9 experiences in Havana

9 experiences in Havana

Welcome to Havana, Cuba’s emblematic capital. Discover our top 9 things to do and see in this vibrant and mythical Caribbean city.


What to do in Havana? Hearing “ Havana“, I’m sure you have plenty of images that come to mind. For us, at least, it was images of old American cars, bars where people dance to salsa music, or the colorful streets we’ve certainly seen in reports on Cuba. Let me reassure you, these scenes of life are very much present, and after having criss-crossed its historic center for 3 days, we can now tell you more about what there is to see around here. If you’re planning a trip lasting a few weeks, we invite you to read all our other articles on Cuba:



Havana is a city of paradoxes. We had the impression that time had stood still here and that the city had not evolved. But it’s also its undeniable and singular charm, and as soon as you step out of the airport, you’re transported by the unique atmosphere we’ve come to find. With so many tourist attractions scattered around the city, it’s impossible to discover Havana on foot alone. You may need to travel by cab, car, cab bike, electric bike or on foot. A word of advice: ask your casas particulares about the cost of transport, so that you can negotiate the right price for your shopping, as Cubans love the dollar. Some journeys cost 1 CUC to locals and 10 times more to travelers, but that’s the way things are in a country where poverty is omnipresent.



There’s something special and authentic about the alleyways of Habana Vieja. It’s an exotic immersion in 1,000 contrasts: it’s both beautiful and dilapidated, but also very poor and rich. I’d advise you to get lost around here in the back alleys without any real sense of purpose, as you’ll soon realize that it’s not that big and that this part of it is best done on foot. There are 4 main squares and a few main arteries such as rue O’Reilly and rue Obispo, so it’s easy to find your way around.

We headed into the heart of Habana Vieja, towards the pretty Rue de Bernazza, but also calle espada where you’ll find some very nice restaurants. Short photo stop on the Cathedral Square with its beautiful cathedral and just across the road the Museo de Arte Colonial and its lovely view from the balcony.

In the evening, it’s pretty cool to head over to the Plaza Vieja, a lively square with restaurants and bars set around pretty arcades. We also loved strolling along the St. Francis of Assisi Square. This is where we found a super-fast and not too crowded exchange office to change our euros into pesos.

While strolling along, we also came across the street Chacón, a quiet little alley with lots of restaurants and bars less touristy than the center, an alley where the locals play checkers, but also this huge painting of this orange gorilla on the Tejadillo side and on Egido Agro market (17 Curazao), a small local market where you can buy fruit.

Good to know: Some restaurants offer lunch or dinner for around 15 CUC. Their rates include unlimited Internet access, so it can be useful for Internet addicts. Another good plan, the facades you see below are pleasant to discover rather in afternoon because in the morning they’re often in the shade and the colors don’t render as well.


➡️ Book a private tour of Havana here. During this private tour, you’ll discover a sublime city, steeped in history, and the guide will reveal to you all Havana’s secrets.


Think free tour: Free tours are mostly organized by locals. They don’t have a fixed price, but at the end of the visit, each person is free to give the guide a cash amount according to his or her level of satisfaction. This allows you to enjoy a tour of the city and work for local people. We tested it in Seville and we thought it was a great concept! In Cuba, you’ll discover Havana’s main places of interest. Book your free tour of Old Havana here


Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel

Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel

Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel

Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel

Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel



If you’re strolling the backstreets of Havana, you’ll discover on the walls of some facades of streetart also known as street art. As you might expect, street art here is colorful, lively and can carry a message of protest or propaganda. To discover part of this open-air museum, head for the Callejón de Hamel, home to multiple gigantic murals.

➡️ Discover local street art and meet the people working to make their community more beautiful. Explore the streets of Havana and discover the artistic projects that are breathing new life into the neighborhood. Reservations on request only

The tour will be sold to you if you book a trip to Cuba through me, but I don’t sell this tour on its own.


