• What is there to see in Havana?
The different neighbourhoods Havana is divided into have unique qualities that make them wonderful places and above all places that you can’t miss on your trip to Havana, Cuba.
Old Havana located in the east of the city, facing the bay, is the supposed masterpiece of the city, located where the town was initially founded. Havana Center, is a neighbourhood located in the north and central part of the city that offers a vast view of Cuba and hosts a great number of emblematic sites; while Vedado, officially known as Plaza de la Revolucion (Revolution Square) and it’s most impressive area being the old fiefdom of the Mafia, is full of hotels and restaurants, with a lively nightlife. This municipality is the commercial and residential center of Havana.
It is impossible to imagine a trip to Havana without visiting Old Havana, enjoying its four main squares which were birthed in the colonial era and visiting its interesting museums to learn its history. The historic quarter occupies 4 square kilometers full of history and tradition in all its corners, where you will find numerous monuments and museums of different themes.
Old Havana is one of the most peaceful and safest areas in all of Latin America. It was also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The best way to get to know it is to walk through its streets, get lost in its alleys and create routes with your own senses. Spending time in any area of this iconic neighbourhood will make your journey a fantastic experience. Among its points of interests are the Museo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City), Museo de Arte Colonial (Museum of Colonial Art), Plaza de Armas, the Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana (San Cristóbal de La Habana Cathedral), the Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís (Monastery of San Francisco de Asís), and the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, (Castle of the Royal Force).
On the other hand, it is an excellent idea to visit the port of Old Havana in front of the bay, to take a ferry to the Parque Histórico Militar de Morro Cabaña (Morro Cabaña Military Historical Park), and visit the Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes del Morro (Tres Santos Reyes del Morro Castle) and the La Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña (San Carlos de la Cabaña Fort). These ancient colonial buildings were the defensive core of la villa habanera against pirates and enemy troops. There you will find an incredible panorama of the city that captures the hearts of both travellers as well as locals.
The Vedado neighbourhood in Revolution Square is one of those places that not only reminisce another era, but also another world; as its streets and buildings seem to have been taken from large cities in the United States, such as New York or Miami. Breaking off the colonial habanera tradition, Vedado resembles a small city, a commercial, residential and cultural hub which houses some skyscrapers and large buildings. The main feature that makes this neighbourhood an essential visit during your trip is its cultural, social, political, economic and artistic distinction.
Havana Center is one of the most beautiful and cheerful places of the Cuban capital. In it are some of the most interesting and emblematic buildings of the country, as in the case of the Capitolio Nacional de Cuba (National Capitol of Cuba). In addition, it also has some old boulevards and buildings that bear witness to its colonial era. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) and the Paseo de Marti (Martí’s Walk), for instance, are dedicated to the Cuban national hero. In addition, if you want to rest and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this neighborhood has many parks, full of monuments, fountains and greenery.. Finally, you cannot leave Havana Center behind without visiting the famed Malecón de La Habana, one of the city’s landmarks, while walking in front of the sea and enjoying the pleasant and fresh sea breeze.
If the weather permits, outside the city you can find numerous towns and picturesque villages with a life and feel of their own. The most interesting ones are Miramar, where you can find the Acuario Nacional de Cuba (National Aquarium of Cuba) Mariano and Cubanacán in the municipality of Playa; the town of Santiago de Compostela de Las Vegas, in the municipality of Boyeros; the municipalities of Regla and Guanabacoa; the towns of Cojìmar, Casablanca, with the gigantic statue of El Cristo de la Habana (Christ of Havana) the Museo Hemingway (Hemingway Museum) in San Francisco de Paula; the Parque Lenin (Lenin Park) area, with the Zoológico Nacional (National Zoological Park) the Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Garden); and Playas del Este (Eastern Beaches), where some of the best beaches of Havana are located.
• What is there to do in Havana?
Havana will earn a spot in your heart, with its countless dimensions and possibilities to offer you. Stroll through its lively and colorful streets, from La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) to Vedado, lose yourself between the centuries of colonial and contemporary history it offers, meet the old countrymen who rejoice in all the corners of the village with their tales, stories and puntos cubanos.
Let yourself be trapped in the music and sun, attending some of the magnificent dance classes that offer the best Caribbean rhythms, or simply enjoy Caribbean music live music while you sip a tasty mojito. You can enjoy them in two amazing experiences: El Cabaret Tropicana, taking advantage of a fantastic tour with a show included, which offers magnificent shows and dinners; and the Parisien Cabaret with more than fifty years of history, offering shows full of light and color with a multicultural background.
