The 28 Best Havana Sights – Description and Photos

Havana

Havana, Cuba’s exotic and diverse capital, is nestled on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico near the picturesque bays of Havana and San Lizaro. It is a city where time seems to stand still; a megalopolis of two million inhabitants, full of noise and motion. The culture of the modern island capital is a mix of African, Spanish, Asian and Latin American traditions. Havana generously pours rum and captivates visitors with its unique architectural ensembles, where the fading elegance of once magnificent buildings meets the carefully restored veneer of colonial-era buildings.

Save on your trip to Havana!

Video: Havana Moments

Highlights

Havana was founded by Spanish conquerors in 1519. A tragic fate befell the local Indian tribes: soon after Europeans arrived in these areas, the natives died out from disease, starvation, and hard work. From the early years of maritime history up to the 50s of XX century, when gangsters controlled prostitution and gambling, and the name of the city was synonymous with decadence, Havana had a reputation as a shady, threadbare place. A nostalgic aura of languor and a touch of vice is still felt in the city’s atmosphere today.

Today’s Havana is one of a kind, an amazing example of dilapidation and rebirth. The elegant buildings and magnificent Malecon promenade separating the city from the sea have been severely damaged by ocean waves and salt spray. Miraculously, still standing three- and four-story buildings with peeling and cracked walls border the narrow streets where children play stickball and adults watch from balconies and doorways. In Old Havana, lovingly restored colonial-era palaces and dignified Baroque churches and monasteries adorn the bustling plazas. The grandeur of Havana, the most beautiful city in the Western Hemisphere, has not been obliterated by decades of crisis and neglect. No less resilient than Castro himself, the city, even in its dilapidated state, continues to live, breathe, genuinely enjoy life and exude sensuality.

Havana’s architecture, though somewhat faded in splendor, is interesting with unique buildings from the colonial period, from the defensive walls and El Morro fortress to grand French or Spanish neoclassical mansions and neo-baroque buildings like the German-style Grand Theater, the Art Nouveau National Capitol or the Art Deco Edificio Bacardi.

Sunset on Havana’s waterfront Rooftops

Havana has long been linked by trade with European countries, as evidenced by the many unique museum exhibits. Havana is perhaps the last place in the world to see a marble bust of Marie Antoinette. It is stored in the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as porcelain from the factories of Meissen, Sevres, Arita and Worcester, English landscape paintings and furniture, Chinese screens and more than 33 thousand paintings by European artists. Among the 50 museums of Havana – art museums, the Museum of the fight against illiteracy, the Historical Museum. Do not miss the Museum of the Revolution in the former presidential palace and the Hemingway House Museum.

Old Havana and its fortifications were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Due to the political isolation of the country, there are no fast food restaurants or typical cafes in the historical areas, and it must be said that this has not made things worse.

Good to know

Cuba has two different currencies in circulation: Cuban peso (CUP) and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The CUP is much more expensive than local currency and is used mainly by tourists. They are called in a very similar way. If the $ sign has one line – this is the national currency, if two – convertible. In the near future the Council of Ministers of Cuba plans to standardize currency circulation in the country, moving from a two-currency system to a single Cuban currency.

Havana – is not only wonderful buildings and museums: the city and its inhabitants are characterized by hospitality and friendliness, which can be expected in the country, where the national drink is rum, daiquiri and mojito, and the national dance – samba. The people of Havana are materially poor, but nearly 500 years of the city’s existence make Havana a place rich in history, music, culture and culinary traditions. Spanish remains the official language and Catholicism is the main religion of Havana’s inhabitants.

READ
India's Top 10 Traditional Drinks

Natural Conditions

Havana’s climate is mainly influenced by the Caribbean Sea. The year here is divided into dry (from November to April) and wet (from May to October) seasons, the temperature ranges on average from +20 ° C in winter to +30 ° C in summer. Many exotic tropical plants – palm trees, various citrus fruits, sandalwood trees – feel quite at home in such weather conditions.

Havana sights

For five centuries, the architecture of the Cuban capital has constantly been subjected to significant changes. Today the cityscape is a curious ensemble of narrow streets, built during the Spanish rule, with modern glass high-rises.

