This hotel is famous because of one of its guest. I am talking about Hemingway of course! 🙂
By the way, looks like it’s more difficult to find places in Havana where Hemingway has never been to (lol)
As soon as you’ll get inside the lobby you will notice an old elevator in iron. It’s made with busbars so you will also enjoy the way up.
On the rooftop there’s also a skybar serving drinks and food. So you will have the chance to enjoy the view and a drink (maybe a Mojito?:))
Hotel Parque Central
Parque Central Hotel is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) hotels in Havana. This 5 stars hotel has a beautiful and lighted lobby but also an incredible rooftop with pool and restaurants.
This is the best place to watch the park, El Capitolio and the National Theater. On the other side of the terrace you will also be able to see the sea, El Paseo and other iconic places.
To be honest the restaurant is not so expensive considering the level of the hotel and you can stop there for a drink and for lunch.
Only the hotel guest can use the swimming pool.
Walking along Calle San Ignacio in Old Havana (corner with Amargura) you will find the beautiful Hotel Raquel. You will immediately fall in love with the amazing facade and the main lobby. The hotel combines baroque and art-nouveau architecture.
The rooftop is not usually busy as the others are. In fact it’s more intimate and dedicated to the hotel’s guest. You can ask to visit the terrace and spend there some times enjoying the sunset together with a drink.
Also here the ride in the elevator worth the climb! 🙂
Well, if you are all set it’s time for you to start exploring what you can do once you’ll get in Havana. In this post I am going to tell you how to book a city tour in Havana by car.
If it’s you first time ever in Cuba you might find everything absolutely new and incredibly fascinating. Although, once you’ll get to the airport in Havana you’ll find a little of mess around you. That’s why it might be better to book a cab before you arrive in Havana.
You won’t bother yourself to find a taxi or to negotiate the price. I can help you to book a cab and to have a person waiting for you once you arrive. If you want to know more about it, read THIS POST.
HOW TO BOOK A CITY TOUR IN HAVANA: CAR OR BUS?
Now, of course one of the most charming thing about Cuba are the old classic cars. As you have probably seen in videos or pictures of Cuba, there are tons of Old Almendrones all over the island! And the cool things is that they are actually working perfectly.
The first time you won’t believe what you’ll see. Some of them still have the original engine! And the most of those cars are before the Revolution. I have personally talked with several professional drivers about their amazing cars. They are all proud of their classic rides and they told me the history and how they got them.
Of course it’s almost impossible for them to find spare parts in case of damage and aging, but Cubans are really incredible in the art of improvisation and “bricolage”. I have seen real miracles inside some cars engine! 🙂
That said, there are several cars offering a city tour service in Havana and you have a wide choice of classic cars, convertibles or not.
In Old Havana you can find a lot of these cars in front of the National theater (Teatro Nacional) , or in front of the Parque Central Hotel.
So, you just need to approach a driver and ask him for a tour of the city. There are different routes and itineraries you can choose. Usually you can pick an hour or a two hours tour.
IF YOU WANT TO BOOK A TOUR BEFORE GOING TO CUBA FILL OUT THE FORM AT THE END OF THIS POST
A car is the best option if you want to have a typical tour of the city and enjoy it with your friends and family. Most of the cars allow you to ride in four people plus the driver.
The price depends on the itinerary and the duration but it’s not expensive considering the unique experience.
On the other hand you can decide to have a tour of Havana with a bus. There are several rooftop red buses you can take but of course my recommendation is to go for a car. First, you can ask the driver to stop for a second if you want to take a picture; second you can change the route and make little deviations on the itinerary; third you will have a more intimate ride with your family and friends.
Now let’s see the places you can visit with a quick overview of the city.
HOW TO BOOK A CITY TOUR IN HAVANA: THE ITINERARY
If it’s your first time in Cuba and Havana there are several places you must visit. It also depends on your travel and how many days you have planned to stay in Havana. Of course the most beautiful and charming part of the city is Old Havana, so be sure to have at least 3/4 days to stay in the capital.
Usually a city tour of Old Havana includes the typical and most characteristic places such as Capitolio, Malecon, The Royal Force Castle and the Tobacco factory. Of course there are several more spots to visit, but it’s better to visit them by walk since most of the places are not accessible by car. Also you will really enjoy walking along the streets and focus on every single detail of the old city.
If you want to visit Vedado and Miramar you’ll pass by the Malecon and drive north. In Miramar I recommend you to drive along the Fifth Avenue (5ta Avenida). That is a beautiful street full of colonial villas. Most of them are now embassies.
If you are doing a guided tour by car, you can drive across the streets of Vedado and watch the amazing colonial houses. I did a guided tour not long time ago with my family 🙂
I have visited just Old Havana and Centro Habana with a 2 hours tour and I went all over the main areas of the old side of the city and Plaza de la Revoluticion in Centro Habana.
Centro Havana is, as I say, the “real” Cuba since you can see the daily life of the city and not only the most touristic places.
If you are looking how to book a city tour in Havana, you can fill out the form below and book a classic car before being in Havana. In this way you can also decide the best pickup location (even from the airport) and organize better your tour, especially if you are staying in Havana just for a few days.
I can help you to set up your guided tour by car! Just click the link below to see more about the tour in Havana:
Are you ready for your first trip to Cuba? Well! Get ready for a colored and fantastic experience. The places to see are several in this fantastic island.
If you are going to visit the entire island, your first stop will probably be l’Havana. That’s why I have selected five places you absolutely need to visit inOld Havana.
