Things to do in Havana Cuba

10 Unmissible Things To Do In Hot Havana!

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I dare you to name another city as sexy at Havana! This high-charged Cuban city simmers with salsa, cocktails and classic cars. The three main areas Centro Habana, La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and Vedado each offer something unique so let’s dive into the best things to do in Havana, Cuba.


» You may also like: our guide to Cuba for first-timers. 


Fun Things to do in Havana

1. Take a Ride in a Classic Cuban Car

 Yes! The number one thing to do in Havana is to take a spin in one of those famous 1950s cars.

Feel the wind in your hair as the welcomed breeze generated by speed picks up.

You can’t actually drive a vintage car yourself in Cuba, believe it or not these cars are used in everyday Cuban life too. It’s not just a tourist gimmick although you will notice the best-kept ones are parading around Old Havana for your coin. 

We had the privilege of riding in a yellow mustang which drove us through the streets of  Vedado to Havana forest, along the Malecón and to Revolution Sqaure.

Pre-book your Havana car tour here and avoid the bartering process on the street. This two-hour tour includes a cocktail at the impressive Hotel Nacional. Hence why it’s best you don’t do the driving!

Revolution Square Vintage Car Havana

2. Plaza de la Revolución

Be like Obama!

Capture that that iconic Che Guevara monument at Plaza de la Revolución.

If you are slightly besotted with the handsome freedom fighter try to get your hands on the 5 CUP note which has his face on it. Need to more about the currency? Check out our Cuban money guide.

What’s the best way to get to Revolution Square? The cheapest is to jump on the hop on/off double-decker Habana Tourist Bus. The fastest is to hire a taxi. The coolest is to rent a classic car and add the square to your Havana itinerary. See above for more details. 

3. Drink Cocktails in Havana

Much of life in Havana is built around socialising and salsa and when the rum is so damn tasty why not?!

You’ll want to try a mojito at Hotel Nacional de Cuba (Calle Obispo Esquina) and a margarita at La Floridita on Obispo which was relatively expensive, I’ve had better.

Check out how much we spent in Cuba, it was surprisingly more than we hoped.

For modern cocktails and tasty food check out 304 O’Reilly (O’Reilly).

Hey, beer drinkers! You’ll find a craft beer distillery called Factoria Microbrewery at Plaza Vieja. I love the art sculpture by Roberto Fabelo in that square too.

La Bodeguita Del Medio Havana

4. Stalk Hemingway 

The American novelist, Ernest Hemingway, was a big fan of Havana and you can follow his footsteps by having a drink in his favourite haunts La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita, then a nosey at where he collapsed at night at the Hotel Ambos Mundos.

Head to the top of this elegant hotel (aka The Mirador of Old Havana) for lovely views of the city.

There is a tour of Hemingway’s home outside of Havana as well as his known spots in the city. Fans can read more about it here.

» Read next | The best Havana tours you can’t miss

Ambos Mundos Havana

5. Take a Walk Along the Malecón

Take a stroll along the 8km seawall of Havana which starts from La Habana (Old Havana), runs past Centro Habana into Vedado. Grab a 1 CUC pizza from a ‘hole in the wall’ café and head for the waves. 

After a day strolling among the crumbling colonial buildings and dusty streets you will be thankful for space the breath that this city ocean provides. 

Malecon Havana | 10 things to do in Havana

6. Revolution Museum

To cast your eyes on legitimate clothing worn by Cuban soldiers during the revolution as well as newspaper articles and authentic bullet holes check out Havana’s Museo de la Revolucion.

You can’t miss the striking old Presidential Palace building as it is surrounded by Cuban artillery.

There are scripts of information (some poorly) transcribed from Spanish to English which details the events of the revolution.

→ Tip: don’t be fooled if a local tells you that the museum is closed and then tries to tempt you to a bar of their choosing. This happened to us! It’s one of the many scams in Cuba, I detail more here.

Want detailed stories with your sightseeing? Check out this affordable private tour of Havana. 

  • Entry fee: 5 CUC
  • Address: Avenida Bélgica, La Habana, Cuba

Revolution Museum Havana | 10 things to do in Havana

Revolution Museum | 10 things to do in Havana

7. Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña

For things to do in Havana at night, check out Havana’s La Cabaña (fort).

Every night at 9 pm tourists flock to the Havana’s La Cabaña (fort) to watch the cannon show, cañonazo ceremony, where locals re-enact an 18th – century shoot out over the water.

