Havana – the capital of Cuba – is a dream for many travellers. Its colonial architecture, sometimes in a sorry state, gives it a unique air, which cannot be found elsewhere. The Latin atmosphere, the proximity to the sea and the incredible history of the country only add to the magic of the place.
Want to visit, but don’t have the time? Here are our must-sees during a 48-hour stay in Havana.
Day 1 in Havana: Historic Old Town
After breakfast, go to Habana Vieja, the historical and most popular neighbourhood.
The best part of this neighbourhood is simply getting lost in the streets, always keeping an eye on the buildings, people and businesses. There is something fascinating to see around every corner! The neighbourhood is very walkable, so put on comfortable walking shoes and head out to explore.
Take a break to enjoy a good Cuban coffee at Café O’Reilly, where you can also nibble on a little something if you’re hungry. If you like Cuban coffee, you can buy bulk bags of coffee on site, but the line can be long!
Continue your exploration and be sure to visit the Plazas, each offering a different style, and stopping by the artisan markets.
For dinner, head to El Del Frente, also in the Habana Vieja neighbourhood. The rooftop terrace is beautiful and the food is delicious.
In the afternoon, hop on the tourist bus to see some of the more remote attractions, such as the Plaza de la Revolución and the Christopher Columbus Cemetery. Your ticket allows you to get on and off the bus throughout the day. You will find a stop near the Capitolio.
Come back to finish the day in the neighbourhood, tasting the famous mojitos of the Bodeguita del Medio. The place can be quite busy and the mojitos are not the best you will find in Havana, but the bar is so mythical that it is worth a visit!
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If you’re more of a daiquiri person, visit El Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s famous hangout in Havana.
For dinner, Paladar Doña Eutimia is a small place at the end of a busy alley, near Plaza de la Catedral, that allows you to discover Cuban food. Indulge in one of their special mojitos, simply delicious!
Day 2 in Havana: Vedado and Centro Habana
Start your day in Vedado, home of Cuba’s iconic Hotel Nacional. Guided tours are offered daily at 10:00 am. They are free for hotel guests.
You can learn more about the celebrities who stayed in this mythical place and the Cold War, and above all, enjoy an incredible view of the city from the roof of the building.
Feeling hungry? Nearby, enjoy a pre-dinner snack at Heladería Coppelia. The ice cream they serve is rather plain, but the architecture of the place is impressive.
Afterwards, head to a much less touristy neighbourhood that’s just a short walk away: Centro Habana. Here, you’ll meet a lot of Cubans going about their daily activities and the buildings have been much less restored, which makes for some pretty amazing architectural spectacles.
Be sure to visit the Callejon de Hamel, an impressive open-air art gallery, and take a detour on the famous Malecón.
At lunchtime, there are several choices. You could stop in one of the small storefronts where Cubans lunch, or opt for two popular restaurants among visitors: Café Arcangel or Paladar San Cristobal.In the afternoon, it’s up to you to decide what to do, depending on your interests. If you like museums, there are several in Cuba, especially in the Habana Vieja neighbourhood.
If you are a history buff, take a cab to the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, a historical place that allows you to admire Habana Vieja.
Art lovers? A stop at Fusterlandia is a must.
If your legs have worked hard enough, enjoy an afternoon in one of the famous American cars that are so often seen in Havana!
Just make sure you agree on the fare with the driver before you get on board.
For dinner, enjoy a meal at La Guarida, a popular restaurant in the neighbourhood. The restaurant is rather touristy and more expensive, but the food is delicious. Try the choices recommended by your waiter. Reservations are required.
Don’t forget to stop by the roof of the building to see the view and have a cocktail at the bar there, if you wish!
A word of advice: few of these places have websites, and it is sometimes difficult to connect to the Internet in Cuba. Be sure to note the addresses on a map, or save them in Google Maps, for offline use.
Enjoy your stay!