A few hours to immerse yourself in Havana

Colonial Havana in Old Havana CubaNot everyone travelling to Havana has enough time to visit all the most important historical sites and highlights of the capital of Cuba. Many visitors will be moving on to one of the island’s famous Cuban beaches or Cayos and even more arrive on cruise ships with just a few hours to discover the joys of Havana.

After years strolling around the Cuban capital, my advice would be to make the most of your time in this vibrant city by exploring it on foot. While you won't have the chance to take in all the city's magnificent sights, wandering the streets of Colonial Havana is like stepping through time and you'll be absorbed in more than 500 years of history. It's worth noting that many of the museums in Old Havana are closed on Mondays.

Those with only between half and a full day to spend in the city should definitely hop on one of the Tourist Bus - Habana Tour Bus - which takes in many of the most famous landmarks.

If you have the time I strongly suggest you to devote a whole morning to walking through the streets and avenues of Old Havana. Immerse yourself in the capital's best maintained and restored district with countless colonial buildings, narrow alleys and cobbled lanes. The area still retains much of its original beauty and presents an authentic slice of Havana in all its glory.

Capitolio Old Havana Tour in CubaBegin your Havana tour at the Capitolio, probably the most emblematic building in Cuba and head toward the Paseo del Prado, down Obispo St. to get lost in the labrynth of streets and squares in Colonial Havana.

Enjoy a break at the Hotel Ambos Mundos. Take the old elevator up to the deck terrace and enjoy beautiful views overlooking Havana city while sipping a tropical cocktail or nibbling on a Caribbean snack. After dark this is the perfect place to soak up a little Cuban nightlife.

Prepare yourself for the breathtaking scenery as you arrive at the Cathedral Square. You will see many people in the square enjoying the atmosphere, grabbing a snack or listening to live music at places like the Patio Restaurant, or the nearby and ever popular Bodeguita del Medio. The entire square throbs to the sound of Cuban music and there are venues on almost every corner hosting live music every evening.

When you've seen enough squares, churches, museums and colonial gems head west toward the Bay and the world famous Malecón seafront promenade. This is an unmissable highlight of Old Havana, that follows Centro Habana and stetches all the way to the upmarket Vedado neighborhood. Probably the most lively place in town and the place the whole of Havana seems to head in the evening to chat, take in the sea air and enjoy impromptu musical performances.

Once you finish the route, keep walking a bit further until you arrive at the National Hotel nestling on a small hill, possibly the city's most luxurious hotel. Whenever I'm in Cuba I always try to enjoy at least one sunset in the grounds of the National and you don't have to be a guest at the hotel to taste one of their fantastic Mojitos and Piña Coladas. There's no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting and the twinkling lights of Havana Bay in the early evening.

necropolis colon cemetery in havana cubaYou can continue along the Malecón promenade up to Presidentes Avenue, which will take you to the Revolution Square. If you have the time stay on the Malecón boardwalk until the next avenue called Paseo Av. Take it and you will appear at the same point as above, the stunning Revolution Square. A few meters away is the Necropolis Colon, the huge cemetery which is Cubaꞌs National Monument.

If you are not a fan of walking or have limited time in Havana, I suggest you that once you've seen enough of Old Havana you hop on the Tourist Bus at Central Park close to the Capitol and take in some of the city's most important sites for just 5 CUC. Any of the three available routes wil take in plenty of highlights so choose one, take your seat and enjoy the sights – You won't regret it.

If Cuban beaches are your thing then Tourist Bus Route 3 takes you all the way to the idyllic Playas del Este beaches.

For those on a tight schedule with more interest in history, it's best to stick with Old Havana and without doubt the best way to immerse yourself in the Cuban capital's Caribbean charms is to stroll along its streets. You'll enjoy many unforgettable photo opportunities and be immersed in the island's fabulous history at every turn.

Check out our selection of private vacation accommodation in Old Havana

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