In addition, I would recommend going for sunset to watch the sky flood with baby pinks and blues before dark falls. By day travellers can visit La Cabaña’s museums, there is often art shows around the area too.

  • Entry fee: 4 CUC

Sunset at Havana La Cabana | 10 things to do in Havana

8. Visit Vedado

The ‘newer’ area of Havana has paladar restaurants (privately-owned) and bars and can be reached by cocotaxi, the tiny yellow helmet looking cars.

We watched a young salsa/rock fusion band play at a venue in Vedado which was not what I expected to be doing in Havana, the city if full of surprises.

Taxi in Havana

9. The Lungs of Havana

Feeling a tad claustrophobic in the city?

Head to Cuba’s green space El Bosque de la Habana and breathe in some fresh air. 

This swamp-like forest is home to Almendares River and is a popular spot for with wedding shoots. There is something quite enchanting about the area.

Havana Forest Car Ride

10. Escape Havana! 

Wondering what to do in Havana when you’ve drunk all the rum?

If you have more than three days in Havana I would recommend taking a day trip to the lush Viñales Valley to see where the tobacco for Cuba’s cigars are made and the unique limestone hills called mogotes.

You can visit Viñales independently using the public bus, Viazul which you can book online before you travel to Cuba. The downside to that is you then have to get to the plantations and mogotes yourself which requires a taxi or bike hire.

Another option is to take a full-day tour from Havana to Viñales. It’s an early start but you don’t have to worry about language barriers, transport, getting to the tours in Viñales or lunch as it is all included. 

Vinales Cuba | Day trips from Havana


Havana Travel Tips

Getting to Havana

Most nationalities require a Cuba Tourist Card which can be purchased through most airlines.

Cheap flights to Havana are often made cheaper by going via Mexico, be flexible in your flights’ search for the best rates.

Getting Around Havana + Cuba

Cuba is notoriously difficult to get around.

The local bus service, Viazul operates in most towns and cities but due to the limited Wi-Fi availability and the Cuban desire to make cash, getting honest bus times is tough.

Print out all potential route times before you leave. Be ready to accept that some buses won’t have space if you don’t pre-book them. 

Although hiring a car in Cuba sounds like a dream, the reality is painful.

We met couples who were hanging around Havana for a few days, waiting on cars returning.

Again, a Tranquillo outlook and lots of patience are required.

Another couple who had successfully hired a car were often told that petrol stations and roads were closed when they were not. Be mindful of the Cuban hustle.

While getting around Cuba is a challenge, there are many ways to get around the city which is great as there are so many things to do see in Havana but they are not all next to each other. 

Havana transport:

  • By foot
  • Cocotaxi
  • Car taxi
  • Classic car
  • Tuk-tuk
  • Hop on/off bus

Tuk Tuk with cover Havana street

Accommodation in Havana 

Havana has a good mix of hotels and casas particulares which are private homes with rooms to rent. Don’t be put off by the latter, it is very common to stay in one during your trip to Cuba,

Check out our guide to casas particulares for more information.

Airbnb in Havana

There are a variety of casas available via Airbnb in Havana, Cuba and the average price for a private room in Havana is 45 CUC. 

There are few things to consider before booking a casa via Airbnb in Havana: 

  • The app doesn’t work so you can’t contact the host as you may elsewhere 
  • Airbnb isn’t new in Cuba! Cubans have been doing it themselves since the 90s! Casa owners create a group throughout the island and call ahead to book for you, they get commission in return 
  • It is not unusual for the casa booked for you to get a better customer (longer) so you are moved elsewhere and you might not know it. You will know it if you book via Airbnb
  • Read reviews on Airbnb to check whether amenities promised are provided. Hot tubs?… Nah. It’s too hot anyway
  • Lots of casas advertise via Booking and Hostelworld now too. Since WiFi is not as readily available the response may be slower than you are used to 
  • Casa owners may be slow to update when rooms are booked/casas are sold out because of WiFi availability 

Airbnb works though! 

  • You get peace of mind – you can see images, reviews and a picture of the owner 
  • Pre-pay by credit card, less cash required – read our guide to currency in Cuba here

→ New to Airbnb? Sign up using our referral code to receive money off and we’ll get money off our next booking too – gracias!

Book with Booking.com 

If you don’t want to wait until you get there or use Airbnb heaps of the casas are now on Booking.com. 

