So you have 24 hours in Havana? Lucky you! AllTheRooms has put together a guide so you can maximize your time in one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world.
We have 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, we have all the options for you.
Start the day with a fresh breakfast from your casa particular (guest house) or hotel. Wherever you stay in Cuba, breakfast is a real highlight of the day. It usually includes bountiful-amounts of exotic fruit, fresh juices, eggs cooked to taste, bread and pancakes.
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. 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.
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.
Have longer in Havana?
Got longer than 24 hours in Havana? This itinerary can be extended for 48-hours, throwing in a day-trip to Ernest Hemingway’s house, or to one of the nearby beaches at Playas de Este, less than a thirty-minute taxi drive East from Havana’s old town.