moment you step inside.

Capitolio, Habana Cuba

Statue Room

One of the highlights of the Capitol is the Statue Room, where you will be greeted by four impressive allegorical figures representing the values of the republic: Virtue, Work, Peace, and Homeland. The attention to detail in these sculptures is extraordinary.

The dome

You can’t help but admire the Capitol’s dome. It is one of the largest in the world and is made of bronze coated with gold. Climbing up to the dome is a unique experience that rewards you with panoramic views of Havana. The photos you can take from there are spectacular!

The Republic Statue

In the main lobby, you will find a monumental statue called “The Republic.” This sculpture is the third-largest interior statue in the world and is a symbol of Cuba’s independence.

The Hall of Lost Steps

The Hall of Lost Steps is another amazing space inside the Capitol, with its elegant decor and stunning marble. It’s a place where you can take a leisurely stroll and appreciate the beauty of the architecture.

National Library of Social Sciences

Within the Capitol, you will also find the National Library of Social Sciences, which houses a collection of books and documents related to the history of Cuba. If you are a history or research enthusiast, this place is a gem.

My number one recommendation is that you don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Capitol of Havana in its entirety, including the ascent to the dome. The views are spectacular and will give you a new perspective of the city.

Capitol, Havana, Cuba

The Nine O’Clock Cannon: A Nightly Classic 

Every night at 9:00 PM, Havana pays homage to its history through the traditional “Cañonazo” ceremony in the area of Castillo del Morro. If you hear a thunderous sound at that time, don’t worry! It’s a classic event that you can’t miss during your visit to the city.

This historic ceremony is a unique opportunity to recall the ancient curfew that used to mark the city’s closure and protect it from corsairs. Here’s a specific route that will take you to the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, where you can witness this spectacle in all its splendor.

A guide will take you through history and explain how the city gates used to close after the daily cannon shot. From the fortress, you will enjoy a privileged view of the show while immersing yourself in the atmosphere of colonial Havana.

The “Nine O’Clock Cannon” is more than just an event; it’s a journey back in time that will connect you with the past and the essence of Havana. So, if you’re in the city, make sure to include this unique experience in your itinerary. Get ready to travel to the past and enjoy a historical show that is still alive in the present!

habana-ceremonia-fuerte

Bodeguita del Medio

Bodeguita del Medio is an iconic place in Havana, and, of course, I want to share my experience with you. On Empedrado Street, a few meters after leaving Cathedral Square in Old Havana, you reach Bodeguita del Medio, a small restaurant-bar, world-renowned for the famous personalities who have graced this place with their presence and enjoyed Mojitos, rum, cigars, and Cuban music, leaving their signatures on the walls as graffiti displayed with pride.

Mojitos and Caribbean ambiance

From the moment I stepped into Bodeguita del Medio, I immersed myself in an authentic Caribbean atmosphere. The place is full of history and has been frequented by a long list of celebrities and famous figures over the years, including Ernest Hemingway. The walls are adorned with messages, autographs, and photos of famous visitors, adding to the eclectic and exciting atmosphere.

The most famous mojitos

One of the biggest attractions of Bodeguita is undoubtedly its mojito. I ordered one as soon as I sat at the bar, and I must say it was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Fresh, with a perfect balance of sweetness from the sugar, the freshness of mint, and the touch of rum, it was a true delight! Although I was surprised that they didn’t use crushed ice.

Cuban Mojito

Music and dance

Bodeguita del Medio often features live music, such as Cuban son and salsa. The atmosphere becomes filled with energy, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the rhythm. People rise from their seats and start dancing, making the experience even more memorable.

Cuban cuisine

In addition to mojitos, Bodeguita also offers a variety of Cuban dishes. I tried some tapas, such as tamales and tostones, which were delicious. It was a perfect opportunity to taste some traditional Cuban dishes.

Bodeguita food

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the diversity of people visiting La Bodeguita. There were locals and tourists from all over the world, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and unity. It was a place where I could interact with people from different cultures and share travel stories.

A piece of advice

If you plan to visit La Bodeguita del Medio, I recommend arriving early, especially if you want a table. The place fills up quickly, and the atmosphere is livelier in the late afternoon and evening. In summary, my visit to La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana was a delightful experience. It’s a place where you can enjoy the flavors, music, and history of Cuba all in one spot.

Don’t forget to leave your own signature or message on the walls; it’s part of the tradition!

