Are you looking for a tourist destination with a mix of both history and current traditions? Look no more. Havana tops among the lists of many tourists. Imagine every inch of the city is a tourist site. It is one destination that guarantees the return value of your money. This is through its countless attraction sites. In 1982, it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. The city is famous for its culture, history, monuments, and architecture. The region also experiences a tropical type of climate. What can be better than this?
Havana – is found in Cuba and is the largest city in the region. It serves as the main commercial center, the primary port, and the capital of Cuba. The town was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish. For over 300years, it has been a Spanish colony, and you can tell from the city architect. Its strategic location led to the conquest of America. Its city status was granted in 1592 by Spain king Philip II. Currently, the city serves as the government of Cuba headquarters and serves a home to businesses HQ, Ministries and a significant number of Diplomatic offices.
The city has much to offer, and it offers you endless excitement as you venture into new places each day. Below are some of the must-see sites. They will give you the best experience and exposure to the city. They are a blend of history, traditions, and culture.
Best places to visit in Havana
1. Catedral de San Cristobal
From the outside of the cathedral, you would realize that it is a lovely place to be. Right from the outside, you would have a feel of the interior is a castle that has so much allure within it, and this is the more reason why so many people visit this place. The cathedral is also known as the place of the Immaculate Mary, and it was completed in the year 1777 by Franciscans. It was built for approximately 29 years. In this same building lies the magnificent statue of the great St’ Christopher and also so many adorable ceilings that would have you wandering around for so long. Around the vicinity of the adorable edifice are a couple of cafes which enables you to examine for another time, the awesomeness of the architectural design. It is also said that the followers of St’ Christopher were housed in this edifice for a duration of time too.
2. Plaza de Armas
One reason why this place is fantastic is the fact that it does have a social hub which has been running for about five centuries now. When you go visiting this site, one thing that would amaze you is the social setting and also the arrangement of the bars and restaurants around the whole place. It is so unique that you would wonder if they had it all planned out for your coming. Many people that come around this place go because they need to see the fantastic gardens and also the breezes that come with hanging around this great site. In this excellent place, you would find some of the best statues that you have always seen in pictures, and it is worthy of mention to note that this place is currently one of the most prominent museums in Cuba and it has hosted so many generals as we speak.
3. Plaza Vieja
This place is fantastic because it is tagged as one of the most excellent spots in Havana, especially when it comes to social gatherings and festivals. The incredible look of its edifice and also the streets that lead you into the Vieja is something that cannot be left out. The best advice when you go visiting this place is to make sure that you have your camera handy as you would be taking some of the most memorable pictures that you might ever take in your entire life. In the long period of the 16th century, it used to be the base where soldiers were trained and also one of the most notable market places in Havana. After that phase was the point when the site was reconstructed and then it was transformed into a lovely park. Although a fantastic playground at that point in time, it was not a satisfactory move with the people of Havana, and so after so many negotiations, it became one of the best squares in all of Havana and this is why the place is visited on a yearly basis by many tourists from all around the world. When you are done touring the central aspect of the Vieja, it should be noted that there is a famous tower where you can take some of the most fantastic city pictures, as well as some of the best cafes in Havana which are situated all around the excellent place.
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4. Castillo de la Real Fuerza
This remarkable state of the art building was built to defend the city of Havana from likely attacks from its warring enemies. It was intended as a fortress, and this is quite evident from the looks that you have when you are at a distance. While it is said that it was designed as a fort for protecting the city, it should also be noted that it was never used for that purpose, and the reason for this is not farfetched from the fact that it was placed and built in a place that is far away from the borders that revolve around the city. This place became the storehouse of the city and also the place where so many army generals lived. The maritime prowess of the city can be viewed from this place, and it should be noted that this excellent place stands as one of the best architectural makings of all times. The reason is because of the texture of the walls and the fact that the barriers that make up this place are not some of those that you find in the modern-day construction.
5. A visit to Castillo de la Real Fuerza
While you are in the city, you can’t miss visiting this place. It is among the major landmarks of the city and serves a historical significance to the locals. It is a reminder of the 1950s revolution that was held in Cuba. Many people suffered and lost so much, but they managed to kick out Fulgencio Batista authoritarian right-wing government.
The site contains objects and photos of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and other heroes’ who spearheaded the revolution to its victory. These items serve as a reminder of the sacrifices they made to establish a better country for its citizens. It is an exciting venue to visit.
The various signs in the museum have an English translation for everyone to understand them. To make the site even more thrilling, they have an outdoor section of the museum. This place showcases the Cuban revolution essential relics. Also, it has tanks, cars, planes, and boats inclusive of the Granma yacht.
6. Do a tour on a Vintage Car
This is a high activity you should not miss. It is among the things that make the city famous. The vehicles are characterized by being colorful and stylish. If you are lucky enough, you will get a chance to drive one of them. It’s a must-try a thing, although you will need to have some skills for riding the car.
The good thing is there are bulk of these cars along the streets and airports. You will not strain to try to locate one. This is also advantageous as you will have bargaining power. Moreover, the drivers also offer tours in their taxi around the central city highlights. A single visit will cost you an hour of your time. The tours are amazing and beautiful, mainly when you use a convertible that gives you a 360 view with no strains.
7. Pass by Habana Vieja
Habana Vieja also refers to as the Old Havana; it’s a section of Havana which housed the historic old town. It is a site which falls in the list of World Heritage Site of UNESCO. This is for being among the world colonial cities which are very beautiful. It is one place that you will explore effectively on foot. It can consume hours, but each will feel like a second. You will get to appreciate and admire the beautiful colonial buildings, houses, and even the museum. In the same town is where the Plaza de la Catedral is located.
