3 Must-See Places in Havana, Cuba
By Aurora Correa |
Visit three neighborhoods in Havana and discover the history behind Old Havana, the ethnic and architectural diversity of Centro Havana, and the urban experience of a walk in El Vedado.
In Cuba, there are countless destinations that possess an unparalleled beauty such as that of the landscapes of Viñales, as well as its coffee and tobacco fields. Moreover, there’s a great cultural diversity you can discover by walking around the capital or, better yet, driving across it in a classic car. That’s why today we’re taking you to the coastal metropolis of Havana. This small city has existed since the 16th century and it has grown thanks to the arrival of different cultures, inhabitants and traditions. Get ready, because this will be a unique travel experience.
Pack your bags and book a flight to Cuba’s capital city. Today, DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, recommends visiting three neighborhoods in Havana that will allow you to discover the different faces of this extraordinary city.
#1 Visit Old Havana Neighborhood
Old Havana is the oldest neighborhood in the Cuban capital. The first houses and public buildings were erected in this area. Their founders were Spanish settlers who came with the purpose of inhabiting the newly established colonies of the crown in the 16th century. These buildings are evidence of the mixture of architectural styles that came from Spain, Great Britain and, later, the United States. We are sure you’ll be amazed when you walk along Calle del Obispo (Bishop Street), where you will find countless restaurants, museums and iconic establishments. This walkway leads to Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), the perfect stop for collectors since there’s an antiques market there.
Must-See Places at Cathedral Square in Havana
The view from the port, as well as its classical sculptures could very well be the perfect way to end your tour. However, they are only a small part of all you’ll still get to see. Another jewel is Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square). There, you will find the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. This baroque temple dates back to the 18th century and it’s adorned with many paintings and sculptures of outstanding beauty.
Moreover, this square is the location of two more attractions: the Colonial Art Museum, dedicated to the splendor and fineness of objects used in colonial times, and the Victor Manuel Garcia Art Gallery. This place exhibits the works created by this famous Cuban painter as well as those by contemporary Cuban artists.
What to See in Old Havana
Close to this square you will find the Revolution Museum, which Fidel Castro founded during his government. Its objective is to inform about the socialist ideas that characterized Cuba’s political context during the second half of the 20th century.
Don’t say goodbye to Old Havana before leaving your mark there. At Bodeguita del Medio, a bar that dates back to the mid 20th century, you can drink a mojito. Then, you can put your signature next to those of well-known artists such as Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Neruda, Errol Flynn and Salvador Allende.
#2 Tourism in Centro Havana
Centro Havana is a municipality located next to Old Havana. It’s a small territory founded in the 18th century as an extramural town. This means that it was located outside the city’s walls that protected Havana from invaders and pirates. Nowadays, it’s a cosmopolitan neighborhood where tourists can enjoy the city’s lively rhythm.
East of this area you’ll find the Little China of Havana , which dates back to the 19th century. It’s the second biggest Chinese neighborhood in America, and it’s famous for being one of the oldest. Moreover, it’s popular for its great number of restaurants that bring together Cuban and Asian gastronomy.
The National Capitol Building in Havana, Cuba
A few feet away from the Chinese neighborhood, among classic cars and motorcycles, you’ll find another attraction of the city. We are talking about the magnificent and colossal Capitol Building in Havana, which was built in the early 20th century. This monumental construction, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was meant to be the seat of the Cuban Congress before the revolution. Later, it housed the Academy of Sciences of Cuba. Nowadays, restoration works are taking place in it, so access is limited for tourists. Even so, you can still enjoy visiting its gardens and admire the beautiful composition created by the Capitol and the theaters Alicia Alonso and Marti. These are located opposite the Capitol.
#3 Tourist Activities in El Vedado, Havana
El Vedado was founded at the beginning of this century. It houses many government buildings, embassies, and cultural centers. This placce is a contemporary Cuban experience. One of its main streets is 24th Avenue, also known as La Rampa. Along this street you’ll find two popular places. One of them is the Coppelia ice-cream shop, where locals delight in the best ice-cream in Havana. The other one is La casa del perro caliente, a fast food restaurant that serves hot dogs, French fries, and coffee with a homemade taste. Everything is prepared on site, including the bread, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. El Vedado has become a classical street food site, so you can’t miss it.
Cultural Attractions in El Vedado Neighborhood
Close to La Casa del Perro you’ll find many galleries, coffee shops, bookshops, and bars that are frequently visited by students and professors from the University of Havana. The University is only 10 minutes away from La Rampa. In all these places you’ll find a bohemian environment that brings together different Cuban and International cultural traditions.
Plaza de la Revolución, Havana
End your visit to El Vedado at its early twentieth century mansions. You can also visit the Baseball Stadium and end your tour at Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square), which pays homage to Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara. It’s a reminder of the polarization to which the island was subject, and it represents the last remains of radical liberalism in the world. You can get more information about tours around Havana on this link.