I hope you’re singing the Camillo Cabelo song with me as it’s tune that speaks volumes when you arrive.
Now, you can hire a classic Chevrolet or a 1950’s car as a taxi or they can charge per hour to take you wherever you want at $60 USD per hour.
You might be able to get a tour for $55 if you or ebook.
BUT I’ve learnt a little secret that I’m going to share with you, Strawberry tours cover Havana and do car tours for 2.5 hours starting from $28 usd. This is a shared tour fitting up to 4-5 ppl in the car (not including the driver or even a translator). Each tour is different so there might not be any translator but considering this is cheaper than the alternative, you are saving a lot! Also, I’ve noticed that some tour companies only offer a time slot at 4.15pm but Strawberry Tours offer two time slots at 9am and 11.45am which I found better timing for me so I could do whatever I want for the rest of my day.
It was a pretty good tour as we stopped at 3 places – Romeo y Juliette cigar factory, the main square and the castle with the Jesus statue. We drove past the city forest, by the bay etc so it was actually pretty good and a nice way to do a tour. It’s similar to the tours in London where you can do it in a Mini Cooper and see the main sites.
I think we were lucky that we got an English speaking tour guide and driver who played some good music.
I definitely caught a tan as it was so sunny and it’s winter! I reckon in the summer, I would’ve burnt like an lobster even though I wear factor 50 sunscreen!
I wondered to the Museo Bella Artes International as the cubano one was closed. But I was quite surprised to see a Part of the museum for ‘Vietnam’. I was unaware of the strong relationship between Cuba and Vietnam during Ho Chi Minh’s reign where they have rice because of the Vietnamese as well as import quite a lot of stuff from Vietnam including tea, textiles etc.
For accommodation in Havana – I would HIGHLY recommend staying at Casa Obrapia (on Obrapia No.405) It’s a beautiful building, good location and the staff are helpful.
I actually stayed somewhere else when I first arrived and it was a proper Cuban house called ‘La Hostel Caridad’ bringing the outside indoor with massive statues of Jesus and Mary around but they didn’t know too much about what to do or visit in Havana whereas the other place are probably more use to tourists so they have recommendations ready. If you are interested in La Hostal Caridad that is located close to the Brewery, Market and Pier (on Calle Leonor Perez) drop me a message and I will send you their contact details as you’ll need to email or phone them to book.
Of course, there are large 5* hotels in Havana and Trinidad that you can stay (including the famous Italian mafia hotel) but if you’re on a budget then it’s a little harder and a challenge to get around.
Ok so I think this mate be a scam but I’m not too sure but there will be musicians in the street that will strike up a conversation , serenade you and bring you inside a bar, then serenade you more and being in their ‘ band ‘ – they’ll chat and I brought them a soft drink that was still 5 CUC / $5 usd per drink which is expensive but hey ho. Then I played with the band and they asked for a tip. Then over the next few days, I just kept seeing them so perhaps it was a good thing that I did actually buy them drinks and tip them..
Other things to see whilst in Havana:
- Free Walking Tour – these are tip based and gives you a good history background on Cuba. There were a lot of things I did not know about and they also talk about their own experiences. The tours can take you to a lot of places that includes Capitol, Plaza de Armes, Ernest Hemingway’s favourite bars, Cathedral and other squares in the Old Havana.
- Capitolo – this impressive building has a glass floor that’s meant to be beautiful but I didn’t have time to go inside. I hope someone else goes in and then sends me a photo as I would love to see what it looks like.
- Handicraft Market on Desamparados – housed in a converted warehouse/pier that has all the random souvenirs you can get from magnets, Che Guevara shirts and also beautiful art pieces. unique arts and crafts that were produced locally. Both Havana residents and visitors enjoy coming here, and the prices are generally negotiable. Be careful about buying one of the many large paintings on offer. Sure, you’ll never find anything like it again, but transporting it home can be rather costly. Oh and you can also buy Havana Rum (aged too) cheaper here.
- Micro Brewery – if you’re going to the market, you might as well pop next door for a beer and take a seat looking over Havana Pier.
- Paco’s Mar Cafe Restaurante on Cuba Y San Isidro – this is opposite the Handicraft Market and on the corner (so you’ll need to walk round to see it) but this is a modern, fresh and delicious place that is designed in the modern style delivering great cocktails (all the herbs are fresh and they make their own syrups). Also, they have a boat hanging from the ceiling and they are eco conscious so they use bamboo straws (this is the first place I’ve seen that use recyclable straws) and they have more planned actions in place to be sustainable. This isn’t your normal traditional Cuban place; this is a little modern and higher end that puts a modern twist on the Cuban cuisine. I really enjoyed this place and the cocktails were amazing.
- Calle Sol – Market Street – this street is your traditional and functioning market place that has many bodegas for local Cubans to buy their food. Just in case you’re unaware, these are only for Cubans – tourist/foreigners can’t buy here as Cubans are given vouchers every month in which they have to buy food with them. There are other small supermarkets that foreigners can shop in but it’s best to ask a tour guide or your casa people on where you can buy stuff. This is a great street to see how they live and to take some good photos.
- Cathedral – Nice square that also includes the building that was originally built for people of the arts and music. The Cathedral is nice and if you are in shorts, they do have a cloth for you to wear whilst walking around the Cathedral.
Unfortunately, good ol’ Rona (COVID19 reference) decided to spoil the fun and the main club that has live Cuban music and salsa dancing was closed :/.
Make sure you check out my other posts for other ideas and tips!