Holidays in Havana are a perfect choice for a getaway jam-packed with culture, vibrancy, history and tradition. Where days are spent wandering the cobbled walkways of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and soaking up the atmosphere in sun-soaked plazas. And evenings encompass rum-fuelled salsa bars and impromptu live music jams. With our cheap holidays, you get to experience everything Havana has to offer. The atmosphere in Cuba's capital city is unrivalled and hotels in Havana offer cosmopolitan comfort and a place to put your feet up after a full day of sightseeing. Not sure when to visit? No problem – we’ve got the low down on the best time to visit Cuba here!
The heart and soul of Havana is Habana Vieja, the beautiful old quarter. Stroll through its narrow streets, admiring the crumbling mansions painted in ice-cream colours, and stop off for a drink in one of the sun-baked squares. There are scores of fantastic museums to explore, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the fascinating Museum of the Revolution and Hemingway’s former home, Finca Vigía. In the evenings, take a stroll with the locals along the famous El Malécon seafront promenade, and hit the salsa bars for some live music and plenty of atmosphere. And if you want to hit the beaches, a 20-minute taxi drive will bring you to the gorgeous white sands of Santa María del Mar.
The classic Cuban dish is ropa vieja, which is a succulent, slow-cooked stew made with shredded beef cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic. You could also try ajiaco, another tasty stew made with meat, corn and green vegetables. Or go for the thick black bean soup known locally as moros y cristianos, or perhaps some arroz con frijoles, which is white rice with tasty black beans on top. You might also be able to try some beautifully fresh lobster or prawns, or some simply grilled or pan fried fish. One of the most prized national dishes is lechón, which is suckling pig, marinated in garlic, onions and herbs and then roasted whole. To drink, of course, there’s the world-famous Cuban rum.
The colourful Cuban capital of Havana is a delight to explore with kids. The beautiful old quarter, Habana Vieja, looks like a movie set, especially with the vintage American cars that still rattle through the cobbled streets. Children will love seeing it through the panoramic camera oscura, located at the top of a 35-metre high tower, which projects 360-degree images of the old city. Other kid-friendly attractions include the zoo, which is home to lions, rhinos and bears, and the aquarium, which hosts sea lion and dolphin shows. Don’t miss a pilgrimage to the Coppelia ice-cream shop, which has barely changed since it opened in the 1960s. And, if you want some sun, sea and sand, the gorgeous Santa María del Mar beach is only 20 minutes away by taxi.
Action & Adventure
There are lots of exciting things to do in Havana, whether you fancy learning salsa or puttering through the ancient streets in a classic car. One of the best ways to see the city is by renting a bike, and perhaps a tour along the long Malécon seafront promenade. If you’re into water sports, you can head to the Playa Bacuranao, the closest beach to the city centre, which is fantastic for snorkelling thanks to its coral reef. Further east, at the Playa de Santa María del Mar, you’ll find a whole host of other water sports available, including kite-boarding and surfing.
The nearest beach to the centre of Havana is the Playa Bacuranao, which is very popular with snorkelers thanks to its coral reef. It's the first in a string of beaches, known collectively as the Playas del Este ('Eastern Beaches'). If you want endless white sands and a fantastic party scene, then head further east to the enormously popular Santa Maria del Mar beach, about 20 minutes away by taxi. It can get very crowded, but you can continue a little further east to find the Playa Boca Ciega, which has fewer facilities, but is quieter and less busy. Also worth a visit is the lovely Playa Guanabo, located in the charming village of Guanabo on the outskirts of Havana.
The cobbled streets of Habana Vieja – the city’s atmospheric historic quarter – are packed with bars, cafés and clubs, particularly along the Calle Obispo. Once the bars close around midnight, the clubs come into their own – salsa bars, tango clubs, live music venues – and music floats through the streets. You could also head to the Vedado neighbourhood, where many of the city’s most elegant colonial mansions have been converted into clubs and musical venues, and offer a wealth of night spots, from glamorous cocktail bars to spit-and-sawdust speakeasies. This is also where some of the most celebrated classic hotels are found, such as the Art Deco El Nacional, and these have great bars and often put on live music. Locals congregate after dusk along the El Malécon seafront promenade, often with beer or bottles of rum, and enjoy an impromptu party by the water’s edge.
Havana is a spectacularly beautiful holiday destination, and its brightly coloured, crumbling mansions, cobbled streets and vintage cars provide a wonderfully cinematic backdrop for romance. You could join the locals for a sunset stroll along El Malécon, the wonderful seafront promenade, before stopping for a drink on one of the gorgeous squares. Why not take a salsa class or perhaps hire a classic car and go for a drive – perhaps to the gorgeous beaches, such as Santa María del Mar, located east of the city? In the evenings, listen to live music and enjoy a mojito or two at one of the many bars in the Vedado district.
The beautiful historic quarter, Habana Vieja, along with its fortications, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkable colonial buildings. There are several elegant squares that have barely changed in centuries, and some of the finest buildings include the 18th-century Baroque cathedral, and the Palacio de Segundo Cabo, an 18th-century palace, which is now a fascinating cultural centre. There are several excellent museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, which contains a superb collection of Cuban art, and the Museum of the Revolution, which offers an insight into the stormy events of the 1950s. Don’t miss the chance to see Hemingway’s former home, the Finca Vigía, which has been kept virtually unchanged and contains his huge collection of books and hunting trophies.