If you’re planning a trip and it isn’t to Havana, get it on the bucket list ASAP!
My friend and I spent a long weekend experiencing all things Cuba — the old cars, the incredible cuisine, all the rum, and the amazing people. In fact, I’m planning ANOTHER trip back because I loved it so much!
Yes, Cuba is legal to visit, and quite inexpensive at that. My friend and I booked flights through Southwest Airlines using points, so all we had to do was apply for our visa. You may already know that there are about a dozen different categories that you need to choose from in order to cross into Cuba; we chose the People to People category which is what American tourists typically go with. We crossed in with zero issues and our journey began!
If you’re looking to see something completely new and different, look no further than Fusterlandia. Created by mosaic artist Jose Fuster, this home-turned-museum is free to see and only about a 20 minute drive from central Havana. Wander around as long as you’d like and capture all the photos you can in this artsy funhouse.
Drink Like Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway is one of Cuba’s most notable people and his hangouts did not disappoint. El Floridita is home to some of the most delicious daiquiris you’ll ever have, and Ambos Mundos Hotel serves up amazing mojitos on their rooftop.
These places do get busy, but are so worth popping in for a quick drink and to experience old Havana how Hemingway did.
Plus, drinking like a local is one of the most fun parts of travel, amirite?
Take a Vintage Car Tour
One of the best ways to see Havana is to book a vintage car tour! Vintage cars straight from the 1950s line the streets of Havana on the reg and offer two to three hour tours all over the city. We actually booked ours in advance which was great because we also got to book a translator who was so helpful and knowledgeable. Not to mention are these beauties not the most Insta-worthy vehicles you’ll ever post?!
Visit Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña
This 18th century fortress overlooks the water with a view of Old Havana across the way and comes with a wealth of history. Now serving as a museum and is now part of a historical park, visitors can walk up to the top of the fortress, tour the historical exhibits, and even purchase cigars!
Shop Til You Drop At the Local Mercados
Havana is home to some super talented artists who sell their goods at local markets. Stroll through Calle Obispo and stop at the artists market for jewelry, clothing, knickknacks, and more.
Tips for Traveling Havana
If you’re American, keep in mind the following:
- Your credit cards will not work. Cash is king and the most efficient way to exchange your money is to do it at the airport. USD will be taxed though, so my friend and I brought Euros which had a better exchange rate when we switched it out for CUC. Pro tip: exchange about 75% of your money right when you land, and save the other 25% for later – there are plenty of banks you can pop into.
- You will need a travel Visa. No biggie, just make sure you get one. As recommended by our airline, we used Cuba Visa Services.
- Your cell phone will not work. Keep this in mind as it’s seemingly second nature to want to use Google Maps or find out contact info. Plan well in advance and bring a printed map with you everywhere you go.
- Wi-Fi exists – for a price. You’ll inevitably want to check in with loved ones at some point throughout your stay (or post your gorgeous photo on Instagram!) and it’s possible to do, you just need to know where to go. Hit up any of the hotels in Havana and ask to purchase a Wi-Fi card; they cost anywhere from 2 to 5 CUC and allow you an hour of time. You’ll see a lot of people in the lobby looking at their phones so you’ll know you’re in the right place.