GMT -5 hours
Soak up the unique culture and atmosphere of Havana
Vibrant, unique and endlessly fascinating, Cuba’s alluring capital is bursting with character and boasts an eclectic mix of architecture, a dynamic music scene and an intriguing history. Founded by the Spanish in 1514, Havana is the Caribbean’s largest city and its cobbled streets and impressive monuments chronicle its rich history.
You will often hear it said that Cuba is like stepping into a 'time warp'. It has to be said that this is no word of a lie. Havana is just steeped in history; old British colonial, Spanish conquistador and modern socialist. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Havana is a Pandora’s Box of museums, architecture, culture, music and a love of life that you simply wouldn't expect to find in such an environment. Walk along the Malecon soaking up the atmosphere before enjoying a mojito cocktail at the Hotel Nacional and watching the incredible sunset."
Paul Liniker, Kuoni’s Destination Management Senior Coordinator
Built in the 16th Century to defend the city from pirate attacks, fortresses still watch over the port whilst the classic American cars that paraded the streets in the glamorous 50s still cruise the city today. Frozen in time yet peppered with modern touches, the city is home to crumbling buildings that lie alongside beautifully restored colonial homes whilst the skyscrapers and trendy bars of the modern district are worlds apart from the Baroque cathedral and peeling pastel facades of Old Havana.
The World Heritage listed Old Havana, or La Habana Vieja is the colonial heart of the city. Wander the ramshackle streets to discover stunning Neo-classical and Baroque architecture, colourful colonial houses, charming courtyards and a plethora of historic sights. Enjoy a performance by the renowned Cuban National Ballet at the 19th Century Grand Theatre of Havana, soak up the atmosphere at Plaza de Armas - the pretty main square, browse the Artisan’s Market for souvenirs and learn about Cuba’s turbulent history at the Museum of the Revolution.
The vibrant waterfront district of Vedado boasts a number of museums, the legendary Plaza de la Revolución and some of the city’s best nightlife. The Malecón, a four-mile long esplanade and seawall stretching from the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta to the Almendares River is lined with shops, restaurants and colourful buildings. The promenade is a popular meeting point for locals and a great spot for admiring the sunset over the bay.
If you decide to take a break from sightseeing then a 20-minute taxi ride from the city centre will take you to Playas del Este. This series of white sand beaches lapped by crystal-clear turquoise waters is the perfect antidote to the bustling city.
Music is at the heart of Cuban culture and the hypnotic rhythm of salsa, jazz and rumba drifts from the bustling street cafés and smoky clubs. Enjoy a spectacular display of swirling colour, flashing lights and pulsating music at Tropicana Cabaret, Cuba’s famous open-air cabaret show which has been captivating audiences since 1939. Experience a taste of Afro-Cuban culture at Callejón de Hamel in Central Havana. Dance to the hypnotic beat of the drum as rumba musicians play every Sunday in this short, narrow street which is adorned with colourful murals and handicraft stalls.