Havana is full of awesome things to do and see. Walk the streets in awe of the historical buildings, ride in a vintage car, or take a horse and buggy around town. You can see where Earnest Hemingway drank, visit the best cigar shops, explore the fort and lighthouse or take a cheap ferry ride.
The sunsets are fishing along El Malecon are also quite wonderful. There are so many great things to do in Havana it can be really hard to figure out what to do first, especially if you’re only here a short time.
Below you’ll find 30 of the very best things to do while visiting Havana.
1. Habana Bus
The double-decker Habana Bus is an audio-guided sightseeing tour of Havana and the easiest way to get between the attractions. For just 5 CUC, you can ride all day. explore all the stops on foot, then catch the next bus. The tour departs from Parque Central and you can use this handy route map to plan out your day. The upper deck also offers a great vantage point for taking panoramic photos along the way.
2. Classic American Car Tours
If you have little more money to spend on transportation then heading out a classic American car tour is a great way to see Havana in style. Generally, these tours are very personalized with your driver having extensive knowledge about the city.
3. Horse & Buggy Tour
You can also slow things down a bit and take a relaxing or romantic tour of Havana Centro on a horse and buggy.
4. Grand Theatre & Palace
A stunning building with four towers tipped by a white marble angel reaching gracefully to the sky. Inside you’ll find a palatial theater where the world famous Cuban Ballet perform, along with other concerts, plays. and musicals. For just 5 CUC, you can take a personal guided tour around the Gran Teatro de La Habana and the palace right next door.
This festival of music, dance and fantastic costumes takes place in August, and seeing the city of Havana shaking it’s booty at Carnival time is a true delight. The elevated seating which generally cost 5 CUC and up offer the best views. There’s a fireworks shows to start and then endless array of floats, dancers, and singers. The main stage is along El Malecon near Calle 25 with the whole area being closed off to traffic. Along with costume’s galore, there’s cheap beer, BBQ chicken, and tasty rice is in abundance
6. La Cabana Fort
Every night at 9 PM there is small ceremony at the impressive La Cabana Fort where a real cannon is fired across the Bahia Havana. Reliving the history of Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana (Fort of Saint Charles), costumed guards parade around and stuff the cannon with gun powder before the big bang. Prior to the show you visit the market stalls and check out the fort museum. The are plenty of tours that include the cannon ceremony, but you can also catch the little ferry from Havana across to Casablanca and walk up there too. Entry fee is 8 CUC at night for the ceremony, and 6 CUC during the day when it’s close to empty.
7. National Aquarium
Aquariums are always fun. The Acuario Nacional de Cuba has the usual marine life on display as well as daily performances. There are two different shows to watch, Dolphins or Sea lions.
The shows are impressive, but the highlight is meeting the animals afterwards. For an extra fee, you can meet the animals and take a photo. There is also a restaurant onsite, Gran Azul, that has a large glass wall a decent menu. You watch the dolphins playing in their pool while you eat your food.
Fusterlandia is a public art project in progress. It’s been going for the last 20 years and is the brainchild of artist Jose Rodriguez Fuster. In a nutshell, he has let his imagination run wild over several blocks of land in the Jaimenitas neighborhood. The area is now known as Fusterlandia.
These vibrant artworks are crafted from tiles in every colour imaginable. It’s hard to describe, think Gaudí on steroids. You can marvel at the artistic creativity or enjoy exploring between sculptures, hiding and searching out the weirdest creations of them all.
9. Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor
The Coppelia in old Havana is an institution amongst the locals. It was built in the 1960s to rival the icecream parlours of the USA. It may not be able to boost the 29 flavors of yesteryear, but locals still queue for hours to enjoy a refreshing ice cream.
The ice cream is served in a bowl with toppings such as meringue, cookies or honey. You can hang out and wait in line with the locals or pay extra and use the tourist only booth. You do pay more, but you’ll have more flavors to choose from, get a better quality product and, best of all, avoid the long queue. The scoops are still large and great value for money by western standards.
10. Morro Castle
More cannons await at Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Magos Del Morro, along with a 66-foot marble sculpture of Jesus. The steep-walled castle is perched over a rocky cliff that also has a tall lightouse. The fort is also known as El Morro and is that medieval place you see across the harbor from Havana city. You can reach it via the ferry to Casablanca. The entrance fee is 6 CUC and you’ll find the ticket window near all the little craft shops. Just look for the tunnel to guide your way.
11. Parques Almendares
In the very heart of Havana lies an enchanted forest that’s just waiting to be explored. The Almendares river runs through Havana and along it’s winding path you’ll find the Enchanted Forest. With its hanging vines and creeping plants, it truly looks like a scene from a fairy tale.
This area was once home to the Cervezeria La Tropical and the Jardin La Tropical, but following the revolution, it was abandoned. The best way to explore is by bike. Citykleta offers a guided tour exploring the Enchanted Forest and local neighbourhoods. It’s around 10kms and takes about 3.5 hours, including refreshments at the end. Children must be over ten years old to participate.
12. Paseo del Prado
This busy street is another popular destination for locals in Havana and is full of life, day or night. You’ll see school children exercising, teens practicing their dance moves, families out for a stroll and lots of people watching going on.
At night the street is filled with music as everyone makes the most of cooler temperatures and a refreshing breeze. During the day the trees provide plenty of shade, and there are often cultural or art exhibits on display. If you’re lucky, you might be able to join in an impromptu game of street soccer or marbles or even challenge a local to a game of chess.
