The Cuban capital of Havana is one of the most enigmatic capitals in the world. This historic city has survived two wars of Independence, a revolution, and a stringent US trade embargo. Havana is contradictory. The Cuban capital is still caught in the mid-1950s and 60s and looks timeworn, yet charming. Its rich, but depleting architecture comprises of Colonial and Baroque cathedrals, neoclassical residences and neighbourhoods, and stylish art-deco and art-nouveau buildings from the 1920s. Havana is all about grand boulevards dotted with vibrant, stylish, timeless buildings, vintage Convertibles and Cadillacs, exciting salsa and jazz clubs, quaint cafes, and an infectious energy on its streets, courtesy musicians, salsa dancers, and the typical joie de vivre Cuban spirit!
Havana is open for travel once more. The historic lifting of US sanctions and trade embargo means tourism is set to return in a full-fledged manner. This is the best time to travel to Havana and enjoy its amazing cultural offerings – the unspoiled joy of discovering a timeless land caught in the 1950s and 60s. Check out 7 amazing cultural experiences to have in Havana!
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Take a ride in a vintage car
Cuba’s classic vintage cars have their own stories. In the early part of the 20th century, Cuba used to import maximum American cars. However, post US trade embargo and sanctions, Cubans found innovative ways to keep their cars running, despite shortage of parts and service centres. Cuban vintage cars are colourful, polished, and well-maintained. You can spot several old models of Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Chrysler and Russian Volgas cruising the Cuban streets. Today, vintage car rides down the streets of Havana are among the best ways to discover the time stagnated capital of Cuba.
Salsa with the locals
Cuba has a rich cultural legacy of salsa. Cuban men and women love dancing and grooving to salsa beats in the country’s stylish nightclubs and colourful streets. They are also enthusiastic of asking visitors to join in and are happy to lead the show! It’s fun, friendly, and breaks the touristy inhibitions for travellers. Colourful cocktail dresses, funky grooves and beats, live music, and plenty of joyous vibes make Havana a one-of-a-kind cultural destination!
Jam with musicians
One of the most common sights of Havana is a group of musicians jamming together and singing Cuban songs. Musicians playing various musical instruments in tandem, create a vibrant and energetic ambience in its bars, street corners, and parks. Travellers are encouraged to join in the jam and play guitars, drums, bongos, and unique Cuban instruments like Cuban Tres, Cuban Laud, Marimbula, and the saxophone.
Hit the beaches of Havana
Havana’s beaches are blessed with white powdery sand, turquoise blue waters, swaying palms, colourful beach shacks, and plenty of activities. Join the locals in a game of beach volleyball or football, savour the finest sun downer cocktails, or simply laze under a parasol; Havana’s beaches will leave you wanting for more beach vacations.
Santa Maria Del Mar is perfect for classic beach parties, Playa Boca Ciega is unspoilt, uncrowded, and perfect for solitude. Playa Guanabo is the most beautiful beach of Havana, Playa Bacuranao is ideal for coral reefs snorkelling. Playa El Salado is known for its high saline waters and medicinal properties for the skin. Take your pick!
Try authentic Cuban cuisine
Cuban cuisine is a reflection of the country’s rich colonial and African heritage. Cuba, being a colony of Spain, has elements of Spanish, French, African and Caribbean influences. However, Cuban cuisine in the country is authentic with distinct flavours. Natural ingredients, cooking techniques and flavours of Cuba has remained authentic thanks to decades of isolation. Cuban cuisine is available world wide but in Havana, the food remains true and authentic just like the country. Don’t forget to try habaneros, tamales, ropa vieja, moros and delicious seafood.
Taste Cuban beers, rum, and cigars
Cuban cigars are among the top cultural legacies of the country, and are highly sought after in the world. Made from the homegrown cultivation of tobacco and often hand rolled, Cuban Cigars are a must-try for travellers. Also, don’t forget to try Cuban beers and the legendary Cuban rums in pubs and bars of Havana. Mojitos and cocktails of Havana are also perfect, in case you’re looking for something light and tropical.
Photograph the classical architecture
Havana is full of classic architecture comprising of several styles like colonial, baroque, neoclassical, art-deco, and art-nouveau. Havana is ideal for photographing heritage buildings and studying architecture. Start your tour with a visit to the Capitol Building, a classic heritage building that looks a bit like the US Capitol building. See the Bacardi Building, the 12-floor headquarters of Bacardi rum, designed in an art-deco style. Check out the Great Theatre of Havana, designed in a neo-baroque style and the historic site of US President Barack Obama’s historic address to the Cuban people. Museum of the Revolution, National Museum of Fine Arts, and Casa de la Amistad are also a few other must-see heritage buildings of Havana.