8. A walk along Malecòn
Malecon is an 8km sea wall which is wide enough to walk on while adoring the mesmerizing view of the city and the sea. The light can take your breath away. On a sunny day, the view enables you to see Havana different side, which is even more beautiful.
When you take a walk along the wall, heading towards the Capitol, you will find yourself in a massive market for handcraft. It’s referred to as the Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Depósito San José. It’s a great place to do the shopping for art products. You can get a souvenir at this market at a good offer. You can take it back home as a reminder that you were once in Havana.
Compared to the shops outside, they have reasonable prices. This is attributed to the high number of stalls which are competing for customers. It also allows you to bargain for a much better offer. Unfortunately, products like a cigar which have government prices, they remain unaltered. Besides, your cigars should come directly from conventional farms or shops. This will secure you from buying fake cigars.
9. Plaza de la Revolution Visit
In English Plaza de la Revolution referrers to revolution square, it is a famous memorial in the city. It is acknowledged by the citizens and serves essential functions such as the ground for rallies that involves politics. Also, it is a location where the Cubans get addressed by political figures considered necessary in the government.
On one side of the square, it is dominated by the memorial of Jose Marti. Also, it harbors interior and communications ministries offices. The front face has massive steel decorations for the monument of the Cuba revolution heroes, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Che Guevara. As per the location from the city center, Plaza de la Revolution is further away. In this case, using a touring car can be handy.
10. The Delicacies of the City
The food in the city is very delicious and diverse. It comprises of both traditional meals and also typical snacks if you can’t stomach the traditional recipes. In the town restaurants, you will get a variety to choose from. But much of it is Mexican cuisines, Caribbean and European. Am sure you can’t possibly miss an option that you love.
The value of the meals is dictated by the choice of meal you order. Therefore, if you are not on a fixed budget, you are free to try the various delicacies. When going through the town looking for a perfect restaurant, you may notice the word “Paladar” incorporated as part of the restaurant’s name. Don’t be worried; it merely means that particular food joint is privately owned. According to local sources, the most expensive of restaurants is simply because they have more excellent food.
11. Experience a delightful sunset at the Malecòn
Apart from being famous and historic, it serves as a boundary between the city and the daunting water of the ocean below it. For many years, friends, couples, families and even solo tourists have paid a visit to the place once they land in the city. They drink, talk, cuddle, and bond at the site.
Somehow, with many night visitors, it has turned out to be a night hotspot. The locals have also joined in, which makes the place busy and safe to chill at. Most of the locals utilize the spot for socializing, drinking, and relaxation. This is because it’s cheaper when compared to going to a club or a bar. But the sunset provides a majestic sight which you should not miss to see. The atmospheric air cools every night, while the sky transforms into orange and pink creating a spectacular view.
12. Get refreshed with a drink at El Floridita
This bar forms one of the favorite Hemingway hangout spots. After spending long days in the sun while visiting various tourist sites, you can drop by the El Floridita to close up that day with the famous world’s best daiquiri. We can agree on this; it’s worth it.
But as time has come along, this little bar has become famous and a great spot for tourists to freshen up after their excursions. Despite the size, it’s a perfect classic venue for lounging with photos and live music of Hemingway in any direction you look. And the daiquiri is delicious.
13. Partagrás tour at the cigar factory
Do you want to know where the best cigars come from? Then a visit to Partagrás cigar factory is what you need. The process is impressive. This is one of the earliest factories of cigar in the region. And it’s where the brands such as Romeo and Juliet and Cohiba are crafted from.
At the factory, they will give you an insight into the mixture of various leaves of tobacco (taste, scented, and burning) are used in various proportions to come up with different brands. When you get to monitor the work of the master, you will be able to get the authentic cigars at various shops. Also, watch out for fake products. With the way these products fetch good profits; many counterfeit products are produced to reap out the benefits with mediocre quality cigars.
14. Freshen up with a Mojito
Don’t forget you are in the birthplace of Mojito. It will be quite a shame not to toast with a glass of Mojito. Get it first hand from the local expert and appreciate its elixir. You can enjoy this at the 1930’s iconic hotel, the Hotel Nacional. It’s a good resting point after your excursions in various places in the city. It’s at the center of both Havana Vieja and Vedado, and across the Malecòn to the right.
At the back of the hotel, it has a beautiful serene garden area. On the lawns, there are tables to sit at while sipping the famous drink and adoring the ocean view, including Malecòn.
15. The crisis tunnels of Cuba Missile
After refreshing yourself with a mojito, to the corner in the far right from the Nacional Garden, take a stroll. You will encounter signs and tunnels where the Cuban Missiles were once set up. They were set to aim directly at the United States. It’s crazy if you think about it. An island almost attacked among the largest countries in the world. This could have caused World War III. It’s a great place to visit, considering you always see missile base in the movies alone. Also, you will get to know the model and actual size of how a missile looks like.
16. Moro Cabańa
It is referred to as “la Cabana” or the “Morro” this is a fortress which was set to guard the entrance of the city’s bay. It is a great place to pay a visit. With its location on high ground and the massive size it has, you will have the perfect view of the sea. It is one site that tops in the touring lists of most visitors. It’s crazy to think there were ships which approached with cannons trying to shoot it down. You can use the underground tunnel to access it easily from Havana Vieja.
The fort was constructed in the late 19th century, and it still harbors the ancient cannons which were used for defense over the decades. Thus, apart from the mesmerizing oceanic view; you get to view Malecon and Havana. Also, by any chance, if you had a telescope, you could see Florida, which is 90miles away.
At 9 pm in the night, you get to witness firsthand how the cannons fired in the past. It’s an unforgettable experience. If you want to be at the fort by the time of firing, you have to be there as early as 7:30 pm. This is because they have an opening celebration and also it’s usually crowded with people. But alternatively, you can have the view from Hotel Ambos Mundos rooftop or Malecon.