Touring Cuba:

The Malecon – the sea wall that runs along the Havana coastline is Havana’s outdoor lounge. The buildings are facing the sea alongside the road, which cover three different city districts, are a colourful sample of the predominant trends of Havanas architecture.

 

The Malecon begins in Old Havana with the Castillo de la Real Fuerzathe city’s oldest fortress and one of the very oldest in the Americas. The sea front drive is lined with 18th and 19th-century stately homes, followed by a row of 20th-century buildings, with their unusual combination of styles and profusion of portals, columns, and pilasters that loosely follow classical lines. On its last stretch, bold examples of 1950s modern architecture, such as the Riviera Hotel, emerge, before the road disappears into a tunnel leading to the Miramar district.

Touring Cuba

On a hot summer day, the Malecon will be packed with young lovers, bored homemakers and kids. Kids being kids and there being a fresh sea breeze over the wall you will see endless jumping, dipping, soaking. Bars and restaurants now line the Malecon.

 

Playa De Este (The Eastern Beaches) – The beaches of Havana are as beautiful as Varadero. Santa Maria with appreciable shade and the softest cleanest sand is the best. There’s a bus leaving from Park Central every 30 minutes, across the street from Telegraph Hotel. Price is 5 CUC for a roundtrip. The ride takes about 30 minutes.

 

Vinales and Trinidad These two towns continue to be the most popular tours, Vinales is close enough from Havana for a day trip where Trinidad needs a night or two (at most). We can arrange a visit (much more enjoyable than the bus!), but bus tours can be organized at the Park Central Hotel.

 

Dancing and Salsa
The Tropicana– It’s expensive – in fact, overpriced — but if you’re going to see a cabaret show in Havana, it should be at the Tropicana. First opened in 1939, this open-air dinner theatre is still the defining cabaret show in Cuba, if not the world. You enter the lush garden theatre after passing the club’s signature sculpted Fountain of the Muses. Skip the dinner! The show itself begins around 10:30 pm. Once the show starts, the stage and verdant surroundings become an orgy of light, color, spectacular costumes, and pulsating movement. Scores of scantily clad showgirls and dancers seamlessly weave together a series of different numbers. The 2-hour-long spectacle covers most of the bases of popular Cuban show and dance music, from son to bolero to dance to salsa, with a bit of Afro-Cuban religious music thrown into the mix. After the show, you can continue the celebration by dancing the night away at the adjoining San Arcos de Cristal.Virtually every hotel and tour agency in Havana can book you a night at the Tropicana; some include dinner and a bottle of rum at the nightclub, others are just for the show (including a complimentary Cuba Libre, a rum-and-Coke drink), or include dinner first at El Ajibe or another Miramar restaurant.

 

You’ll get your money back on a rainout, but they offer no guaranteed reservations for a makeup show.Casa de Musica in both central Havana and Miramar is the best place for live music and dancing..different bands every night for salsa and other styles. Matinees 5-9pm and late shows 11 till 3 am. This schedule changes all the time. Big cabaret with large dance floor..located in central Habana, within walking distance of Habana Vieja

 

Casa de Musica in both central Havana and Miramar is the best place for live music and dancing..different bands every night for salsa and other styles. Matinees 5-9pm and late shows 11 till 3 am. This schedule changes all the time. Big cabaret with large dance floor..located in central Habana, within walking distance of Habana Vieja

 

Florida Hotel located in Habana Vieja on Calle Obispo..this is a funky room where all the locals go..there is always someone to practice your salsa moves. Teachers and their students are fun to watch if you are beginning. A cover is five cuc and includes a drink, and the room is open from 9:00 pm – 1:00 am.

Touring Cuba

 

Tours
Walking Tour Old Havana Maite can arrange a walking tour of Habana Vieja at reasonable prices, and you will see the sites and explain the history of the city and county.

 

Classic American Cars nowhere else in the world will you see such beautiful old car buffs dream! Your host Maite can arrange a car and driver for you.

 

Horse and Buggy Tour around the city from Park Central Maite can arrange all guided tours..wonderful way to see the sites..stop for a mojito at the famous Dos Hermano Bar.

 

Restaurants
New restaurants are starting up everywhere, but our favourite is O’Reilly 304 a Gin Bar on O’Rielly 1.5 blocks from the Casa drinks are great, and the food is the some of the best we have had..steaks and pasta fabulous and reasonable prices. Small and quaint locals privately own this little gem feel more like Miami than Havana!

Touring Cuba

 

Shopping for Souvenirs
Plaza de Armas at the end of O’Reilly St. heading to the Harbour. Great place to browse for antiques and books from the many stands around the park. Restaurants and bars to get out of the heat and watch the tourists and locals.

 

Plaza de la Catedral- in this plaza to the left of the restaurant (a great place to sit and observe the action) is a museum that has the best quality pictures and souvenirs..some jewellery etc. This plaza has Cuban bands quite often and is just a beautiful place to experience Havana.

 

The largest market is La Feria de Artesania in Old Havana, located by the Cruise ship terminals.

 

Also known as Feria San Jose, the new location is great if it happens to rain, and the market now has a Cadeca (money exchange), washrooms, snack bar, great place to listen to music, watch the harbour and have a couple of beer and great chicken lunch. You can find hidden treasures among the kitschy tourist ashtrays and ceramics. Although bargaining is acceptable, the very low prices mean that artists are struggling. Keep this in mind and haggle in moderation. Open 10am 6pm.

 

Internet access is becoming more common and available in Havana, but it can still be a frustrating experience to try to use the Internet. The most popular Internet cafe in town located at El Capitolio. The rate here is CUC$5 per hour, and the 14 machines here are often booked solid. Aside from this, your best options are the various hotels with business centres and Internet terminals in their lobbies, Saratoga, Inglatera and Park Central Hotels. Wifi cards are available to purchase at the hotels and on the street, the price varies and are usually priced a for 2-3 cuc per hour.

 

Selected Reading

CarolSueStories Blog on Cuba –  http://carolsuestories.com/we-went-to-cuba/

Havana, Cuba
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