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Free Things To Do in Havana

If you have extra time, Plaza Vieja is worthwhile.

#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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#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.
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