It’s a been a dream of mine to visit Cuba since I was a little girl and my dad would tell me stories of Fidel and Che. With the recent news that Americans can fly to Cuba, under small restrictions, my husband and I were on the next plane to relive all of my dad’s Cuban stories. Since we only had a few days to get away, we decided to explore Havana and all of it’s Cuban flavor. Because of our limited time in Havana, I had done crazy research and made sure we explored as many of Havana’s hidden gems in just three days.
On our first day in Havana, we checked into the lovely San Miguel Hotel in Old Havana. If on a budget, it may not be the place to stay but if you want to splurge a little and stay in an old palace then this is the place and location to do that. As we settled in to our charming room, we could hear the nearby noises of children playing and locals singing to Cuban music. It was super lovely.
We decided on our first day to just get lost in the old city. We walked around and truly fell in love with Old Havana. It’s where beauty and decay coexist. We strolled through the streets: eating churros while walking down Cuba Street, hopping on a buggy to ride along Malecon Avenue and smoking cigars down Havana Street. The Cuban people might just be the happiest people.
Always walking around with smiles on their faces and eager to help anyone in need. We finished our night with dinner at The San Cristobal Paladar. A hole in the wall but a true gem on the inside, little did we know but president Obama had eaten there only a few months prior and boy was the food excellent!
The following day, I had booked us for the Ernest Hemingway Tour (a must!). Being history junkies, this was right up our alley. We got to explore Hemingway’s house, favorite bar and restaurant. We even got to visit Hemingway’s private room at the famous Hotel Ambos Mundos on Obispo Street. After we exited the hotel, we purchased a couple of coconuts and sipped them while we explored the famous street of Obispo.
On Obispo Street, you’ll run into locals or rather ‘actors’ dressed in true authentic Cuban garb waiting for you to take their picture for just one peso (well worth the peso, some of my favorite pictures). After a quick nap, we were ready for dinner at La Moneda, a private restaurant with a view of the castle across the water. After dinner, we had a night cap at the famous Hotel Saratoga and all of its world charm. I felt like I was in the movie Casablanca waiting for Humphrey Bogart.
Our last full day had arrived and we had saved the best for last! We booked a private American classic car (in neon pink!) to drive us around the city. Best money spent, you HAVE to do this. On our car ride, we got to visit the Revolutionary Square, Museum of the Revolution, Plaza de Armas, Universidad de La Habana and El Callejon de Hamel.
If you tip your driver a little extra, have him take you to the oldest cathedral in Cuba, Havana Cathedral. A sight for sore eyes. Also, check out the only Orthodox Church in Cuba nestled in Casco Viejo. Since we had to end our trip in our classic neon pink car, we hopped in a taxi and drove 20 minutes outside of Havana to Fusterlandia. Fusterlandia is literary a village dressed in colorful mosaic and tiles.
If you have the time do it! It was nothing like we had ever seen before, truly worth the 10 pesos. As the evening approached, we saved the best dinner for our last night and what was my birthday for La Guarida! This restaurant is not only famous for its food (yum!) but it’s where the only Cuban movie (so far) nominated for an oscar was filmed “Fresa y Chocolate”.
All in all, I’ll never forget the old world charm of this beautiful country, Seeing the old cars, decay of buildings and cobbled stones streets is some of the beauty of Cuba. I highly recommend visiting within the year before the big resorts come in (already development signs everywhere) and it becomes another commercial island losing its true identity.
A few tips to consider before booking your trip, don’t book through an agency they charge an arm and a leg. I booked my own flights through AeroMexico for a third of the price. I also booked my hotel through my hotel’s website, way cheaper. As for the tours, you unfortunately have to book through an agency but it’s worth it.
I hope you enjoyed my Cuban adventure! Reach out if you need any more tips, I’m always here to help fellow travelers! Viajes seguros, Adios!
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Our Top Places To Stay In Havana, Cuba:
- Revolution Boutique Hotel
- Hotel Nacional de Cuba
- Iberostar Parque Central
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