Cuba is one of those incredible countries that’s just so amazing to explore. This is no more true than within Havana, the capital city. Best of all, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Havana that makes for an epic holiday for a few days or even longer.
Whether you’re a beach lover, a foodie or a culture fiend, there’s a whole heap of the amazing places dotted all across Cuba. That being said, Havana is really special and was certainly one of my favourite places to explore on the island.
This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the very best things to do in Havana on your next trip. It’s the kind of city that’s got a little something for everyone and is so amazing.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Havana. Have the best trip.
1.) Enjoy the sea view from the Malecon
The Malecon is Havana’s 8km-long city wall and esplanade that It runs the full length of the city. This, alone, makes it the perfect viewing platform not only for the great sea view but a lot of the city sites, too.
It’s a common walking spot for locals and you’ll see loads of fishermen catching their supper, too.
Taking over 50 years to build, so strolling the length of the Malecon is like taking a walk through time. Also, there’s a shed load of incredible architecture you’ll see along the way.
Now, if you don’t feel like taking a long stroll. Hop in one of the classic cars that you can rent (With a driver) for a few hours. It’s a great way to drive the Malecon and you’ll even get to visit other areas of Havana, too. Just remember to barter, the prices start quite high but everyone we asked wanted to barter and lower the cost for us.
It really is one of the very best things to do in Havana, especially at sunset.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a Casa to stay in, we found La Reserva Vedado and booked it immediately.
We totally loved it and it was so beautiful.
It even had its own little bar in the garden and lovely historic rooms.
2.) Discover Havana Cathedral
Most cities have a must-see list, which typically includes some sort of imposing cathedral; and guess what? Havana is no exception.
The architecture of Havana Cathedral is absolutely stunning, and if you’re up for climbing the tower, the views you’ll see from the top are well worth the effort.
Perched smack-bang in the centre of Havana, it’s a must-see spot if you’re wanting to visit one of the cities eleven Roman Catholic Churches. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Havana if you want to explore more of the cities history.
Afterwards, for some great cocktails and live music, pop over to the tiny little bar of Sia-kara (near the Capitol Building). We spend hours here and loved it.
3.) Find Colon Cemetery
A cemetery might not sound like the most exciting of attractions and may even seem a little morose but bear with me here.
El Cementario de Cristobal (named after Christopher Columbus) is definitely worth scouting out and for some, is one of the best things to do in Havana. Many of the 800,000 graves belong to particularly affluent Cubans, so the headstones are works of art.
Interestingly, they’re also sorted into categories, from bishops to baseball players, making it one of the most organised graveyards in the world. That being said, if you’re not really into the more macabre sites of the city, you might wanna give this one a miss.
We quickly visited here whilst on our classic car tour. And, although, we didn’t stay for too long, it was worth seeing (briefly) as we carried on the tour. After all, you’ll probably only spend ten minutes, or so, here.
If you’re hankering for a bite to eat, pop over to Fonda Al Pirata. Here, we had some tasty Cuban classic meals, like; Ropa Vieja. So tasty.
4.) Embrace salsa dancing
Havana is a city alive with music, and its heritage is definitely tangible in the city’s pumping music scene.
Make sure you catch a glimpse of the sensual and world-famous salsa dance, a thrilling part of Havana culture (ideally with a rum-based cocktail in hand).
Head over to the buzzing spots of; Diablo Tun Tun or La Cecilia which is one of the cities largest outdoor music spots. Honestly, it’s easily up there as one of the best things to do in Havana.
For some tasty late-night dinners and drinks, pop into El Dandy. They do some tasty food and it has a really cool vibe.
5.) Visit Plaza de la Revolución
Whether you know a lot about Cuban history or nothing at all, you’re bound to have seen the face of Che Guevara splashed across T-shirts and posters all across the world.
The effect is slightly different when you’re looking up at a giant mural of those well-known features on the side of Havana’s Ministerio del Interior.
The plaza is home to a number of recognised landmarks including José Martí Memorial. It’s well worth seeing and probably one of the most iconic plazas in the world. For this reason alone, it’s easily one of the best things to do in Havana when you’re in the city.
