Time to get moving forward on my trip and I’m very excited that the next stop was beautiful Havana in Cuba! For such a long time I’ve heard people talking and recommending Cuba that I was really excited to get there on this trip. I was headed to Mexico so I nervously clicked to buy tickets for Havana and started waiting..
Arrival to Havana
Arrival to Havana Jose Marti airport was quite easy and straight forward. I had organised a local casa for my first night in the city and got picked up by a cute old american car for my first ride. Let the Cuban adventure begin!
Once at the airport you will find a money exchange and lots of taxis to get you to your destination. I recommend going/coming to the airport by taxi since the public transport will only reach so far and leave you walking a bit.
When you start looking for accommondation in Cuba you’ll quickly realise that it’s very popular to stay at local homes. The casas are rooms that local families rent out for visitors in their own homes. I thought that it’s the best way to meet local people and get advice for my trip. This turned out to be much more than I ever expect and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re on your way to Cuba.
The city of Havana is big so you can walk to local things near your place but getting further I wouls recommend a taxi or if you’re feeling adventurous a local bus. Busses seem to be much harder to figure and they’ll be more time consuming but an experience all together!
I recommend picking few diffent neighbourhoods to stay and exploring them one at the time. Just in old city you will find things to do for days.
It’s fairly cheap to grab a taxi in the city center and you will save lots of time and your feet while having a change to see the city differently and chat with the locals.
After few days I found the city itself to be quite easy to understand with the different neighbourhoods and their directions. Even with this there are endless amount of tiny street to get yourself lost in.
Practical things to know
– Currency: Cuba has two different currencies – the convertable and the local peso. You might end up using both if you do really local things. The money e
xchangers will only offer the convertible pesos to change to. The convertibles are tied to USD so this will be easy to work out.
– Internet: This was a thing that many people wonder! For a tourist the easiest way to get online is to buy a wi-fi card from the phone store. I bought mine in old Havana without any issues. After getting your card possibly your accommondation has a wi-fi and if not just head to the local parks where it’s available.
– Safety: Generally for me Cuba seemed really safe but I still wouldn’t wonder around with all my most valuables. My best advice is to talk to the locals who you’re staying with for any tips.
Best things to do in Havana
Just with the first look you’ll see that the narrow streets of the Old town are buzzing with life. You can peek in to the local shops, hear music all around and see how local people live. The old town is rustic with the crumbling concrete houses which makes it so interesting and full of details.
In my opinion the Old Havana is a sight itself so just walk around and get lost on the streets. Make stops at the park, admiring old colourfull cars and in any of the little bars for a mojito! The more local you go the better it gets.
SUNSET AT MALÉCON
The famous seaside boulevard is the place to see old cars, local people fishing and nice sunsets. The Malecon is 8 kilometers long so pick your spot and enjoy the city and sea.
TAKE A SALSA LESSON
Cuba is crazy about dancing!! The Cuban salsa is everywhere on the island and if you have time a fun way to dive in to dancing is taking a lesson with the locals. I did mine in the Marisuri School of Dance in central Havana. The private class was so much and you start understanding the basics.
CENTRE DE ARTE CUBANO
This old factory got turned into the center of Cuban arts so you can enjoy exhibitions, parties, art, drinks and find local fabrications. Open from early evening until late from Thursday to Sunday so plan your visit accordingly. It’s located in Vedado so you can combine it walk around to see awesome mansions.
LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY
Cuba has very interesting and different history which is something worth getting to know better now that you’re here. Many people would describe Central Havana as ”poor” or ”ghetto” due to it’s neglected look and concrete buildings that are folling down but there is so much more to it. You will learn that even now when Cuba is opening up everyone still earns the same and this amount is equal to around $40 a month. It might get you the necessities but definately nothing extra so you realise how local people get by and live.
HOTEL FLORIDITA FOR DAQUIRIS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF HEMINGWAY
In the corned of Havana Vieja you can follow the footsteps of Hemingway to a popular hotel named Floridita which is the home for daquiris! They are very taste here but it get’s extremely busy so be prepared.
ENJOY LIVE MUSIC
As I said music is everywhere so make the most out of it! On my first day I found a concert in the park, after this a band playing in a bar and much more. You might be able to find events online but can also get lucky by walking around.
TAKE A RIDE IN THE 50’S CONVERTIBLE
Cuba is a home of the coolest old cars and they are all around – in all the rainbow colours! You can grab one as a taxi or hire one to take a tour around the city. Such a retro vibe getting into one of these and cruising around the city.
My experience in Havana
Most likely it’s not hard for you to get that I LOVE IT!! So much life, colours and details make sure that Havana just popped on top of the list of my favourite cities ever. And there is much more to see for next time.
I didn’t come across any bad experiences and found the local people absolutely lovely and very friendly. They’ll tell you the best things to do and show you around for more experiences.
Next time I will tell you about the beautiful Cuban town called Vinales and it’s amazing views! If you’re planning a trip to Cuba I’ll be happy to give more tips!