wish list || HAVANA – CUBA
CUBA has always been on the ‘to visit’ list ever since I arrived in North American in 1996. I think it is high-time I fulfill this desire to travel there. Who has been? What did you think about your visit? Do you have any tips to share?
So there are hotels and then there are B&B’s called ‘Casa Particulars’. People are saying that the stay with a family is a better experience. These can be booked thru AirBnB.
- Casa Concordia – love this one – more expensive but it is well designed.
- You can rent this whole house
- This is a lovely house from 1906 that has been restored [great reviews]
- There is this little hotel Casa Perdo-Maria
- Cute little boutique hotel – Casa Vitrales
- This website has some great choices too it’s like AirBnB
- And there is this site too …
- And of course AirBnB
- Likely one of the most iconic images for Havana these days – this place looks fun – La Guarida
- Decameron – Very Cuban restaurant. Great food and a very special decoration.
- Atelier – Restaurant in old colonial farm. Decorated with contemporary art, good music. Highly recommended.
- La Catedral – Good food for less than 10 CUC, you can savor the authentic Cuban food. C / 8 e / Calzada and 5th
- El Cocinero – This attached to the FAC (Cuban Art Factory) restaurant is one of the nicest places for a nice dinner on the terrace. They have a good menu and is an ideal place for a few drinks.
- Camino al Sol – A place only for lunch. The pasta is home-made. A very tiny and special place. Street 3ra #363 B/ Paseo and 2, Vedado
- Somas – you have to walk up stairs to get to it, but don’t let the appearance of it fool you, the food is meant to be amazing and they have live music (by the way, be prepared to tip the musicians at every restaurant, they will come around with a hat to collect tips, it is basically expected)
- This is a great list explaining the restaurant scene focused on ‘paladares’
- Foodie Hub has a great list of places to check out too – see here.
- Got to get a Mojito from the place it originated – La Bodeguita del Medio
- And then you have to get a daiquiri from – El Floridita
- This site – Havana Insider – provides a current list places to drink
Then there are all the place to visit for music and drinks too, one of the best things in Cuba is music:
- Fabrica De Arte Cubano The most innovative and fashionable place in the city is very near 1861. The old factory has now become the cultural epicenter of the city. Note: At the entrance they hand you a ticket where waiters recorded your drinks and you pay at departure – don’t lose your ticket. Everyone recommends the terrace!
- El Palenque de la Rumba C/ 4 e/ 5ta y 7ma. (Vedado) Cultural center for enjoy “rumba” live music on Saturdays and Sundays. Good vibrations!
- Submarino Amarillo. C/ 17 e/ 6 y 4. Close to John Lennon´s Park you can find a cool place for live music (most of the bands play rock and pop)….Yellow Submarine is not only a Beatles song! 2 CUC entry… Very good atmosphere.
- Maxim Rock. (Centro Habana) C / Bruzon # 62 e / Ayestaran and Almendares. In this concert hall you can enjoy the best punk, hard-rock and metal of Cuba.
- Sloopy Joe’s – A classic 50’s vibe with good cocktails, reopened after more than half a century.
- And for jazz, the club Jazz Cafe in el Centro Comercial Galería Paseo (opposite the Hotel Melia Cohiba) you can see the best Cuban jazz musicians, some of them are among the best jazz artists in the world.
- Callejon de Hammel (Centro Habana) – Ask any taxi driver direction. Usually on Sundays, from eleven. Worth seeing just it’s totally surreal !!
- Rumba Palace, is a great place with great bands (not touristic)
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – One of the most interesting and best museums in the world represented in terms of national art retrospectives.
- This amazing green tile house – Casa de Las Verdes
- Casa Fuster – this ‘mind-boggling’ mosaic installation
- Museo de Artes Decorativas: for antique lovers this museum is a must.
- Casa de La Amistad (or Casa Baró-Lasa): this is one of the most impressive houses in the city and a history of very special love. Weekends have cultural programming in its amazing gardens.
- Colon Cemetery: definitely a graveyard since 1868 has grown into a great museum majestic marble sculptures. It costs a 1 CUC entry. Main entrance at the end of Calle 12 and Calle Zapata.
- El Bosque de La Habana. Just across the Almendares River bridge you follow the bed of the river to the left and walk about 15 minutes to reach this small jungle in the middle of the city.
- Never miss a performance by the Compania de Danza Retazos
- Other interesting companies are Litz Alfonso C / 659 Compostela and / Luz and Acosta, Old Havana. Tel. (537) 866 3680 and 3689
- For art the Taller Experimental de Grafica located in the the Plaza de la Catedral is highly recommended.