Floridita Bar

The Floridita Bar is another iconic spot in Havana that I had the opportunity to visit, and I definitely want to share my experience with you. This historic bar is known as the birthplace of the famous daiquiri cocktail and is a place worth visiting, ranked among the 7 most famous bars in the world.

Floridita Bar Cuba

The Daiquiri, a legend at Floridita

From the moment I entered Floridita, I was impressed by its classic and elegant atmosphere. It’s easy to understand why this place was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorites, as it exudes a vintage charm that transports you to the golden age of cocktails. The main attraction here, of course, is the daiquiri.

I ordered a daiquiri, and I must say it was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Fresh, cold, and perfectly balanced, this drink is a true delight. Floridita is famous for its version of the daiquiri, which is slightly thicker and creamier than the original variant, known as the “Hemingway Daiquiri.” If you enjoy cocktails, you should definitely try one here.

Hemingway Statue

You can’t miss the statue of Ernest Hemingway in the bar, paying homage to the famous writer. Hemingway was a frequent visitor to Floridita and had his own special chair, which remains in place today in his memory. The statue is a constant reminder of his influence on the place.

The local clientele, however, is not abundant, as the approximately six dollars for a classic daiquiri represent almost a fifth of the average monthly salary earned by a Cuban in the state sector.

Food Menu

Floridita also offers a selection of delicious Cuban dishes. I had the opportunity to try some local dishes, such as garlic shrimp and tostones, which were an excellent choice to accompany my daiquiri. Don’t miss out on trying the lobster, at laughable prices, treat yourself, you won’t regret it.

Langosta

Live Music

Floridita often features live music, such as Cuban son and traditional Cuban music. The atmosphere fills with joy, making it the perfect place to enjoy live Cuban music.

Decor and Atmosphere

The bar is adorned with historical photographs and items reflecting its long history. The antique decor and furniture make you feel like you’re in a timeless place. Like other popular spots in Havana, Floridita can fill up quickly, especially in the late afternoon and evening. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere to enjoy your daiquiri, consider visiting early in the day.

Daiquiri Cubano

National Museum of Fine Arts

The National Museum of Fine Arts (National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana) is one of the most important and prestigious cultural institutions in Cuba, located in Havana, the country’s capital. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of an impressive collection of Cuban and international artworks, spanning a wide variety of styles and periods.

History and Architecture

The museum is divided into two buildings located in the center of Havana, known as the Palace of Fine Arts and the Building of Universal Art. The Palace of Fine Arts, built in 1954, is an architectural gem that combines elements of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The Building of Universal Art, dating back to 1913, has eclectic architecture. Both buildings are worth admiring in their own right.

What to Expect Inside the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana

Do you want an intensive course in Cuban history? Then start by examining what it has created: the collection of Cuban Art spans from the colonial period to the present day. The collection includes sculptures, prints, paintings, photographs, and videos from pioneering Cuban artists like Ana Mendieta and Wifredo Lam.

Crossing the courtyard to the Building of Universal Art, you’ll find a delightful collection of artworks. The main collection starts with Flemish and Italian Renaissance art and concludes with select Spanish and French paintings from the 19th century. The smaller but invaluable collection of the “Count of Lagunillas” also includes some pieces from ancient Sumerian and Egyptian times. In addition to the main exhibitions, it has two rooms for temporary exhibitions.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes Cuba

Collections

The National Museum of Fine Arts houses an extensive collection of artworks spanning from antiquity to the present day. Some of the highlights include:

  • Cuban Art: The museum boasts an impressive collection of Cuban art, ranging from colonial times to contemporary art. You can explore works by renowned Cuban artists such as Wifredo Lam, Amelia Peláez, and many others.
  • International Art: The Universal Art building hosts a collection of international art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative art from renowned European and Latin American artists, as well as others from around the world.
  • Contemporary Art: The museum also features a prominent collection of contemporary art, including works by Cuban and foreign artists who have influenced the contemporary art scene.
  • Temporary Exhibitions: The museum regularly organizes temporary exhibitions showcasing works by local and international artists, meaning there is always something new and exciting to discover.

Visits and Hours

Open to the public every day, except Mondays, the museum entrance has a cost of around 8 CUC. In summary, it is a must-visit for art and culture lovers, offering an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich artistic history of Cuba and the world.

