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.
The full Cuba SERIES