Havana was one of our more interesting travel destinations. Cuba had long been at the top of Marvin's bucket list, and his excitement when he learned that it was now possible for Americans to travel to Cuba bred a deep desire in me to visit this island country as well. But due to a severe case of food poisoning half-way through our trip, I didn't get to experience as much of Havana as I wanted to. So this trip caused an even greater spark, making my desire to see more of this beautiful country even more intense. Cuba, we'll be back!
See our Havana travel guide!
Museum of Rum (Old Havana)
Hotel Nacional de Cuba (Vedado)
Even if you aren't a guest at the historic, luxurious National Hotel, you can still enjoy some of its beauty from its ornate lobby. This art deco hotel built in 1930 attracted such high profile guests as John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, and Rita Hayworth. So enjoy the decor, and make sure you amble down to the cigar shop to browse their large selection of Cuban cigars.
Location: Avenida O at 21st (near the Malecón and La Rampa), Vedado
Statue of John Lennon (Vedado)
Beatles fans will love the bronze statue of John Lennon in John Lennon Park. Get your photo taken with the music icon; then wander down the Calle 6 to El Vampirito for a Cristal and a sandwich or pizza.
Location: Calle 8, between Calle 15 and 17
La Makina Gastro Bar (Old Havana)
El Biky (Vedado)
El Biky features two sides - the bakery and the restaurant. The bakery doles out fresh breads, sweet treats, and Cuban express coffee. The restaurant serves up pizzas, pastas, and specialty dishes. We sampled both the breads and sweets from the bakery, as well as pastas from the restaurant, and all were delightful.
Location: Infanta at San Lazaro, Vedado
You'll find this darling Italian restaurant just off La Rampa, at the St John's Hotel. Their menu features a nice selection of pastas and brick oven pizzas. The pastas we selected arrived piping hot, with lots of flavor in the sauces and healthy portions of cheese. Our server was kind and eager to please.
Location: Calle O near 23rd, Vedado
Private Taxi Tour
Take a private tour of the city with a local tour guide.
Post-food-poisoning (if you're into humorous food poisoning stories, you can read more about mine here), and still in my weakened state, we took a taxi down the Malecón, from La Rampa into Old Havana. Along the way, our driver pointed out various sites around the city, and mentioned that he does private tours. Pedro was personable and informative, and clearly loves his city. Call him to book your tour!
Tip: To get a feel for the city, take your tour on the day you arrive. Keep a notebook with you, and write down places you want to go back to on foot.
Sunrise over the Malecón
Get out of bed early to stroll along the Malecón at sunrise. The views are astonishing, especially looking out at the Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro. Listen to the water lapping against the wall and watch as the city opens its eyes to a new day.
We mentioned Leo's place in a previous article about how to go to Cuba as an American, but it's worth mentioning again. Leo and his girlfriend have a wonderful, warm, friendly home with a darling private room with private bathroom for rent. They are located in the heart of Vedado, with plenty of restaurants nearby, within walking distance of Habana Centro. Call Leo directly, or book through their AirBNB link.
* If you are new to AirBNB, use our referral link to get a credit toward your first stay!
Before You Go:
Before heading to Havana, Cuba, read Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy. In addition to some delightful stories and satirical humor, you'll receive valuable insights into Havana pre-, mid-, and post-Revolution, with the author's thoughts on both Batista and Castro.
For more ideas on things to do in Havana, check out "Free Things to Do in Havana."
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