QUICK GUIDE OF THINGS TO DO IN HAVANA

Throughout history, Havana has been conquered more times than you can say Piña Colada. Post the revolution, imperial legacies have been left to crumble in warm Caribbean sun. Today, the shells of colonial Spanish architecture, adorned with street art, provide a canvas for some of Havana’s atmospheric bars and restaurants.

Here’s our quick guide of the best things to do in Havana including our favourite places to eat and drink as well as our top picks for getting the most out of your Havana experience.


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START

COFFEE & BREAKFAST

No guide of the best things to do in Havana can start without a slow breakfast and decent coffee. Kick start your sightseeing with a pit stop at these new and ageing Havanan institutions.

EL CAFÉ

Set in a modern bright space, El Café is the finest coffee in Havana with carefully prepared lattes plus a good selection of cold drinks. Try their set breakfast or a pulled pork sandwich for an excellent brunch option. / Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 | Location: 358 La Amargura, Havana

CAFÉ EL DANDY

By night, El Dandy is a cool, Cuba bar. In the morning, their selection of breakfast choices and American coffee served with sweetened milk is an ideal start to the day. Try the Mexican breakfast with tomato and coriander. / Hours: 8:00 – midnight | Location: Teniente Rey, 401

CAFÉ HABANA

There’s no hipster coffee here, Café Habana is a traditional Cuban experience. Pull up a stool in their cavernous bar with yellow paint peeling off the walls and down a quick traditional coffee. / Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 | Location: Amargura

START

COFFEE & BREAKFAST

No guide of the best things to do in Havana can start without a slow breakfast and decent coffee. Kick start your sightseeing with a pit stop at these new and ageing Havanan institutions.

EL CAFÉ

Set in a modern bright space, El Café is the finest coffee in Havana with carefully prepared lattes plus a good selection of cold drinks. Try their set breakfast or a pulled pork sandwich for an excellent brunch option. / Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 | Location: 358 La Amargura, Havana

CAFÉ EL DANDY

By night, El Dandy is a cool, Cuba bar. In the morning, their selection of breakfast choices and American coffee served with sweetened milk is an ideal start to the day. Try the Mexican breakfast with tomato and coriander. / Hours: 8:00 – midnight | Location: Teniente Rey, 401

CAFÉ HABANA

There’s no hipster coffee here, Café Habana is a traditional Cuban experience. Pull up a stool in their cavernous bar with yellow paint peeling off the walls and down a quick traditional coffee. / Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 | Location: Amargura

SEE

TOP SIGHTS

This town isn’t about big tourist attractions; her charms will make themselves known as soon as you enter the old town. But, here are some things to do in Havana that we loved.

CENTRO CULTURAL ANTIGUOS

Collect some Cuban souvenirs in the form of colourful paintings, woodwork or jewellery in the sprawling converted shipping warehouse. There’s no state-enforced pricing here, locals and tourists haggle in this vibrant nod to capitalism. Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 Mon to Sat | Location: Cnr Desamparados & San Ignacio

REAL FÁBRICA TOBACCO FACTORY

Cigar connoisseurs and novices will appreciate this tour of Havana’s most famous tobacco factory. Learn what it takes to produce a handcrafted cigar and meet some of the experts along the way. / Hours: 09:00 – 13:00 Mon-Fri | Cost: CUC$10 | Location: San Carlos 816

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

With the top floor dedicated to pre-revolution art and the middle floor dedicated to post-revolution art, this interesting modern art gallery is a walk through Cuba’s recent history./ Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 Tue-Sat; 10:00 – 14:00 Sun | Price: CUC$5 | Location: Trocadero

SEE

TOP SIGHTS

This town isn’t about big tourist attractions; her charms will make themselves known as soon as you enter the old town. But, here are some things to do in Havana that we loved.

CENTRO CULTURAL ANTIGUOS

Collect some Cuban souvenirs in the form of colourful paintings, woodwork or jewellery in the sprawling converted shipping warehouse. There’s no state-enforced pricing here, locals and tourists haggle in this vibrant nod to capitalism. Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 Mon to Sat | Location: Cnr Desamparados & San Ignacio

REAL FÁBRICA TOBACCO FACTORY

Cigar connoisseurs and novices will appreciate this tour of Havana’s most famous tobacco factory. Learn what it takes to produce a handcrafted cigar and meet some of the experts along the way. / Hours: 09:00 – 13:00 Mon-Fri | Cost: CUC$10 | Location: San Carlos 816

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

With the top floor dedicated to pre-revolution art and the middle floor dedicated to post-revolution art, this interesting modern art gallery is a walk through Cuba’s recent history./ Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 Tue-Sat; 10:00 – 14:00 Sun | Price: CUC$5 | Location: Trocadero

EAT

HAVANA FOOD

Since private restaurants were only permitted in 2013, the Cuban culinary scene is in its infancy. But, Havana has wasted no time in producing some great food in cool surroundings.