Hotels in Havana 

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to stick to hotels in Havana, there are many to choose from but at a hefty price.

  • Hotel National: Historically important hotel in Havana, lovely gardens, not in walking distance to Old Havana 
  • Hotel Sevilla: Excellent location, very nice pool area which we used on our last day in Havana 

Hostels in Havana

In this section, we are going to look at Havana’s hostels and by hostels, I mean the definition – social accommodation for backpackers. 

The reason I am explaining this is that some casas use the term ‘hostal’ but they are mostly private rooms, not dorms with areas to hang out, chat and play drinking games. 

  • Club 58: Outstanding reviews, friendly staff, very social, super central and safe 
  • Ronaldo’s: This is the first hostel in Havana and a bit of an institution. Nice rooftop. Friendly staff
  • Paradise: This is where we stayed for two nights as Ronaldo’s was full. Nice rooftop. Hot rooms 

If arriving solo and looking to meet friends I highly recommend staying in a hostel first and meeting travel buddies as casas can be very private. 

WiFi in Havana

There is WiFi in Havana, it just takes an extra step to get access to it. You won’t want to use 4G on your home phone package unless you plan to remortgage when you return.

The extra step is to purchase a card from an ETECSA telecommunications centre, hotel, casa owner, or Cuban on the street (no official). 

Using the card you log on to use the internet at any of the WiFi points around the city. 

You’ll know the points as you’ll see lots of locals looking at their phones. Read the full guide to WiFi and 4G in Cuba here

Cuba Travel Costs

Cuba is not as cheap as the likes of Colombia or Bolivia in South America, which is where we left for Cuba from.

Our Cuba daily budget was 90 CUC per day for two people with limited activities and one week in an all-inclusive resort.

Full details of our Cuba travel costs can be found here: 3 weeks in Cuba budget costs.


Personal Experience 

Cuba is a fun country but I would not advise a visit as a part of an around the world trip where you are on a tight budget.

Here’s what I would do differently:

  • Make a copy of the bus times. WiFi is not readily available
  • Take a note of recommended restaurants for each stop. Some restaurants are pretty poor, even Cubans will tell you this 
  • Think about the activities you’d like to do and get a ballpark price during planning 
  • Rent a car! You may have to wait a few days in Havana for one to come in but having that flexibility to move around will be liberating
  • Remember that kitchens aren’t really an amenity you get to use. Hard for long-term travel trips and vegans 
  • Cuban hustle! Meh! It’s tiring but this two-tier economic system has allowed Cubans to survive and thrive


Going to Cuba? Pin to board for later

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We’d love to know what we missed?

Pop a comment in the box below.

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 45

  1. We have been intrigued by Havana for a while. Well, better make it happen right?! Your suggestions about Casa Particulares is really what we do. Hostels can be a great way to meet other travellers, right. But isn’t staying with the locals the best way to find out the ins and outs about the local culture? 🙂
    Driving that classic car must have been great! Oh you should have had a video!
    As per the “sexiest city”…. erm what about Lisbon? hahahah

    xx

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      You are right, we probably do hidden away in the actioncam folder somewhere! Lisbon is very sexy too, in a glossier kind of way!

      1. It looks like we are heading to Portugal for a few months (Telma’s family)…. who knows you guys come over for a weekend 🙂

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  2. That car looks great! I´d love to visit Cuba one day, last time we were kindda close to it but then went to Mexico instead as it was cheaper.

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      1. I LOVED Mexico. Amazing food, kind people, great for hitchhike and a ton of nature and culture 🙂 Also rather cheap. We only had a month, but will be back for sure!

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          Craig is super keen to see Aztecs so I reckon we’ll be there sooner rather than later. I don’t like cilantro / coriander – how bad was it?!!

          1. Ha! It took me some getting used to with cilantro too, at first I thought it was disgusting but now I like it 🙂 In Mexico, they use it a lot, but if I remember it right, you can put it yourself from a bowl on the table – or ask them to not put it. I mostly ate at the street stalls so it´s easy to see what they put 🙂

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      Thanks Victoria! I’ve been advised by a reader that the price of WiFi cards has come down, my friend is there just now so I’ll confirm and update the accessing WiFi post. Have you seen our full Cuba guide? Havana is very cool (and sexy!)

  3. A ride in a classic car peaked my interest immediately! I’m a sucker for all vintage vehicles. Sigh… I’ll keep dreaming of Cuba until we get there.

