Havana is a destination unlike any other! It’s one of the major cities in the country of Cuba and houses influence drawn from all over the world, creating a colorful, multi-textural place that’s perfect for photographers. And for travelers, Havana has a little something for everyone — an interesting history, a stunning cityscape, great food, and even greater people. In that light, this article will help you make the most of your first day trip to Havana.
When traveling in any country or city, the key is to know the best times to visit certain attractions. This will enable you to make the most of your time and create some amazing memories that will last a lifetime! Accordingly, many of Havana’s best activities and spots have certain times where there will be more going on. To start your day off right, head first to Old Havana, also known as Habana Vieja. Take time to stop for breakfast at one of the many great spots, where you’ll find delicious food at a reasonable price! Wander along the cobblestone streets, and take in all the color and vibrancy that this historic district has to offer! Going earlier in the day will also allow you to skip the afternoon crowds (and the afternoon heat). There are plenty of storefronts, cigar shops, and cafes for you to explore, giving you a sense of what local Cuban life is all about. You’ll even see some vintage cars parked along the streets, which make for some cool photo-ops. Old Havana is a must-visit when exploring this amazing city.
Before you take a well-deserved lunch break, there are some locations you’ll definitely want to go to. Make a pit stop and see the Cathedral; this Baroque church stands out against the brightness of some of the other buildings in the Habana Vieja area, and it’s a beautiful sight! Just around the corner from the Cathedral is the Castle of the Royal Force. Complete with cannons and all, it’s one of the oldest stone forts in the Americas. These buildings are slices of Cuban history and will give you an opportunity to learn more about the city you’re exploring!
Next, it’s time to head to Central Havana…
Central Havana may not be as “picturesque” as Old Havana is, but if you want to experience what the modern Cuban culture is like, then Central Havana is the place to do it.
First things first — lunch. Authentic Cuban food and tons of other international cuisine await you in Barrio Chino (Havana’s Chinatown). Most of the restaurants in this area are affordably priced, and you’ll be eating where the locals go. There are also tons of antique and souvenir shops in this area if you’re looking to buy something for a friend back home (or maybe for yourself to remember your awesome trip!). This bustling part of town is also home to the San Jose Market. If you’re in the mood to browse through the works of local artisans, pick out fresh tropical fruit, or just fully immerse yourself in the culture of Havana, then San Jose Market has to be on your bucket list.
You may be over halfway through your day in Havana, but the fun is only just getting started. As afternoon turns into evening, take a stroll along the Malecon. Start on one end of the promenade, and watch it come to life. By the time you reach the other side, you will have witnessed one of the most stunning sunsets you’ll ever see. And as the sun sets on this unique city, many locals make their way down to the promenade to relax, have some drinks, and listen to local musicians, so you’ll have plenty of new friends to keep you company.
Grab some dinner at one of the many restaurants along the Malecon, and get ready for a night full of different activities for every type of person out there. Relax and listen to some live jazz music in the Vedado District, visit art galleries, take in the amazing view at a rooftop bar, or dance the night away in a club. With so many options, it’ll be hard to decide what to do!
Just like almost any other city around the world, there’s never enough time to see all that Havana has to offer. Each district and neighborhood has its own activities, its own personality, and its own story to share.
No matter what you want to get out of your trip, this city will have options for you. Traveling is all about finding your own “style” and following your own path, so keep in mind that this itinerary is merely a suggestion. Any traveler can easily tailor this day-trip itinerary to suit their own needs and create an experience that’s going to be the most memorable and enjoyable for them!
Want to explore Havana for yourself? Book a spot on our Cuba Expedition! Our expedition includes Havana, Trinidad, the Bay of Pigs, and an optional four-day extension to Eastern Cuba.
Post written by Demitria Rounis