13. Cuban Baseball Game
Baseball is a national passion in Cuba. If you’re in Cuba during the baseball season, try to attend a game at the Estadio PanAmericano. Built in 1946, this is the 2nd largest baseball stadium in the world by capacity and is home to Los Industriales.
It’s a value for money family excursion, and you don’t have to be a die-hard baseball fan to enjoy it. Cuban fans are passionate about their game and bring an amazing atmosphere. This is Cuba, so don’t expect fancy big-screen action and replays! Do expect quality action, good sportsmanship and plenty of atmosphere.
14. Buena Vista Social Club
Located in Old Havana youll find the Buena Vista Social Visit puts on an excellent nightly music show. You can choose to do dinner and show for 75 CUC or just the show for 40 CUC. The price includes all you can drink with the option for lovely mojitos throughout the show. The Cuban music show has original singers alongside a great band with some dancing as well.
15. Plaza Vieja
The historic square in Old Havana called Plaza Vieja is surrounded by beautifully renovated mansions, apartment blocks and a number of good restaurants, as well as it’s own brewery. It’s a neat place to have a quick meal as you’re surrounded by stunning building and the camera obscura is here too.
16. Handicraft Market
You’ll find Havana’s biggest handicraft market located down by the waterfront close to the railway station. They have the best selection of handicrafts in one place, along with a number of artwork sellers who will prepare your painting for travel. You can also buy leather souvenirs, tee shirts, caps, cigar boxes and much more.
17. Rum Museum
You’ll find the the Museo del Ron down by waterfront along Calle San Pedro. The 7 CUC tour through the old building details the rum making process, sugar refinery model, and the old equipment that dates back hundreds of years.
18. Fishing El Malecon
While many of the activities target tourists, one way to enjoy Havana like a local is fishing at El Malecon. This five miles stretch of waterfront is a hive of activity at sunset. Locals and tourists come to enjoy the atmosphere and catch a few fish.
A local company, Fishing: Malecon & Sunset, offers a 2-hour fishing service. They will provide equipment, teach you the basics and keep you supplied with bait. It’s a far more thrilling experience than you might think. There’s the anticipation of a fish biting, the thrill of reeling it in and the competition of beating a parent or sibling. This is an activity to try at the start of your visit as it’s one you’ll most likely want to repeat.
19. San Francisco de Asis Convent
Located opposite the terminal where cruise ships dock, the Basilica Menor de San Francisco De Asis is an amazing old church that dates all the way back to 1591. The staircase to the top offers youll get great views from the outside, as well as the inside. For just 2 CUC you can look at the impressive array of old artifacts dotted around the church. Some members of the most aristocratic families of the times are buried in the crypt which is open to tourists. The cathedral also serves as a concert hall each Saturday and Sunday, except July and August.
20. San Cristobal Cathedral
Also known as the Havana Cathedral, you’ll find the stunning Catedral de San Cristobal in an exquisite cobbled square in Habana Vieja called Plaza de la Catedral. For 1 CUC, tourists are allowed to enter, and walk around taking photos. The climb to the bell tower will also provide stunning views of the fortress El Morro from the very top.
21. Hamel Alley
Similar in a way to Fusterlandia, a local artist name Salvador Gonzalez has covered all the walls in this little alley called Callejon de Hamel. Here you can see evocative murals in stunning colours, a Santeria shrine, art galleries and amazing sculptures everywhere.
22. Playas del Este
23. Cristobal Colon Cemetery
24. Castle of the Royal Force
25. Obispo Street
26. Revolution Square
27. Camera Obscura
Come and discover the original CCTV in Plaza Vieja. The Camera Obscura has 360-degree views of Cuba. It’s one of only 78 Camera Obscura left in the world and is definitely worth visiting.
The sessions last around 15 minutes and are guided by a camera operator. They zoom in on different parts of the city and watch people going about their daily lives. Although the technology is simple, the moving images are fantastic. Be aware that Camera Obscura is held in a small dark room, so anyone claustrophobic or afraid of the dark could find it stressful.
28. Museo del Chocolate
When you are hot and bothered and in need of a pick me up, Chocolate Museum in Old Havana is the place to go. Although it is called a museum, it is actually more of a shop. They make some of the best chocolate you will taste anywhere, never mind Cuba. But best of all they have A/C.
Enjoy freshly made Churros from the stall outside and a large iced chocolate in the cool air conditioning. While you are waiting for your order, you can watch the chocolatier making chocolates at the back of the store or browse the selection of handmade chocolates for sale. A word of warning, chocolate melts fast in Havana so don’t save your chocolates for later or you might be left with a sticky mess!
29. Havana 1791 Perfumery
Step back in time and experience a traditional perfume shop. If there was a perfume shop in Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, it would look like this. There are colored liquids in antique glass jars, and the shelves are filled with bottles of all shapes and sizes.
Havana 1791 is part shop and part museum where the original scents of Havana have been brought back to life. You can even craft your own perfume with the help of an in-store expert. Why not try your hand at potion-making and create your own keepsake perfume or a unique gift for a special relative.
30. Top Restaurants
31. El Malecon
32. Nightlife on El Malecon
- Havana Travel Guide and the Best Restaurants in Havana
- Hotels in Playas del Este
- El Malecon and the Nightlife on El Malecon
- Things to do in Old Havana and Things to Do in Cuba
- Trip Planning, Travel Insurance and Tourist Visas
- Best Time to Visit, Weather and What to Pack
- Cuba Travel Guide, Banks & Money, Internet, WiFi, and Phones