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Best Things To Do in Havana

What may surprise travelers most about Havana is how well-rounded this city is. Art aficionados will enjoy the vast collection of Cuban art on display at the Museum of Fine Arts. History buffs may be left agape over the artifacts housed at Museo de la Revolución while literature bugs will leave giddy over a glimpse at Finca Vigía, Hemingway's former home. But to really get a taste of Havana's charm, stroll the colorful calles (streets) of Old Havana or drink with the locals along El Malecón. Either way, the possibilities for a good time in Havana are endless.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Havana

Free
To tourists, Old Havana may be the city's heart and soul, but to Cubans, it's El Malecón. Technically speaking, El Malecón is a 5-mile-long boulevard that stretches along the water, with Havana Bay on one side and the edges of Old Havana, Vedado and Central Havana on the other, depending on where you are. But metaphorically speaking, El Malecón is both a meeting point and place of refuge for locals looking to catch a breath of fresh air after a long day or night.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
El Malecón
To tourists, Old Havana may be the city's heart and soul, but to Cubans, it's El Malecón. Technically speaking, El Malecón is a 5-mile-long boulevard that stretches along the water, with Havana Bay on one side and the edges of Old Havana, Vedado and Central Havana on the other, depending on where you are. But metaphorically speaking, El Malecón is both a meeting point and place of refuge for locals looking to catch a breath of fresh air after a long day or night.
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#2

#2 in Havana

Free
Skipping Old Havana is tantamount to missing Parliament if you're in London or the Eiffel Tower if you're in Paris. This picturesque neighborhood is not just iconic to Havana and Cuba, but also to the world. In the early 1980s, Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to the impressive preservation of some of the area's centuries-old architecture. Walking through Old Havana, you'll see a plethora of architectural styles, including baroque and neoclassical design elements, decorated in the brightest of colors. The neighborhood is also brimming with equally picturesque cobblestone-lined plazas, automobiles that look like they belong in museums and throngs of equally interesting people, whether they be Cuban street entertainers or awestruck world travelers.
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Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Old Havana (Habana Vieja)
Skipping Old Havana is tantamount to missing Parliament if you're in London or the Eiffel Tower if you're in Paris. This picturesque neighborhood is not just iconic to Havana and Cuba, but also to the world. In the early 1980s, Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to the impressive preservation of some of the area's centuries-old architecture. Walking through Old Havana, you'll see a plethora of architectural styles, including baroque and neoclassical design elements, decorated in the brightest of colors. The neighborhood is also brimming with equally picturesque cobblestone-lined plazas, automobiles that look like they belong in museums and throngs of equally interesting people, whether they be Cuban street entertainers or awestruck world travelers.
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#3

#3 in Havana

Free
Of all the picturesque plazas that dot Old Havana, Plaza Vieja is considered to be the neighborhood's main square. The cobblestone-lined plaza is flanked by brightly colored baroque and art nouveau-style buildings housing restaurants, art galleries, residences and even a camera obscura. Built in 1559, this plaza has had many faces and has played host to a bevy of historical events – both good and bad. Fiestas and festive processions were commonplace back in the day, as were bullfights and public executions. Plaza Vieja used to be a space for military exercises before becoming the site of an open-air market. After that, it was converted into a park, then transformed into an underground parking structure, if you can believe it.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Plaza Vieja
Of all the picturesque plazas that dot Old Havana, Plaza Vieja is considered to be the neighborhood's main square. The cobblestone-lined plaza is flanked by brightly colored baroque and art nouveau-style buildings housing restaurants, art galleries, residences and even a camera obscura. Built in 1559, this plaza has had many faces and has played host to a bevy of historical events – both good and bad. Fiestas and festive processions were commonplace back in the day, as were bullfights and public executions. Plaza Vieja used to be a space for military exercises before becoming the site of an open-air market. After that, it was converted into a park, then transformed into an underground parking structure, if you can believe it.
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#4

#4 in Havana

Free
If you're one of those travelers who believes that if you've seen one plaza you've seen them all, then you clearly haven't been to Plaza de la Catedral. A top-rated attraction among many recent travelers, Plaza de la Catedral is worth the extra time for, unsurprisingly, its stunning 18th-century cathedral, also known Catedral de la Habana. Visitors were taken by the imposing baroque cathedral, which was once described by a Cervantes Prize-winning writer as "music made into stone."
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Cafes Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Plaza de la Catedral
If you're one of those travelers who believes that if you've seen one plaza you've seen them all, then you clearly haven't been to Plaza de la Catedral. A top-rated attraction among many recent travelers, Plaza de la Catedral is worth the extra time for, unsurprisingly, its stunning 18th-century cathedral, also known Catedral de la Habana. Visitors were taken by the imposing baroque cathedral, which was once described by a Cervantes Prize-winning writer as "music made into stone."
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#5

#5 in Havana

This museum houses the largest collection of art in the country and is separated into two buildings; one for Cuban art housed in the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and (two blocks away) another for the rest of the world in the Centro Asturiano. The Cuban portion of the museum highlights a variety of artistic styles and mediums depicting everything from the Spanish occupation to the revolution. Visitors will view work from some of the country's greats, including Guillermo Collazo and Raul Martinez, the Andy Warhol of Cuba. If you're a fan of Picasso's "Guernica," seek out Servando Cabrera Moreno's portrait of the Bay of Pigs.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana)
This museum houses the largest collection of art in the country and is separated into two buildings; one for Cuban art housed in the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and (two blocks away) another for the rest of the world in the Centro Asturiano. The Cuban portion of the museum highlights a variety of artistic styles and mediums depicting everything from the Spanish occupation to the revolution. Visitors will view work from some of the country's greats, including Guillermo Collazo and Raul Martinez, the Andy Warhol of Cuba. If you're a fan of Picasso's "Guernica," seek out Servando Cabrera Moreno's portrait of the Bay of Pigs.
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#6

