Explore Havana

Explore Havana
Featured Image: Gil.K / Shutterstock.com
The vibrancy of Havana is infectious and before long you’ll be dancing in the streets, chatting with locals, and walking the Malecon on warm summer nights. Havana is the capital city of Cuba and the third largest city in the Carribean. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, the beautiful colonial architecture still stands, albeit most buildings have been deteriorating rapidly since the 1960s.

Many people travel to Havana to catch a glimpse into a world governed by communist principles with a rich Spanish influence, and a striking American mark – restored old classic cars. Time stood still for the Cubans for a number of years in terms of infrastructure, but that could be changing very soon. Now is definitely the time to visit.

Havana's colourful streets
Bodequita del medio

Places to Visit in Havana

  • Museum of the Revolution
  • Museum of Classic Cars
  • Castillo de La Real Fuerza
  • Cathedral of Havana
  • Plaza de San Francisco de Assisi
  • El Capitolio Nacional
  • Gran Teatro de la Habana

Unique Things to See and Do in Havana

  • Take a ride in a taxi particular (the old classic cars!)
  • Watch a show at the Tropicana
  • Dance the night away at 1830
  • Watch a passionate baseball game
  • Hang out on the Malecon Sea Wall at night
  • Experience a El Papa Doble La Floridita and La Bodequita del Medio
  • Walk through the Havana Vieja and take photographs
  • Smoke a cigar while you’re in Cuba!
  • Try guarapo – sugar cane juice, freshly squeezed

Dancing the Night Away in Havana

Salsa, rumba, son, bachata, or meringue – take your pick of dances! Like most of the other Caribbean islands, music is at the heart and soul of Cubans and Cuban life. The evolution of Cuban music comes from the African slaves that were brought in during the 15th-century transatlantic trading. The slaves incorporated their traditions with the new emerging syncretic religion of Santeria – a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Yoruba mythology. The rituals combined drumming and dance and honoured deities in brightly coloured costumes.

This is what you’ll see when walking around Havana. Brilliant displays of Orisha dancing performed on the streets. It can take years for these dancers to learn the complicated moves, and yet they make it look so easy. Book a private lesson with a teacher. Havana’s night life is so much fun, for any age. Cubans of all ages party together, including the children, so don’t be shy and make sure to get out. Tropicana shows are a must too!

 Learn About Cuba from Cubans

There are many tour companies that offer day trips around the city to introduce you to all the famous sights you’ll want to see. This is a great way to orient yourself and it provides a good wealth of information on the structure of the country.

Most tour guides are highly educated with professions in medicine, law, or business, which means you’ll get an incredibly informed tour. Every country is unique, but Cuba is particularly distinct due to the political isolation from some of the most powerful economies in the world. The people are educated, understand the political strategies around them, and have learnt how to work with each other collectively to get ahead.

This is a particularly interesting time for Cuba with the government relations opening up trade with the United States. Culturally the country has a new generation in its workforce, one that has grown up with the restrictions and hasn’t experienced life during pre-Castro days. Their thoughts and ideas on how the country could evolve with technological advances (greater internet access) could really benefit the country, and yet they are passionate about their way of life. They don’t want to lose their heritage. Culture is always evolving so it will be interesting to see how the country handles the changes that lie ahead.

Did you know…?

Fidel Castro’s favourite Cuban cigars were Cohibas.

Did you ALSO know…?

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was never a Cuban citizen. He was actually a Argentinian citizen.

Revolution Square

Getting Around Havana

The best way to get around the city is to either take a taxi in an old classic American car or take a “Coco taxi,” a three wheeled motorized cart. Taxi rides are usually really informative since most drivers are willing to tour you around the city for longer if you want. Decide on a price prior to taking the ride.

Best Time of Year to Travel to Havana

Havana is a vibrant city that entertains travellers all year long. The best times to visit are between the months of November and March, during the dry season. The weather is a bit  cooler (22C) but still warm and sunny. This is a popular time for travellers looking to escape the winter blues, so it tends to be a bit pricey. The rainy season lasts from June to November, with hurricane season being most prominent in September and October. In June and July the temperatures can rise up to 38C with high humidity, which can be too hot even for the Cubans!

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