Havana Cuba – everything you need to know | Guide

A couple in a pink Cadillac in the streets of Havana Cuba.

Havana Cuba


 

Old-timers, Colonial Buildings and Cuba Libre – welcome to Havana Cuba.

The charm of this city with all the history and the shiny classic cars at every corner is so unique you will feel like back in time.

Havana Cuba is a photographers dream especially if you are into street or car photography and when you are into partying, there is a Salsa or Rumba party every day. But don’t worry, there are also many museums and other historical landmarks if this is your point of interest.

Before we dive into the Havana Cuba Guide, here is some general travel information about Cuba beforehand:

 


Money in Cuba


 

There are two different currencies in Cuba:

The Cuban Peso (CUP): 25 Pesos = 1 USD (used for non luxurious items)
The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC): 1 CUC = 1 USD or 25 Cuban Pesos (used for tourism and luxurious items)

We recommend to get both currencies especially if you plan to eat in local restaurants.

 

How to get money in Cuba:

Currency exchange
You can exchange the following currencies:
USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, MXP, CHF and CAD.
We don’t recommend USD because only for this currency there is a 10% penalty surcharge.

ATM
You can find ATMs at the airport or in every touristy town but be prepared that some are not stocked with money. We recommend you to carry a Visa card because this network is most likely to be accepted in Cuba.

Note: Both options will provide you with CUC but you can then exchange CUC to CUP in the CADECA exchange offices.

 


Internet


 

Cuba is definitely not a digital nomad paradise because the internet connection is limited and slow but it’s nice be disconnected for a while.

But don’t worry, you will still be able to get online, and here is how:

You may find some high class restaurants or hotels which provide WiFi but the cheapest and most convenient way is to go to designated WiFi spots in the city.

To log in at both options you need an ETECSA card which is a card with a log-in code and password which grants you one or five hours of internet connection.

You can buy the card in every ETECSA store for 1 CUC per hour but it’s important that you will bring your passport otherwise the sales person is not allowed to sell you the card.

ETECSA Card in a woman's hand .

Please note: Some people on the street offer WiFi cards for a higher price as well. Only buy them when the password isn’t visible (there is layer you have to scratch off to see the code).

Tip: Because of the limited internet access in Cuba, Google Maps is not the best choice. We used Maps.me which is really convenient and even has the WiFi spots marked on the map.

 


Fake bottled water


 

We thought this only happens in India but unfortunately in Cuba it’s the case as well:

Fake bottled water.

The bottled water supply is limited and as soon as the bottles hit the store, they will be bought instantly especially by some resellers to make some profit.

And some of these resellers mix these bottles with tap water to have a higher profit margin.

Our Tip: Take a sip of the water before you leave the store. If you can taste chlorine, don’t buy it!

 

Now it’s time to hop to the Havana Cuba Guide:

 


How to get from the airport to Havana


 

The cheapest way is to go by public transport but the buses are really cramped that we don’t recommend to go with luggage.

Rather than the bus we recommend a taxi which costs 25 CUC <- don’t pay more than that.

We can recommend this taxi driver:
+53 526 770 89 (WhatsApp)

 


Where to stay in Havana Cuba


 

Havana Cuba: a collage of photos including breakfast of Casa Oslo in Havana Cuba

If you don’t want to pay 200 USD a night for a nice hotel room you should stick to Casa Particulares. These are either rooms or whole apartments which Cuban people rent out. You can either find them while walking trough the streets, recommendations or even on Air BnB as well.

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We made great experiences with the following two. Both offer a really good value, are perfectly located and the owners are really nice:

Casa Oslo Havana

Casa Walter y Mabel

 


Where to eat in Havana


 

Street food

Street food options can be found everywhere but it’s mostly pizza, burger and hotdogs and the things we tried were a bit tasteless.

Restaurants

El Biky <- delivious food and great portions, the best food we had on our Cuba trip. (try the Ropa Vieja)

Creperie Oasis Nelva <- tasty sweet and savory crepes, the breakfast deal for 5 CUC should be awesome, unfortunately we didn’t make it there in the morning

D’Next <- Delicious American fastfood and pizzas.

