Things to do in Havana
Here are things to do in Havana after we covered what to see in Old Havana in the previous post.
Remember that we were strolling around this old part of the Cuban capital? Well, we’ll just keep walking, since there are some beautiful spots to see in the Centro Habana. The next neighborhood, the very center of the city, is dominated by Capitolio. This is where we’ll begin with our things to do in Havana. At least that’s how I visited the city.
Things to do in Havana
The building is inaugurated in 1929 and is a loose imitation of the Washington DC Capitol, even though it’s a bit taller. It was the home of the government until 1959 and today houses the Ministry of Science. It is open to tourist visits which include the former government chambers and the library.
The Gran Teatro
There are a couple of lovely buildings here. One of them is opposite the Capitolio. It’s the famous Gran Teatro da La Habana. The impressive structure was carefully decorated and once hosted the greatest opera performers from around the world. Next to it, there is the Hotel Inglaterra with Moorish details and decorations.
They say that a lot of artists that performed at the Gran Teatro stayed here when coming to Havana. So, this is definitely one of the things to do in Havana.
If you continue to stroll the neighborhood, you will see a couple of lovely parks, popular as meeting points for lively discussions on music and sports in the evenings. You will pass by Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas. It was really interesting to visit one of the cigar factories. Before that, I didn’t realize that all those cigars are actually handmade.
Along the Paseo del Prado that goes in front of the Capitolio and all the way to the castle on the coast, there are a lot of lovely restored colonial buildings to be admired. Colorful walls, old cars, and trees in the middle. Just a cozy bustling city street. Pay attention to charming street lamps or Hotel Sevilla.
Plaza de la Revolucion
Not far from here is the popular Plaza de la Revolucion in the Vedado district but bear in mind that it can get pretty hot in Cuba and you should come prepared with sunglasses, a bottle of water, and a hat. If not, just hop into a taxi.
This square is a must-see when traveling to Cuba since it’s very important for the country’s history. This has been Cuba’s political, cultural, and administrative center since 1959. It was the venue for the first mass rallies following the triumph of the revolution, where military parades and official celebrations often took place.
On one side of the Plaza, you will find the Memorial Jose Marti, standing proud at 109 meters in height. It was possible to take the elevator up to the top and admire a great view of the entire city. At the foot of the tower is the huge statue of Marti. Essayist and journalist, Marti was born in Havana in 1853 to Spanish parents, but later became one of the best-known anti-Spanish activists. He is regarded as a Cuban national hero.
On the other side, there is another one of those things to do in Havana. One has to see the famous facade of the Interior Ministry which is almost completely covered with a vast bronze wire structure of Che Guevara’s bust, completed in 1995. The guerrilla fighter had an office in this building in the early 1960s. (More about Che Guevara in posts to come.) Under the bust, his famous words are inscribed: “Hasta la victoria siempre.” (To victory, always.)
More things to do in Havana
While strolling around Havana, you will notice that unlike the Old Town or Paseo de Prado, you will come across a lot of old buildings in pastel colors and colonial architecture, which are so neglected that there is only the front facade left. Surprisingly, people still inhabit such constructions with only the building’s skeleton still standing.
They say that the internet is weak nowadays in Cuba, but when I traveled to the island, the internet was something that was only available to government officers. Also, there were almost no mobile phones. That was all so strange then given that I had everything I needed at the hotel. And I just couldn’t grasp that those everyday things were not allowed outside of those walls.
Don’t let me even start on the means of transportation! Or better yet, I will, but in the next Glimpse.
Next: CADILLAC OR CHEVROLET, HM?
The full Cuba SERIES
This is one destination which is on my list but its great to read a blog about Havana which doesnt focus on cigars and old cars. I would love to take a wander around the old town and sample the sights.
Hehehe, there’ll be old cars as well. It’s hard to skip that when in Havana! 😀 Thanks!
