Things to do in Havana Cuba

things to do in havana

Havana is a traveller’s dream, combining history, culture, tradition and a totally unique atmosphere. Painted in colour and full of flavours, Havana welcomes us with its iconic buildings and characteristic architecture.

It is the perfect representation of Cuban, where every corner is flooded with its particular vibramcy. Beyond its important museums and monuments, Havana is certainly a destination that you must see at least once in your life.

Don’t miss the most important spots, the most symbolic corners and the secret spaces that you can discover in this splendid city. At Passporter we invite you to discover it, but we want to warn you that whenever you go, whatever you see and whatever you do, you will end up falling in love with it. Are you ready?

Things to do in Old Havana

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, it is the most important place in the history and evolution of the Cuban capital. It is the heart of Havana and is home to the city’s most famous monuments, palaces and museums.

Havana developed around four main squares that make up its historic centre, known as Old Havana. These are the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza Vieja, and the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís. That is why we recommend starting the tour in this area, since everything is close together. At the end of your visit of Old Havana you can see more distant places that are also very representative of the city (which we will outline later).

1. Plaza de Armas in Havana Cuba

The Plaza de Armas was the military and defensive centre of Havana, as well as being the official centre of the historic centre. It is the oldest square in Old Havana and you can get to it by crossing the incredible portico located between Avenida del Puerto and Calle O’Reilly, and admire the coat of arms of the city of Havana facing the sea. This square is an essential place to see in Havana.

This square is also home to some of the most interesting museums, buildings and monuments of the city. These are the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the Museum and monument El Templete. They are some of the essential places to see in Havana.

2. Obispo Street in Havana Cuba

Obispo Street is one of the places that best represents the Cuban atmosphere and the character of its people. It has art galleries, shops, music bars, restaurants and bookshops. It’s the ideal place to stroll along and get into the historic centre of the city.

This street starts at the Plaza de Armas and runs from east to west until it reaches the Floridita Bar. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk along this popular and busy pedestrian street. Admire the original architecture that colours and decorates all its surroundings.

3. Plaza de la Catedral in Havana

Considered a symbol of the city, the Plaza de la Catedral is one of the essential places to see. Together with the cathedral it makes up the religious centre of Havana.

The Plaza de la Catedral is an authentic museum of Cuban baroque. All the buildings located in it, including the Cathedral, date from the 18th century. The streets of Empedrado and San Ignacio converge in this square. There are bars and cafés that make this the place to stop and observe the surroundings.

4. Cathedral of Havana Cuba

Built more than 200 years ago, it is the most important church in Cuba. It is in this cathedral where religious objects, sepulchres, tabernacles, as well as the tombs of illustrious personalities of Havana and Cuba in general are kept. It’s surrounded by a square that bears its name and adorned with the colonial mansions. Inside you will find the image of the Patron Saint of the city of Havana, Saint Christopher.

The Havana Cathedral is a monument that you will love, especially if you love classical architecture. Its exterior façade has a baroque style, as well as imposing towers. Don’t miss the most important religious monument in Cuba!

5. Old Square of Havana Cuba

It is definitely a mandatory destination for travellers who seek to experience the human and visual environment. Designed in 1559, this square was the commercial hub of the city as it housed an important market. With a colonial setting and a captivating elegance, Plaza Vieja is the most eclectic square in Havana, architecturally speaking.

In this square you will be able to see some of the most interesting places, such as the Camera Obscura, where you can enjoy beautiful views of Havana through an ingenious optical device located in a tower 35 metres high.

old square havana
Old Square Havana @javigoas

6. Plaza de San Francisco de Asís

The Plaza de San Francisco de Asís was the city’s main point of import and export. It was developed facing the port of Havana during the 16th century. Nowadays, the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís serves as the gateway to the city.

Here you will find a large number of pleasant cafés and restaurants. In this square you will also find the Museum of Rum, another key place to see in Havana.