Holidays in Havana, be sure to devote time to a leisurely stroll through the old town (Habana Vieja). Be sure to visit the Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña. From here you can not only admire the beautiful panoramic view of the city, but also witness some astonishing historical action. Every day at 8 p. m. the Cañonazo ceremony is held outdoors, where actors dressed in 18th century military uniforms reenact the cannon fire that used to accompany the traditional closing of the city gates.

Antique cannons in the Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña The old walls of the Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña The view from the fortress walls over downtown Havana

But the Old City is not the only place worth seeing. There are tons of places to visit in Havana.

  • The Cemetery of Christopher Columbus. Located in the Vedado neighborhood, it is famous for its sculpted tombstones, mausoleums, and chapels. Almost every monument here is a unique masterpiece.
  • The Havana Miniature, which can be found in the Miramar district. It was originally created by architects as a reconstruction project of the capital, and now is a popular sightseeing attraction. At a scale of 1:1,000 you can see the entire city in great detail.
  • The only camera obscura in Latin America. It is located on the roof of the Gomez Villa building of the old Plaza Vieja. With a 360 degree rotating telescopic lens in the tower of this structure you can see the whole of Havana. Admission will cost 2 CUC.
  • National Botanical Garden. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis in the shady alleys where a huge collection of plants of Cuban and foreign flora are carefully preserved and cultivated. The garden is located very close to the José Martí airport, about 40 minutes drive from the Old Town.
  • Fusterlandia. A fabulous, colorful and somewhat strange in a good way neighborhood in Havana, a neighborhood on the northwestern outskirts. For years, artist Jose Fuster has transformed local homes into whimsical, colorful chimeras.
  • You can experience the atmosphere of street Havana by walking along the Callejón de Hummel sidewalk. The local urban ensemble is a work of art that reminds residents of their African roots. Every Sunday, the neighborhood’s already vibrant alleyways are transformed even more – at noon, locals gather right outside their homes to dance the rumba.

Havana is definitely worth coming to for a beach vacation. The local coast is world famous for cleanliness, comfort and colorful sea views. Bathing areas are not in the city, but a little further east – in Playas del Este or Jibacoa. You can get here by bus from Havana’s Central Park.

Havana’s National Botanical Garden

Where is this street.

Addresses in Cuba usually consist of a street name followed by a house number, and often contain useful clues: “e/” (entre) means “between streets” and “esq.” (esquina) means “corner.”

Havana Museums

When exploring the city, be sure to check out one of Havana’s many museums.

  • Museum of the City (Museo de la Ciudad). Located in Havana’s oldest square, Plaza de Armas, in the Palacio de los Capitanes General. It contains a variety of artifacts that tell the complicated history of these places in detail.
  • Napoleon Museum. Contains about 7,000 objects related to the emperor’s life. The collection is located in Villa Fiorentina, a huge beautiful Renaissance mansion built in the 1920s.
  • National Art Museum. Consists of two buildings located in different parts of Havana. The Museum of International Art building contains exhibits from 500 B.C. to the present day. The Cuban Hall is a selection of traditional and contemporary works by artists of the island.
  • Museum of Rum. Cuba is known for the production of the best varieties of this strong drink. During the tour you can learn in detail how it is made, tasting some samples if you wish.
  • Slightly less known, but still very interesting for tourists Museum of the Revolution, which occupies the area of the former presidential palace of the dictator Fulgencio Batista, and the House of Jose Marti – Cuban national hero of the late 19th century, a fighter for independence.
  • Quite popular is the Finca Vigía house-museum, where the great Ernest Hemingway spent twenty years of his life. World literature iconic works of literature were created here: the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls and the novel The Old Man and the Sea. Not a single detail of the interior has not been changed after Hemingway returned to the United States.
READ
Attractions in Israel

When choosing a tour it is worth remembering that most museums are closed on Mondays, and you have to pay extra for your camera when you buy your ticket.

Video: Walking in Havana

Cuisine

The variety of Cuban cuisine is a shock even to the seasoned traveler. You’ll probably want to try everything you can get your hands on from street vendors and food stands. However, there are rules you must follow to protect your health and your wallet on Liberty Island.

