Place | Mar 08, 2016
Welcome to Havana, the city where everything is possible – even going back in time, thanks to its historical buildings and old American cars.
Our arrival in the airport was special as we had to wait for our luggage almost two hours just because everything was so slow 🙂 After negotiating the price for a taxi to the hotel, we finally got there and had a surprise… Our hotel was under “fumigation” and they sent us to other hotel in the other side of the city without arranging the transport of course and without any explanations. But that was a good thing because we got a better hotel for the same price.
The most important sights are located in Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Plaza Vieja (Old Square) was my favorite square as there are many bars, restaurants and shops. You can drink a Mojito or a Cuba Libre, eat some churritos while admiring the locals and listening to some live music. From there, you can wander the narrow streets which are full of small shops and museums.
Plaza de la Catedral is another important sight with great architecture and the imposing Havana Cathedral. Near this square you can find the famous bar “El Bodeguita del Medio”.
Plaza de San Francisco is a large square with an old church, and very busy with many vendors and a noisy boulevard nearby – a perfect place to find an old car taxi. Across the street is the port, so it’s very easy to find it.
Plaza de Armas is another beautiful old square where you can have a walk along the park and monuments while shopping for some antiques, as there are many stalls with vendors selling secondhand books, paintings or posters.
Near this square is “Castillo de la Real Fuerza” a fortress and museum which displays old ships and treasures of the Caribbean Sea. Other important sights are Gran Teatro de la Habana, Hotel National, El Capitolio, Paseo del Prado, El Morro castle, Fusterlandia, Plaza de la Revolución, Mercado de Artesania (for handcraft shopping) and the beautiful El Malecon, the best place for a walk or drive where the city meets the sea.
In my eyes, the best way to see Havana is at sunset, from an old convertible car. You can find these taxis everywhere and some of them have a guide too. The cost for 1 hour is 40 pesos which is equal to 40 euros.
Bars and restaurants:
While in Havana you cannot miss the famous bars like El Bodeguita del Medio, La Floridita , Cafe el Escorial, and Tropicana. Most of the bars play live Cuban music. Unfortunately the food is bad in many places but I had a good experience with restaurant “La Maison de la Flota” near Plaza Vieja, where I ate some giant seafood and lobster skewers for only 25 pesos with a side dish, dessert and drinks included, and their cocktails were much better than in other famous bars.
To find a good hotel in Havana is very hard because most of them have old furniture, dampness and rust, and they are overpriced. I can only tell you what to avoid 🙂 Hotel Colina and Hotel Kohly.
Hotel Panorama in the Miramar district is so-so but very expensive for what they offer… Best is to go on a cruise and sleep there 🙂
The first impression that I had in this city was that everybody is trying to get some money from you by selling you something or offering you some very overpriced services. For this reason negotiating is very important. Don’t jump in the first taxi. Ask more taxi drivers how much they would charge you and be careful when you get your change.
When buying something, always negotiate. Take care of your belongings even in the hotels. If you want to use the toilets from the bars, make sure you get some pesos with you otherwise you don’t receive toilet paper:)
Havana for sure is something unique in this world and it’s a must-see in this life, so make sure you go there at least for one or two days.