So you have 24 hours in Havana? Lucky you! I found this great itinerary put together by the blog AllTheRooms to maximize your time in one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world.
Here are the world’s most extensive list of accommodation in Cuba, with thousands of options for you to pick from across the island. Whether you want to stay in a luxurious 1950s-style hotel in Havana’s historic center or get a flavor for real life in a downtown home-stay, they have all the options for you
Start the day with a fresh breakfast at your own casa particular or head to one of the most popular coffeehouses in Havana, Cafe Arcangel or Cafe It a perfect place to have a hearty breakfast in preparation for a day of long walks under the hot Cuban sun. The breakfast menu goes from simple options of coffee or juice and toast and eggs, to the luxury Arcangel Breakfast consisting of a fruit salad, toast, butter and jam, eggs, milk and coffee or tea. Croissants and sandwiches are also served, as well as a broad selection of hot drinks. A family business founded by a couple that owns a bed & breakfast next door, Cafe Arcangel also features excellent interior design and is located in a very accessible street in Centro Habana. In any case, breakfast in Cuba is a real highlight of the day.
Once you are fully fed, hail down a taxi and head to Havana Vieja, the historic city center. Starting in the Plaza del Armas, spend two hours walking the winding streets of Havana, soaking in the colors, cars and electric atmosphere and if you happen to be there this month check the book and relic fair! Take a look in one of the many art-gallery shops, grab a coffee in an old cafe and take a peek at some of the colonial buildings that are often converted into public spaces.
After getting a flavor of the historic city center, take a trip to the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution) and get to know the country’s history.
Pick up a fresh sugar-cane juice, or a batido de mango, a delicious milk-based smoothie, as you stroll towards the Museum, also located in the historic city center.
By now you will probably be hungry. With so many cool cafes and restaurants appearing in recent years, there are a lot of great options for lunch. One of the top spots is El Chanchullero (on Teniente Rey street, Habana Vieja). The tiny, graffitied-café is normally packed with Havana’s hipster crowd. Order the pineapple-chicken dish, you won’t regret it. If you arrive at El Chanchullero and the queue is too big, there are tonnes of cafes nearby to grab a quick Cuban-sandwich, or chicken and rice dish. Another popular, elegant restaurant with modern Cuban-inspired cuisine. This restaurant actually came alive due to the sensational Oscar award-nominated Cuban movie Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate). The protagonist in the movie works at the restaurant, which in the movie is filled with symbolic significance. The restaurant was built to resemble the one in the movie because of how well the film was received, the fact that tourists wanted to see the space that was referred to in the movie, and the director conceived the idea for the film here. The restaurant is actually constructed in a home with a rooftop so that its visitors can experience the normalcy of Cuban life.
Take a lazy, post-lunch stroll down the Malecón, the coastal road that runs across the edge of the Old City. Here you can watch musicians practicing, locals swimming and young Habeneros drinking beers and enjoying themselves. If you have the cash to splash, hop into a 1950s Cadillac for a one-hour-drive. These can be hailed near to Plaza de la Armas and the driver will normally take you on a route through the Old City and downtown.
Go for dinner at Los Nardos, an upstairs restaurant that is known for an unusual ‘in the dark’ dining experience. The restaurant is set in a dilapidated building, opposite El Capitolio, a majestic building that was home to the Cuban government following the Revolution.
Los Nardos offers one of the best, cheap eats in Havana and draws in a local crowd. Don’t be put off if there is a large queue – it is worth the wait! The menu includes huge meat and fish kebabs and a really decent paella. The prices and quantity of food are unbeatable.
After dinner, get in the party mood by starting the night with a rum-based drink (or two…) at one of the many hotel bars in the historic city center, such as La Floridita or Hotel Sevilla.
Now it is time to finish your 24 hours in Havana by dancing the night away at a club. Fabrica de Arte Cubana, or simply ‘La Fabrica’ as it is called by locals, is an open-air club in downtown Havana, set in a former oil-factory. It is without a doubt the best place in town to dance the night away, with a mixture of salsa, reggaeton, techno and Latin rhythms. Rum and juice can be bought from kiosk-like counters. Any night of the week is a good time to go, but local-tip is to go on Thursday night if you can.
The converted-factory is also a space for art exhibitions and has a cinema screen for movie nights – so be sure to check the schedule here.
Restaurants and Cafes:
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana
Hotel Seville. Calle Trocadero 155. Phone: (+53) 7 8698560. Website: hotelsevilla-cuba.com. Standard doubles from 330 Cuban Convertible Pesos or CUC (or $330 at $1 to the CUC) and cheaper rates can be found online or through agencies.
Hotel Deauville. On the corner of Avenida de Italia (Galiano) and Malecón in Centro Habana. Phone: (+53) 7 8668813. Standard double rooms start at 44 CUC per night. Telephone 7 866 8813.
Hotel Nacional de Cuba. On the corner of Calle 0 and 21 in Vedado. Phone: (+53) 7 8363564. Website: hotelnacionaldecuba. com. Standard double rooms from 350 CUC.
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