Finca Vigía picture
Bruce Tuten/Flickr

Key Info

Details

Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.2scorecard
  • 4.5Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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.

When Hemingway passed, his home was donated to the government by his wife, and things have remained largely untouched since. Upon visiting, travelers are able to catch a glimpse of the writer's former quarters, which includes his artwork, hunting souvenirs and his famous typewriter. Visitors can also peep his vast book collection spread throughout, which is said to include 9,000 titles. In the garden, visitors will run into Hemingway's dog cemetery and his beloved fishing boat, Pilar. Guests can also enter and climb his backyard tower, which affords great views of the surrounding neighborhood.

It's important to know that travelers aren't actually allowed to go inside his house (for preservation purposes) but can view the interiors from open windows and doors. Although some recent visitors were disappointed with this rule, many reported that it's easy to see the interiors of the house from the provided vantage points. Guests of Hemingway's home were impressed with how well-maintained the property was in comparison to the rest of Havana. With how intact everything still is, some reported feeling as if Hemingway never left.

Finca Vigía is located about 8 miles southeast of Old Havana in the small town of San Francisco de Paula. Admission prices range from 3 to 5 convertible pesos per person ($3 to $5). The best way to get to Hemingway's house is by taxi.

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El Malecón
Old Havana (Habana Vieja)
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 8
#1 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.

During the day, you're likely to see some residents along with a tourist or two, but at night, especially come sundown, is when you'll see flocks of Cubans holding loved ones close as they watch the sunset, crowds of young people laughing and drinking, fishermen waiting for a catch or even a small dance party. And sometimes, you may not see anybody at all. On particularly stormy days, waves crash up against El Malecón and much of the sea spills onto the roads, making for a great photo op.

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