Weekend getaway in Havana

Weekend getaway in Havana

As a venezuelan, it was a mix of emotion for me to go to Havana, having in consideration all the similarities between our governments. But I’m not going to get into a political discussion in here, I will focus instead on the amazing things that this country has to offer and the incredible hospitality of its people.

Cuba is a safe country, as long you don’t get into the communism topic. Try to avoid political conversations and if you found yourself involved in one, play along. A political discussion could transform your getaway into an unpleasant vacation.

Flight & Visa

We traveled with Delta (MIA-HAB) and American (HAB-MIA), and the roundtrip wasn’t more than $200.The trip itself is not more than an hour from Miami.

First point for Cuba, it’s affordable.

You have to consider the visa also, each airline has a different fee (being Frontier the most expensive one at $100/person). We paid $50 each with Delta, online.

Selfie in Havana

Accommodations

You can find a lot of accommodations to fit your budget ranging from $20/day up $200/day, depending on the level of luxury you are looking for. The food isn’t expensive either, and the quality and taste is incredible. Our weekend didn’t surpass the $400/person with airfare included.

Of course, you could spend more if you want, but it’s a matter of choice and we were pretty comfortable with our selections.

We booked our room through Airbnb in Chinatown, right in the heart of the Old Havana. If you have money to spend, I recommend to stay at “Hotel Nacional”.

Although the hotel isn’t as centric as we were, it offers stunning views of the ocean and the accommodations views from the room are breathtaking. Hotel Inglaterra & Parque Central are also good options and there are right in the center.

Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, Cuba

Currency Exchange

Regarding currency exchange, you could do it in the airport, they have a couple kiosks open to the public, but as per my political believes, I decided to do it with our taxi driver instead and avoid giving my money to the government (is also cheaper this way)

The currency rate is $100=90 CUC 

Transportation

There are a hundred taxis parked outside waiting for the tourists, in case you need transportation; uber is not an option.

You are not going to have service down there (unless you pay for roaming) and you can hardly find WIFI (indeed, the promotion of one of the bars we went to was two hours of complimentary wi-fi included with a bottle, lol).

Moving inside the Havana itself isn’t too complicated, you will find taxis on every corner.

The Weather

The weather is warm all year round so you won’t need much luggage. Our suitcase was filled with stuff we brought for charity (They had a tornado a couple weeks prior to our arrival) like basic cosmetics and clothing. We met some random people on the street who helped us to distribute it.

And the adventure begins

We started our adventure on Friday night, we arrived to the Havana airport and took a taxi to our accommodation around 10 pm. As hungry as we were, left our stuff and went out for a drink and some food.

El Malecon in Havana, Cuba at sunset

We had an amazing “Ropa Vieja” (Shredded beef) near our room at “La Juliana”, a spot in a corner of Chinatown (Chinese neighborhood in Havana, although it only has a couple chinese restaurants and you would rarely see a chinese person lol“), with affordable prices and tasty food, a place filled with locals.

Then we wandered aroung the Old Havana (we saw the Capitol, Paseo del Prado, Teatro Campo Amor, Parque Central, etc.) and ended up in the Boulevard San Rafael, a street full of small stores that took us to Galiano (one of the most crowded streets for nightlife) and ended up in Cafe Tilin.

Panoramic of the Havana from the top at sunset on a sunny day with the capitol at the end

There was a cuban band playing live salsa that was nothing but amazing. We had a couple mojitos (really good ones btw) and danced salsa for around 3 hrs (or we tried) and went looking for another place.

Ended up at the malecon, and unable to find the place we were looking for, we asked for directions and met a local who was looking for someone to go to party with, so he took us to one of the most popular clubs in Havana, “Habaneciendo”. It was so crowded we had to wait outside for 30 minutes.

Lazaro (our new friend’s name) hook us up at the door and offer to buy our drinks, as he knew the people and were going to give him a discount. A lot of Salsa, Reggaeton and Merengue, mixed with amazing drinks was the recipe for an awesome night.

We stayed there until 5:00 am, when they were closing and pretty much pushing out, and started our adventure of walking back home, drunk, at night, in a place we didn’t know at all and without phone service. I still don’t know how we made it through.

Set up our alarms for “early in the morning” (cause we only have 48 hours in Havana) and called it a night. Surprisingly, the hangover in the morning wasn’t as bad as I expected.

