So you have one whole day in the capital of Cuba? Well here is my recommended way to spend 24 hours in Havana.
A morning in Havana
Take a tour of the city in a vintage car. You can’t visit Havana and not take a ride in one of these beauties. Although they are available to hire all over the city, we chose to pre-book our tour before we left the UK. We booked with Old Car Tours as they had good Tripadvisor reviews. Plus you could choose which car you wanted to ride in. I chose a pink one (obviously!) – a 1952 Chevrolet to be exact. You will get taken to all the main historic sites such as El Capitolio and Revolution Square in style!
Rather than returning us to our hotel in Vedado district, we asked our driver to drop us off at Habana Vieja (Old Havana) at the end of our two hours.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon
Stop for refreshments at a shady terrace of one of the cafes at Plaza de Armas (or indeed any of the Plazas). Then spend some time meandering the four main squares of Habana Vieja. Afterwards, head up Calle Obispo for shopping and you may want to stop for a daiquiri in the air conditioned comfort of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite haunt – El Floridita. Although it was too crazy busy in there for my liking so I didn’t bother, can’t say I’m familiar with Hemingway’s work anyway (sorry!).
At the El Floridita end of Calle Obispo, cross the street to see all the vintage cars parked opposite the iconic El Capitolio and the beautiful architecture of Gran Teatro de la Habana.
From the Gran Teatro de la Habana, you can take a stroll along Paseo de Marti – reminiscent of Las Ramblas in Barcelona – leading on to the Malecon.
During our time in Havana we stopped for drinks and sandwiches at several different cafes in the squares, Calle Obispo and Paseo de Marti. There are plenty of options to choose from depending on how hungry/thirsty you are feeling. Just remember to take a map with you!
You will most probably be craving a refreshing dip in your hotel pool after all that sightseeing! We stayed in the Vedado district so walked along the Malecon to get to our hotel, although there are plenty of taxis touting for business to take you where you want to go – just remember to agree a total price beforehand.
Alternatively you may wish to go and get some ice cream – Cubans love ice cream! The most popular place being Coppelia, although I didn’t try it for myself as the queue was incredibly long and it was over 30 degrees heat!
An evening in Havana
After rejuvenating yourself from the heat of the day, get dressed up for dinner. We enjoyed a meal at Cafe Laurent, one of Havana’s most famous Paladars (a privately run restaurant). It is situated in Vedado and has a pleasant outdoor rooftop terrace where we could watch all the vintage cars drive by below. The restaurant is fairly popular so I would recommend making reservations in advance. We had a couple of fish dishes which were beautifully presented. My husband was a fan of the house red wine but I wouldn’t recommend the Tropical Daiquiri (unless you like papaya, that is!).
After your meal, take a walk down Avenida 23 and stop by Sofia for some drinks and live music. You can eat here too but I’ll be honest, the music and atmosphere was alot more enjoyable than the food in my opinion (although honestly, I didn’t enjoy much of the Cuban food in general).
After drinks and perhaps some spontaneous salsa dancing at Sofia, make your way to La Zorra y el Cuervo – Havana’s premier Jazz club. You enter the club through the quirky London-style phone box. The club opens at 10pm, we arrived a few minutes before and got a table no problem, but if there is a popular act on any particular night, people have been known to start queuing as early as 9pm. For a price of 10 CUC per person you gain entry as well as two drinks – pretty good! The club closes at 2am but we only stuck around until 12.30am.
Of course there’s more on offer in Havana. But if it’s cars and culture, mojitos and music you’re after, then this is a good place to start!
Have you ever been to Havana? What would you recommend doing or seeing? Let me know in the comments below!