It’s hard to select the coolest things to do in Havana, but here are a few suggestions to keep you busy on your holiday to Cuba.
With old Cadillacs, colourful colonial houses and Cuban beats, arriving in Havana is like stepping back in time circa 1960, only with better weather and no WiFi — hello total disconnect.
Don’t panic. You can easily wile away the hours just wandering around the city’s centre, and you’ll soon discover that rum and lobster are all you need to get by here. But, to amp up the coolness stakes, and experience the Cuban capital on another level, throw on the customary hat, grab the sunnies and start making your way down this list of to-dos.
52 Ideas for What to Do in Havana
1. Forget hotels or hostels, embrace local living by staying in a casa particular like Casa Obispo.
2. Start your trip by getting your bearings with a free tour.
3. Learn about the historic Hotel Nacional with a tour that covers its famous guests, mafia moments and Cuban missile crisis tunnels.
4. Afterwards, enjoy a mojito from the terrace to see some of the best views of the city below.
5. Buy too much Che Guevara memorabilia.
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6. Walk the famous 5-mile long Malecon, but try to time it for sunset.
7. Afterwards spend the evening sitting on the wall with an ice cream and watch the locals as they listen to music.
8. And if you’re up for it, come back the next day to try your hand at fishing on the Malecon.
9. Take a pic of the iconic Faro Castillo del Morro Lighthouse against the cliffs.
10. Fit in a lunch at El Barracon De Hamel Bar.
11. Pick your favourite colour and then take a customary classic car ride around the city.
12. And pose for endless photos inside one.
13. Shake those shoulders as you listen to live Cuban music in one of the city’s main plazas.
14. Soak up all the literary vibes and immediately feel more intelligent at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.
15. Then enjoy a daiquiri and more live music at one of his favourite bars, El Floridita.
16. Visit the fortress of La Cabana as they go all 18th century and shoot the cannons to warn that it’s time to close the city gates every night at 9pm.
17. Step back in time and browse the retro items in Cafe Fortuna.
18. Sweat it out with a salsa class.
19. Come out smelling of roses (literally) with a visit to the Old Havana Perfume Museum.
20. Try loads of tamales and tostones, and stress about how you’ll recreate them at home.
21. Tick the history box by standing in La Plaza de la Revolucion – one of the largest city squares in the world.
22. I know it’s 2019 and the era of kindles but don’t deny yourself the luxury of buying an actual book at the book market of Plaza de Armas, the oldest city square.
23. Embrace Cubans’ love of baseball by catching the Industriales play at the Estadio Latinoamericana.
24. Try to pass a churro cart without buying any (fail).
25. Take the bus about 30 minutes and unwind on the beaches of Playas del Este.
26. Soak in all the colours with a walk around Havana Vieja.
27. Feel conflicted between what’s more beautiful, the ballet or the building, with a visit to the Teatro Nacional de Cuba.
28. Line that stomach with a Cubano sandwich.
29. Then feel the effects of a rum hangover thanks to a visit to the Arts Factory where you’ll lose hours amongst the art, dance, music and theatre.
30. Make sure to eat inside your casa particular at least once for the best food.
31. Swot up on Cuban history at the Museo de la Revolucion.
32. Learn how they make world class cigars (and maybe have a puff) at the Partagras Factory.
33. Question whether you’re in Washington D.C. or Havana at El Capitolio building.
34. Get your barter on at the San Jose Artisan Market.
35. Blink a few times when you see Fusterlandia and the crazy mosaic neighbourhood created by artist Jose Fuster.
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36. Make at least one journey in a coco taxi.
37. Drink one too many cuba libres (yes, more drink).
38. Get serious real estate envy with a walk around the Vedado district and its gorgeous colonial style buildings.
39. Take a day trip to the dreamy beaches of Varadero.
40. Visit Callejon de Hamel where Cuban artist Salvador Gonzáles Escalona took ‘finders keepers’ to a whole new level and filled this skinny street with random items he turned into art.
41. Watch the rum-making process at the Museo del Ron Havana Club.
42. And walk out having bought far too many bottles to take home.
43. Feel the music at a jazz club La Zorra y el Cuervo.
44. Get inspired to shake your maracas at a Tropicana show.
45. Carry that confidence through to Sunday and the rumba party at Callejón de Hamel.
46. Try some of the city’s best food at Restaurant Van Van.
47. Suppress the surprise when you see the long lines to enter shops and supermarkets that often have empty shelves.
48. Soak up the sun and do some people watching from Azucar Lounge.
49. Feast on lobster almost every night because it’s so cheap you can.
50. Grab a coffee at Café El Escorial.
51. Get onboard with Havana’s love of rooftops at the Hotel Ambos Mundos.
52. Consider whether your liver can take much more with a visit to the beer factory, aka Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco, in Habana Vieja.