Parque central from the cafe of Hotel Inglaterra in Havana

We had some Café con Leche and Cuban Sandwiches at the cafe on the ground floor of Hotel Inglaterra, (affordable and tasteful like everywhere in Havana) overlooking the city, the movement of the center and all the old school cars passing by.

Then we were headed to Castillo de la Punta, an impressive fortress constructed in 1590 that is nowadays open as a museum, one of the destinations on our Bucket List. (Where a cuban lady asked me for a $1 bill for good luck btw).

Panoramic from Castillo de la Punta in Havana, Cuba
Selene drinking a coconut on the streets of Havana, Cuba
Selene at La Catedral, Havana, Cuba

Walked to la bodeguita de en medio after, one of the most touristic places there is in Havana, but it was so crowded but couldn’t get in.

Went to la plaza de la Catedral after, one of the five main squares in Old Havana and the site of the Cathedral of Havana from which it takes its name. Full of street vendors with souvenirs and coconuts. We couldn’t resist to buy the last mentioned.

Walked the Malecon, enjoying the views of the coastline of the island, and were stopped by some local who ask us to take a picture of them. We ended up chatting with them for like an hour, as they were telling us the story about how their family was having a hard time as they live in the area where the tornado hit a couple weeks before.

We decided then to give them the donations we brought, as they were going to distribute them among the people who needed it.

La Plaza la Revolution, the cemetery, el Teatro nacional and the hotel Nacional were next.

All these spots I just mentioned about are not close to the center at all, although they were on our bucket list and we weren’t going to leave without seeing them.  Ee had to walk for for an hour to get there. I will talk in detail about each of them below.

Panoramic of Plaza de la Catedral in Havana
View of the waves and the coastline of the Havana from the malecon

Tired and hungry after a 7 hour walk, went looking for some food and ended up (by accident, again) in a restaurant called “Castropol”, one of the best restaurants I have tried in my life.

The food is delightful, delicious and fresh and a great deal for how much you get. I will totally recommend this place and would visit again whenever I go back to Havana.

The last spot on our bucket list was El Floridita, claimed “the best Daiquiri in the world”, we couldn’t miss it.

Not as good as we expected (and clearly overpriced) we only had a couple more hours of fun in Havana and decided to go to Habaneciendo once again, even more crowded that the night before, and surprised by a live perform of a popular local band called “Charanga latina” who made everybody dance the whole night.

We did not stay until 5 am this night, but went home early instead to get some hours of sleep before we had to wake up to catch up our flight.

This was the end of this adventure, but many others yet to come.

I recommended Havana 100%


View of the Havana from the top at sunset on a sunny day

The city-center and one of the 15 municipalities forming Havana, hosting the most of its architectural spots.


Castillo de la Punta, Havana, Cuba

An impressive fortress constructed in 1590. it reopened as a museum in 2002.
After the Havana was destroyed by a pirate in 1555, the Spanish brought soldiers and started building fortresses and walls to protect the city. Castillo de la Real Fuerza was the first fortress built; initiated in 1558.


Parque Central with the cuban flag in Havana

Parque Central

Is one of the most known and central sites of the city of Havana, Cuba. It is located between Prado, Neptuno, Zulueta and San José streets, and San Rafael Boulevard ends in front of it


Cafe Tilin in Havana, Cuba

A good place for live music and drinks, with live bands all the time. Located on Galiano Street


El malecon in Havana, Cuba

The Havana has an unique beauty, as the most of its architecture is dated to the 50’s, and only a few things have been renovated (or maintained). The Malecon itself is the avenue that runs along the seawall at the northern shore of Havana, offering views of the coastline of the island. It is also a hotspot at night, with hundred of locals hanging around.


Daiquiris at el Floridita in Havana, Cuba

The “best” Daiquiri.  One of the most touristic spots in Havana, claimed “the best Daiquiri in the world” for Hemingway, is a must see. Although I doubt I would consider them the best I have tried, I recommend to go and check out for yourself-


Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, Cuba

The 31st largest city square in the world, is notable as being where many political rallies take place. The square is dominated by the José Martí Memorial, and features a tower and statue. The National Library, many government ministries, and other buildings are located in and around the Plaza.