- Vintage lovers must visit THE GARAGE C/ 19 # 1409 e/ 26 y 28 Vedado Cel. 5 2702744
- If you want some skin art – best studio in Cuba: LA MARCA.
- Locally designed clothes visit CLANDESTINA (99% CUBANO)
- It is worth visiting the craft market in La Avenida del Puerto
There is so much information readily available these days on travel to CUBA, that you can get lost in the sea of data. Here are some sources for the information that I have shared above in no particular order:
- Havana Insider is a great source for all things current in town
- Rick Steves – In July 2016 shared his adventure to Cuba in this lecture
- A foodies view of Havana and it’s tasty offerings
- BBC view of CUBA another video
- Conde Nast Traveler has a guide with loads of information where to stay & eat etc.
- This Marie Claire article is great – even if it is from 2015
- This website has loads of information on – La Habana
- This talented women has amazing photos to get you in the mood
- 36 Hours Havana – Also a good story and video by the New York Times
- Of course The Guardian always has good taste and advice
- National Geo – piles of reports worthy of a read
- Travel – Yes Please – have a great 3 day report on Havana and this list of tips for travel to Cuba.
- A blogger who recently went and has some lovely pictures and suggestions.
Here is a list of some tour guide companies to consider:
- A luxury travel guide award winner and highly rated on Tripadvisor – Cuba Connections
- Cuban Trip Compass – also good reviews on Tripadvisor
- Cuban Outings
- Havana Vintage Car Tours – how fun is this?
For the Architectural buffs here are a few tips:
Additional tips and tricks will be added as we continue our research. FOR MORE click below.
Some advice on the do’s & do not \\
- Cubans shake hands when meeting someone or saying goodbye.
- Blowing your nose in public is considered very offensive.
- Don’t drink the water. Play it safe and avoid drinking from the tap while you’re in Cuba to keep from getting sick. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice because it may have been made from unclean water.
- Tipping 10% is the average for dining out, a day at the spa, or getting a haircut. Check bills carefully though, as many places may have already added in the 10% as a service fee. It’s best to tip in CUC.
- Zika virus – Warm, humid climates invite lots of guests – and pests. You’ll want to be prepared and pack mosquito-repellent. Apply liberally.
Cash is KING \\
Nothing works as good as cold hard cash, so be prepared to have plenty on hand.
- Cash is the preferred way to pay for most purchases throughout Cuba.
- It’s recommended that you bring enough cash (USD) to cover your entire time there (bills only, none of those pesky coins).
- Once you land, you can exchange any cash at a Cadeca (Money Exchange Bureau) in the airport or at your hotel.
Weather in Havana \\
The weather in Cuba is tropical so, generally, expect it to be hot, hot, hot. Mostly south of the Tropic of Cancer, the island is all about warm breezes and humid temperatures:
- May to October is considered the rainy season.
- November to April is considered the dry season.
- Average year-round temperature is between 62°F and 95°F
- The average temp in January is 69.8°F.
- The average temp in July is 80.6°F.
Cellphones & Wifi \\
OK here is the deal – Check with your carrier for the latest costs … but so far my research say it is REALLY expensive .. but for emergencies it is accessible. This article talks about the Data part – here & this article here are good sources of info.
- Go to an internet cafe and pay to get access on one of their computers.
- Access at a hotel by also paying for set period of time – but you need to use their old computers to get to the WWW.
- Buy a card to access wifi in government designated areas.
- OR hope that you have enough bandwidth and pay the high costs as outlined below per MB
- Starting on October 18, 2016, AT&T has you covered in Cuba.
- Nothing to add or change with your plan. Just talk, text, and use data with your own phone and number
SPRINT – [read more]
- Sprint (NYSE: S) offers the most affordable calling option for customers.
- Available now, voice calls when roaming in Cuba are $2.49 per minute.
- Data on the island is $1.99 per megabyte,
- and SMS text messaging is 50 cents to send and free to receive.
- Nov 23, 2015
- The process is simple.
- Customers using a World Device who are traveling to Cuba can opt-in to add the Pay-As-You-Go International Travel option.
- While in Cuba, voice calls are $2.99 per minute,
- data is $2.05 per megabyte and standard international messaging rates apply.
- This allows customers the ability to stay connected while in Cuba.
- T-Mobile customers can now talk for $2.00 a minute,
- send text and multimedia messages for $0.50 per message and receive them for free,
- and use data for $2.00 per MB while roaming in Cuba.
- And, as always with the Un-carrier, calling back to the US is completely free with Wi-Fi calling.