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eDreams Travel Blog
  •   4 min read

When we talk of holiday destinations it’s hard to ignore the largest island in the Caribbean and its list of mind-boggling facts as long as the island itself.

This oft-considered ‘backwards’ country has a 99.8% literacy rate and yet mobile phones were prohibited until 2008 – perhaps there’s a connection 😉

It’s also a place where government vehicles are legally required to pick up hitchhikers.

What?

fidel castro lighting a cigar simpsons
via www.simpsonsworld.com

Yes, yes I am.

With 2 million annual arrivals soaking up the sun and distinct cultural history you’ll hardly find a more interesting holiday destination – and it all starts with capital city La Havana.

Here are 12 things to do in Havana.

1 – Hit the Beach

Yes, it’s a tropical island paradise with miles of palm tree-lined beaches drenched in eternal sun – you didn’t need me to tell you this. What most people don’t know though is that some of Cuba’s best beaches are a short drive from Havana.

Santa Maria and Guanabo are highlights that can be reached in 15-20 minutes by shuttle for the price of a cup of coffee.

the coast of guanabo beach havana
@desinegi via Instagram

2 – Puff on a Cigar During a Cityscape Photo

Cuba’s equivalent of the propping up the leaning tower of Pisa pose might be considered douchey but there’ll hardly be a better snap to show the grandchildren just how cool you were back in the day.

Also, the convenient segue into a lecture on the dangers of smoking puts this into two birds with one stone territory. You’re welcome.

a man smokes a cigar on el malecon havana cuba
@phillyclose via Instagram

3 – Viva La Revolucion at the Revolution Museum

You’ll find this radical museum housed poetically in the former Presidential Palace. The main topics explored here are (naturally) the Cuban Revolution, post-revolution Cuba, and Cuba’s War of Independence against Spain.

che guevara replica at the museo de la revolucion havana
@ozgultopkan via Instagram

4 – Drink Where Hemingway (Might Have) Drank

Of the 26 million bars in the world claiming to be Hemingway’s favourite watering hole Boguedita del Medio probably makes the best mojito. In fact, the charming bohemian bar disputably claims to be the birthplace of the drink.

a barman making mojitos at boguedita del medio
via Wikipedia Creative Commons

5 – Check out the Classic Cars

Havana’s streets are flooded with classic American cars making it a veritable automobile museum, the result of Castro’s decades long ban on import vehicles. Citizens have been keeping cars from the 1950’s running out of sheer necessity, much to the delight of car lovers.

@harpersbazaarus via Instagram
@harpersbazaarus via Instagram

6 – Walk Around Old Havana

Havana’s densest neighbourhood was founded by the Spanish in 1519 and is now a UNESCO Heritage Site. Here the past is palpable with its restored colonial architecture, cobbled squares, museums, historic forts, and bustling street action.

fruit sellers in the street in old havana
@lucifers_brigade via Instagram

7 – See the Morro Castle

This fortress overlooking Havana Bay was captured by the British in 1762 before be ceded back to the Spanish a year later – not only does it give a glimpse into Cuba’s ever-interesting colonial past, but the views are spectacular.

castillo del moro in havana
@pendolinka via Instagram

8 – Take a Car Tour

Who’s to say Cuba is without capitalist spirit? There are plenty of companies refurbishing classic American convertibles and offering informative tours of the city so take one (good looking companion not included).

a couple rides a vintage car along the seafront in havana cuba
via gq.tumblr.com

9 – Down some Sugar Cane Juice

Here machine-pressed sugar cane is dripped over ice – it’s called guarapo frio and you can get one for about 4 cents. That’s right, 4 cents.

The pros swirl the juice around in the ice for a few minutes, let it melt a bit in the sweltering heat, and wait for it to go all smoothie-like.

a man makes sugar cane juice in havana cuba
@cesaralejo77 via Instagram

10 – Hit The Museo de Bellas Artes

There’s no better collection of colonial and contemporary Cuban art than the Museo Nacional de Bella Artes de Havana. Say that three times fast 😉

a painting of a spanish ship in havana cuba
@nookyelur via Instagram

11 – Walk the Malecón

This 8 km seawall was originally built during US military rule to protect Havana but eventually ended up serving nighttime lovers and fishermen. Now it’s experiencing a revitalization after economic reforms and has become somewhat of a nightlife hotspot.

waves crash the boardwalk at el malecon havana
@alexandervina007 via Instagram

12 – Stock Up on Street Food

Lovers of cheap fried foods are gonna hit it out of the park here. Churros, chicharitas de platano (fried paper-thin plantains), and pan con minuta (fried fish filet with a spicy sauce served on bread) are favourites but the piece de resistance might be the pan con lechon – a shredded pork sandwich served with a spicy mojo sauce.

vendors selling food in the street in havana cuba
via www.desdelahabana.net

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