7. Castillo de la Real Fuerza

It is one of the four fortresses you can see in Havana, and one of the most important places to see in Havana as it is the oldest building in the city. Beyond its small size, this fortress has a special beauty, partly due to its location surrounded by water and imposing bridges that lead to the interior of the castle.

This castle also has a museum and courtyard where you will find cannons and other vestiges of Cuba’s history. The west tower is crowned by the Giraldilla, one of the most important symbols of Havana, and popularly known as the symbol of the Havana Club.

8. Templete in Havana Cuba

El Templete Museum is in a small Doric chapel in neoclassical style, located in Plaza de Armas. This small building imitates Greco-Roman Temples and commemorates the founding of the town. This chapel was built in 1828, where the first town council of Havana was held.

The chapel is surrounded by a small garden, where you will also find a monument of Christopher Columbus. According to Havana tradition, you must walk around the ceiba tree three times, then toss a coin in the air and make a wish.

9. Rum Museum Havana Club

Visiting the Rum Museum is certainly an unforgettable experience about the production and origins of the quintessential Cuban product. It is no secret that Cuban rum is one of the best, if not the best, rum in the world. Therefore, it is always interesting to know what is the secret about this rum that sets it apart from the rest of the world. While visiting this museum, you will discover the true production secrets.

Here you can also learn all about its history, from the beginning to the fame it has today. Without a doubt a must-see in Havana!

10. Paseo del Prado Havana Cuba

paseo del prado havana
Paseo del Prado @javigoas

It is a great avenue to see in the centre of Havana, with more than 200 years of history. The Paseo del Prado, officially known as Paseo de José Martí, was for a long time the most important and beautiful artery of Havana. Nowadays, it continues to be one of the most interesting places, much appreciated by visitors and locals alike. It is also worth mentioning the eight bronze lions that are exhibited along this avenue. The lion is one of the emblems of the city of Havana.

The Paseo de Martí stretches from the beautiful Fuente de La India to the Malecón Havana itself. The promenade is about two kilometres long and is divided into four sections. These are El Paseo, the Central Park, the Esplanade of the Capitol and the Parque de la Fraternidad.

11. Havana Capitol

The National Capitol of Cuba is one of the most emblematic buildings you can see in Havana. This majestic building is located right in the centre of the city. It’s similar to the Capitol in Washington D.C. due to its elegant structure and imposing dome.

It was the seat of the Cuban Congress until 1959. Declared a National Monument in November 2010, it currently houses the headquarters of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba and exhibits samples of the history of the capitol and Cuba.

The Capitol also houses the Statue of the Republic, an incredible 14.60-metre high bronze statue. It’s identified as the third tallest indoor statue in the world. In addition, it is interesting to know that the Capitol marks the kilometre 0 of Cuba’s roads.

12. Gran Teatro Havana Cuba

This building is a true work of art worthy of admiration, both inside and out. It is a theatre within a theatre, as the Gran Teatro Havana was built around the old Teatro Tacón. That is why it currently preserves the heart and original rooms of the Tacón Theatre. It was the largest and most luxurious theatre in all of Latin America. It has a beautiful neo-baroque façade with four sculptures and figures in white marble.

As headquarters of the Ballet and the National Opera of Cuba, this place has magnificent acoustics. It usually has different artistic performances in its elegant halls. Located in the heart of the city, close to the Capitol, this theatre is an essential stop.

13. National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana

Located next to the Paseo Del Prado, Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts is one of the main sights to see on your trip to Havana. The Palacio de Bellas Artes building also houses the Universal Art Collection, a display of international art from 500 BC to the present day. In addition, this museum’s Cuban art centre aims to restore, conserve and promote the works that form part of Cuba’s plastic heritage through its 24 exhibition halls.

14. Museum of the Revolution

This museum is unmissable place to see in Havana and learn about the revolutionary history of Castro’s Cuba.

Here you can also learn about the history of the Cuban Revolution from the 50s and the process up to the present day. You can see weapons of Russian origin, radios, belongings and objects of Che Guevara, Camilo Cuenfuegos and Fidel Castro. From its windows you can also see the sea and a large Cuban flag worthy to take pictures as a souvenir of your stay in Havana.