Cocktails

With the best view on the Malecon and huge and delicious cocktails for starting at 4 CUC:
Malecon 663
Especially the sunset view is great.

 


What to do in Havana Cuba


 

Rent an Old-Timer

Havana Cuba: A couple in a pink Cadillac in the streets of Havana Cuba.

This is a must-do in Havana, cruising around with one of those cool cars.

You can book a whole sightseeing tour with different stops or you can just cruise around, that depends on you.

All of them have a information card which quotes 80 CUC an hour but never pay more than 25 – 30 CUC. Shop around Parque Central, especially in the morning around 8am you will likely get a good deal. We managed to drop the price to 20 CUC for an hour.

If you are interested to have a ride in a pink 1959 Cadillac, we can recommend you Victor:
+53 532 005 08

 

Visit the Parque Central and the Capitolio

This park right next to Hotel Inglaterra (for a great view on the park, sneak up on the top floor via the elevator) is the laid back small park with the Capitolio nearby. The park is the place where all the old-timers are parked, so if you want to have a photo in front of one of these beautiful cars but you don’t want to rent one: There is your chance.

 

Watching a Rumba show

Don’t leave Cuba without experiencing the energy of a Rumba show.

Here are some places:

Callejon de Hamel <- Sunday around mid day

Areito <- When the Rumba at Callejon de Hamel ends you can have a walk to Areito and enjoy the next show. Entry fee is 5 CUC.

 

Visit the Plaza de la Revolución

A woman in an old-timer at the Plaza de la Revolucion.

This plaza is not only the 31st biggest plaza in the world but also a really historical landmark.

You can visit the memorial of Jose Marti there and see two art installations of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

 

Salsa dance classes

There are many Salsa dance schools in Havana, we recommend to ask your AirBnB hosts because they know the schools around the area you are staying.

 

Dance Salsa one of the Casas de la Musica

Why not showing off what you learned in one of the Casas de la Musica in Havana Cuba.

 

Go to the Malecon for sunset

The Malecon is the seaside part of the city which is a popular spot of the Cubans to enjoy some rum in the evening especially during sunset and to listen to some live music.

Get a bottle of rum or a couple of beers and have a sip there.

When you go in the morning you can see many fishermen getting the catch of the day.

 

Walk around Old- and Central Havana

Havana Cuba: street scene with an old timer and colonial buildings in Havana Cuba

Havana’s streets are an attraction by themselves. Walk around and see the daily Cuban life’s: People playing board games in front of their house, vendors selling their goods in pushed wagons, kids playing games and much more.

Dive into the local life and have a chat or a couple of rum shots with the. 😉

 

Visit the museums

There are many different museums like the Museum of the Revolution or the Museum of Rum.

We aren’t really museum people and choose to explore the streets instead of the museums.

But we have heard great things about them.

 

Hunt some Instagram spots

Havana is really picturesque but there are two really cool Instagram spots in Havana:

La Guarida <- This famous high class restaurant has a beautiful staircase and balcony and both spots are great to take some photos. Go there before 10am to not disturb the restaurant.

Havana Cuba: photo collage of la Guarida in Havana Cuba

Floridita <- This bar was not only Hemmingway’s favorite daiquiry bar, it is also a really cool Instagram spot with the old neon sign especially because you will be really lucky to spot some old-timers there as well.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1WfCg3hEpj/

 

Hop On Hop Off Tour

The famous Hop On Hop Off bus tour can even be found in Havana and for 10 CUC you can use the bus which drives between different sites for a whole day.

But to be honest, we think the money is better invested in an hour with an old-timer car.

 


How to get to your next destination


 

In general there are two options for tourists:

– the Viazul bus
– shared taxis

Even though the bus is a bit cheaper, you have to add the taxi costs to the bus station and at the destination to your guesthouse and in the end the shared taxi has the same price or is even cheaper.

Here are some shared taxi rates from Havana:

– to Viñales: 20 CUC, about 2,5 hours
– to Varadero: 20 CUC, about 1,5 – 2 hours

 

 


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