Havana Tours | Havana Travel Guide

Are Havana Tours Worth It?

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I read that you can spend ten days in Havana, initially I couldn’t see how. I felt a bit claustrophobic from the busy, dusty streets and local hustle but after making our way to the Malecón (promenade) I instantly felt better. The 6 CUC bottle of rum helped with the initiation process too! Havana is Cuba’s capital and most likely the first destination that you will visit in Cuba as many airlines touch base here. As always during our first stop we (Gemma and Craig) like to get to grips with the local culture and what better way to do that than hop aboard Havana tours? Tours are also helpful in the ‘finding bearings’ process of new destinations.

Malecon Havana Tours | 10 things to do in Havana

Havana Tour Company – Day Tours

Day two started in a hurry. I forgot to manually change my alarm clock (no internet for Apple to change it automatically for you, mind!) and Craig had consumed one too many Cuba Libres which meant he slept through his alarm. We hastily (well I did) marched to Hotel Inglaterra at Parque Central to meet with Yaniel, our tour guide from Havana Tour Company (also known as Locally Sourced Havana Tours). He was sympathetic to our tardiness (ten minutes late), turns out this is normal in Cuba- ‘Cuba time.’ Looking back, life would have been so much easier now that there is 3G roaming in Havana and beyond. Read about it here.

The full day Havana tour introduced us to Centro Habana, La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and Vedado, which means ‘prohibited’ as there was a ban on building on this new side of the city to ensure good views of the Malecón. By foot Yaniel guided us through Centro, pointing out Capitolio; the Government building which is being refurbished on Cuba time.

Havana I Travel Budget for 3 Weeks in Cuba

Our attention was then directed towards the statue of national hero José Marti as well as to the Museo de la Revolución , which we added to our itinerary for another day, fascinated by the history Yaniel had provided us with and enticed by the tank in the garden. However, we managed to mess up our money on the day we did go to visit, Craig brought CUP instead of CUC! Avoid this mistake, read our guide on currency.

Havana Revolution Museum I Cuba Scams

Life in Havana

The tour also visited all of Havana’s many plazas which house monuments of heroes and vendors selling food, revolution trinkets and also displaying an array of modern art.

My favourite was Roberto Fabelo’s ode to the young Cuban girls who marry retired European men for a better standard of living. The benefit of this intimate ‘two to one’ Havana tour was that we could ask Yaniel lots of questions so not only did we get a history and art tour of Havana but could also tap into what life in Cuba today meant for him. He explained that some young women do marry for money because like most of the people in Havana they can’t survive on the government wage of 15 / £9.81 – 40 CUC / £26.16 (the average is 28 CUC / £18.31) and the food rations that are provided to ensure some form of equality. It’s no wonder that locals hire out their spare rooms as ‘casas particulares‘ when they can make their average wage in one night.

Roberto Fabelo | Havana Travel Guide

Proud and Positive

Yaniel is however, very proud of his country’s ability to educate everyone (thanks to Fidel Castro’s policies) and free health care for all. Yaniel’s wife is actually in hospital pregnant with twins! Guess how long she has been looked after? Over a month! No issue of bed blocking like in the UK apparently.

Sexy Cars

Havana is very romantic! The music, the cocktails, the people dress sexy and the vintage cars definitely have that sex appeal! After lunch in Vedado (at Cafe Laurent, a penthouse restaurant none the less!) a chauffeur drove us around in my favourite colour of car (not just any car, a mustang!) Havana tours in old cars is a different way to see the city. You just can’t beat the wind in your hair and feeling like a Hollywood star from the past. We visited Plaza de la Revolución where Che Guevara beams down on you from up high.

Classic cars in Havana | 10 things to do in Havana

We also zoomed through the more affluent area of Havana as well as the forest which Cubans refer to as the ‘lungs of the city’ ‘ the forest of Havana. We were surprised to see people in the river, Yaniel explained that the river has been tainted by the practice of Santeria where believers sacrifice animals, often in the water. The Havana tour really did touch on all bases.

Lungs of Havana | 10 things to do in Havana

Mojitos, Mafia Style

We concluded with a Mojito at Hotel Nacional (The National Hotel). This grand hotel is where the Mafia infamously held meetings and it provides a tour every day at 3pm of the tunnels underneath (another activity added to the list).

Havana Tour Company
Contact: +53 53414873
Email: [email protected]
Price: $99 (US) / £79.39


Where We Stayed

Our South African friends (whom we met in Colombia) recommended that we stayed in a hostel and not a casa particular (which is typical in Cuba). They felt it was a great way to get tips for future stops and also provided the opportunity to meet people to share a colectivo taxi with to your next stop.

Trusting their suggestion, we booked two nights with Paradise (online), which was then extended a further. Two doors down is another hostel called Rolandos (Rolando actually owns Paradise and his ex-wife owns the hostel in his name). Friends we met travelling said their stay there was fine also.

On our return we stayed in a casa particular ran by Ramon and Rachel on Picota (#18) for 10 CUC /£6.42 each per night. Our advice is to not pay more than this, as you do not need to!