L’Havana, the capital of Cuba, is the major city of the island and the third largest metropolitan area in the entire Caribbean area. The city has a population of over 2.1 million citizens and a total are of 728.26 km2
The Spanish founded the city in the 16th century and, because of its position and strategic location, it was the main port of the Caribbean Sea and the stopping point for the treasure-laden Spanish galleons. It was the conjunction point between the Old World and the New World.
L’Havana can be divided in three areas: The Old Havana, Centro Habana, Vedado and Miramar. With over 1 million tourist a year (increasing every year) l’Havana the most visited place in Cuba.
The origin of the name of the city, San Cristobàl de la Habana, combines San Cristóbal, patron of Havana, and Habana, derived from Habaguanex, a native American chief who controlled that area.
Today we’ll focus on Old Havana and some of the places that you need to see.
Ok, wear a loose outfit, light t-shirt and a panama. It’s time to visit the city!
1. Plaza Vieja
Plaza Vieja or Old Square in english, is a large square located in the heart of the Old city. It was originally named New Square or Plaza Nueva since the foundation in 1559. The square was the place of executions, processions, bullfights, and parties.
The area was one of the wealthiest neighborhood of the city and in the 17th century the square was an important commercial hub. At that time its name was in fact Plaza del Mercado or Market Square.
Today the square is a wide and fascinating location recently completely renewed and declared World Heritage Site by Unesco, as the entire Old Havana. In the middle of the square there’s a fountain, surrounded by four dolphins. It has been completely rebuilt after Gerardo Machado demolished it in the 1930s to build an underground parking lot here.
The best time to be there is in the late afternoon or during the sunset. You can enjoy an artisanal beer in one of the oldest bar of the city in the north west corner of the square. In Plaza Vieja you’ll be fascinated by a mix of music and colors.
Yes, it’s very similar to the Capitol in Washington DC and Cubans are proud that it’s 30 cm taller than the American one 🙂
The project began on April 1926, during the Gerardo Machado administration and prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban Congress was housed in the building. It’s one of the largest building of the city and it was the tallest building in Havana until the 1950s.
Right now (May 2015) it’s closed for renovations but you can admire all its greatness from outside. Inside, the cupola, was inspired by the Panthéon in Paris but it was constructed in the United States and imported to Cuba.
The area in front of El Capitolio is a crossroads of cabs, old cars (almendrones) and coco taxi (the scooter cab). It’s the best place to start visiting the Old city and it’s close to the Parque Central (Central Park), another “must” place to visit in Old Havana
Calles Obispo is a long and pedestrian street that starts from the south of Parque Central and continues till Plaza de Armas. If you start your tour from the north (Parque Central) you will see the famous El Floridita, the place where Ernest Hemingway used to drink his Daiquiri. In fact he used to say: “My mojito at La Bodeguita, my daiquiri at El Floridita”
If you are thirsty, this is a good time for you to stop by for a moment and taste this famous cocktail. The place is very “touristic” but the inside it’s very nice and everything is just like it was in the 30′. If it’s your first time in Cuba, it’s among the places you need to visit in Old Havana. If you are getting in, take a picture with the Hemingway’s statue at the bar, and say him hello from me 🙂
Well, now you can continue walking along Obispo. This is the street of the art and galleries. You will see several small boutiques full of paintings. Pay attention to the stores : many of them are still original and you will noticed it by small or bigger details, an old watch, an ancient windows or wood finishes.
The street is usually pretty crowded with stores and bars where you can stop to eat and relax. Many waiter and “sales-rep” will stop you asking if you want to eat, drink or buy something. Just be kind with them and watch out to the cigars sellers in the street. Sometimes they sell good quality cigars, sometimes not 🙂
Along the street are also several beautiful hotels. One of those is the Hotel Florida with an amazing internal patio you can visit.
There are several incredible patios in the Old Havana, if you want to visit them just ask to the owners or tenants if you can get in for a quick visit. Cubans are very kind and warm and they will give you permission without any problem.
Walking along the street you will also see museums and historical building and the Johnson and Johnson drug store. The street is so full of attractions that deserves an entire post! 😀
Absolutely a top place you have to visit in Old Havana!
4.Plaza de Armas
At the end of Obispo you’ll find Plaza de Armas. It is the name for the main square in many Hispanic American cities. The entire square is surrounded by big and shady trees which make the temperature pleasant even in the hottest hours. Except for August and July 😀
It is one of the most characteristic spot of the city and absolutely a place to visit in Old Havana. The first thing you’ll notice here is the book stores all over the square. These newsstands have a lot of ancient magazines and books. Some of them are of the last century.
Moreover you’ll find antiques of all kinds. It’s like an open-space museum 🙂
In the south of the square you’ll also find el Castillo de la Real Fuerza and El Templete. Amazing places, but I had to select just five in this post.
Anyway I will add other posts with other places to visit in Old Havana.
Last but not least, El Morro Castle. This is a must place to visit in Havana.
The complete name is Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, the Spanish “morro” means “nose”, a rock which is very visible from the sea.
Close to el Morro there’s la Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, it is an 18th-century fortress complex, located on the elevated eastern side of the harbor entrance in Havana, Cuba. It’s the third-largest in the Americas.
The best time to visit la Cabañais in the late afternoon and during sunset. The reason is because every day at 9pm you can assist to the ceremony of “El Cañonazo de las 9”. And also because you won’t die of dehydration during summer.
It’s a cannon that every night fires at 9. It once warned the closing of the city gates. An experience that deserves to be lived and a place to visit in Old Havana!
The entire visit will take about 2/3 hours, so you might go there around 6 pm. To get there, you can grab a cab from the city (it is on the other side of the bay) and the ride is cheap.
These are just 5 places to visit in Old Havana but, of course, there are several more that will be listed later on in this blog. This is the FIRST post so if you liked it give me a like and a share 😉
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