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Havana, the capital of Cuba, is the largest city in the Caribbean, and one of the most culturally rich urban centres in the world. The city’s appreciation of its glorious colonial past is on display at a dizzying array of castles, cathedrals, mansions and museums. The historic neighborhood of Vieja Habana (Old Havana) is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, with over 900 landmarks, including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral Square.

But while history is treasured in Havana, culture is celebrated, shared and exuberantly enjoyed here. Cuba’s love of music and dance spills out in clubs, cabarets and impromptu street-side salsas. The city boasts some of the world’s best ballet schools and dance companies, and its theater community is unrivaled in the Caribbean. There are lively film and comedy clubs, art galleries that range from the eclectic (along the pedestrian-friendly Calle Obispo) to the expansive (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) and bookstores everywhere.

Havana is a city that both inspires and reveres its writers, poets and philosophers. No wonder luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway and Federico Garcia Lorca put down roots here.

Havana-destination-01 Authentic Cuba

Havana’s long, shimmering coastline offers nearly 15 km of excellent beaches and unspoiled coral reefs that can be admired both above and below the sea. For those seeking an urban oasis, Lenin Park’s 670 hectares of green space give you plenty of room to commune with nature.

Local flavor

Sunrise

Even if you’re not a morning person, you won’t want to miss sunrise in Havana. Sip a rich brew of Cuban coffee and watch as the iconic city glistens in the golden rays of daybreak.

Sunset

The Parque Histórica Militar Morro-Cabaña still marks the end of day (and closing of the old city gates) the old-fashioned way: with a single canon shot. Known as the cañonazo ceremony, this nightly ritual is a sure-fire hit with the kids.

Even in the heart of Cuba’s biggest city, you’re never far from the beach.

Jibacoa

Snorkel among the colourful reef formations, gallop on horseback along the shoreline or bike through the nearby hills at this pristine beach located 45 km from Havana.

Santa Maria del Mar (Santa Maria Beach)

This scenic beach is located within the Playa del Este stretch. Enjoy the soft, white sands and a leisurely lunch at the beachside Marazul Hotel.

Playa del Este

Soak up the rays along this 15 km stretch of white-sand beaches, a mere 20 minutes from downtown Havana. Clear, aquamarine waters are ideal for underwater nature-watching.

Explore the region’s vibrant marine life, sail over spectacular reefs or tackle some deep-sea fishing with a professional crew.

Boating and sailing

Tarará Marina

Head over to this marina located about 19 km east of Havana to schedule a sail around the area’s spectacular coral reefs.

Marina Hemingway

Home of the famous Ernest Hemingway fishing tournament, this is one of Cuba’s best-known marinas, and can accommodate incoming yachts, cruise ships and sailboats.

Fishing

Marina Hemingway

Home of the famous Ernest Hemingway fishing tournament, this is one of Cuba’s best-known marinas, and can accommodate incoming yachts, cruise ships and sailboats.

Scuba diving and snorkeling

Jibacoa

Snorkel among the colourful reef formations, gallop on horseback along the shoreline or bike through the nearby hills at this pristine beach located 45 km from Havana.

Feel the wind in your hair as you cruise the Malecón, or take a jaunt to one of the unique enclaves in and around Havana, from serene Miramar to the quaint fishing village where Hemingway moored his boat.

The Malecón sea drive

No visit to Havana is complete without a cruise along the famous seaside boulevard leading from Old Havana to the bustling neighborhood of Vedado. A gorgeous drive at any time of the day, it’s quite spectacular at sunset.

Excursions

Cojímar

Just east of Havana lies Cojimar, where Ernest Hemingway kept his boat, El Pilar. The town served as the model for the fishing village in The Old Man and the Sea.

Miramar and beyond

Venture west down Av Quinta (Fifth Avenue) for a glimpse of this leafy residential area. Continue on past the exclusive Club Habana to Marina Hemingway, where you can go snorkeling, sailing and deep-sea fishing or book a seafari tour to the coral reef.

Palmar farm

Enjoy a delicious afternoon of music, dancing and games, with plenty to eat and drink at this traditional Cuban feast. You can go horseback riding, milk a cow, sip a glass of fresh sugarcane juice and watch limber locals scramble up a Royal palm, then savour a succulent criollo (creole) meal.

Parque Lenin

Wander through 670 hectares of parkland encircling a large artificial lake. An amphitheatre, aquarium, art gallery and botanical garden are just some of the attractions. Dine at Don Cuba, which sits atop a tower with a great view.

Golf

Havana Golf Club

Sneak in 9 holes at this lovely par-35 course.

Havana may be famous for its historical, cultural and architectural credentials, but it also boasts some impressive natural attractions.

National parks

Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Gardens)

This spacious area located in Lenin Park contains everything from a Japanese garden to greenhouses bursting with cacti and tropical vegetation.