Cuba | Havana | street art | tips | Travel



The Havana Center on the other side of the Habana Vieja and Vedado districts, Havana’s residential and commercial district. The Parque Central with the statue of the famous Cuban independence fighter José Martí, delimits the two districts of Centro Habana and Habana Vieja. It’s a must-see with all the colorful old cars parked around it. To situate you better, Centro Habana is the area near the former seat of the Cuban Congress, the Capitolio, easily recognizable with its large dome often under renovation on the paseo José Martí. The Centro Habana district is less well renovated than Habana Vieja, and therefore less touristy and popular with travellers. The district boasts two well-known museums: the national museum of Beaux Arts and the Museo of the Revolution but also beautiful scenes of life, beautiful facades and much less expensive casas particulares, but in my opinion, it doesn’t have the same soul and effervescence as the Old Havana.


Cuba | Havana | map | Downtown Cuba | travel tips


Next to the Capitolio, you’ll see the Gran teatro of the Habana, a beautiful building we wanted to visit but which is closed on weekdays. It’s located on the Paseo José Martí, a large, shady thoroughfare lined with beautiful facades. There’s a lovely view of the dome from the balconies. Please note that guided tours are compulsory, which I find a bit of a shame!

The Vedado is a little further back. I’ll be honest with you, we kind of skipped this part of town, preferring to explore Habana Vieja up and down. However, you’ll quickly discover it in an American car (if you make the 2-hour trip), as you’ll pass by the famous Malecón, Havana’s emblematic seafront avenue, 8km long. You can also find Hotel Nacional with its neoclassical architectural style, the Place of the Revolution, the gathering place for many Cubans, which can accommodate up to 1 million people. Designed on the same model as the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, the statue of the José Martí memorial located right in the middle of the square, theAvenue Presidents, the cemetery Christopher Columbus.


Cuba | Havana | capitol | travel tips

Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel

Cuba | Havana | facade | old town | tips | Travel

Cuba | Havana | american car | travel tips



It’s a bit of a must, this tour of the city in an old American convertible, and even if it comes with a price tag, it’s still a mythical ride. The car is driven by a local driver, but you can also take a guided tour. You’ll discover the Revolution Square, the Cristobal Colon cemetery, the Malecon,Hotel Nacional and of course the Old Havana. For 2 hours, you can also choose the tour that suits you best, for example, visiting only the narrow streets of Havana. However, I’d advise you to do the walk either at weekends, when local life is quieter, or to set off early enough on weekday mornings, because when the alleyways wake up, there are often traffic jams in Habana Vieja, with big trucks delivering goods, other cars parked and you lose a lot of time waiting as you drive along in slow motion!

➡️ You’ll take to the streets of the Cuban capital to discover its must-see sites, ending the tour with a cocktail on the terrace of the Hotel Nacional. Click here to book online and check availability


Cuba | Havana | american car | travel tips



It was at the end of the trip that we found out we could discover Havana by electric bike, and we would have loved to do it. A tour made for those who don’t have enough time for an intensive guided discovery tour but still want to see the highlights of the Cuban capital on board an electric bike.


✖️ Explore Habana Vieja, Habana Centro and Parque Central

✖️ Discover El Capitolio, Paseo del Prado and Revolution Square

✖️ Visit Malecón, La Rampa, El Vedado and Callejón de Hamel

The tour lasts between 3 and 4 hours and can be conducted in Spanish or English. The little extra: free cancellation up to 24 hours before the start of the activity. From 39€/p


➡️ Click here to book online and check availability for the tour with lunch included


➡️ Click here to book online and check availability for the tour only, without lunch



When we set out to discover a place, Antoine and I love to get into the mood. What could be better than going to a local market to meet the locals and observe the scenes of life? With this 3-hour in-house culinary experience, you’ll learn how to cook Cuban dishes. You’ll visit local markets to learn more about food and culinary culture, then prepare a delicious feast with professional chefs. Tour in English and Spanish. Reservations on request.

The tour will be sold to you if you book a trip to Cuba through me, but I don’t sell this tour on its own.


I also suggest a food tour. Discover the real Havana flavor by taking this tour through the streets and street food stalls the most typical and authentic of this wonderful city.

➡️ Click here to book online and check availability




Be greeted in Havana by a passionate and friendly local. Alongside him, discover the city like a local, learn where the best places to shop are and how to get around town. It can be a lot of fun if you want to help out in the city and meet the locals.

The tour lasts between 2 and 6 hours and can be taken in several languages, including French. Reservations on request.

