May 19, 2017

Havana City Guide


Step back in time and get to know the true spirit of Cuba.

Find out about some of the best places to eat, stay, shop and play in this colourful city.

Stay

Reputable hotels have been sparse, thanks to government restrictions, boycotts and a stunted economy. But the Hotel Parque Central is a beacon for those accustomed to fine accommodation.

Set opposite Havana’s central park, the hotel blends its original, Spanish colonial structure with a modern architectural extension; its two roof terraces are fitted with sparkling pools and offer sweeping views across the city.

Eat

Decades of rations and crop shortages rendered Cuban cuisine bland and monotonous, with beans and rice featuring frequently. But economic reform has resulted in the proliferation of paladares (private restaurants), many of them operated from people’s own homes and offering menus particularly rich in seafood.

A stroll through Old Havana will offer plenty of options – touts will wave menus in the air and invite you in. For a great atmosphere and honest, inexpensive food (shrimp enchilada, beef-stuffed peppers, pork skewers) try El Chanchullero, a tapas bar in Old Havana.

Shop

Havana is not a shopping mecca, but there are some gems to be discovered. Inhale Cuba’s very essence at one of the city’s many cigar shops.

Pick up vintage socialist posters and books, coins and jewellery at the street markets near Plaza de Armas; and buy that ultimate Cuban souvenir, a Che Guevara t-shirt.

Play

Havana is best seen from the seat of a low-slung, brightly coloured Cadillac; find these 1950s relics (and their drivers) lined up along the Malecon in Old Havana, ready to take tourists for a spin.

Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro may no longer be with us, but his spirit infuses the country he ruled for five decades. Reflect upon his legacy at the Plaza de la Revolucion, the Museo de la Revolucion and in the countless graffiti images of him sprayed around the city.