Best Travel Guide For Havana Cuba

Travel Guide For Havana Cuba

Best Travel Guide For Havana Cuba:

When I first decided to travel to Cuba for 18 days I really had no idea what to expect, I was told think 1950’s BUT in my head 1950’s was the Scarface movie, people wearing suits, old cars, fancy dinning and dancing, well that’s as far from the reality as possible. The reality is Cuba is a COMMUNIST, THIRD WORLD country so leave your american standards in america, come with no expectations and visit the places I’ve suggested, you’re guaranteed to have a great time. I’ve compiled a list below to help you have an amazing time while visiting Cuba. I travel like a local so that you can look like a pro. Happy traveling xoxo Cecily Witcher Click here for essentials 

MUST READ & PRINT, Thank me later: Click here for your transportation phone numbers to book and plan before you go. These are cab drivers that I recommend, they provided great service at a fair price. Note: airport pick up and drop offs to and from Old Havana $20-$25 flat, it’s NOT per person.

Old Havana: Fancy cars, big OLD buildings, lots of history. I’d suggest a 2-3 day visit to old Havana but anything more than that may feel redundant and depressing. The old cars are really pretty  BUT remember they run on diesel so the fumes they emanate are very harsh. The buildings are huge and I was taken aback that most of these buildings that are now hotels,galleries,museums were once someones home.

Beaches:  I’m a total beach snob, always in search of the worlds most beautiful beach and I’ve heard incredible reviews of Cuba beaches so it was a treat to be able to explore them freely. I’d HIGHLY recommend exploring Havana for 2-3days and then book a hotel on the beach. The beaches are BEAUTIFUL, with baby powder soft sand. Click for my beach picks and pictures. Santa Maria, Veradera, Guanabo.

Travel: This is where you will spend a majority of your money. I HIGHLY recommend hiring a driver for the days you will want to leave Old Havana. You can hire a personal driver to for the entire day for $80 CUC, if you’re only going short distances here are the options you have. Cabs, Horse and Carriage, Bicycle, Walk,Bus NOTE you are not “supposed” to take the bus with the locals and unless you’re with a local I don’t recommend their public transportation, if you do, don’t speak because they will definitely know you’re not from Cuba and the buses are for nationals only.

To travel from one part of cuba to the next IE: Havana to Houlgin there is a Viazul bus that tourist can take and I HIGHLY recommend this for people traveling on a budget. I took the bus from Havana to Houlgin for $40 which was a 12hr ride. The process was pretty straight forward and easy just watch to make sure your bags get on YOUR bus, book tickets online before your travels and make sure when you check in with the agent you have your passport AND your PRINTED itinerary with your payment showing. Click here to view ticket prices and destinations.

Dining: 

La Calesca Real was my FAVORITE dining experience. The food is sooooo yummy, take it from this super picky eater this is a restaurant that will make you not want to give the others a chance, you’ll want to eat here everyday. I had the thermidor lobster, it was the best lobster I’ve had and was only $12. I heard prior to my visit that cuba had good pizza & spaghetti, this is a fact once again this picky eater was pleased, I ordered a side of spaghetti and it was YUMMY. Please note the portions are plentiful so you definitely can share. Click here for pics, address & time.

Azucar in Havana’s Plaza Vieja is located on the second floor of the newly restored buildings that surround the Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, the food was good but the pina colada’s were the best I had my entire visit. I am a SUPER picky eater so I will say I wasn’t particularly impressed with my meal, I ordered the grilled fish BUT my godmother ordered the pork and she still raves about how good it was. I advise you to go try for yourself because I am SUPER picky. Click for pictures address & hours.

El Ron De Cuba  is a nice spot to grab a mojito, I didn’t try the food but the mojitos were good and once you finish your cocktail you can go tour the Museo del Ron Havana Club. Click for pictures address & hours.

The Chocolate Museum is a must if you’re a desert person and a lover of chocolate. They do not serve any meals but feel free to stop by for your daily chocolate fix, I did.  Click for pictures address & hours.