Afterwards, head to the home of mojitos at Bodeguita del medio. It’s serves them in a proper old-style and the bar is filled with graffiti and remarks all over the walls. We loved it.
6.) Explore Old Havana
I’m a sucker for a good old UNESCO World Heritage Site! As they go, Old Havana is something particularly special.
Pick your way through the cobbled streets and quaint little squares, taking in stunning old buildings like the Cathedral de San Cristobal.
Oh, and make sure to stop off at the Great Theatre of Havana, National Capitol building (next door).
Oh and don’t forget the impressive Military fortress known as the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, too.
It’s in the heart of Havana, so you can’t miss it.
For a delicious bite to eat, head over to La Bodeguita del Medio which is a must-visit restaurant that serves yummy seafood alongside traditional Cuban tunes.
You’ll leave stuffed.
Or, if you fancy a cocktail, pop into El Floridita for one of their famous Strawberry Daquiris.
We loved it.
7.) Watch the sunrise at Morro Castle
Okay, we’ve all seen a fort or two in our time. But the striking white facade of Morro castle with the blue ocean as its backdrop is a particularly impressive sight.
The castle has some fascinating history behind it and offers great views both out to sea and back towards the city.
Grab yourself a tostada, a cafe con Leche and enjoy the sunrise over this magnificent place. It really is one of the best things to do in Havana.
8.) Explore the old streets of Old Havana
Bordering on Old Havana, Paseo del Prado is arguably the most beautiful street in Havana (shhh, don’t tell the other streets). It was originally inhabited by some of Havana’s most affluent, and their wealth is reflected in the grandeur of the design.
From the grand iron lampposts and marble benches to the bronze lion sculptures, Paseo del Prado is a beauty and one of the best things to do in Havana for sure.
After all that exploring, head over to La Terraza where they’ll serve you up a hearty portion of freshly fried plantains and BBQ grilled chicken.
9.) Explore Gran Teatro de La Habana
Havana is brimming with a rich cultural heritage which will blow any traveller to the city away. Built back in 1915, the Gran Teatro de La Habana’s baroque style and the fascinating sculptures which adorn it should not be missed.
If you can, make sure to grab yourself some tickets to see the world-renowned Cuban National Ballet Company in all their glory (who call the García Lorca Auditorium home).
It’s breathtaking and easily up there as one of the best things to do in Havana.
Oh, and afterwards, pop over to Almacenes San José Artisans’ Market (on the waterfront). We picked up some incredible local art from here. It’s amazing. On the bottom floor, you’ll find loads of tourist stalls but on the top floor, it’s filled with thousands of pieces of art. We loved it.
Also, next door is the Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco (long-named, I know). Here, you’ll find one of Havana’s craft breweries where you can pick up an ice-cold drink. It’s lovely.
10.) See Fusterlandia
Decorating an entire neighbourhood with representations of your own life and artistic work might seem like an egotistical thing to do but that didn’t stop José Fuster, and us visitors are very grateful for it.
Fusterlandia, a small village on the outskirts of the city, is pumped full of colourful mosaics, paintings and sculptures by the man known as the Picasso of the Caribbean. It’s a beautiful and unique thing that every traveller should see.
For a local bite to eat, head over to Starbien for some of the best food in the city.
Oh, and don’t forget to try their flan for dessert. It sounds run-of-the-mill but I assure you, it won’t be a disappointment. We loved it.
Also, if it’s street art you’re after, take a walk up to San Isidro (in the centre of Havana). This is a pretty rustic street that’s filled with some of the cities best street art.
Plus, if you’re leaving Havana for a day…
Don’t forget to head over to Viñales Valley and explore some of the incredible scenery in this protected area of Cuba.
We totally loved our trip and went horseriding through the valley, headed in some of the impressive caves, stopped off at a local farm for some typical Cuban cigars (and food) before finally seeing the huge painted mosaics.
The day trip started at about 7 am and we organised this with our casa. We had a private driver for the day, which made it all so easy.
We totally loved it.