There is so much to do, see, taste, and experience in Havana. Do as much of it as you can! Five days in Havana and one day in Vinales was the perfect amount of time for us. In fact, we even had enough time to take a relaxing siesta every afternoon… something to which I could grow accustomed.
We spent the majority of our trip in Old Havana, also known as La Habana Vieja. We advise you to stay nearby, as most of the fun activities and experiences we recommend take place in the historic heart of Cuba’s capital. Check out my list of 15 things to do in Havana below!
What To Do in Havana
1. Eat breakfast at your casa particular
I talked about where and what to eat here, but I’ll say it again. If you’re staying at a casa particular, get to know your hosts and experience a real Cuban breakfast.
2. Drink street-side coffee
It’s their version of a Starbucks drive-thru! 😉 For 1 CUC, do as the Cubans do and enjoy a few sips of very strong coffee as you walk around Havana. No specific recommendations here – you’re sure to see people making stands out of crates and selling coffee to the locals.
3. Take salsa lessons
During our first full day in Havana, Will and I took salsa lessons, and it was SO MUCH FUN. When we arrived, I explained that I had emailed about coordinating a lesson but hadn’t heard back (#cubanwifi). The woman, our instructor, immediately stopped what she was doing, grabbed a dance partner, and taught us to salsa for the next two hours. They referred to me as “lady” and made Will spin me until I was dizzy. “Lady, no. Lady, it’s 1..2..3…”
If you’re interested, check out Salsabor a Cuba here. And if they don’t reply to your email, show up at their doorstep. Seriously.
4. Visit the Museo de la Revolución
On our second day, it started to rain and we ran to the nearest covered space: the Museo de la Revolución. Thankfully, this museum was on our list of things to see! This building is an important part of post-revolutionary Cuban history and housed Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista.
If you speak Spanish or travel with someone who does, you will enjoy this so much more. Unfortunately, we breezed through the museum because there were no signs in English and neither of us reads Spanish! (We both made plans to study the language this summer! Any advice?)
5. Explore all of the Plazas
Take in the beautiful architecture with a stroll through the four plazas in Old Havana: Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco, and, my favorite, Plaza de Armas. Plaza de Armas is not only home to an open-air, secondhand book market but also Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort-turned-castle-turned-museum.
6. See a show at the Tropicana!
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Tropicana, Cuba’s renowned cabaret and club, but instead opted for a slightly more affordable show. The locals will advise against the Tropicana (“it’s overpriced”), but everyone we talked to raved about this Las Vegas-esque performance. It’s pricey (70-80 CUC), but we are 100% doing this the next time we are in Havana!
7. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Museo de Chocolate
Don’t go for the chocolate bars – go for the spicy hot chocolate and cold chocolate drinks. You’ll find this small shop on your walk from Plaza Vieja to Plaza de Armas. Will and I both preferred the cold chocolate, but it was only 1 CUC. We recommend you splurge and try both! Quick note: you have to enjoy these specialties at a table inside, so make sure you’re in the correct line (you don’t want to be at the counter for chocolates).
8. Ride in an old car
We paid 15 CUC to ride in an old pink car for 20 minutes (they said it was 40 CUC for an hour). While this is more expensive than a typical cab in Havana, we needed the classic car picture… right? We drove along the Malecon and laughed with our Cuban drivers. It was a breezy trip and my hair was in tangles after, but we had so much fun! Once you take your photo, stick to the regular ol’ taxis for the remainder of your trip – I promise, they’re just as old and “classic” too.
9. Drink Daquiris at Hemingway’s favorite bar – El Floridita
Despite the crowds, we found a table right away! It was a treat to watch them quickly make drinks for all of the tourists. We thoroughly enjoyed the lemon daiquiris and live music. It’s a party – GO and enjoy the lively crowd!
10. Dance the night away at Fabrica del Arte
If you’re into modern art and club-y vibes, check this place out. It wasn’t our scene, but hundreds of people were clearly enjoying the music, funky pictures and paintings, and even dinner. The line can get long so arrive early. The entrance fee is 2 CUC, but please note: you pay for drinks on your way out! Fabrica del Arte is open Thursday-Sunday, 8:00 pm to 3:00 am.
11. Ride in a pedicab
If your feet get tired, hail a pedicab. This is an inexpensive, fun way to explore Havana. Granted, you won’t move very fast, but we spent 3 CUC to travel 10 minutes and it was worth it — especially when we were stranded in the rain!
12. Visit the Cathedral
If you’re visiting Plaza de la Catedral, you can’t miss the cathedral. It’s free to enter and while small compared to the cathedrals I have seen in Europe, it’s worth visiting. Ladies, if you’re wearing something on the shorter side (like me!), they’ll provide you with a blanket to cover up.
13. Cool off with a piña colada from a street vendor
For 5 CUC, my piña colada was a little expensive by Havana standards, but we enjoyed the refreshing drink during one particularly long, hot day. The street vendors were so nice too!
14. Visit the Taquechel Pharmacy Museum
This was so cool! They were closed when we tried to visit, but rather than turn us away, the woman was kind enough to give us a private tour of this old drugstore. The old apothecary jars and record books give you an idea of how they used to make and prescribe medicine. It’s an easy stop on your walk to Plaza Vieja.
15. Take the ferry to El Morro
We hopped on the ferry for 1 CUC to visit this beautifully restored fort originally established to safeguard Havana. Enjoy the sea breeze, stunning views of the city, and experience the firing ceremony at El Morro. The cannons fire at 9 o’clock sharp.
Have you been to this beautiful city? If so, would you add anything else to my list? I would love to hear more tips & recommendations for things to do in Havana!
Thanks for stopping by.