The tour will be sold to you if you book a trip to Cuba through me, but I don’t sell this tour on its own.



Just a 20-minute drive from Havana, this pretty beach is a great place to stop off before catching your return flight. The pSanta Mari beacha mainly frequented by locals, with shallow waters for swimming, and chairs and umbrellas available for hire for the day. Here you can taste fresh coconut with rum inside! And yes, we are in Cuba after all! It’s not too bad but I prefer coconut without.

There’s also the very pretty Playa del Este beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Havana, but we didn’t have time to discover it!


From Havana, you can book a combined excursion to discover a cenote, swim in translucent waters and relax on Varadero beach.

➡️ Click here to book online and check availability



Cuba | Havana | beaches | travel tips



Casas particulares are often referred to in Cuba as the island’s most popular and affordable accommodation. It’s unavoidable and perfect for getting up close and personal with the locals, but if you want to take a little luxury break at the end of your stay, it’s here, at Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski in Havana, which we recommend you stay at.

Located in the historic center of the old town, a stone’s throw from the Parque Central where all the old American cars are parked, opposite the Gran Teatro de La Habana, the Capitollio, the Museum of Fine Arts and the famous bar. The Floridita frequented by the American writer Ernest Hemingway, this luxury hotel is an incredible highlight of the trip. I’ll be honest with you, but I was a little embarrassed to go here, as this baroque-style hotel stands in stark contrast to the poverty-stricken side streets. I was invited to try it out as part of my work, and I have absolutely no regrets, but I didn’t really like being seen entering the hotel lobby.

This 5* hotel is the latest addition to the Kempinski family. Its white facades and beautiful arcades housing luxury accessories are immediately noticeable. It offers 246 rooms and suites, a beautiful spa and a breathtaking terrace with a large pool overlooking Havana’s rooftops. At the end of your stay, it’s the perfect place to relax and take a last dip before getting back on your flight.

The rooms are bright, elegant, spacious and well-appointed, and the bathrooms have a large smoked glass window overlooking the bed. On the relaxation front, we didn’t have time to test their sumptuous spa Albear by Resense 1000m2 open from 9am to 9pm, dedicated to wellness and fitness. We discovered a thermal pool and would have liked to try out their range of body and face treatments. Unfortunately, everything was fully booked the day we came.

On the catering side, breakfast is delicious and varied, with space for vegetarians and people with gluten allergies. It takes place in a beautiful, light-filled space, with a special mention for the huge black and gold mosaic countertop. On the roof of the hotel, you’ll find a large panoramic restaurant, the San Cristobal, offering classic formulas such as snacks, salads and club sandwiches, as well as more elaborate seafood dishes. Unfortunately, if you’re not a hotel guest, you won’t be able to swim in the beautiful pool. There’s also a rooftop bar, the Constante, to sip cocktails or simply enjoy a coffee. For an aperitif, head to the Evocacion Tobacco, where you can try some very good rums and smoke some very good Cuban cigars. If you simply want a little snack break, head to the salon El Arsenal for some great pastries.

The welcome at this establishment is impeccable and worthy of a five-star hotel compared to others we have tested on the island. Depending on the season, you can expect to pay a minimum of €250 per night, including breakfast, for a standard room, but the experience is guaranteed.

➡️ Click here to book online and check availability


Cuba | Havana | hotel | Kempinski | advice | Travel

Cuba | Havana | city center | travel tips


Practical information Havana

As in most of Cuba, you’ll find all kinds of casas, ranging from 5 CUC a night to around 50 CUC a night. The price difference comes down to service, quality of welcome, breakfast, location, cleanliness of rooms… During my trip to Cuba, I selected some very pretty casas that I’ll keep carefully for my customers who book a trip to Cuba with our agency. Havana’s pretty casas are well hidden in the city, and prices are around 90 CUC minimum per night, breakfast included. Here’s a small selection of hotels that I’ve found very appealing.