I thought it was really unique having Che Guevara’s bust formed out of wire, instead of a typical statue like you normally see. Especially for as large as it was!
It looks more impressive like this, right! You somehow grasp the greatness of the man. 🙂 By the way, I think I had a little crush on Che Guevara when I was in school! He was a guerrilla hero, all smart, handsome and idealistic, oh well… 😀
Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten
Such beautiful architecture! We live in Florida and have Cuba on our bucketlist. Love your photographs, they really capture Cuba’s essence.
Oh, it’s so close to you then. It would be a pity not to go, right! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words.
Great place and a detailed description. The pictures are good. Will definitely visit this place on next time in Cuba. Thanks for sharing.
You probably saw all this if you were in Havana. You know what I’m talking about then. 😉 Thanks!
Something very beautiful about the very grand and yet faded elegance of some of the architecture there. I can see it’s a photographer’s paradise.
Oh yes, you take pictures like crazy, don’t know where to turn first. It’s so picturesque! 🙂
Loving your Cuba series, I read a couple of your previous posts too. Some lovely buildings in Havana, the Teatro is very impressive! I also didn’t know that the cigars are hand-made – interesting fact! Thanks for sharing, look forward to the next ones.
Oh, thank you, it means a lot! So glad you like the series. There will be three more posts on Cuba. 🙂 Well, couldn’t help it, there are just so many interesting things about the country to share. 😀
I do like it – I think it’s really nice to do a series of posts rather than doing one long post but not including as much detail on the different places and experiences. Inspirational stuff, keep it coming!
Thanks, the support is always welcome! 🙂 I actually always do series, the blog is full of them. It fits my writing better than to do one post per destination. I just need more writing “space”! 😀
Marcus and Mel
We’ve been wanting to visit Cuba for years but still haven’t got there. Hopefully, we will in 2018. Although still bad for the north coast, looks like it escaped the worst of Irma.
Oh, I’m following the Irma news, hope it ends well!
Marcelle Simone Heller
I saw these pastel colors and Colonial architecture in other parts of the Caribbean. I heard they have a meaning and should make the owner lucky. It’s such a shame that these beautiful buildings get neglected and fall apart.
Such a nice symbolism, didn’t know about that. It sure goes with pastels. 🙂
And yes, I agree, that really is a shame. It’s the great heritage that should be preserved.
Another iconic city in South America. Love the architecture of the place. I would love to walk around the streets admiring these structures.
I’m sure you’d like the architecture, it’s so elegant. 🙂
There are so many lovely buildings throughout Cuba, I pray that the hurricane this weekend didn’t destroy the Capitol. I love the charm of the colorful walls, old cars, and trees in the middle of the streets. Thanks for the tip on Plaza de la Revolucion being of historic importance. I hope to visit soon!
Fingers crossed, there won’t be much damage in Havana by the hurricane, other than occasional floods!
The fact that it remained cut-off from the rest of the world for a while due to its politics, makes it even more charming. I feel like stepping into the 1960s when I see these old buildings. That image of Che can have a serious impact on people irrespective of their ideologies.
So true, you just have to feel enormous respect for Che when you see how important his legacy is for people there.
And regarding that step back in time, feel free to check out the new post. It’s all about vintage cars from 1950’s and 1960’s. Now, that’s one genuine time travel! 🙂
Cuba is definitely on my top destinations to visit next year. You have some fantastic photos of Havana. I hope the recent hurricane didn’t do much damage on the island.
Me too, I’ve seen some flood reports from Havana, but I hope it will end well.
Thank you for your kind words! You’ll have great time in Cuba, that’s for sure. 🙂
Janna on a Jaunt (@jannaonajaunt)
I’ve never really thought of visiting Cuba but after seeing posts like this, it makes me want to explore it and see what the country offers. Love that you captured the beautiful buildings. I seriously hope the hurricane didnt damage this beautiful country.
This is such an amazing heritage, that I wish it stays there for centuries to come and future generations to admire it! <3