Top 8 Things To Do in Havana
Classic cars, history, and cigars. These are some of the things that remind me of my trip to Cuba and what led me there. Cuba is so rich with culture, it’s as unique as a tourist destination gets. In recent years, capital city Havana has become a popular destination for tourists. And interest continues to grow. If you’re looking to make a trip to the city yourself, keep reading for the top things to do in Havana.
Drink at the Bar Ernest Hemingway Frequented
Legend has it that El Floridita is one of Hemingway’s favorite places to visit in Havana. I imagine he’d grab a daiquiri and scribble down some notes for his next novel as he listened to live music play in the bar. When we visited, it was quite packed, but it didn’t seem that touristy since many locals were also there. We loved watching people dance and sing along to the live band as we sipped on our ginormous daiqiuris.
Take a Spin in a Classic Car
Classic cars are almost synonymous with Cuba at this point, and not without reason. Once you arrive at the Havana airport, I guarantee you’ll see at least one classic car. It’s a mode of transportation used by tourists and locals alike. The cars often have pops of purple, turquoise, yellow, and orange, which make them even more of a spectacle. Take a spin in one to experience for yourself. We booked an Airbnb experience that took us on a day trip in a classic car. Whenever we parked, people would pose next to our car for pictures!
Do a Day Trip to the Viñales
Zipline, walk through a cave, and see Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria all in the Viñales Valley. We booked an Airbnb experience to take us on a day trip to the Viñales. It included a private classic car, a driver, and an English-speaking tour guide who was super fun and informative. The area is only a 2.5-hour car ride from Havana. With the many tobacco farms in the area, this is also a great place to tour a cigar farm and learn how cigars are made.
Have Tropical Fruits for Breakfast at Cafe Arcangel
Having grown up in Taiwan, I am obsessed with tropical fruits. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out that there were plenty of those in Havana. Cafe Arcangel was one of my favorite cafes to get breakfast. We got the combination platter that came with a fruit plate, eggs, juice, and more. I got all the papaya and guava I had been craving in one sitting and it was the most satisfying feeling ever. This cafe also has a beautiful interior and makes for a great picture spot.
Dine at the Famous Paladar La Guarida
“Paladar” means private restaurant, and it is an adequate classification for La Guarida. The beautiful restaurant was converted from a residential building. It was also once the film site of Oscar-nominated movie Strawberries and Chocolate. To this day, it’s still one of the most beautiful restaurants I have visited. Dining there felt like eating at a very wealthy friend’s house ha. While waiting for our dinner reservation, we spent some time at its terrace bar. It was such a treat to be having rum-based cocktails while taking in the sunset. Be sure to wear one of your nicer outfits as you’ll want to take lots of pictures throughout the night.
Try Cuban Coffee at Cafe el Escorial
Cuba is not only known for its cigars and rum, it’s also made a name for itself through its coffee. We got our caffeine fix at Cafe el Escorial. It had a European-like outdoor seating area that looks out onto Plaza Vieja. The coffee was also delicious!
Get Your Sweet Tooth Fix at Helad’Oro
If you’re like me and need dessert after every meal, you’ll have to stop by a gelato shop. Held’Oro was one of my favorites in Havana, especially because it had flavors unique to the tropical land. There was also plenty of seating inside, which was perfect because we needed a break from all the walking. Our legs thanked us for those solid fifteen minutes.
Sunbathe at Playa del Este
Another spot worthy of a (half) day trip is Playa del Este. Not only is Havana’s downtown area vibrant, the surrounding beaches are also very popular. We took a bus from Havana’s city center to Playa del Este, and spent a few hours under an umbrella admiring the waves crashing onto the sand. My only regret is we went on an overcast day and I’m sure we didn’t get to see the beach in its full glory because of that.
Havana is a city that’ll transport you back in time. The vintage cars, historic architecture and local meals will make you feel as if time stopped in the 1920s. On top of that, there’s beautiful rooftop views, delicious cocktails, and tropical fruits. There’s not much more you can ask for on a vacation. I hope that among these 8 things to do in Havana, you’ll find something that you enjoy. Moreover, I hope it’s something that’ll help you appreciate the city’s rich culture and history. But also don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the $4 cocktails that are everywhere in La Habana.
About The Author: Vivian Wang is a marketer and travel blogger based in San Francisco. Through Viv the Wanderer, she offers travel tips and guides for city dwellers and working adults like herself. She’s always on the lookout for a good coffee spot wherever she wanders to.