It is located in the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Cuba. It is considered one of the most important Cuban museums, due to its important heritage, for the scope of its exhibition and for its cultural, historical and political work. It is also one of the most important and beautiful museums in the world and one of the most visited annually.

15. Granma Memorial

Located in the centre of Havana, the Granma Memorial is an open-air museum where you can see numerous pieces that pay tribute to the lives lost in the war for the Cuban revolution. In this museum, you will find everything about the Cuban revolution, from weapons and vehicles such as planes and tanks that were used during the revolutionary struggle, to the yacht, which bears the same name, in which the revolutionaries travelled from Mexico to Cuba.

16. Almacenes San José Havana

This is one of the biggest stores to see in Havana and probably in Cuba. The exhibitions and the amount of art that resides here is incredible and will be worth every second.

It is located on Paula Avenue, quite close to the romantic Floating Bridge and Antiguo Almacén del Tabaco y la Madera. Walking through this store, especially in the early hours, allows you to see the colour and life of Havana and other cities, almost like a tropical paradise. When you enter this huge store with four long aisles, you may also feel a bit strange since it is similar to the mall during sales or at Christmas time.

What else is there to see in Havana city?

After visiting Old Havana, you can continue exploring this beautiful city that offers countless architectural gems, colorful facades, aromas, flavors, a fresh and authentic air, as well as the local people who give life to each of its streets. Here we leave you a selection of the most important places to see in this city, apart from Old Havana.

1. Malecón of Havana Cuba

It consists of a spacious avenue with an extensive wall that covers the entire northern coast of the Cuban capital for eight kilometres. It is the ideal place to breathe close to the sea and to experience the authentic Cuban atmosphere. Havana’s Malecón is the meeting place where thousands and thousands of people gather every night along this beautiful place. Strolling along the Malecón is a must during your trip to Havana.

2. Morro Castle in Havana Cuba

This monumental castle is of great historical and symbolic importance for Cuba, as it served as the city’s fortress during colonial times. This fortress rises above the Atlantic Ocean, on a rocky outcrop known as El Morro, and has a series of descending terraces that blend in with the rock. Blessed with a harmonious elegance in a natural setting, this castle withstood countless attacks.

Today, it is home to the Maritime Museum, an unmissable collection that forms part of the Morro-Cabaña Military Historical Park. Although the museum is impressive, the best part of this enclave is on the roof. From this fortress, you can witness the best views of the city, with the bay, the endless sea, and Havana in the background.

3. Cristo of Havana Cuba

The Havana Christ Statue is located in the village of Casablanca, across the bay from Havana. It is another important sight to see in Havana, as it is the largest statue of Christ made by a woman. It is also curious to know that this majestic sculpture was left with empty eyes to give the impression that it is looking at you from any perspective.

4. Museum of Decorative Arts

The National Museum of Decorative Arts is the greatest exponent of Havana’s bourgeoisie, as it belonged to the Cuban Countess María Luisa Gómez and from its beginnings was managed by the country’s highest officials.

From the architecture, you will be able to notice the bourgeois characteristics, such as the materials that make up this museum, giving the façade that elegant and sophisticated touch. Furthermore, once inside, you will be able to see famous paintings that once belonged to Cuban nobles, but you will also find furniture such as Queen Marie Antoinette’s writing desk.

5. Callejón Hammel

Callejón Hamel, a small street barely 200 metres long, is a bustling hub of activity. It is one of the most colourful places in Havana, and a key setting that pays tribute to Afro-Cuban culture. With its walls full of bright colours, sculptures and urban art, this alleyway is home to a large number of bars, restaurants and original shops.

With its own identity and a lot of personality, Callejón Hamel is a place worth visiting to get to know the Afro-Cuban culture and religion, captured with symbols and poems in each of its murals.

6. Bacardi Building

Located on the Avenida de las Misiones, the Bacardi Building stands out from the rest of the buildings around it for its characteristic architecture and imposing size. Moreover, the architecture of this building is considered one of the best representations of Cuban art due to its Art Deco style, one of the greatest exponents in Havana.