#6 in Havana

There is no better place for a crash course on the country's history than the Museo de la Revolución. The museum chronicles the life and times before the revolution as well as the leaders and events that led to Fidel Castro’s successful uprising. Artifacts displayed help visitors understand what was going on in the minds of the revolution fighters. Standout relics include blood-stained uniforms of the fallen from the Santiago de Cuba Moncada Barracks attack, maps that were used for navigation during the war and bullet holes from an attempted assassination of Fulgencio Batista, which is located in the building's main stairway. There are also areas dedicated to Che Guevara and Castro, and in front of the building the tank used by Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion is in full view.
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Castles/Palaces Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolución)
There is no better place for a crash course on the country's history than the Museo de la Revolución. The museum chronicles the life and times before the revolution as well as the leaders and events that led to Fidel Castro’s successful uprising. Artifacts displayed help visitors understand what was going on in the minds of the revolution fighters. Standout relics include blood-stained uniforms of the fallen from the Santiago de Cuba Moncada Barracks attack, maps that were used for navigation during the war and bullet holes from an attempted assassination of Fulgencio Batista, which is located in the building's main stairway. There are also areas dedicated to Che Guevara and Castro, and in front of the building the tank used by Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion is in full view.
... more

#7

#7 in Havana

Havana is known for a lot of things – vintage automobiles, lively locals, beautiful buildings – but one individual who has remained just as synonymous with Cuba's capital for so long (aside from Castro) is Ernest Hemingway. The world-renowned writer lived in Havana for a whopping 22 years with his wives (one divorced) and dozens of pets, even while the United States' relationship with Cuba was starting to crumble. Finca Vigía, which translated means the "lookout farm," was the place where Hemingway wrote a great chunk of one of his most famous works, "The Old Man and the Sea." He was also known to host many VIPs, including Hollywood heavyweights, diplomats and other writers at Finca Vigía.
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Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Finca Vigía
Havana is known for a lot of things – vintage automobiles, lively locals, beautiful buildings – but one individual who has remained just as synonymous with Cuba's capital for so long (aside from Castro) is Ernest Hemingway. The world-renowned writer lived in Havana for a whopping 22 years with his wives (one divorced) and dozens of pets, even while the United States' relationship with Cuba was starting to crumble. Finca Vigía, which translated means the "lookout farm," was the place where Hemingway wrote a great chunk of one of his most famous works, "The Old Man and the Sea." He was also known to host many VIPs, including Hollywood heavyweights, diplomats and other writers at Finca Vigía.
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#8

#8 in Havana

Free
After a couple of days touring the capital, you may find yourself in need of a break from the hustle and bustle. If so, seek a side trip to Playas del Este, a set of beaches located about 11 miles east of Havana. This 5-mile stretch of shoreline starts at Bacuranao and ends at Playa Jibacoa, with about six other picturesque beaches with turquoise-colored water in between.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Playas del Este
After a couple of days touring the capital, you may find yourself in need of a break from the hustle and bustle. If so, seek a side trip to Playas del Este, a set of beaches located about 11 miles east of Havana. This 5-mile stretch of shoreline starts at Bacuranao and ends at Playa Jibacoa, with about six other picturesque beaches with turquoise-colored water in between.
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#9

#9 in Havana

Free
Of all the plazas that populate Havana, politicos can't miss this one. Plaza de la Revolución is proof that, despite recent lifted restrictions, Castro's Cuba is still very much alive. The plaza acts as the central location for many of the regime's branches of government, and features artwork and monuments honoring notable Cubans, including central figures involved in the revolution. The Ministry of Interior (or Ministerio del Interior) features a giant mural of Che Guevara, with the phrase, "Hasta la victoria siempre" ("Always toward victory") fashioned underneath. At the adjacent telecommunications building, there is a similarly styled image of Camila Cienfuegos, another famous revolution fighter, with the phrase, "Vas bien, Fidel" ("You're doing fine, Fidel") written underneath. There is also a monument to José Martí, Cuba's most famous writer who dedicated his life to fighting for independence in the pre-Castro era. Nearby is the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, Cuba's largest library, and the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, the country's most important theater.
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Monuments and Memorials Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Plaza de la Revolución
Of all the plazas that populate Havana, politicos can't miss this one. Plaza de la Revolución is proof that, despite recent lifted restrictions, Castro's Cuba is still very much alive. The plaza acts as the central location for many of the regime's branches of government, and features artwork and monuments honoring notable Cubans, including central figures involved in the revolution. The Ministry of Interior (or Ministerio del Interior) features a giant mural of Che Guevara, with the phrase, "Hasta la victoria siempre" ("Always toward victory") fashioned underneath. At the adjacent telecommunications building, there is a similarly styled image of Camila Cienfuegos, another famous revolution fighter, with the phrase, "Vas bien, Fidel" ("You're doing fine, Fidel") written underneath. There is also a monument to José Martí, Cuba's most famous writer who dedicated his life to fighting for independence in the pre-Castro era. Nearby is the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, Cuba's largest library, and the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, the country's most important theater.
... more
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