On a recent trip to Havana I tried and tested various recommendations from friends and guide books. This is my list of the top ten things to do in Cuba’s capital city and its nearby surroundings (in no particular order).
1. Stay at (or just visit…they do tours twice a week) the Hotel Nationale, a grand old palace of a building, with spectacular views and even better drinks.
2. Visit Santa Maria Del Mar, one of Havana’s three main eastern beaches, and try a rum-filled coconut.
3. Eat at one of the local Paladares (essentially a restaurant in someone’s house). I highly recommend La Guarida, situated in one of the most beautifully grand yet run down buildings I’ve ever seen.
4. Take a tour around Old Havana by horse and carriage – it’s a great way to see the sights and get your bearings.
5. Ride in one of the old 1950s cars that populate the roads, a Chevrolet or even better, a Cadillac.
6. Take a tour around the Partagás (cigar) factory, where you will see how a cigar is made in its various stages.
7. Visit writer Ernest Hemingway’s house, Finca la Vigía (meaning ‘lookout house’), about 10 miles east of Havana in San Francisco de Paula. With the stunning house and surroundings, it’s definitely worth the trip.
8. Go to the Museo de la Revolución and read all about the revolution from start to finish, the roles of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, and see a great collections of artifacts from over the years.
9. When you’ve been walking around the city and are all hot and sticky, stop at any of the street-side hotels or cafes and order a lemonade. I promise you, it’s delicious.
10. Take a walk down Calle Obispo, a vibrant and bustling street in Old Havana, filled with shops, restaurants, and of course people, both tourists and locals alike.