On the other hand, inside the building you will find offices, restaurants and bars, as well as a viewpoint that will take you to the top of the building, where you will be able to appreciate a wonderful urban landscape.

7. Colón Cemetery

The Necropolis of Christopher Columbus has been declared a National Monument and is considered one of the most important monumental architectural cemeteries in the world.

This cemetery is famous for its impressive religious iconography, as well as its elaborate marble sculptures. A large number of monuments of different styles and manifestations, both by Cuban and foreign sculptors, are concentrated here. A tour of this cemetery is a must-do in Havana, and is sure to become an educational and emotional journey through Cuban history.

8. Forest of Havana

Located to the west of Havana, here green becomes the main colour in a city full of great chromatic variety. This Havana forest is a vast open-air space filled with tropical vegetation, as well as places that seem to have been strategically placed to unleash the photographer in you. Here, the noise of this lively city is muted; this park is an invitation to enjoy the wilder, natural side of Havana.

9. Plaza de la Revolución José Martí

The Plaza de la Revolución is one of the largest public squares in the world, at 72,000 square metres. It is also a place of great historical and symbolic value for the Cuban people as it has been the scene of several of the main acts and events of the Cuban Revolution.

Here you will find the statue of José Martí and its obelisk, the tallest structure in the whole city. Also noteworthy in this square is the image of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, both authors of the Cuban revolution, making the Plaza de la Revolución one of the must-see spots in Havana.

10. Eastern Beaches

If your plan is to enjoy a few days in Havana and you would like to swim in one of those Caribbean beaches of fine white sand, palm trees and turquoise blue water, the Eastern Beaches will undoubtedly be your best option.

They are also located a short distance from the capital. In the Central Park you can take a bus that for only 5 CUC will take you to these beaches. The price includes the round trip. Even so, if you want to do a little exercise and go on foot, the journey from the bus stop to the beach is only about 200 meters. It is essential to get to the beach early if you want to rent a sun lounger and parasol for a very reasonable price.

11. Road trip in Havana Cuba

Taking a ride in one of these spectacular classic vehicles through the city centre will turn your trip into an unforgettable experience, preserving the authenticity of this emblematic city. This tour will take you back to another era and will take you to the places you have to see in Havana.

The tour usually starts at the Paseo del Prado and ends at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress. During the tour you will also see the famous Malecón, the neighbourhoods of Vedado and Nuevo Vedado, the Plaza de la Revolución, the Cristóbal Colón Cemetery. The car will also take you to the historical centre, so that you can walk around Old Havana and finish your adventure in the city.

Road trip Havana @unsplash

12. Hemingway Route

Following this route you will get to know the places where the famous writer Ernest Hemingway spent his life in Cuba. During this tour you will visit iconic places such as the Hotel Ambos Mundos, La Finca Vigía, Cojímar, and you will be able to enjoy a mojito in the place that dazzled the writer, La Bodeguita del Medio, as well as the popular daiquiri at La Floridita.

Cojímar is a small fishing village located 7 kilometres east of Havana. This small fishing village is one of the essential stops on the Hemingway Route, as it was here that Ernest Hemingway set his most famous novel The Old Man and the Sea, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

Our trip to Havana Cuba

The best activities in Havana Cuba

Havana travel itinerary

Here is a travel itinerary created by one of our users with her recommendations of what you should visit in Havana Cuba, so you can organise your trip easily and quickly. You can also add important documents such as travel tickets, hotel reservations and even invite your friends to be part of the itinerary organisation. 

Using Passporter is free of charge and will help you travel in a more organised way. You can register on the website or download the app to keep everything in one place and in your pocket 🙂

Things to do in Havana at night

Havana Capitol @unsplash

Nights in Havana are characterized by endless parties and music that never seems to end. For this reason, there are places where you can enjoy the nights of life and warmth that this Caribbean place offers, accompanied by the best rum in the world. All this is an unforgettable experience, so you should visit the following places.