Another fantastic plan is to discover the artistic tradition of the Havana village by getting to know the architectural mosaic art déco, neoclassical and colonial-baroque of the city. The Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Gallery) undoubtedly gathers the most important contemporary art samples from great Cuban authors, finding its roots in the Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts). The enormous museum impact of Havana is not only restricted to the arts, since it encompasses different areas. You'll find great examples like the Museo de la Revolución (Revolution Museum), the Museo del Ron (Rum Museum) and the Museo del Tabaco (Tobacco Museum), or the iconic Museo de la Farmacia Habanera (Habanera Pharmacy Museum) and Museo del Automóvil (Automobile Museum).
Admire the spectacular panoramic views of the Malecón, especially at sunset, and then enjoy the Cañonazo ceremony that keeps the tradition of lifting the protection chains of the port alive, every day at 9PM. Although, if you prefer to experience it up close, you can attend it at the Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña (San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress). Discover the Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square) with the Memorial José Martí (José Martí Memorial), and the Universidad de La Habana (University of Havana) in the Vedado area. Discover the unusual beauty of the Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus' Necropolis) or the majestic buildings you'll find in Central Havana, such as the impressive Capitolio Nacional de Cuba (National Capitol of Cuba), and discover the beautiful classic cars that drive through the city daily, authentic museum pieces that you can see, photograph and even drive.
Traveling with children is a fantastic experience thanks to the tranquility and security that surround the city. The city's museums are interesting options for fun and learning, since most of them have sections and experiences dedicated to the little ones. In addition, there are fabulous options such as visiting the Planetario de La Habana (Planetarium of Havana), in Old Havana or the Parque Zoológico Nacional (National Zoological Park), located very close to the wonderful Parque Lenin (Lenin Park). You can book an excursion with a specialized guide to see the National Zoo as well as visit the Centro Ecuestre de la Habana (Equestrian Center of Havana). In the Miramar neighborhood, along the famous Quinta Avenida, you will find two fascinating places where you can spend a wonderful and joyful day, first the National Aquarium and second the Parque de atracciones Isla del Coco (Isla del Coco Amusement Park), formerly known as Coney Island.
Finally, there are also interesting options for lovers of sports activities. Marabana, the Havana marathon, is held in November, and registrations are open to the general public. In addition, in February, the Havana Triathlon is held with different categories from elite athletes to beginners. In the Hemingway Marina the Torneo Internacional de la Pesca de Aguja Ernest Hemingway (Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament) is held and excursions dedicated
• The Best Places to See in Varadero, Cuba
Even during the winter months, a considerable number of visitors come to enjoy the wonders of this Cuban enclave, fleeing from the cold weather of different parts of the world, since the climate here is exceptional virtually all year round.
In addition to its incredible white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, which are considered among the best beaches in Cuba and the world, Varadero has many attractions that make it a very attractive destination for spending unforgettable days of relaxation and fun.
A good example is the Parque Josone (Josone Park), ideal for enjoying a relaxing day out with family, taking refuge on a sunny summer day and admiring a taste of the stunning local nature. There is also the amazing Mansión Xanadú, an elegant building with incredible views from the rooftop, which is also now a restaurant and hotel; the amazing Cuevas de Bellamar (Bellamar Caves), considered one of Cuba's best natural treasures; or the Cueva Saturno (Saturn Cave) and its amazing interior lagoon, which boasts enviable aquatic fauna.
Although some people talk about Varadero's lack of Cuban flavor and its scarce cultural life, the truth is that the city has some very enriching places to visit. A good example of this is the Fondo de Bienes Culturales (Fund of Cultural Assets) a division within the Ministry of Culture , where you will see the best visual works by local artists from Matanzas, as well as paintings by renowned Cuban painters such as Roberto Fabelo or Zaida del Río.
Another fascinating collection of art, history and archaeology can be found at the Museo Municipal (Municipal Museum), where you can discover the skeletal remains of one of the first settlers of the island of Cuba.
• The Best Plans to Make in Varadero
This destination is famous for the diverse of activities it offers, especially water sports. It is an ideal place to practice diving or snorkeling, since it has an amazing sea bed with a lot of species all over the Varadero beach area. Multicolored fish, coral reefs and mollusks are some of the marvels you will find if you decide to explore the possibilities Varadero offers to the lovers of this sport.