Nature

Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Gardens)

This spacious area located in Lenin Park contains everything from a Japanese garden to greenhouses bursting with cacti and tropical vegetation.

Parque Lenin

Wander through 670 hectares of parkland encircling a large artificial lake. An amphitheatre, aquarium, art gallery and botanical garden are just some of the attractions. Dine at Don Cuba, which sits atop a tower with a great view.

Havana is the heart of Cuban culture, and no wonder. Art and architecture, ballet and cabaret, history, poetry and baseball… all are vibrantly alive in this enchanting city.

Architecture

El Capitolio (The Capitol)

The iconic dome of what was once the congressional building is a classic Havana landmark. Embedded in the floor directly beneath the dome is a 24-carat diamond (replica). The distance between Havana and all other Cuban destinations is marked from this point.

Paseo del Prado (Prado Avenue)

Once the central artery of the city, the Prado (also known as the Paseo de Martí), is a boulevard with a distinctly European feel. This is where you’ll find the renowned national ballet school.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba (The National Hotel)

More than just a wonderful place to stay, the grand hotel is an art deco landmark, with magnificent gardens overlooking the Malecón.

Plaza de San Francisco de Asís

First established in the 1500s, this is one of the oldest areas of Havana. The famous Fountain of Lions, carved from Carrara marble, overlooks the seafront. The convent of San Fransisco de Asís now holds a beautiful collection of sacred art and artifacts.

Plaza Vieja

Built in 1559, this square offers a wonderfully eclectic mix of Havana’s architectural styles. It served as the city’s bustling social centre for centuries.

Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square)

The beautiful baroque buildings of this square, built in the 18th century, include the Catedral de la Habana, described as ‘music set in stone’ by Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier.

Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms)

Feast your eyes on the glorious neoclassical architecture at Havana’s oldest square, built in the 1520s. A highlight is the Museo de la Ciudad, one of Cuba’s most comprehensive museums, located inside the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Make your way over to the sea-facing side of the plaza to take in the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest remaining fort in the Americas, erected in the mid-1500s.

El Templete

Visit the site of Havana’s first mass and its first town council meeting at this neoclassical chapel located in the Plaza de Armas. Each year, on November 16, locals gather here to observe the anniversary of these momentous occasions.

Cathedrals and churches

Divine architectural inspirations ranging from intricately baroque to elegantly neoclassical, the city’s most celebrated churches include Catedral de la Habana (Havana Cathedral), the gorgeous Iglesia de la Merced and Havana’s oldest cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial del Espíritu Santo.

Habana Vieja (Old Havana)

Old Havana has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its dazzling array of baroque , neoclassical and art deco architecture. This area of the city boasts over 900 buildings of historical as well as architectural significance.

Parque Histórica Militar Morro-Cabaña (Morro-Cabaña Historic Military Park)

Cuba’s military history comes alive at the two museums located here. The park contains El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (The Castle of the Three Kings of El Morro), built in 1630, and the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, from 1774. Don’t miss the firing of the cannons, a traditional ceremony complete with soldiers in old-style uniforms, nightly at 9pm.

Dance

Rumba saturday

Enjoy a rhythmic Saturday afternoon with the Cuban National Folklore Group in the leafy patio outside the dance studio. The event includes a brief introduction to the Rumba, interpretations by professional dancers and musicians and a chance to join them in a rumba or two.

Ballet Español de Cuba

This famous ballet company is directed by the celebrated dancer and choreographer Eduardo Veitía, and headquartered at the opulent Havana Gran Teatro.

Escuela Nacional de Ballet

Cuba’s top ballerinas perfect their pirouettes here at the world’s largest ballet school, home of famous prima ballerina Alicia Alonso.

Museums

Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás

Admire the skill with which the experts hand-roll those famous Montecristos and Cohibas at one of Havana’s oldest cigar factories.

Museo de la Ciudad

One of Cuba’s most comprehensive museums is located inside the formidable Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, in the Plaza de Armas.

Museo de la Revolución

Located in the former Presidential Palace, this museum features artifacts from Cuba’s pre-Columbian history right through to the Revolution. Be sure to see the Salón de los Espejos, a hall of mirrors reminiscent of Versailles.

Parque Histórico-Militar Morro-Cabaña (Morro-Cabaña Historic Military Park)

Cuba’s military history comes alive at the two museums located here. The park contains El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (The Castle of the Three Kings of El Morro), built in 1630, and the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, from 1774. Don’t miss the firing of the cannons, a traditional ceremony complete with soldiers in old-style uniforms, nightly at 9pm.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts)

Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, as well as European and (of course) Cuban masters makes this easily the finest collection in the Caribbean.

Sports

Latin American Stadium

Get caught up in baseball fever by taking in a game at this Havana stadium.

Theaters

Teatro Fausto

Laugh the night away at this theatre famous for its hilarious comedy shows.

