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The bucket list guide to Havana

From classic cars to steamy shows here’s how to get into the latin spirit in this sultry city.

By Rebecca Barnes

Vibrant Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean sea, combines old-world charm with Spanish influence, retro flair and a sun-soaked tropical climate.

With a fascinating heritage and culture, the capital city of Havana is a sensory overload of uniqueness and color.

Founded in 1519 by the Spanish, you’ll find vibrant buildings at every turn, while the vintage cars found parked on the streets add further splashes of color to the atmospheric, buzzy city.

Fuelled by Latin American spirit, Habaneros look for any excuse to party and their lives are sound tracked by a heady blend of mambo, salsa, jazz dancing and pulsating music.

Dip your toe into some of the highlights of this truly bucket list city with our Sailawaze round up of epic experiences…

Feel the warm breeze in your hair while you ride around Old Havana in a classic car discovering the city highlights

Havana in Cuba is filled with classic cars and vibrant colors

Feel the rhythm

Open since 1939, and located in a six-acre tropical garden, Cabaret Tropicana is a world-famous open air extravaganza of dancers, singers, acrobats and outrageous costumes that defines Havana nightlife – it’s definitely one not to miss. The entertainment focuses on promoting and showcasing Cuban culture, music and dance, and you can book dinner and show, or drinks and show packages.

Enjoy a mojito moment

You can’t visit Cuba without enjoying a mojito cocktail or two: follow the footsteps of famous artists and writers and order the rum-based drink at Bodeguita del Medio in the old town. The restaurant dates back to 1942 and features historical signatures on the wall from the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich. Hungry? The menu is typical Creole, but you’ll need to book in advance.

Mojito in Cuba Havana is a must try
Old Havana in Cuba with classic car

Stroll the old town

La Habana Vieja, also known as Old Havana, is normally the first stop on the tourist trail and deservedly so – the colorful buildings and boulevards in the historic centre are a timeless symbol of the city. The atmospheric Unesco World Heritage Site is home to more than 1000 buildings of historical importance, with architecture styles ranging from art deco to baroque.

Hit the road in style

An absolute must do in Havana is a tour in a vintage American convertible, as the cars are arguably the most iconic symbols of the city. Feel the warm breeze in your hair while you ride around in style discovering the city highlights, while snapping some great pictures for your social feed. You can bag a tour at a good price with a little negotiation; we recommend an early evening tour.

Sun and classic cars are guaranteed in Cuba, Havana
Ernest Hemingway signature at Bodeguita del Mediation in Cuba Havana

Try some forest bathing

Havana even has something to offer nature lovers – the Bosque de la Habana, also known as the ‘enchanted forest’ or ‘Havana’s lungs’ is a verdant oasis offering a refreshing respite from the city heat. Designed by the landscape architect behind the Eiffel Tower’s gardens and found running the length of the banks of the Almendares River, you can cycle, walk, play mini golf or simply enjoy the shade of the giant trees and the birdsong.

Published 03.02.22