1. Cañonazo de las nueve

This is a tradition that took place every night in Havana in the 18th century; today it is shared as a symbol of Cuban history. This show takes place in the fortress of San Carlos, which also serves as a museum. What does this event consist of? Well, every night you will see the soldiers perform a parade and head towards the cannon while they are here; they perform a dance and when it is exactly 9:00 p.m. they release the sound of the cannon.

In addition to the event you can find inexpensive handicraft stores where you can pay with dollars or euros and take a souvenir home.

2. Bodeguita del Medio

The mojito is one of the most popular drinks in Havana, but you can’t try it just anywhere. La Bodeguita del medio is the mojito place par excellence, where in addition to mojitos you’ll find various traditional dishes. What better than to follow Ernest Hemingway’s recommendation, who says that there is no better place to try the authentic Cuban mojito; “the mojito at La Bodeguita”. What are you waiting for to try it?

3. Floridita Bar

Following Hemingway’s recommendations, Bar Floridita is another of Havana’s must-visit bars/restaurants. This popular place has an atmosphere that is pure energy, joy and Cuban culture. Visiting this bar/restaurant will become a special plan thanks to its exquisite dishes and beers, always accompanied by live music. Don’t forget to try the popular daiquiris, one of Cuba’s most famous cocktails. 

4. Cabaret Parisien in Hotel Nacional

The Cabaret Parisien is a cabaret in the purest Cuban style where you can choose to book a dinner or enjoy some of the best cocktails while you enjoy its impressive show. The Cabaret Parisien opened in 1930 in the Hotel Nacional. Since then it has hosted cabaret shows featuring Indo-American, Hispanic and African dances. Artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and Buster Keaton have been spectators of this multicultural and colourful show, full of fun, dance and, above all, music.

5. Buena Vista Social Club

In this outstanding show you will experience the origins of Cuban music. Enjoy live performances of the island’s most popular genres: salsa, rumba, bolero and guaguancó. This is an original show that was attended by renowned musicians in the 1940s, so it is undoubtedly well worth seeing on your visit to Havana.

6. Tropicana in Havana Cuba

Havana’s nightlife is simply seductive and offers a wide variety of options where you can enjoy the quintessential Cuban atmosphere. However, there is no place more representative of Havana’s nightlife than Tropicana. At Tropicana you will travel back to the cabarets of the 50’s, with shows whose scenography is designed to review Cuban musical history. The first Tropicana Show took place in 1939 and has now become an internationally renowned show.

Where to dance salsa in Havana?

dance in havana cuba
Trip to Havana

Havana is a magical place where you can enjoy every day, and also, every night. This is why knowing which place is the right place to dance is important if you want to visit Havana in all its splendour. 

1. Restaurante 1830

Located at one end of the Malecón Habanero, this is one of the most elegant places in Havana. In addition, it has 3 dance halls and charming gardens located in the outdoor area, which offer you the opportunity to dance salsa under the stars. With a small cliff of stones and sea shells, this seaside garden is a very special place to create unforgettable moments on your trip to Havana.

2. La peña del Hotel Florida

If you are looking for real salsa dancing, you have to go to the Hotel Florida. Located in the heart of the city centre, this is one of the most mythical places in Havana where to go dancing as it offers salsa nights almost every day. Here the dance floor is located indoors and seems to be made for real dancers, but also for amateurs, who are looking for a taste of authentic Havana salsa.

3. Casa de la Musica de Miramar

If you want to spend one of the best nights full of music, you have to go to the house of music in Miramar where you can find all kinds of bands playing live all night long. This house offers everything a traveller with a Caribbean flavour would want: food, drinks, music and salsa.

4. Cafe Mi Habana

If you are looking for a spacious and very comfortable place to spend the whole night enjoying Caribbean music and the flavour of salsa, look no further, this café is the one.

If you want to find out all the regulations for your trip to Havana Cuba, you can also read our post: Requirements for travelling to Cuba

Things to do in Havana in 3 days

There is so much to see in Havana that organising an itinerary in just three days can seem almost impossible. So here’s a suggestion of the essential places to see so that you can make the most of your Cuban adventure and feel like you’ve really experienced this incredible city.