BELVIEW ART CAFÉ

Soaking up the cool surroundings in this old mansion was one of our favourite things to do in Havana. The menu is short, simple and well prepared. / Hours: 09:00 – 18:00, closed Mon | Location: Calle 6, #412.

EL COCINERO

For refined dishes and excellent service in an old factory look no further than El Cocinero. The surroundings are lush and their roof terrace is the most sought after place in Havana, so book ahead. / Hours: 11:00 – midnight, closed Sun | Location: Calle 26

LAMPARILLA

Select from the many interesting Mexican inspired tapas dishes at this relaxed, open to the street eatery. The croquetas and the pork cheek were both excellent. / Hours: 12:00 – midnight | Location: 361 Lamparilla

EAT

HAVANA FOOD

Since private restaurants were only permitted in 2013, the Cuban culinary scene is in its infancy. But, Havana has wasted no time in producing some great food in cool surroundings.

BELVIEW ART CAFÉ

Soaking up the cool surroundings in this old mansion was one of our favourite things to do in Havana. The menu is short, simple and well prepared. / Hours: 09:00 – 18:00, closed Mon | Location: Calle 6, #412.

EL COCINERO

For refined dishes and excellent service in an old factory look no further than El Cocinero. The surroundings are lush and their roof terrace is the most sought after place in Havana, so book ahead. / Hours: 11:00 – midnight, closed Sun | Location: Calle 26

LAMPARILLA

Select from the many interesting Mexican inspired tapas dishes at this relaxed, open to the street eatery. The croquetas and the pork cheek were both excellent. / Hours: 12:00 – midnight | Location: 361 Lamparilla

LISTEN

LIVE MUSIC SCENE

It’s impossible to visit Havana without being engrossed in its live music scene which echoes down dusty laneways and through ageing bars. Here’s our quick guide to Havana and her music.

EL GUAJIRITO

Enjoy some excellent Buena Vista Social Club music from seasoned professionals with a gaggle of Latin Grammy Awards between them. It’s cheesy and touristy, but a great thing to do in Havana. / Show Time: 21:30 | Price: $CUC30 drinks only; $CUC50 dinner and drinks; book early for drinks only | Location: Zulueta 660

FÁBRICA DE ARTE CUBANO

An eclectic mix of art, live music, fashion and cocktails in this sprawling ex-cooking oil factory. Grab a drink, stroll from room to room and enjoy one of Havana’s most unique nights out. / Hours: 20:00 – 3:00 Thu-Sun | Entry: $CUC2 | Location: Cnr Calle 26 & Calle 11

MUSICAL STREETS

You don’t need to pay for live music in Havana, just follow the sounds of your favourite tune down delightfully crumbling laneways. Check out Calle O’Reilly, Calle Obispo, Calle San Ignacio, Calle Mercaderes and Plaza de Armas for some great street music.

LISTEN

LIVE MUSIC SCENE

It’s impossible to visit Havana without being engrossed in its live music scene which echoes down dusty laneways and through ageing bars. Here’s our quick guide to Havana and her music.

EL GUAJIRITO

Enjoy some excellent Buena Vista Social Club music from seasoned professionals with a gaggle of Latin Grammy Awards between them. It’s cheesy and touristy, but a great thing to do in Havana. / Show Time: 21:30 | Price: $CUC30 drinks only; $CUC50 dinner and drinks; book early for drinks only | Location: Zulueta 660

FÁBRICA DE ARTE CUBANO

An eclectic mix of art, live music, fashion and cocktails in this sprawling ex-cooking oil factory. Grab a drink, stroll from room to room and enjoy one of Havana’s most unique nights out. / Hours: 20:00 – 3:00 Thu-Sun | Entry: $CUC2 | Location: Cnr Calle 26 & Calle 11

MUSICAL STREETS

You don’t need to pay for live music in Havana, just follow the sounds of your favourite tune down delightfully crumbling laneways. Check out Calle O’Reilly, Calle Obispo, Calle San Ignacio, Calle Mercaderes and Plaza de Armas for some great street music.