Jose at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a historic Spanish eclectic style hotel in HavanaCuba, which opened in December 1930. Located on the sea front of the Vedado district, it stands on Taganana Hill, offering a commanding views of the MalecónHavana Harbor, and the city. Fidel Castro nationalized the hotel on March 20, 1960


Weekend getaway in Havana

Weekend getaway in Havana

As a venezuelan, it was a mix of emotion for me to go to Havana, having in consideration all the similarities between our governments. But I’m not going to get into a political discussion in here, I will focus instead on the amazing things that this country has to offer and the incredible hospitality of its people.

Cuba is a safe country, as long you don’t get into the communism topic. Try to avoid political conversations and if you found yourself involved in one, play along. A political discussion could transform your getaway into an unpleasant vacation.

Flight & Visa

We traveled with Delta (MIA-HAB) and American (HAB-MIA), and the roundtrip wasn’t more than $200.The trip itself is not more than an hour from Miami.

First point for Cuba, it’s affordable.

You have to consider the visa also, each airline has a different fee (being Frontier the most expensive one at $100/person). We paid $50 each with Delta, online.

Selfie in Havana

Accommodations

You can find a lot of accommodations to fit your budget ranging from $20/day up $200/day, depending on the level of luxury you are looking for. The food isn’t expensive either, and the quality and taste is incredible. Our weekend didn’t surpass the $400/person with airfare included.

Of course, you could spend more if you want, but it’s a matter of choice and we were pretty comfortable with our selections.

We booked our room through Airbnb in Chinatown, right in the heart of the Old Havana. If you have money to spend, I recommend to stay at “Hotel Nacional”.

Although the hotel isn’t as centric as we were, it offers stunning views of the ocean and the accommodations views from the room are breathtaking. Hotel Inglaterra & Parque Central are also good options and there are right in the center.

Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, Cuba

Currency Exchange

Regarding currency exchange, you could do it in the airport, they have a couple kiosks open to the public, but as per my political believes, I decided to do it with our taxi driver instead and avoid giving my money to the government (is also cheaper this way)

The currency rate is $100=90 CUC 

Transportation

There are a hundred taxis parked outside waiting for the tourists, in case you need transportation; uber is not an option.

You are not going to have service down there (unless you pay for roaming) and you can hardly find WIFI (indeed, the promotion of one of the bars we went to was two hours of complimentary wi-fi included with a bottle, lol).

Moving inside the Havana itself isn’t too complicated, you will find taxis on every corner.

The Weather

The weather is warm all year round so you won’t need much luggage. Our suitcase was filled with stuff we brought for charity (They had a tornado a couple weeks prior to our arrival) like basic cosmetics and clothing. We met some random people on the street who helped us to distribute it.

And the adventure begins

We started our adventure on Friday night, we arrived to the Havana airport and took a taxi to our accommodation around 10 pm. As hungry as we were, left our stuff and went out for a drink and some food.

El Malecon in Havana, Cuba at sunset

We had an amazing “Ropa Vieja” (Shredded beef) near our room at “La Juliana”, a spot in a corner of Chinatown (Chinese neighborhood in Havana, although it only has a couple chinese restaurants and you would rarely see a chinese person lol“), with affordable prices and tasty food, a place filled with locals.

Then we wandered aroung the Old Havana (we saw the Capitol, Paseo del Prado, Teatro Campo Amor, Parque Central, etc.) and ended up in the Boulevard San Rafael, a street full of small stores that took us to Galiano (one of the most crowded streets for nightlife) and ended up in Cafe Tilin.

Panoramic of the Havana from the top at sunset on a sunny day with the capitol at the end

There was a cuban band playing live salsa that was nothing but amazing. We had a couple mojitos (really good ones btw) and danced salsa for around 3 hrs (or we tried) and went looking for another place.

Ended up at the malecon, and unable to find the place we were looking for, we asked for directions and met a local who was looking for someone to go to party with, so he took us to one of the most popular clubs in Havana, “Habaneciendo”. It was so crowded we had to wait outside for 30 minutes.

Lazaro (our new friend’s name) hook us up at the door and offer to buy our drinks, as he knew the people and were going to give him a discount. A lot of Salsa, Reggaeton and Merengue, mixed with amazing drinks was the recipe for an awesome night.

We stayed there until 5:00 am, when they were closing and pretty much pushing out, and started our adventure of walking back home, drunk, at night, in a place we didn’t know at all and without phone service. I still don’t know how we made it through.

Set up our alarms for “early in the morning” (cause we only have 48 hours in Havana) and called it a night. Surprisingly, the hangover in the morning wasn’t as bad as I expected.

