Havana is probably the number one place that comes to mind when thinking about Cuba. It is everything you saw in the movies and more.
Where to stay
My biggest recommendation is to stay in the "Habana Vieja" area. It is old, it is dirty, it sometimes stinks, but that is where all the life is at! There is no better area in Havana in my humble opinion. Why is that?
- It is a pretty small and dense area that allows you to get up in the morning, leave your casa, and walk everywhere. Havana is pretty big and if you choose to stay in a different area you will most likely end up spending time and money on cabs back and forth to/from Habana Vieja so why not stay there in the first place?
- It is where all the culture is. The colors, structures, museums, art, salsa, coffee shops, mojitos! There isn't a doll moment in Habana Vieja.
Get in touch with Damaris, she has a house in a great location in Habana Vieja and if she is booked she will help you get another great place. She also helped us with transportation and cases in Trinidad and Viñales. A one stop shop! Here is her info:
Where to eat
El Café - located at Calle Amargura #358 between Aguacate and Villegas.
Located in Habana Vieja, hands down the best coffee and breakfasts in Cuba. We were there almost every morning, do not miss it! The breakfast plate which is delicious and fresh eggs and some vegetables with salt and olive oil is only $2.5! And you must try the Beet-Pinapple juice ($2), you will not regret it. Also great sandwiches for lunch.
Lamparilla Tapas y Cervezas - located at Calle Lamparilla #361 between Aguacate and Villegas.
Located in Habana Vieja, awesome for lunch and diner. Great cocktails and atmosphere. Try the Chicken in curry ($8, comes with rice and beans, probably enough for two), and the house salad which is shredded cabbage with peanut dressing ($5 comes with chicken but better without).
El Dandy - Calle Brasil #401
Located in Habana Vieja, this is a fun neighborhood bar and tapas, try the Cuba Libre (Rum and coke), or their specialty cocktail "Michelada Dandy".
Roma - Located in Habana Vieja, on the west side of Calle Aguacate between O'reilly and San Juan de Dios. I think!
This place is brand new so it cannot be found online yet. It is a very cool rooftop bar. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, this building with all its art is more beautiful than a museum.
La Guarida - Calle Concordia #418, La Habana.
A beautiful restaurant located at the top floor of a beautiful building (a bit hard to find). It is pricier and fancier than most place in Cuba but it is a fun experience. If you want to have dinner there you will probably have to make a reservation. We went for lunch midweek and were seated instantly.
El Cocinero - Calle 26 between Calle 11 and Calle 13. Trust me, you can't miss it. :)
Located about a 25 minute drive from Habana Vieja this is probably to coolest place in Havana. It feels more like you are sitting at a rooftop bar in NYC then in Cuba. It is right next door to "La Fabrica de Arte Cubano" AKA the "FAC", which you will find more info about in the "What to do" section below. El Cocinero gets busy during dinner so try to make a reservation. It would be nice to combine the El Cocinero dining experience with a visit to "FAC" right after. Note that "FAC" is usually only open Thursday-Sunday so check in advance.
What to do
Entrance is $5 per person. The art in Cuba in general is truly unb, and this is one of the best places to visit in order to see a large variety of it.
Entrance is $8 per person. A must visit to anyone who is interested in learning more about the intense history of Cuba.
ntrance is $2 per person, usually open only Thus-Sun from 8pm. Come early to beat the rush. An absolute must visit when in Havana. What is it? It is part Museum, part gallery, part bar, part club, part food venue, part shop. It is huge and interesting and you could spend hours in there. It is located in a repurposed old factory (I heard someone saying it was a cookie dough factory! But then someone else saying it was a salad oil factory).
This is a famous part of Havana from movies and photos. It is an interesting place where urbanism (read: a highway) meets the mighty ocean without much of a cushion or advanced warning. Grab a beer from a nearby place, watch the beautiful sunset, and enjoy the local scene.