Looking for things to do in Havana, Cuba? Check out The LITMO Life list!
Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States just opened up, and as such, loads of travelers from the States are dying to get to Cuba! I was lucky enough to convince a couple of my friends to head to Havana with me for a long weekend and while we were there, we saw a ton of cool sights!
Although there are lots of great things to do outside Havana, even just staying in the city for a few days will have you seeing and doing a lot. Here’s my list of the 10 coolest things to do in Havana!
1. Go see the Plaza de la Revolución
The Plaza de la Revolución, one of the largest city squares in the world, is the place where many political rallies took (and take) place. Fidel Castro would often speak from there and while standing in the Plaza, you can see the Jose Marti Memorial, the National Library, and large steel memorials to Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.
2. Visit the Colón Cemetery
I’m a big fan of visiting cemeteries when I am in new places, so I was pretty thrilled to hear that there is a large cemetery that many tourists visit in Havana visit, called the Colón Cemetery (or Christopher Columbus Cemetery). The cemetery is expansive and has large mausoleums all over. There is a church at the back that still has services (in fact, there was a service happening the day I was there). For lover’s of history, the Colon Cemetery is a can’t miss.
3. See the Malecón
Havana’s sea wall is an awesome sight. During sunny days, you’ll find many locals just hanging out, enjoying the sun or the view. When I was in Havana, my airBNB wasn’t too far from the Malecón, so I was fortunate enough to walk right over and spend some time outdoors on a beautiful afternoon there. There are some great views to be had.
4. Check out Old Havana
Old Havana is now just a part of the city, but it used to be the city center. Much of the old city is now in ruins, but if you’re a traveler that loves to walk around and soak up the culture, a trip to Old Havana is definitely for you. There’s lots to see and photograph, and many places to sit down for a cool drink when you need a break.
5. Go see Hemingway’s house
Finca Vigia, outside of Havana, was where Ernest Hemingway once lived. The name of the house means “lookout house” and Finca Vigia, just like his home in Key West, is now a museum. It’s actually located in San Francisco de Paula, but it’s quite simple to take a cab there from main Havana. A quick note here: be careful when pulling it up on a map, as Google will show you a completely different location (which may get you in trouble with your cab driver.
6. Gran Teatro de La Habana
The Gran Teatro de La Habana has been home to many of the city’s premer cultural activities, like the Cuban National Ballet. It’s a large theater, which areas for concerts, conferences, art and choirs. Several famus artists have performed here, as well as other national companies like the American Ballet Theatre. It’s a great building to visit on your tour of Havana.
7. Museo Nacional de La Bellas Artes
Visiting the Museo Nacional de La Bellas Artes isn’t cheap – in fact, they charge per building. When I went though, it was just as nice to take a quick look inside and walk around to see the art displays on the outside of the museum. The exhibits span time between the colonial era to now. For art lovers the Museu Nacional de La Bellas Artes is a great place to spend some time in Havana.
8. See Plaza de la Catedral
Plaza de la Catedral is another of the main squares in the Havana area. It’s named as such because of the Cathedral of Havana. The cathedral was built in 1727. Today, the Plaza de la Catedral has a lot going on around it: restaurants and spots to do some sightseeing.
9. Stop into The Floridita
If you’re at all a fan of Hemingway, besides going to his house, you can also visit one of his favorite haunts: The Floridita. The place is a restaurant and bar and is known for its daiquiris. When I went, The Floridita was crawling with tourists so we decided not to go in (so be aware that you’ll be surrounded by visitors clamoring for the same daiquiri you want!). Still, the building is cool, and it’s, of course, amazing to think Hemingway once walked the same streets!
10. Head to the Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas is near a very touristy part of Havana – but this Plaza is actually the oldest square in Habana, dating back to the early 1520s. It was previously called the Plaza de Iglasia after a church in the area, but its name was changed in the 16th century when the site was used for military exercises. Today, the Plaza is surrounded by restaurants, shops, and cafes and is a great place to spend an evening walking around.
I really enjoyed my time in Havana and I hope, with my list of recommendations, you will too!