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  4. Love the “Stalk Hemingway” tip – I did a bit of that in Paris after reading “The Paris Wife” and would love to follow him around other parts of the world. Havana is also just so dreamy in general…it’s on the list!!

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  5. Great list and I definitely agree with all of it! Havana is by far one of the best cities I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.

    Did you guys go to Fusterlandia while you were there? It was one of my highlights!

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      I’m really disappointed that we didn’t (I only recently found out about it). The Cubans are really big of art eh? So apparent around the country. A reason to go back…

      1. Yeah they are, big time. I’m the same with Callejon de Hammel – I only read about it when I got home and it seems like a similar town where a local artist has decided to go crazy with the pint and mosaic!

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  6. Havana is definitely on my bucket list! This post was very helpful for me, stalking Hemingway & riding in a classic car are on the top of my must do list!

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  7. Hello from India, Cuba looks amazing. I would love to go there but first I need to go to US which is my childhood dream.

    Rohit I Lifeselfmastery

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      I hope that becomes a reality for you! I want to go to Iceland, that’s my next dream destination. Or the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia! So much of the world to see. What attracts you to the States?

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          1. I sell ebooks and sell physical products. My audience is in US 😀 Great thing about the internet is that I don’t need to go anywhere. Moreover, I have got lots of friends from India who are in US. We are in love with US 🙂

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  8. Just stumbled across your website and may I say …so much real useful information. My wife and I are flying into Havana week after next for ten days and your advice and guidance is brilliant.
    Thank you
    VJ

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      Thank you Virinder, that’s lovely to hear. Do come back to me and tell me if you find I need to update anything and have a great time! What’s your plans for the 10 days?

  9. Other than spending the first three days in Havana the sheet is still blank. Hoping to travel to several of the sites that you mention on your website and also take a couple of days out for a complete rest at the beach.
    Kind regards
    Virinder

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  10. I love my home city of Austin, Tx so glad you married here and I know you had a great time!

    Headed to Cuba in a couple of weeks, I only planned on 5 days, after reading your blog, I may have to add a few days, lol

    Thank you so much for taking the time blog, to help fellow, like minded, travelers. I am 51 and I always travel alone,

    I have stayed in Hostels, but never a casa familiar, so many to choose from, since I am going it alone, would you suggest a hostel/hotel instead of a casa familiar? I also need A/C and internet.
    Also, I was thinking of renting a car to go to coast to scuba dive, are there car rentals in the city? Are they reliable?

    Sincerely
    Sherry Kennerley

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      Good to hear from you Sherry. I ADORE Austin! I would recommend staying at one of the hostels for the first night or two in Havana to meet other people, the casas are pretty private. WiFi wise, you should check out our article on WiFi and internet as it’s a tricky in Cuba. Our hostel did not have WiFi but some hotels do have it (you have to log on) and now some casas (I’d search online for which ones). We had fans but no A/C.

      Car rental is also quite tough, we met a couple in Havana who were waiting on cars coming back, they had to stay longer than hoped to get one. We also met another couple who were successful, just be wary of the scams in Cuba.

      Hope this helps!

  11. Hello,

    I just returned from Havana. I stayed in an Air BNB in the vedado Section of Havana. I was surprised that the owner and three workers/Maids house workers, not sure what to call them were in the house with us. It was uncomfortable at first. They offered to cook us all meals which we politely declined in the beginning. They explained that it is the routine in Havanan to have “workers” prepare food for the guests upon request.

    Be carful when booking. It said full house private; I guess this meant private quarters. We spend 3 full days in Havana and did two, one day trips to Veredaro and one day trip to Vinales. Both were wonderful, interesting and beautiful. We hired a driver for the day. The cost was $300 including fuel and any tolls. Other than food, everything in Cuba is Super Expensive.

    I saw your site and tips before leaving. Thank you for posting your experiences. It was a huge help in planning my trip.

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      Thanks so much for coming back and sharing your experience Charles! That does seem odd about the cleaner and cook, we definitely never experienced this. Will you leave that in your review on Airbnb? Sounds like you had a good time and that you were at least a little prepared for the expense of Cuba, unlike us!!

  12. You missed Parque Lennon and FAC and Cafe Libro (coffee/tea and a community gathering place with mags and books in English, owned and operated by an American woman and her Cubano husband). Might return one day and add to what has been missed.

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      I love when people add their experiences too. I agree, I think we’ll be back at some point in the future to do the same.

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