  • If you’re looking for a really good restaurant, go to Paladar la Guarida, the restaurant where Jay-Z and Beyoncé dined during their visit to Havana. It is located on the 3rd floor of a building in Centro Habana with a lovely terrace. Reservations essential. In another register, you have the very beautiful and refined restaurant Count of the Castle.
  • Restaurant San Cristobal from the Kempinski Hotel for snack, salad and seafood dishes.
  • Restaurant The Front’s (calle orelly) for a good ceviche.
  • Restaurant The workshop (5th Street # 511 between Paseo y 2 Vedado)
  • Restaurant San Ignacio 214 for its delicious Peruvian-style ceviche. The location is not oppressive and the welcome is very warm. The boss came to see us to talk.
  • Restaurant Dona Eutimia ( #60-C, Callejon del Chorro) to discover Cuban gastronomy.
  • Restaurant San Cristobal (San Rafael) for its decoration and because the Obama family ate there!
  • Restaurant Paladar the Moneda Cubana.
  • Restaurant O’Reilly 304
  • Pizza et Pasta Venami (Belgium Avenue) for having eaten the best pizza in town, we went back twice and it’s not very expensive.
  • Restaurant El Rum Rum of the Habana (calle Aguiar)
  • On Calle O’Reilly, not far from Café O’Reilly, we stopped for lunch at a tiny corner restaurant hidden by plants, as we were drawn to the gentle Cuban music of this trio of musicians. We really enjoyed it, because it was a change from what you hear every day. We even bought the record!
  • Restaurant El patio in a 17th-century building on Place de la Cathédrale. It’s an emblematic place in Cuba’s culinary art. (54 San Ignacio St.)
  • Restaurant El Templete to enjoy seafood overlooking Havana Bay. (San Pedro Street, Avenida del Puerto)
  • Restaurant Le Anacaona, a grand Italian restaurant with a precious decor. (Paseo del Prado, esquina a Dragones) or the chic restaurant Meadow and Neptune. (Paseo del Prado, corner of Neptuno)


It is possible to discover the best restaurants and cocktail bars on a guided electric bike tour! You’ll set off on a 4-hour pedal through the streets of the Cuban metropolis to try out 3 of the city’s best restaurants and bars.

➡️ Click here to book online and check availability


Cuba | Havana | restaurant | bar | old town | tips | Travel


  • El Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar with its group of female musicians and singers and its wild atmosphere. We tasted the best daiquiri on the island and had a great time.
  • Bar The Front’s (calle orelly)
  • Bar Jesús Maria (calle Jesus Maria)
  • Rooftop bar the Lair with its lovely view (418 Concordia). Reservations essential.
  • Enjoy a drink on the terrace of Hotel Raquel (263 Mercaderes). Sometimes a young guitarist comes to sing.
  • A drink or coffee at the hotel Ambos Mundos ( Obispo 153) for the lovely panoramic terrace.
  • Rooftop Le Constante, at the Hotel Kempinski
  • Visit bodeguita del Medio very touristy, but it’s apparently here that mojitos were invented. It’s a small place, but a great place to listen to Cuban hits. On the other hand, the mojito is really not good for 5 CUC a glass because it’s made on the assembly line. I just drank a lemon water. During the day, the place is very busy and you can queue.


It is possible to discover the best restaurants and cocktail bars on a guided electric bike tour! You’ll set off on a 4-hour pedal through the streets of the Cuban metropolis to try out 3 of the city’s best restaurants and bars.

➡️ Click here to book online and check availability


Cuba | Havana | music | old town | travel tips

Cuba | Havana | music | old town | travel tips

  • Drinking coffee at Bohemian stay
  • Café O’reilly (106 St. John of God) for its very colonial decor. Here, you can bring back coffee from the island.
  • Café del angel Jacqueline Fumero (calle Compostela)
  • Café Arcangel (57 Concordia) for its beautiful decoration
  • El café (Amargura 358): very nice and very good little café/sandwich, espresso 1 CUC, cappuccino 2.5 CUC, lunch from 6 CUC to 9 CUC, pleasant setting with nice tables and a nice counter.


Cuba | Havana | coffee | old town | travel tips


  • Going to the show Rosalia de Castro or the El Guajirito (calle Agramonte Zulueta) to listen to famous Cuban singers, including some who were part of the famous group Buena Vista Social Club. We tried the one in El Guajirito, and had a great time, but there are only tourists from all over the world sitting around a small table having a drink or dinner. It doesn’t suck, but understand that it’s a dinner show with complimentary drinks.