  • When choosing where to eat, choose public or hotel restaurants. A large, hearty meal will cost about 25 CUC. It is risky to buy food on the street – its quality is not controlled.
  • Some local guides invite guests to visit establishments with supposedly the best food in the area. It is best not to accept such offers, as more often than not you are lured into a place with a markup, where the guide gets a percentage of the customers’ order.
  • Buying products on the market is problematic for tourists, because in addition to money you have to give the seller a special coupon, which visitors do not have. When choosing a tour to Havana, it is better to give preference to the offers “all inclusive”.
  • Also be careful with drinking water – do not drink from the tap under any circumstances, the only safe alternative is buying bottled water.

Cuban cuisine is varied and interesting. In the list of dishes there are those that you just can’t help but try!

  • Medianoche, which literally means “midnight”. It’s a sweet egg bread sandwich filled with ham, pork, cheese, and pickles.
  • Congrí is white rice and black beans cooked with garlic, oil, and other spices.
  • Paella (Paella) is a Cuban version of a traditional Spanish dish that includes ham, chicken, mussels, sausage, shrimp, scallops, and lobster.
  • Eggs habanera (Huevo habaneros) – eggs cooked in hot oil with tomatoes, garlic, peppers, and onions.
  • Churros – A dessert made of dough that is fried until it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and sprinkled with sugar.

Souvenirs

Besides the tasty and original cuisine, Cuba is famous for its cigars, excellent coffee and also alcoholic drinks, among which the main role play rum (about 7-10 CUC per liter) and liqueurs (about 3 CUC). All of these can be taken home as a souvenir. Popular pirate spirits are Santiago, Havana Club, Anejo, Carta Blanca and Carta Oro.

Real Cuban cigars are marked with the name Habanos, also highly appreciated are Cohiba, Oio Monterrey and Bolivar.

Another very original alcoholic drink of Cuba is Guayabita del Pinar. This tincture of various herbs has a sweet and tart flavor.

Excellent gifts for women will be the jewelry made of black coral, which can be found at the Souvenir Market of Havana. The stalls are located on the waterfront in the former San Jose Port Warehouse building, near St. Francis Square.

Cuban Cigars Alcoholic Beverage Guayabita del Pinar

READ
The 20 best sights of Varadero - description and photos

Transportation

The fastest and most convenient way to get around Havana is by cab. In Cuba, there are both public and illegal carriers. It’s best to negotiate the price before you get in the car.

Prefer to explore the area at your own pace? Then you can rent a car, scooter or bike. A car is the most expensive. A two-wheeler costs about 12 CUC a day.

Looking for originality? Guests are offered a ride through Havana in an unusual bicycle cab, horse-drawn carriage, vintage car or cocotaxi, a motorcycle cab in the distinctive yellow color.

There are also regular buses that are used by locals on the streets. They are inexpensive, but if you decide to take public transportation, be sure to watch your belongings – pickpockets are not uncommon here.

Bicycle Taxi Kokotaksi Taxi Car

Where to stay

For an authentic Cuban cultural experience, check out the casas particulares. Hosts rent out one or more rooms in their dwelling for about 20-40 CUC per night. Breakfast here will cost about 5 CUC and lunch about 10 CUC. During the peak tourist season (Catholic Christmas or New Year) it can be difficult to book accommodations, so it’s better to take care of it in advance. A day or at least a few hours before arrival, you should contact the host and check if they have rooms available. Sometimes it happens that tourists book a room for the night, and then decide to stay some more. It is usually not a problem, but if all rooms are booked, the guest is always offered an alternative.

Staying in illegal houses, where the price is lower than in official ones, is quite risky. You can be kicked out the door even in the middle of the night if the inspectors suddenly show up.

Hotels in Havana are quite expensive, with stays costing at least 40 CUC per night. Visitors can choose either a hotel room in Havana’s historic center or a place near the beaches, in Playas del Este or Jibacoa. Book your preferred accommodation through our website.

How to get there

Havana has José Martí international airport. It is located about half an hour by cab from the city center. The air terminal has five terminals, the third of which receives international flights from all over the world. Numbers 2 and 5 are mainly used for charters. Terminal 1 is for domestic flights. Returning back, it is worth remembering that travelers are required to pay a tax of 25 CUC before leaving the country.

There are several train stations in the Cuban capital, among which only the Estación Central de Ferrocarriles is trusted. From here once a day there are trains to Holguín (36 CUC), Matanzas (5 CUC) and Pinar del Rio (8 CUC). You can buy your ticket in advance on weekdays from 9:00 to 15:00 at La Coubre (corner of Av del Puerto and Desamparados, Habana Vieja).