Teatro Nacional de Cuba

Catch a touring concert or an ongoing play at this modern theatre.

Gran Teatro de la Habana

See some of the world’s best ballerinas and singers perform on this stage, the home of both the Ballet Español de Cuba and the Cuban National Opera.

Impress the kids with some lions, hippos and saltwater fish at two of Cuba’s national attractions.

National Zoo

Take a trolley ride around Cuba’s national zoo and watch the rhinos, lions and hippos roam around.

National Aquarium

See saltwater fish, dolphins and even lions at this conservationist aquarium founded in 1960.

Shop, dine and experience the lively nightlife in Cuba’s bustling capital city. No matter where you go or what you do in Havana, you’ll feel the city’s unique, indefinable magic.

Malecón

No visit to Havana is complete without a cruise along the famous seaside boulevard leading from Old Havana to the bustling neighborhood of Vedado. A gorgeous drive at any time of the day, it’s quite spectacular at sunset.

Nightclubs and bars

El Floridita

Indulge in a decadent cocktail in the birthplace of the Daiquirí, yet another Hemingway favourite.

Havana’s Cabarets

If you’re in the mood for club-hopping, take in the lively floorshows at the cabarets located in the heart of Havana, including Capri, Caribe, Copa and Parisien.

Tropicana Nightclub

Nothing outdazzles the floorshow at this world-famous outdoor nightclub. Gorgeously costumed dancers salsa to the spirited live music performed by some of the finest Cuban orchestras.

 Restaurants and Cafes

Coppelia (Vedado)

Savour a sweet treat at Havana’s favourite ice cream shop.

La Bodeguita del Medio

Try the roast pork at this traditional Cuban restaurant, renowned for its mojitos. No wonder it was a favourite Hemingway haunt.

El Aljibe

Order a family-style chicken dinner at this popular eatery.

Shopping

Almacenes San José

Pick up handcrafted souvenirs made by local artisans here.

La Maison Fashion Show

Browse the latest fashions in style by taking in an evening fashion show at the gardens of a colonial mansion. The show includes music, entertainment, bar service and shopping at La Maison.

Shopping Tour

Book a shopping tour that stops at the Havana Libre Hotel Shopping Complex, La Flora and the Arts and Crafts Centre to pick up crafts, clothing, souvenirs, cigars and rum. The tour also includes a visit to the higher-end La Maison, which sells designer clothes.

Take a break from sight-seeing and pamper yourself with a spa treatment.

La Pradera

Book a massage or beauty treatment at this hotel and spa in Havana’s Miramar district.

See everything from world-renowned ballet to top Latin films or emerging jazz musicians at Havana’s prominent arts festivals.

“FIART” International Crafts Fair

December 8 – 18

As it is already well known, this fair offers our artisans and artists various spaces to promote and commercialize their products, as well as the opportunity for an exchange of experiences between the creators and the public. Expo selling, additional exhibitions, fashion shows, workshops and theoretical encounters on the development and market of visual arts and crafts will be some of the options brightening up the fair days.

Venue: PABEXPO. Havana City.

“JAZZ PLAZA” International Jazz Festival

December 17 – 21

The presence of the renowned maestro Jesús “Chucho” Valdés has created an important international tradition and repercussion for Latin Jazz or Cuban Jazz in which relevant figures and genre cultivators delight the audience with their virtuosity and talent. Live performances by musical bands, groups and solos will be featured. Also, colloquia and debates on this genre will be held.

Venue: Teatro Auditórium “Amadeo Roldán” and other facilities in Havana City.

Click here for more details.

XI Digital Art Salon and Colloquium

November 2 – 6

Salon featuring audiovisual samples and printed works and a colloquium on the development of digital art.

Venue: Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau

Havana Theater Festival

October 28 – November 6

At the Havana Theater Festival all the different contemporary scene tendencies converge. The event will feature a selection of the most relevant in Cuban and international theatre, as well as workshops and seminars by prestigious specialists. A space is reserved for dialogue among artists, critics and audience.

Venue: Theaters and plazas in Havana City.

International New Latin American Film Festival

December 2 – 12

One of the most prestigious film festivals, it offers a wide panoramic on the audiovisual production in the continent. It shows the main international fiction and documentary films and includes a script and poster contest as well as seminars on cinematography, new technology and Latin films in the USA. It also features a space dedicated to the audiovisual world of the Latin American child.

Venue: Havana City and other cities in the country.

JO JAZZ Contest for Young Jazz Players

November 24 – 27

This contest, tailored for young Jazz players, encourages participants to tackle not only traditional Jazz styles, but also to search for their own creative style. Various prizes are conferred in this event, the most relevant is the recording of an album, produced by maestro Jesús “Chucho” Valdés.

Venue: Teatro Auditórium “Amadeo Roldán”, Havana City.