Exploring Tourism in Cuba
icon Worldwideicon
Places to Visit Details

Top 12 Places To Visit In Havana

Havana, Cuba

Havana is Cuba’s capital city. Spanish colonial architecture in its 16th-century Old Havana core includes the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum. The National Capitol Building is an iconic 1920s landmark. Also in Old Havana is the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza Vieja, whose buildings reflect the city’s vibrant architectural mix.

A fiesta for the senses, Havana is a city made to stroll, with plenty of cultural attractions and unique things to do. Listen to live rumba music on a street corner, feast at restaurants where Hemingway once dined, or inhale the salt-soaked air along the famous Malecón.

Here are the Top 12 Places to Visit in Havana, which are worth visiting on a Havana trip:

1. Old Havana

Old Havana, Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage site, oozes the charm of days gone by. Elegant neoclassical and Baroque buildings border cobbled squares and narrow streets, and many have been carefully restored to their former beauty.

If you're wondering what to do in Old Havana, start your sightseeing tour by heading to one of the popular public squares: Plaza Vieja and Plaza de Armas. The latter is where the splendid Palacio de Los Capitanes stands, home to the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) and a delightful leafy courtyard.

2. Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro

Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro, also known as El Morro, stands proudly at the entrance of the Bay of Havana in the Parque Historico Militar.

El Morro was built in the late 16th century and early 17th century to guard against the constant threat of pirate attacks. It was designed by an Italian engineer, Giovanni Battista Antonelli, and looks much the same as it did in the 17th century. One of the main changes to the fort is the lighthouse. It was rebuilt several times and then finally replaced in the middle of the 19th century with a new lighthouse constructed of solid stone. Today, its original lamp still shines, and the fort is open to tourists. You can enjoy beautiful views over the ocean and the city of Havana from its upper reaches.

3. San Isidro

Photographers will love the colorful streets of San Isidro. Down in the untouristy southern lanes of Old Havana, an army of street painters has transformed these streets into an al fresco canvas. You’ll need to take to Instagram to identify some of the tags if you’re a real fan. Soak up the atmosphere, snap the artwork, and pop into new art galleries, opened by the entrepreneurial sons of Cuba’s leading actor Jorge Perugorría, as well as the bars.

4. National Capitol Building

Travelers to Havana who have visited Washington, D.C. may do a double take when they see beautiful El Capitolio, inaugurated in 1929. Rising from the city skyline, this grand building is reminiscent of the American Capitol building, but it was the Panthéon in Paris, which reputedly inspired its distinctive cupola.

The structure displays a blend of neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles and was the seat of government until 1959, after the Cuban Revolution. For a small fee, you can take a guided tour of the recently restored building, with headsets provided in the language of your choice. Highlights include the grand hallways, beautiful inlaid marble floors, and massive dome.

5. Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana

About a 15-minute walk from El Morro in the Parque Historico Militar, the huge Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, also called the Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabana, sits atop La Cabana hill. At the time of its construction in the 1770s, it was the largest fort the Spanish had ever built, as well as the most costly. Following the British occupation, the Spanish set about building this imposing fort, which dominates the entrance to the Bay of Havana.

6. Chinatown

Yes, Havana has a Chinatown. Thousands of Chinese indentured laborers worked the booming sugar plantations in the mid-19th century. Havana was once home to the largest Chinatown in Latin America. Today, wander under the pairing behind the Capitol building to find streets and societies bearing Chinese lettering. A small street of restaurants is heralded by a new neon sign. The biggest draws are the avant-garde art shows at Galería Arte Continua, fashioned out of the former Golden Eagle Cinema.

7. Edificio Bacardí

It was all about Bacardí rum prior to the 1959 Revolution in Cuba when thousands of Americans suffering Prohibition escaped to the island for cocktails in the city’s famous bars. There was no better way to showcase profits than in a beautiful showy art deco company headquarters. Towering over Old Havana, it’s crowned by a ziggurat and the rum’s bat symbol. Go for the lobby, striped in pink Bavarian and dark Norwegian granite, as well as the little mezzanine café where you can admire the original decor.

8. Plaza Vieja

Our favorite square in Havana, Plaza Vieja is a historic square dating back to the 16th century. Colorful colonial buildings surround the square that is alive with bustling activity. This is a great place for a frozen lemonade or cocktail to take a break from sightseeing.

9. Plaza De La Catedral

The Catedral de San Cristobal (also known as Catedral de la Habana) stands at the head of the Plaza de la Catedral. This photogenic square is lined with stone buildings and covered porticoes making for nice shaded walking within the square. The entire atmosphere will make you feel as if you have been transported to a city in Spain.

10. Fabrica De Arte Cubano

The newest hippest hot spot in Cuba’s capital city is The Cuban Art Factory is open from Thursdays to Sundays from 8 pm to 2 am. It is a multisensory display of art galleries, performance art, cultural center, and nightclub all in one. Fabrica de Arte Cubano is a must for people wanting to immerse in Cuban culture. Its aim is to promote Cuban artists of all kinds from musicians, and photographers to writers and filmmakers. The display changes weekly.

11. Gran Teatro de La Habana

The Gran Teatro de la Habana (Grand Theatre of Havana) dates back to 1838. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Make sure to go inside and either see the Cuban National Ballet or take a tour to see the grand stage, and we recommend taking a walk downtown at night to see it lit up.

12. Playas del Este

A short drive from Havana's city center, Playas del Este is a long stretch of palm-fringed beach that runs for miles. This is a great alternative for travelers who are unable to visit the more remote beach resorts in other parts of Cuba.

Along Playas del Este sightseers will find hotels, restaurants, and all the regular tourist facilities. The beach is divided up into sections, with one of the best stretches at Santa Maria del Mar, a popular tourist spot.

Besides this, there is much more to explore in Havana!!!

Check out more Places to Visit