➡️ Click here to book online and check availability



  • What souvenirs to bring back from Cuba?

In the street of the Bodeguita del Medio, we fell for a beautiful poster, and thought it was a pretty original souvenir. The cost doesn’t come to €70, but negotiations here are quite complicated. You can also visit Almacenes San José, the Capital’s largest souvenir market near the iglesia de San Francisco de Paula. You can take home cigar boxes, paintings, decorative objects, maracas… Cuba has no shortage of ideas for souvenirs and gifts.


Cuba | Havana | souvenirs | old town | travel tips


Nous avons adoré notre escapade à la Havane et avons trouvé que la ville était tout de même un peu plus chère qu’ailleurs. Certains endroits sont toujours aussi authentiques et dans leur jus mais d’autres peuvent paraître touristiques. Il est fini le temps où tous les Cubains dansaient la salsa dans la rue (ils le font davantage en période de Carnaval) et où ces vieilles mamies ridées, assises sur un trottoir, fumaient de bons gros cigares. (J’ai du en voir une seule dans la capitale qui posait moyennant quelques dollars). Aujourd’hui la salsa a fait place au reggaeton que l’on entend partout pour le plus grand désarroi des anciennes générations, qui ont peur que cette musique se perde dans les années futures. Les bars et restaurants des rues principales de la Havane vous attirent tous sur les mêmes sons de musique cubaine connue. Même si cela peut sembler folklorique, nous avons été charmés à 100% et reviendrons avec grand plaisir sur cette très belle île.

Cuba est dans l’ensemble  une destination assez sécuritaire, les locaux sont  gentils, souriants et accueillants. Prenez en compte que lorsqu’un cubain vous suggère une adresse, il le fait souvent par intérêt! Non pas qu’il ne soit pas sympa, mais il perçoit une petit commission du lieu où il vous amène, ce sont en quelque sorte des rabatteurs qui arrondissent leur fin de mois. A la longue, cela devient pesant mais j’ai envie de vous dire que c’est le jeu et nous sommes tombés dans le panneau dès le premier jour de notre arrivée à la Havane. Nous avons vite compris qu’il fallait stopper cette bonté et tracer notre chemin!

Ne soyez pas trop durs avec les locaux. Vous vous en rendrez vite compte mais ils dépendent vraiment du tourisme car leurs revenus sont vraiment très bas et désespérants. Les Cubains peuvent donc vous paraître comme insistants et vous déstabiliser par leur histoire. Je vous raconte quelques anecdotes dans le guide pratique de Cuba. Avant de venir ici, j’entendais souvent que “la Havane c’était bien mieux avant“, “que “les américains ont envahi l’île”, “qu’il fallait venir maintenant avant que cela ne soit trop tard” mais je trouve ce comportement finalement égoïste car je leur souhaite vraiment que leur situation politique change et qu’ils puissent s’épanouir financièrement. Aucun pays, aucun humain, aucun enfant ne mérite d’être rationné pour manger !



Enfin, sachez que Cuba, n’est pas une destination bon marché et qu’il vous faudra un petit budget pour visiter l’île.  Les prestataires avec qui je collabore pour vous créer du voyage sur mesure sont triés sur le volet et choisis pour leur éthique et leur professionnalisme. Ils ne font pas de tourisme de masse ! Ils vous seront proposés dans le devis, uniquement sur la réservation d’un voyage.

Pour toute demande de devis et un voyage sur mesure pour découvrir de manière authentique Cuba, contactez moi par email à contact@mademoiselle-voyage.fr. Je vous invite à lire la rubrique voyage sur mesure où je vous présente mon activité d’agence de voyage agrée.

Pour tous ceux qui veulent y aller en août, il faut vous y prendre à l’avance, je commence souvent les réservations pour mes clients à partir de janvier . Cela me permet d’avoir du choix en terme pour les casas particulares et de trouver rapidement une bonne voiture.

Nous vous invitons à lire également tous nos autres articles sur Cuba:


N’oubliez pas d’épingler l’article sur Pinterest pour le retrouver plus facilement 🖤


Cuba | La Havane | conseils | voyage | mademoiselle-voyage




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