Things To Do:

     Museo del Ron Havana Club which is located in the same building as El Ron De Cuba  Havana Club, here you will learn the process of making rum.  NOTE: The rum is cheaper if you purchase it at the airport I bought a Havana 3yrs for $6.95 but there were others without a box for $5, there is a fee for the duty-free bag so factor in an appx extra 50cents. Click here for pictures, address and hours.

Planetarium in plaza vieja is a must do experience while in Cuba, I’ve experienced other planetarium’s but non as beautiful as this one. Bring your camera and your sweater, as the planetarium is cold. NOTE: you must purchase your tickets 30min in advance. Click here for pictures,address and hours.

Camara Oscura located in plaza vieja is just a few steps from the planetarium and is another experience that I’ll rate as a must do. For 2 CUC’s you purchase the tickets from the kiosk right outside in front of the building, then you’ll take the elevator up. The Cámara Oscura was invented by Leonardo da Vinci. Havnaa’st is the only one of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is one of 74 worldwide today. It is best seen on clear, cloudless days. Click here for location, cost and pictures.

The Hotel Ambos Mundos is another must visit for any fellow writers, this hotel was the home to writer Earnest Hemingway and you can actually go to his original room that is “exactly” how he left it. Bring your professional camera and be ready to be inspired, I was. The cost is 2CUC. Once you finish the short tour of the room go upstairs and have a pina colada, the view is phenomenal. Click here for location and pictures. 

The chocolate museum is definitely in my top three things that I enjoyed doing. I’m a serious milk chocolate lover and every  day that I was in Old Havana I’d end it with a stop by the museum for a cup of hot chocolate “which is THE BEST!!!!” I’d switch up and get the chocolate shake which never disappointed me, but I prefered the hot chocolate, it was DELICIOUS and only 50 cents. NOTE: outside of the museum is a guy who is making fresh churros, please save room for them they are DELICIOUS. Click here for pictures & location.

Take a tour of Old Havana in a Classic Car for 2.5 hours at appx $40. Bring your professional cameras and dress super cute you have 2.5 hours to capture some amazing images with your english speaking driver. NOTE: the cab drivers are a plethora of knowledge so utilize them in regards to where to exchange money, book your airport return in advance with them. From old havana appx $25. Click here for pictures.

Habana 1791 museo del perfume is a must stop shop for my girls who love fragrances, when I travel I seek out fragrances that I can only get when I go back to that location and this place did not disappoint. I was really surprised at how inexpensive the perfumes were but I guess inexpensive is relative. I bought a 2.5oz bottle of violet oil for $12, I get so many compliments that I wish I would’ve purchased a larger bottle. Click here for picture, address & hours.

Hotels:
When visiting Old Havana which is rich in history why not stay in one of the most historical hotels? The Hotel Ambos Mundos was the first residence of writer Ernest Hemingway, enjoy the excellent location. You can go to his original room and see where he’d often write for hours, then you can go to the top floor and enjoy a refreshing drink or grab a bite. The pina coladas were delicious with the best presentation that I’d seen on the entire island. The location is VERY central. Click here to see pics.
Palacio del Marques de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal hotel in San Francsico de Asis square is another great hotel with a central location. I was taken aback with the beauty of this hotel. It was shocking to learn that this six floor BEAUTIFUL,HUGE hotel was once someones personal home. Click here for pictures & location.
CIGARS: 
I searched the ENTIRE island of cuba for the best cigar prices and never found a place that could beat Raul’s prices. His Cohiba’s were $20 and Romeo and Juliet $3.75 you can purchase a box of Romeo and Juliet $175. NOTE: DON’T wait until you get to the airport, the Chobia’s were $40 and the Romeo and Juliet were $8. Raul’s cigar shop is located in Old Havana Address is 120 Mercaderes in Havana Vieja.
 Currency Exchange: When I was in Cuba I exchanged my money for best rate of $100US for $95 CUC my lowest rate was $100 for $93 CUC. I don’t recommend exchanging at the airport  because they’ll charge you a 3% exchange fee and when you’re exchanging US $ there is an additional 10% tax added. Once you land and get in a cab have your phone translator prepared to ask him if he knows a local/national who can exchange your money for you for a good rate. NOTE: when you receive change back make sure you’re getting CUC not Pesos.

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