José Martí Airport

From Casablanca station you can also get to Guanabo (1 CUC), Cienfuegos (1.50 CUC), Jibacoa (2 CUC) and Canasi (2 CUC).

Trains in Cuba are not always on schedule and are often cancelled or delayed, so you should check the current schedule before departure.

The bus is one of the most comfortable ways to get around the country. The two most popular carriers, Víazul and Astro, depart from different terminals. The services of the first of these, which is beloved by tourists for the comfort of its cars, will cost more, but the quality of the services will compensate the cost. Buses run from the terminal at Nuevo Vedado. From here you can go to Cienfuegos (20 CUC), Pinar del Rio (16-18 CUC) and Varadero (10-12 CUC). Astro cars leave from Terminal de Ómnibus in the Vedado area.

Havana sights

Kazan Cathedral Capitol Cathedral Old Havana Steam Locomotive Museum Revolutionary Museum Havana Grand Theatre Malecón Embankment

The site contains Havana attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular guidebooks and presented by type, name and rating. Here you will find answers to the questions: what to see in Havana, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Havana.

READ
The 28 Best Sights of Vilnius - Description and Photos

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral (photo)

The history of the Orthodox Church – Kazan Cathedral in Havana, Cuba goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the first emigrants from Russia began arriving on the island. People needed a temple, they wanted to celebrate their Orthodox holidays, and there was no place for worship. In the fifties of XX century began to collect money to build a temple in honor of the Equal Apostles Helen and Constantine, but later all efforts have been suspended. It went on like that for several times until the construction of the temple began with the support of Fidel Castro at the beginning of the 21st century.

November 14, 2004 was the birth of the Kazan Cathedral, and in 2008 the temple became permanently open. The Patriarch of All Russia, then Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad blessed the laying of the stone, and the decorations for the temple were brought from Moscow.

The temple was designed by Moscow architect Alexei Rostislavovich Vorontsov. The temple was built in the traditions of ancient Russian architecture that existed in ancient Kiev and Novgorod the Great. The temple is snow-white, rather austere and has 5 chapters.

Coordinates: 23.13494400,-82.34718600

Capitol

The Capitol (photo)

The Capitol Building in the capital of Cuba is one of the most majestic. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Not only the building itself strikes with its magnificence, but also its beautiful interiors, which are definitely worth seeing. The landscape surrounding the Capitol is also incredibly beautiful.

The Renaissance style building, like the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., resembles St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. Until 1958 the Capitol was the tallest building in Havana with a dome reaching 92 meters. Now the tallest structure in Havana is the José Martí Memorial. Inside the main hall of the Capitol, a huge statue of the Republic rises beneath the dome. In the center of the main hall there is a diamond embedded in the floor which marks the Kilometer Zero for Cuba.

Coordinates: 23.13554500,-82.35948100

Which Havana attractions did you like? There are icons next to the photo, by clicking on which you can rate this or that place.

Cathedral

Cathedral (photo)

The Cathedral is located on the Palacio de la Ciénaga in Old Havana. Its second name is the Cathedral of St. Christopher. From 1796 to 1898 the ashes of the famous explorer Christopher Columbus were deposited here.

Built in the Baroque colonial style of hewn stone. It is square in shape and measures 34 metres by 35 metres. The tower on the left is narrower than the one on the right so that the water would not stagnate in the square and could easily flow down the street.

The walls are decorated with copies of famous paintings by Murillo and Rubens, works by Baptiste Veremey and sculptural compositions by Biancini.

Coordinates: 23.14162200,-82.38647400

In photo mode you can view the sights in Havana by photo only.

Old Havana

Old Havana (photo)

Old Havana is the historic center of Havana, the capital of Cuba. This area, along with its attractions, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been carefully restored and is a unique place with a huge number of architectural and cultural monuments. This area has been shaped since the 16th century.

In Old Havana you can see buildings built in the XVI-XIX centuries in the neoclassical and baroque style, the residential blocks bear a touch of Moorish style with fountains and small courtyards with palm trees growing in them. Among the famous sites in Old Havana are the eighteenth century fortress complex La Cabaña, the Museum of the Revolution and the Church of Our Lady of Kazan.