Parque central from the cafe of Hotel Inglaterra in Havana

We had some Café con Leche and Cuban Sandwiches at the cafe on the ground floor of Hotel Inglaterra, (affordable and tasteful like everywhere in Havana) overlooking the city, the movement of the center and all the old school cars passing by.

Then we were headed to Castillo de la Punta, an impressive fortress constructed in 1590 that is nowadays open as a museum, one of the destinations on our Bucket List. (Where a cuban lady asked me for a $1 bill for good luck btw).

Panoramic from Castillo de la Punta in Havana, Cuba
Selene drinking a coconut on the streets of Havana, Cuba
Selene at La Catedral, Havana, Cuba

Walked to la bodeguita de en medio after, one of the most touristic places there is in Havana, but it was so crowded but couldn’t get in.

Went to la plaza de la Catedral after, one of the five main squares in Old Havana and the site of the Cathedral of Havana from which it takes its name. Full of street vendors with souvenirs and coconuts. We couldn’t resist to buy the last mentioned.

Walked the Malecon, enjoying the views of the coastline of the island, and were stopped by some local who ask us to take a picture of them. We ended up chatting with them for like an hour, as they were telling us the story about how their family was having a hard time as they live in the area where the tornado hit a couple weeks before.

We decided then to give them the donations we brought, as they were going to distribute them among the people who needed it.

La Plaza la Revolution, the cemetery, el Teatro nacional and the hotel Nacional were next.

All these spots I just mentioned about are not close to the center at all, although they were on our bucket list and we weren’t going to leave without seeing them.  Ee had to walk for for an hour to get there. I will talk in detail about each of them below.

Panoramic of Plaza de la Catedral in Havana
View of the waves and the coastline of the Havana from the malecon

Tired and hungry after a 7 hour walk, went looking for some food and ended up (by accident, again) in a restaurant called “Castropol”, one of the best restaurants I have tried in my life. The food is delightful, delicious and fresh and a great deal for how much you get. I will totally recommend this place and would visit again whenever I go back to Havana.

The last spot on our bucket list was El Floridita, claimed “the best Daiquiri in the world”, we couldn’t miss it. Not as good as we expected (and clearly overpriced) we only had a couple more hours of fun in Havana and decided to go to Habaneciendo once again, even more crowded that the night before, and surprised by a live perform of a popular local band called “Charanga latina” who made everybody dance the whole night.

We did not stay until 5 am this night, but went home early instead to get some hours of sleep before we had to wake up to catch up our flight.

This was the end of this adventure, but many others yet to come.

I recommended Havana 100%


View of the Havana from the top at sunset on a sunny day

The city-center and one of the 15 municipalities forming Havana, hosting the most of its architectural spots.


Castillo de la Punta, Havana, Cuba

An impressive fortress constructed in 1590. it reopened as a museum in 2002.
After the Havana was destroyed by a pirate in 1555, the Spanish brought soldiers and started building fortresses and walls to protect the city. Castillo de la Real Fuerza was the first fortress built; initiated in 1558.


Parque Central with the cuban flag in Havana

Parque Central

Is one of the most known and central sites of the city of Havana, Cuba. It is located between Prado, Neptuno, Zulueta and San José streets, and San Rafael Boulevard ends in front of it


Cafe Tilin in Havana, Cuba

A good place for live music and drinks, with live bands all the time. Located on Galiano Street


El malecon in Havana, Cuba

The Havana has an unique beauty, as the most of its architecture is dated to the 50’s, and only a few things have been renovated (or maintained). The Malecon itself is the avenue that runs along the seawall at the northern shore of Havana, offering views of the coastline of the island. It is also a hotspot at night, with hundred of locals hanging around.


Daiquiris at el Floridita in Havana, Cuba

The “best” Daiquiri.  One of the most touristic spots in Havana, claimed “the best Daiquiri in the world” for Hemingway, is a must see. Although I doubt I would consider them the best I have tried, I recommend to go and check out for yourself-


Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, Cuba

The 31st largest city square in the world, is notable as being where many political rallies take place. The square is dominated by the José Martí Memorial, and features a tower and statue. The National Library, many government ministries, and other buildings are located in and around the Plaza.


Jose at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a historic Spanish eclectic style hotel in HavanaCuba, which opened in December 1930. Located on the sea front of the Vedado district, it stands on Taganana Hill, offering a commanding views of the MalecónHavana Harbor, and the city. Fidel Castro nationalized the hotel on March 20, 1960