Museo Habana

Music at the Museum

A small but sophisticated concert hall located in the Cuban Art building hosts events from Friday to Sunday. This venue is known for supporting young musicians and emerging projects. It specializes in Cuban Jazz and Trova, but you can also expect occasional theater performances and even European bel canto opera.

To get your tickets, simply head to the venue an hour before the show starts. If you’re lucky to be in the city at the right time, on special dates throughout the year, more prominent events take place in the prestigious setting of the museum’s courtyard. Information about all events can be found on the National Museum of Fine Arts website.

 
Habana vieja
 

Paseo del Prado

The Paseo del Prado, also known as Paseo de Martí, is one of the most iconic and beautiful avenues in the city, located in the heart of Old Havana.

A Walk Through History and Culture

From the moment I set foot on the Paseo del Prado, I felt transported to another era. This broad, tree-lined avenue, stretching along several blocks, is full of Cuban history and culture. I found myself surrounded by stunning colonial buildings, sculptures, and well-maintained gardens.

Malecón Habana

One of the things that impressed me the most was the architecture of the buildings along the Paseo del Prado. The ornate facades, wrought iron balconies, and architectural details in the Spanish colonial style are simply beautiful. It was a delight to stroll along the avenue and admire the architecture.

Sculptures and Monuments

Along the Paseo del Prado, you will find a series of monuments and sculptures paying tribute to historical and cultural figures of Cuba. One of the most prominent is the monument to José Martí, a national hero of Cuba. You will also see sculptures representing important moments in Cuban history.

Monumento Malecón

Restaurants and Cafés

The Paseo del Prado hosts a variety of restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy Cuban cuisine and refresh with traditional drinks. It was a pleasure to stop at one of the outdoor terraces and taste dishes like rice and black beans and a refreshing mojito while observing life on the avenue.

Cultural Activities

The Paseo del Prado often hosts cultural events, such as live music performances, dances, and art exhibitions. If you have the opportunity, attending one of these events will allow you to further experience the rich Cuban culture.

Walking towards the Malecón

The Paseo del Prado also leads you to the famous Malecón de La Habana, the iconic waterfront promenade that stretches along the coast. As I walked towards the Malecón, I could enjoy breathtaking views of the sea and the everyday life of Havana.

Malecón de La Habana

The Malecón de La Habana is one of the city’s most iconic and beloved spots. This several-kilometer-long waterfront promenade extends along the north coast of Havana and is an iconic place that attracts both locals and visitors. Here, I share my experience on the Malecón de La Habana:

A seaside stroll

The Malecón is a perfect place for a relaxing seaside stroll. The sea breeze, the sound of waves breaking against the rocks, and the view of the horizon create a tranquil and serene atmosphere. You can walk, run, or simply sit on one of the benches along the promenade and enjoy the surroundings.

Malecón passeo

Local life

The Malecón is a place where local life comes alive. During my visit, I saw Cubans of all ages enjoying the Malecón: fishing, playing dominoes, dancing salsa, singing, and sharing stories. It’s a place where the community gathers, and you can experience authentic Cuban life.

Architecture and landscapes

As I walked along the Malecón, I also appreciated the architecture of the buildings along the coast. The mix of architectural styles, from colonial to Art Deco, is fascinating. Additionally, the views from the Malecón offer some of the most iconic postcards of Havana, especially at sunset.

Stunning sunsets

One of the most magical moments on the Malecón is sunset. When the sun begins to descend on the horizon, the sky fills with colors, and the view from the Malecón is simply spectacular. It’s a very popular spot to enjoy romantic sunsets and capture unforgettable photos.

Malecón Cuba

Events and festivals

The Malecón is also a place where cultural events and festivals are often celebrated. From outdoor concerts to parades and celebrations, there is always something exciting happening on this lively coastal avenue.

The sea and the Malecón

The Malecón is not just a place to walk but also to interact with the sea. During my visit, I saw people swimming, fishing, and simply enjoying the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The seawall that extends along the Malecón is a popular spot to sit and contemplate the sea.

Pescadores en Malecón

Have I convinced you already that Havana is a beautiful city, very colorful and full of personality? Is it a bit rundown? Well, yes, but that adds to its charm. Hopefully, this guide to Havana has been useful for you to blend in with its inhabitants, knowing what to see and do to feel like you’ve made the most of it.

You might also be interested in these posts about Cuba:

Have you been to Cuba? Tell me what you think of my experience and suggestions to make the most of your time in Cuba. I hope you find these recommendations helpful!

Cienfuegos

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