The capital of Liberty Island and its main tourist center Havana is less than two years away from its 500th anniversary. The architecture of the times of the Spanish colonial domination is adjacent here to the ultra-modern skyscrapers made of concrete and glass. The city is very picturesque: the center of Old Havana with narrow colonial streets is the very history of the country and its capital – the catalog of historical monuments alone includes over 900 objects. During the day, colorful shows are constantly held here, and in the evening cabarets open their doors.
Havana is a colorful and attractive city, one of the most unusual in the whole world. The recognizable and memorable atmosphere, many attractions and a special mood in the air attract travelers here and allow you to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of the island’s capital. According to populationmonster, Havana is one of the largest cities in Cuba.
Of the 47 km of coastline, 20 are beaches suitable for diving and fishing in the open sea. But to rest on them, you have to drive a little away from Havana.
Despite the fact that Havana is located on the Atlantic coast, there are no good beaches in the city. To sunbathe and swim, you need to drive a little from the center. The first good beaches start within a 15-minute drive and stretch for 20 km. They are called “Eastern”, this is a snow-white coral coast, along which there are many good hotels. These include several dozen beaches: Bakuranao, Tarara, Playa de las Hermanitas, Playas de Este, Santa Maria del Mar, Playa de El Rincon, Playa Veneziana, etc.
Often travelers stay in hotels on the coast, and go to the center to see the sights. Free buses run from hotels, and from the city you can only get to the beaches for money.
Entrance to all beaches is free, but in some places you will have to pay 3-5 CUC for sunbeds. Those who wish can sunbathe on a towel: the sand is very soft. The entrance to the water is gentle, but it is important to understand that this is an ocean, which means that there can be strong waves and reverse currents. Although this rarely happens in the Havana area.
There are not many entertainments on the shore, occasionally there are cafes, but at every step they sell coconut milk and fruits, and there are also merchants offering beads made of corals or shells. Since many hotels have been built along the ocean, you can go to eat in them. Some beaches are equipped with changing cabins, toilets and showers.
Diving is well developed in the vicinity of Havana. There are 5 international centers here, which in total cover an area of almost 100 km along the coast. Even the famous Jacques Yves Cousteau often visited these places during his underwater expeditions. And for tourists from Russia, diving off the coast of Havana will also seem very original, since the natural conditions here are almost unique.
During diving, you can not only get acquainted with the amazing underwater world of the region, but also see the sunken ships. For example, an interesting ship lies at a depth of 14 m near Bakuranao Beach, it was wrecked almost 100 years ago, the crew was rescued, and the ship itself was perfectly preserved. But the largest dive site is located in the Tarara beach area, where there are underwater rocks, sunken ships, and a diverse wildlife.
In some places, future divers are not asked about their experience and are allowed into the water literally “on parole”, so you should be sober about your skills and not impersonate an experienced diver if you are not confident in your abilities.
Many centers offer training for beginners, including a full course with a certificate. Equipment can be rented, it is presented in a large assortment and excellent quality.
Cuisine and restaurants in Havana
There are plenty of places in Havana where you can taste traditional Cuban cuisine called “cochina criolla” and combines Spanish, African and Colombian features. Basically, these simple, uncomplicated and mild dishes are served in restaurants where prices can be unexpectedly high, but the service will be excellent. The Cuban capital has both public and private restaurants. If the place is called “paladares” – it is a private establishment, it will offer a small selection of very tasty dishes. From fast food, pizzerias and kiosks serving hot dogs are popular. On the streets, you can eat sweet buns and waffles from trays.
It is worth trying black beans, or congris – rice mixed with them, potaje soup, again with beans. Meat dishes, fish and seafood are very popular.
Ice cream deserves special attention. It is excellent here, and it is served mainly in specialized cafes, for example, in the old town of Copellia (Calle L, 2111), which has become a filming location more than once.
If the local food leaves many indifferent, then it is simply impossible to pass by the drinks. Hundreds of cocktails are made from the national treasure – rum, Hatuey beer is very popular in Havana, and for those who do not drink alcohol, they make fruit juices and cocktails called “batidos”. It is interesting to try a drink made from fresh sugar cane “guarapo” – less sweet than you might think, as well as a juice based on guava.
The bar “La Bodeguita del Medio”, where Hemingway himself visited, is located on Calle Empedrado, 207. Tasty, interesting, but very expensive.
Entertainment and attractions in Havana
Havana is an ancient city with a lot of attractions. First of all, Old Havana, or Havana Vieja is interesting. This is a fairly large area, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List for almost 25 years and is gradually, albeit very slowly, being restored. Here you can see the square de Armas, Obispo Street with colonial mansions, the castle of De La Real Fuerza and the Cathedral.
The second most attractive district of the city is Center, or the center of Havana, although the border is very arbitrary. The famous Capitol, the Bolshoi Theater, whose fantastic building is really considered one of the largest buildings of opera houses in the world, the Museum of the Revolution, dedicated to the political life of Cuba, deserve attention.
It is very pleasant to walk along the shady Prado boulevard or Paseo de Marti, as well as along the Malecon, which stretches for 7 km along the entire city.
A short distance away lie the areas of Vedado and Plaza, where tourists inspect the large-scale memorial of José Marti, the treasury of funerary art of the Colon cemetery and the huge Revolution Square (Plaza de la Revoluсion).
In the vicinity of the city are the fortress of La Cabaña with the Museum of Che Guevara, the Hemingway House Museum, where the interior, garden and even the cat’s cemetery have been preserved, and the impressive Tres Reyes del Morro castle, the best view of which opens from the Malecon promenade.
The city itself can be admired from the observation decks of the José Martí Memorial, the Saratoga Hotel, Nacional de Cuba and Tryp Habana Libre, as well as from the del Morro Castle.
- What to see in Old Havana
5 things to do in Havana
- Feel the grandeur of the Capitol and see its interiors.
- Take a ride in an old American car with Cuban music playing on the radio and in a Coco Taxi.
- Heed the advice of Hemingway, who wrote: “My mojitos in La Bodeguita”, and try the cocktails of this legendary institution.
- Walk through the streets of Old Havana, never ceasing to be surprised by the contrasts of life here.
- Smile at the little pioneers, laugh and dance with the locals, and try to understand how people in such a poor country can be so happy.
Ernest Hemingway was very fond of Cuba and especially praised the local fishing. Modern tourists can follow the example of the writer and go on deep sea fishing. The club offers the best opportunities. Ham, located in the western part of Havana (Calle 248 y Avenida 5a). They also rent yachts for sea voyages.
In Havana, there is an excellent riding center (in Lenin Park) where you can ride a horse on your own or with an instructor. Local stadiums host sports competitions in baseball, which Cubans themselves adore, boxing or cycling. Tickets for matches are very cheap, and a fascinating spectacle is guaranteed.
The climate in Havana is subtropical, the island is located under the Tropic of Cancer, there are 330 sunny days a year. The city has two seasons – dry and rainy, the first lasts from December to April, the second – the rest of the year. Winters are a bit cooler, but overall the weather is warm and the air is very humid. Due to the refreshing breezes, the heat is easily tolerated, but you can burn yourself unnoticed in the sun.
The most suitable time for a trip is around the New Year and a couple of months after it.