In your first day you can visit:

  • Plaza de Armas Havana
  • Obispo Street
  • Havana Cathedral
  • Plaza de la Catedral Havana
  • Old Square Havana
  • Templete
  • National Museum of Decorative Arts
  • La Bodeguita del Medio

In your second day you can visit:

  • Plaza de San Francisco de Asís
  • Rum Museum Havana Club
  • Paseo del Prado
  • Havana Capitol
  • Malecón of Havana
  • Morro Castle
  • Cañonazo de las nueve

In your third day you can visit:

  • Castillo de la Real Fuerza
  • Bacardi Building
  • Ron Museum Havana Club
  • Hamel Street
  • Malecon in Havana
  • Mi Habana Cafe

Things to do in Havana in 4 days

If you are travelling to Cuba only to visit Havana, you might want to extend your stay in this city a little bit longer. Following the previous itinerary, here we leave you a route for the fourth day in Havana so that you can investigate in depth all the charms and spaces that this city has to offer.

  • Callejón Hammel
  • Bacardi building
  • Colón Cemetery
  • Forest of Havana
  • Plaza de la Revolución José Martí
  • Cabaret Parisien Hotel Nacional

How to plan your intinerary of the places to see to Havana?

Download the passporter app and plan your trip in the most organized way according to the days and places you want to see in Havana.

With this app you will be able to:

  • Get inspired by the experiences of other travelers.
  • Save valuable information about the destinations you want to visit by installing the Chrome extension and saving everything useful for your trip.
  • Save tickets and reservations.
  • Organize your route on Google Maps choosing starting point.
  • Know the best travel option for each place.
  • Save and publish your own pictures and experiences of all your trips in your Passporter profileand share it with other users.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use and get the most out of the Passporter app, you can read our post: How to create a travel itinerary in Passporter.

Frequently asked questions for a trip to Havana Cuba

What are the requirements to travel to Cuba?

In order to enter Cuba without any problem, you must carry a valid passport, travel ticket to your country of residence, medical insurance and customs declaration.

How is the Cuban currency called?

The currency in circulation in Cuba is known as the Cuban peso, or CUP.

How to pay in Cuba?

Our advice is to always carry cash to avoid unforeseen events. The currencies that you can exchange for Cuban pesos (CUP) are the following; Euro, US Dollar and Canadian Dollar, among others.
In some places they may accept cards as a means of payment, but you must take into account that they will not accept any card issued by US institutions. The cards you will be able to use are:
– Visa
– MasterCard
– Access
– Eurocard
– Banamex
– American International Service

Where to stay in Havana?

To stay in Havana, one of the most striking and authentic accommodation options is to book a stay in a private home. These offer visitors the chance to stay in a Cuban home, in direct contact with the warm, open and hospitable Havana people, which allows them to get to know the most genuine customs and culture at first hand.

However, there are several hotel options that currently comply with rigorous anti-COVID quality controls and have the Certification of the Most Hygienic and Safe Tourism, which transmits security to the visitor.

Which is the best area to stay in Havana?

With a great variety of hotels, the Vedado area is a neighbourhood where, without a doubt, you will want to stay during your stay in Havana. This area has everything a traveller needs: highly recommended hotels and a totally peaceful area, and if that wasn’t enough, it is located in the most central areas of the city, where it will be very easy to go to any part of the Cuban capital. One of the best options could be: Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Where to drink the best mojito in Havana?

What better recommendation than that of the writer Ernest Hemingway? He mentions “the mojito at La Bodeguita” as one of the best mojitos in all of Cuba. Come and check it out!

Which are the best hotels to stay in Old Havana?

– Hotel SO Paseo del Prado.
– Iberostar Grand Packard
– Manzana Kempiski
– Iberostar Parque Central
– Hotel Inglaterra

Which are the best hotels to stay in Miramar?

– Hotel Meliá Habana
– El Hotel Comodoro
– Hotel 5ta Avenida
– El Hotel Panorama

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