Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, is known for having gorgeous beaches, delicious cuisine, and the most vibrant people you’ll ever meet. Founded in 1517 by the Spanish, the capital of Cuba, Havana (also known as “La Habana”) is the largest city on the island. Havana is also the most popular tourist destination. Today, Havana has three main parts: La Habana Vieja (Old Havana), Centro Habana, and El Vedado (the upscale neighborhood).
It’s hard not to fall in love with Havana during your trip. From the beautiful colonial architecture in La Habana Vieja to enjoying mojitos at Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hangout, La Floridita, you’ll never want to leave.
Read on as I share my favorite places and things to do in Havana, Cuba. Let’s get to it!
The Best Luxury Hotel in Havana: Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana
Address: Calle San Rafael (Entre Monserrate y Zulueta), La Habana Vieja, 10100, Havana Cuba
My favorite luxury hotel in Havana, Cuba, is the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, located in the heart of Old Havana. Built between 1894 and 1917, the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski was Cuba’s first shopping mall. This luxury is within walking distance of many Old Havana UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Capitolio Nacional and Grand Theatre of Havana.
My favorite thing about the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski is the Bella Habana rooftop outdoor infinity pool located on the sixth floor. While taking a dip or sunbathing, you can enjoy panoramic views of Old Havana. Also, you’ll have to check out the Constante bar on the second floor, which is a tribute to the creator of the Daiquiri. The decor is beautiful and perfect for taking a few Instagram-worthy photos. Don’t forget to stop by the Evocación Tobacco Lounge to try an original Cuba Cigar or sip some of the finest Cuban Rums.
The Best Restaurants & Bars in Havana
Address: Prado 309 Esquina Virtudes, La Habana Vieja, Havana Cuba
La Terraza is one of the best Cuban BBQ restaurants in Havana. The restaurant is behind Hotel Parque Central on the top floor of a commercial building which houses many restaurants. If you can, grab a table outside on the rooftop terrace to enjoy panoramic views of Old Havana while you dine. I recommend ordering any BBQ meat item on the menu. Our favorites were the BBQ pork ribs and grilled octopus. We loved this restaurant so much that we came here almost every day for lunch or dinner.
Address: Calle 19 3 Between N and O, Havana 10400 Cuba
California Cafe is a must-eat if you’re in Havana, Cuba. This cozy cafe serves a blend of California and Cuban-inspired dishes. The best dishes on the menu are the “Tropical Shrimps” served in a pineapple. The “grilled lobster” dish is also another dish you must try.
Address: Obispo 557 Esquina a Monserrate esq. a Monserrate, Havana Vieja, Havana 10100 Cuba
This iconic Havana bar is known for being frequented by Ernest Hemingway, “Papa Hemingway.” Florida is famous for being one the favorite hangout of papa Hemingway in Havana and for the delicious daiquiris it serves. If you visit at the right time in the day, you can catch live performances from local Cuban singers.
Before you leave Floridita, make sure to take a picture with the life-size bronze statue of Papa Hemmingway. The statue is conveniently located in his favorite spot at the end of the bar.
Restaurante Paladar Cafe Laurent
Address: Calle M # 257 19 y 21 Vedado, Havana 10400 Cuba
Restaurante Paladar Cafe Laurent is another restaurant that you cannot miss while you’re in Havana. Located in a penthouse apartment of a classic 1950’s building, you’ll enjoy beautiful views of Havana—more so the El Malecón and the ocean. We also had dinner here several times during our trip because the food was delicious! Our favorite items from the menu were the grilled seafood platter and the mango frozen daiquiris. But you honestly can’t go wrong with ordering anything from the menu!
Best Places to See
Viñales Valley – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Viñales Valley is the perfect day trip when you’re in Cuba. Located in Western Cuba, Viñales Valley is best known for its tobacco plantations and natural beauty since the 19th century. This location is where you’ll find the best cigars in the world. You can also enjoy popular outdoor activities such as hiking, exploring local caves such as the Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave), and horseback riding. Viñales Valley is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
Old Havana (La Habana) Cuba
Old Havana (known as La Habana Vieja) is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the most important colonial center in Latin America. Situated in the historic heart of Havana, you’ll find an impressive mix of historic colonial buildings, churches, and lively plazas such as Plaza Viejo.
Best Thing to Do in Cuba: The Classic Car Ride
No trip to Cuba is complete without riding in a classic American car ride. Your choice of color, of course! Viva La Habana!
What is your Havana travel recommendation from this list? I’d love to know, please let me know in the comments below.