DRINK

BARS & COCKTAILS

While the over-priced Hemingway haunts are teaming with busloads of tourists, head for the sanctity of Havana’s other more friendly and atmospheric watering holes.

MONSERRATE BAR

Like something from a 1950’s movie, Monserrate has a character that just won’t fade, despite its crumbling appearances. With the best ropa vieja in the city and great live music, it’s a Havanan gem. / Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 | Location: Cnr Obrapía and Bélgica

EL DEL FRENTE

Hidden above of a set of stairs you could easily miss, El del Frente serves up colourful cocktails and massive gin inspired creations from their retro roof terrace. The food is inspired. / Hours: 12:00 – midnight | Location: O’Reilly 303.

NAO BAR

Grab a table in the cramped laneway near the waterfront and listen to some great live music while sipping one of the best Piña Coladas in Havana. / Hours: 12:00 – midnight | Location: Obisbo 1

DRINK

BARS & COCKTAILS

While the over-priced Hemingway haunts are teaming with busloads of tourists, head for the sanctity of Havana’s other more friendly and atmospheric watering holes.

MONSERRATE BAR

Like something from a 1950’s movie, Monserrate has a character that just won’t fade, despite its crumbling appearances. With the best ropa vieja in the city and great live music, it’s a Havanan gem. / Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 | Location: Cnr Obrapía and Bélgica

EL DEL FRENTE

Hidden above of a set of stairs you could easily miss, El del Frente serves up colourful cocktails and massive gin inspired creations from their retro roof terrace. The food is inspired. / Hours: 12:00 – midnight | Location: O’Reilly 303.

NAO BAR

Grab a table in the cramped laneway near the waterfront and listen to some great live music while sipping one of the best Piña Coladas in Havana. / Hours: 12:00 – midnight | Location: Obisbo 1

WHERE TO STAY IN HAVANA

We recommend booking accommodation in the north western part of the old town. That way you can walk to the atmospheric streets and also easily get to many of the museums that are just outside the old town.

Here are some accommodation recommendations from us.

COOL LUXURY / ART BOUTIQUE HOTEL

For a cool, yet comfortable stay, hide away behind the blue door on a quiet lane that houses Art Boutique Hotel. It’s not the cheapest, but if you’re looking for a friendly stay, away from the din of central Havana, this is a great choice.

AFFORDABLE CLASSIC / CASA TAMARA & CHEN

Enjoy friendly service at Casa Tamara & Chen, where you’ll be treated like a long-lost family member and feel like a local in no time at all. Tamara is loaded with helpful recommendations to make the most of your time in Havana.

POSH BLOWOUT / HOTEL SARATOGA

It’s all out luxury at Hotel Saratoga. Gaze over the nearby old town from the comfort of their rooftop pool – one of the most enviable in Havana. Enjoy free WIFI, 24-hour concierge and a spa to unwind after long days pounding the cobbled lanes.

MAP / THINGS TO DO IN HAVANA

All the locations in this guide are included on our map so you can hit the ground running in Havana. Just click on the star to save this map to your places in Google maps.

HAVANA PLAYLIST

In North America, music was often banned in slave communities. Not so in Cuba – as a result, African influences dominate the music styles. Wander the old town and you’ll inevitably be seduced by the rhymic drumming and soulful voices of Afro-Cuban music.

WHERE TO NEXT?

Firstly, if you found this guide useful, follow us on Instagram to stay up to date with our travel plans.

Secondly, if Havana is the beginning of your trip to Cuba then check out tips for getting around Cuba here. Otherwise here’s some more reading from us you might enjoy.

HIKING VIÑALES WITHOUT A GUIDE

14 USEFUL TIPS FOR CUBA TRAVEL

QUICK GUIDE TO PLAYA LARGA, CUBA

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below – we will always reply. To keep up to date with our travels, sign up to our monthly NEWSLETTER.

Quick guide to Havana with our favourite places to eat and drink as well as our top picks for the best things to see. / #cuba #havana

Quick guide to Havana with our favourite places to eat and drink as well as our top picks for the best things to see. / #cuba #havana

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