We asked a bico-taxi (tuk tuk) driver if he knew anyone and we went on a wee tour until he found someone in / willing to accept our price. Our room felt like a small apartment with a bed, bathroom, fridge and table where Rachel served our breakfast in the morning for a small charge. It was private, safe and the owners were lovely.

Taxis from Havana airport to Havana cost around $25.

 


We left Yaniel, the Havana tour and our new friends from the hostel with multiple ideas for the future, recommendations for food and drink, an itinerary for the next three weeks and a list of casas particulares for our next stops.

Now I can see how easily you can spend ten days in Havana!

Still to do

Ambos Mundos Hotel (where Hemingway stayed) – tick
Revolution museum – tick
Camera Obscura – tick
Factoria Micro brewery – tick
The National Hotel tunnels at 3pm – sadly not
The Fort and canon show at night 9pm – tick 

Now check out how we get on in our Havana good time, 10 unmissable Havana attractions.

Havana from Fort I Cuban Currency

  • Duration: 3 nights (with another 3 to finish with)

Next stop: Viñales (mogotes and tobacco) – day trips from Havana to Viñales are possible (and many do it) if you are short on time.

  • We Love
    Cars, cocktails, art, sunset at The Fort
  • We Shove
    Hustle (for scams in Cuba see here soon)
    Havana hangovers (cheers Londoners)

What are your thoughts on Havana tours and travel?

 


Havana Tour CompanyHavana Tour Company reviews: thank you to Havana Tour Company for two passes to their Full Day Havana Walking Tour. An honest review, as always.  Locally Sourced Havana Tours also offer Cuba tours from Havana. My good friend Laura recently returned from a trip around the island with this company and felt it was well organised and the tour guides were knowledgeable. She was the youngest (32) but that’s the luck of the draw with group tours!

Gemma and Craig 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 26

  1. Looks inexpensive…worth it with the feeling of going back in time, through those cars and the unique history!

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      It was Carol but if it was your sole trip then you maybe wouldn’t mind paying out. It just wasn’t feasible with us being on the road for 18 months, need to prioritise (as she goes off to buy an ice cream in Canada…)

  2. What great pictures and I’m sure an intimate tour must be a good way to find out stuff. Sorry to hear about the currency problem though – definitely worth knowing about in advance, so thank you for the tip!

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  3. I know so many people from Canada that have been to Cuba, but they stay in all-inclusive resorts and rarely venture out into the towns. That kind of vacation has never appealed to me, so I have yet to visit Cuba. But, it looks like you had such a wonderful time exploring and it makes me want to go there! I love the old cars, too!

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      We did end up in one of those resorts as we couldn’t afford to keep travelling (more on that later!) It’s disgusting how much food people can costume in resorts, I was actually ashamed to be human watching people shovelling food like it was going out of fashion as the the waiting staff live off rations!

  4. We’re going to Cuba in December and I had already planned to do this tour you went on. It looks like it was fun and worthwhile. I’m really glad you checked it out for us in advance! Thanks 😉 We’re staying for 4 days and I was a little worried there wouldn’t be enough to do, but now I’m not.

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      Laura, we had six and I still didn’t get to the tunnels at The National so you will find plenty to do. And the tour was outstanding, get your questions ready! Food wise was a little trickier, my advice is copy and paste the addresses of the Trip Advisor top six so you are equipped.

      1. That’s a great tip. We’ll do that! I’m looking forward to the Malecon. I think we’re going to stay at a casa particular in that area for at least one of the nights. I look forward to reading all your coverage from your trip!

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          Yeah definitely do a casa! I recommend Rachel and Ramon or do a search online. I don’t think you need to pay more than 10 CUC each even if someone is trying to charge you more they are probably just pushing it!

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    2. As of right now, you have to fall into one of the approved 12 categories, but there’s no process to apply for it, you just tell the travel agent. Or you can go on a people-to-people tour. Better yet, just wait for a bit because it won’t be long before all US travelers are allowed to go.

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      Yes we did, I’m writing the Viñales article just now which should be posted by tonight. I think you’d like it there if you are looking for countryside. We also spent time in Playa Larga (diving) and Trinidad. Articles will be up next week (ish).

  5. I would love love love to go to Cuba, and as an American it’s slowly but surely getting a bit easier for us. That’s always been on the top of my list of places to go, perhaps because it seemed so close yet so far lol…. oh, and those cars!

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  6. Never thought about going to Cuba, but lately I have been reading lots of great posts, including yours, about trips there. I may need to add it to my ”must see” list! The tour sounds like a great intro to the city and something good to do on the first day!

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  7. Cuba is a really popular destination for Canadians (who dream of escaping our winters) but most people head to the resorts and not the cities. I think they’re missing out!

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  8. Great post guys. SO impressed that you find the time to write so much useful information whilst constantly moving on the road. An inspiration! Havana sounds amazing and I am totally in love with that car. The wrong currency issue is so something I would do… look forward to reading your guide once it’s up – I need it ;).

    Gabby

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  9. Havana looks amazing! We’ve both been to Cuba more than once and every time we debate about taking a tour to Havana. We were always torn about whether we should or not (hearing mixed reviews) and then, for various reasons, ended up choosing to explore somewhere else (or getting too sick to go anywhere). After reading this, we’ll definitely be looking to hit up Havana when we next make our way to Cuba!!

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