Coordinates: 23.13646300,-82.37465300

Museum of steam locomotives

Museum of Steam Locomotives (photo)

A little north of the Railway Station, behind the Parque de la Fraternidad, is a small open-air museum whose exhibition presents the history of railroading in Cuba. The exhibits of the museum are two dozen different horse-drawn wagons, steam locomotives, and diesel locomotives. Many of the exhibits are already rusty and have lost their original appearance, but there are absolutely unique and interesting examples, such as the first steam carriage. There was enough space in this carriage for only two passengers.

READ
The 20 best sights of Rethymnon - descriptions and photos

Most of the steam locomotives in the museum were made by the American company Baldwin, which ceased to exist in 1956 due to its inability to convert its production to producing diesel locomotives. Steam locomotives of this brand were also in Russia: in 1895 the company delivered two prototypes, and in 1945 already 30 of them.

Coordinates: 23.13386100,-82.36048100

Museum of the Revolution

Museum of the Revolution (photo)

If you are interested in the historical events related to the Cuban Revolution, this is a must visit place. The Museum of the Revolution is located in the old part of Havana in the former Presidential Palace, the residence of all Cuban presidents from Mario Garcia-Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. In the years following the Cuban Revolution the presidential palace became a museum.

The museum’s exposition is mainly devoted to the period of the revolutionary war of the 1950s and the country’s history after 1959. Part of the museum shows pre-revolutionary Cuba. In the halls of the museum you can see life-size plastic figures of revolutionaries and in life-size settings, as well as Kalashnikov assault rifles, stomped boots, blood-soaked shirts and plates used by revolutionaries. Behind the museum building is the Granma Memorial, where behind the glass is the yacht Granma that took Fidel Castro and his comrades-in-arms from Mexico to Cuba to begin the guerrilla war.

Coordinates: 23.14141600,-82.35685200

The Great Theater of Havana

Havana Grand Theatre (photo)

The Grand Theatre is one of the main cultural sites of modern Havana. It was founded in 1838. In 1914 the old building was torn down and a large, beautiful, new building was erected in its place, called the Palacio de la Centro Galicia. Then for a long time the theater was called the Tacon, and only in 1985 it was called the Grand Theater, at the suggestion of the famous Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso.

The theater is one of the largest in the world – it has 1,500 seats. Maya Plisetskaya, Enrico Caruso, Anna Pavlova, Sarah Bernhardt, Arthur Rubinstein, as well as all the existing ballets of the world have performed here in their time.

Today, the Bolshoi Theater is the main stage of the Cuban ballet. In addition, the building houses several other stages, a small hall, a concert hall, as well as several rooms in which exhibitions of paintings are held.

Coordinates: 23.13665000,-82.35935200

Are you curious to know how well you know the sights of Havana?

Malecon Promenade

The seafront Malecon (photo)

Starting from the ancient fortress of San Salvador de la Punta, the Malecon stretches all the way to the new prestigious neighborhoods, passing old mansions along the way (which recently began to be covered in fresh colors with help from UNESCO), past the 24-story hospital (the tallest building in the city), past the famous Hotel Nacional.

The Malecon is beloved by tourists and Cubans alike. Strolling along the promenade is one of Havana’s favorite pastimes and one of the best ways to experience the atmosphere of relaxed, upbeat Cuba. All generations find activities to their liking: the elderly fishing, children swimming, diving into the sea from the coastal rocks, and young people making friends and hanging out in noisy groups.

Dance salsa right on the waterfront, drink Cuban coffee and rum cocktails in local cafes, watch the brightest sunsets, relax sitting on the causeway, catching the smiles of cheerful Cubans. A simple walk along the Malecon can replace reading a lot of books about the culture of the Liberty Island!

Coordinates : 23.14460200,-82.38080100

The most popular attractions in Havana with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Havana on our website.

More Havana attractions

Fortress of San Salvador de la Punta, Havana, Cuba Roof Garden Torre Del Oro, Havana, Cuba Palace of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba Monastery of Santa Clara, Havana, Cuba Boca Ziega Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba Partagas Factory (cigar factory), Havana, Cuba

Rating
( No ratings yet )
Like this post? Please share to your friends:
bucketlisttc.com
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: