Over the last few years traveling, nothing has sparked more interest from followers and friends than my trip to Cuba. How to get there. What to do. Where to stay. So without further ado, here’s my ideal 7-day itinerary including a detailed Google Map with notes that should keep you busy and happy on your trip!
As the capital of Cuba, Havana (also known as “La Habana”) is the largest city and most popular tourist destination in close proximity to the international airport. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th Century, the city is now divided into three main sections: Old Havana (“Habana Vieja”), the area from which you’ll see most photographs of Cuba, Vedado (more of the urban business district), and then the more affluent area of the city which includes neighborhoods like Miramar.
Head straight to Obispo Street in Old Havana to experience the most exciting part of town — and also the area you’ve likely seen in all of the photos. Take in the colors, architecture, live music inevitably being played in the streets, and enjoy some churros or fruit from a cart to keep your energy levels high.
LUNCH AT EL CHANCHULLERO
Make your way over to this 3-level restaurant that serves up yummy versions of classic Cuban dishes. Depending on where you’re sitting, you’ll be in perfect positioning for a bird’s eye view of the comings and goings of the local crowd below.
STROLL THE PLAZA DE ARMAS
Stroll around the Plaza de Armas for some souvenir and book shopping. If you want a little bit of Cuban film history, scope out one of the guys selling film poster/prints and prompt them with a few questions — just be warned, you may not get a swift exit from the conversation!
MOJITO BREAK AT NOA
Move towards the Malecon to NOA Bar Paladar for some mid-day mojitos — because those are required in Cuba! This spot is set in a cute little alleyway close to a wifi source with an ocean breeze, so you can cool down with a drink and check-in with life back home (although, when you’re in Cuba why would you want to)?
ROOFTOP VIEWS FROM HOTEL AMBOS MUNDOS
Just before sunset, make a visit to Hotel Ambos Mundos, a pink hotel in the center of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) which has stellar rooftop views overlooking the entire city.
DINNER AT HABANA 61
For dinner, Habana 61 is a great modern option for fresh and healthy food (some of the best we had during our stay in Cuba).
DRINKS AT ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S WATERING HOLE
End the night at El Floridita, a must-do for Ernest Hemingway fans as the writer frequented this now 100-year-old bar.
Start the morning with breakfast and coffee at your casa (most casas provide this, so make sure to ask if this is included in the price when booking).
THE OLDEST HOTEL IN HAVANA
Pop over to the Hotel Inglaterra, which is the oldest hotel in Havana and a fun spot for pictures if you enjoy retro signage! Across the street is an easy stop for the Habana Bus Tour which will take you all around the city.
SEE THE SIGHTS VIA THE HABANA BUS TOUR
Ok, let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m not one to normally suggest doing the tourist bus, BUT I particularly enjoyed this one for a few reasons. First off, it’s a super cheap way to cover a lot of ground around the city in a place where public transport is not readily accessible. Also, after a day on foot walking all around Old Havana, we enjoyed resting our legs and getting a different perspective from above. As a photographer, I especially loved this because there are so many cool buildings with intricate details to shoot from a higher vantage point. You can hop on and off the bus whenever you please and they don’t talk over the loud speaker the entire trip, so it’s quite relaxing especially on a nice sunny day — wear a hat or sunscreen!
STOP FOR PICTURES AT REVOLUTION SQUARE
Along the Habana Bus Tour, make sure to hop off at Plaza de la Revolucion where the famous Che Guevara mural is located.
COFFEE BREAK AT CUBA LIBRO
At the Colon Cemetery stop, hop off for pictures and walk five minutes to Cuba Libro, my favorite coffee shop and bookstore in Cuba with hippie vibes and a great selection of English books and magazines.
DINE AT ONE OF THE PRIVATELY OWNED PALADARES
Paladares are the non-government run restaurants in Cuba and typically have better food than the latter option. Take the bus back into town and hop off to make your way to Atelier for dinner, a beautiful restaurant in the newer part of Havana which is consistently listed as one of the top paladares in the city.
San Cristobal is also a famous locale (make reservations ahead). It didn’t blow us out of the water, but the history behind this place (the Obamas made it famous) and atmosphere alone is worth checking out.
SOCIALIZE AT THE FABRICA DE ARTE
Don’t miss Fabrica de Arte open 8 pm – 3 am Thursday to Sunday each week. We sadly missed this because it was closed while we were in town, but I’ve heard so many great things about this hip cultural center which showcases art, photography, music and more.
THE PARISIEN CABARET AT HOTEL NACIONAL
End the night at the Hotel Nacional for the Parisien Cabaret show, one of the highlights of my trip. Many people decide to see the pricier show at the Copacabana as it’s more reputable, but my friend and I decided to go with this show instead and I’m so glad we did. It was entertaining, hilarious, impressive and cheesy all at once. Loved every minute.