Horseback riding or cycling are good ways to enjoy the idyllic surroundings of the area. They allow you to get to know the treasures that await you from a different perspective and one that is extremely respectful of the environment.
One of the best known events in the area is the golf tournament held at the Casa Club Campo de Golf (Golfing Country Club), which is attended by golf lovers from all corners of the world.
Another of the natural jewels of this area is the Zapata Peninsula, an exotic swamp area that today is one of the most outstanding natural reserves in the country. This reserve, along with Guamá, with its Aldea Taína (Taino Village), its Crocodile Farm and the Laguna del Tesoro (Lake) make up a getaway you can't miss.
One of the most fascinating caves that you can find in Varadero is the Cueva de los Musulmanes, in the Reserva Ecológica Varahicacos (Varahicacos Ecological Reserve), where there are prehistoric remains of the first inhabitants of the island. You will also find fascinating indigenous wall paintings in the Cueva Ambrosio (Ambrosio Cave). Although, without a doubt, the most fascinating caves are the Cuevas de Bellamar, in Matanzas, with its more than 20 kilometres of galleries, its impressive stalagmites and stalactites have become one of the most popular attractions in Cuba.
• The Best Beaches in Varadero, Cuba
Varadero is one of Cuba's most internationally recognized destinations, largely because of its incredible fine sand beach and warm, crystal-clear waters, making it one of the best beaches in the world. The best known beach is Playa de Varadero, also known as Playa Azul, which is 20 kilometers long.
It also boasts an infinite number of activities for the whole family to enjoy. From exploring the local fauna, like unique starfish, to enjoying a quiet boat ride. Of course, if you are a scuba diving or snorkeling lover you can't miss the wonders that this beach possesses, namely its coral reefs or exotic colored fish.
Other beaches nearby are Playa Coral, a quiet beach with a spectacular sea bed formed by abundant corals; Playa La Caleta and Playa Calaveras.
• The Best Excursions from Varadero
From Varadero you will be able to make a number of excursions, but there are some you mustn't miss:
Excursion to Cayo Largo, a trip to a beautiful island where you can swim in the nearly untouched beaches of fine white sand with turquoise waters, where dolphins and starfish are abundant. In short, a true paradise..
Another excursion you cannot miss is Cayo Blanco. The trip begins with a beautiful catamaran ride, with entertainment and open bar, until you reach the cayo. In the middle of the trip, you will make a stop to dive in the coral reef. Once in Cayo Blanco you will be able to enjoy this uninhabited island, virgin beaches and crystal clear waters. The spectacular fauna and flora that live in its mangroves or in its sea beds, like the black coral, will make your day unforgettable.
With the Nature Tour Caribbean Day you can enjoy a 100% Caribbean day in Cienaga de Zapata, the largest wetland in the Caribbean, the Aldea Taína (Taino Village). In addition, you will also be able to dive in the spectacular turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
Thanks to the Guamá-Playa Larga tour you will be able to admire the wonders that the tropical coast has to offer and the traditional practices and ways of life in Cuba. You will be able to admire the spectacular crocodiles in the nursery and take a boat ride on the Laguna del Tesoro (Lake) . In addition, you will swim in the Caribbean waters of the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs).
Green Habana Jeep excursion is very extensive with several stops such as the Bacunayagua Viewpoint, the highest bridge in Cuba, the Centro Ecuestre where you will enjoy a horse show, the Acuario Nacional (National Aquarium) or the Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Garden).
The tour of Havana + Tobacco Factory is ideal if you want to discover the capital of Cuba and its historical center, a fantastic sample of colonial architecture, and its famous rum and tobacco factories.
If you want to know other nearby cities with Tour Nicho - Trinidad and Tour Nicho - Cienfuegos you will be able to visit two of the cities with a more distinct Cuban character: the city-museum, Trinidad, and the Pearl of Southern Cuba, Cienfuegos.
Finally, the three-city tour will allow you, in one single excursion, to admire great monuments such as the Mausoleo del Che Guevara (Che Guevara's Mausoleum) in Santa Clara, Trinidad and its Cuban spirit, and Cienfuegos, with its marked French heritage. A unique opportunity to discover the main gems of three of Cuba's most captivating cities in a single day.