Part 10 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do in Havana: Part 1

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Emily:  When I learned about America’s more relaxed policy towards travel to Cuba, I jumped at the opportunity!

Cuba has a lot to offer.  My friends and I were drawn to the classic cars, the Art Deco architecture, and, of course, the friendly people!  We also love music and dance, which is one of Cuba’s specialties! Rick Steves recently produced an excellent video on Cuba that’s fun and informative.

The US and Cuba reached an agreement for direct flights.  Flight availability to Cuba from various US airports and search engines is ALWAYS changing, so be sure to try multiple search engines and cities, if possible.  Readers have reported that some flights to Cuba from the US may be opening up.  When I went to Cuba in December 2015, flights were not scheduled yet. My friends and I flew via Cancun, and continued our journey to Havana.

Note:  Regulations surrounding US travel to Cuba are always changing, so make sure you check the current rules before planning your trip.  There are limited opportunities to use miles & points, but you can save some money.  I’ll show you how later in this series!

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

There’s So Much to See in Havana, From the Bright Colorful Buildings to the Hauntingly Beautiful Street Art

My travel partners included many of the same friends who accompanied me to Croatia!

Robbie (pink hair) is a professional dance instructor who teaches salsa, kizomba, and bachata.  Sarita is also a dance teacher, as well as a graphic designer.  Gissell teaches fitness classes and loves rock climbing.

On this trip, I went with 3 new friends – Diana, a local art teacher, Chelsea, who manages a hostel, and Antonio, who works in IT design.  Traveling as a group of 7 was fun, but definitely challenging at times!  We had a great time together, and can’t wait to return!

Viva Cuba! Trip Report Index:

It’s Easy to Spend All Day Exploring the Streets of Havana!

This post will cover some of my FAVORITE activities in Havana, including:

  • Wandering the Streets of Old Havana
  • Riding in Classic Cars
  • Visiting the Art Market
  • Receiving a Tarot Reading

Walk the Streets of Old Havana

Havana is time-worn and historic.  It has a personality that I’ve never experienced before.  Everywhere you look, there’s something interesting to see.

Whether it’s the colonial architecture, the street art, or the colorful people, you’ll never get bored here!  I learned Spanish about 10 years ago, when I spent 8 months living in Barcelona.  Traveling to Havana was a great opportunity to practice my language skills again.  Locals were very patient and appreciated me trying my best to adapt.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

I Surrounded Myself With the Beautiful Cuban Culture – Literally!

I loved just walking up and down the alleys and narrow passageways.  I could’ve spent days alone just walking the streets.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

If I Ended Up Hopelessly Lost Around Havana, I Don’t Think I Would Even Have Minded!

It was fun peeking inside the doors!  One time we found a barber shop.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Shave and a Haircut, 2 CUC

There are beautiful open air plazas, which remind me of my trips to Spain.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

This Lovely Square Was a 10 Minute Taxi Ride from Our Casa Particular

You’d turn the streets, never knowing what you might find.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

There Are So Many Good Photo Ops in Havana

To me, the people are what make Havana such a vibrant place to visit.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

I Wonder What Was Getting Their Attention…?

There are also plenty of community parks with lush green trees.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Nature Is Never too Far Away in Havana

Classic Car Taxi Rides

Taking our first taxi ride in a classic car was so much fun!  Our driver was playing reggaeton and my friends and I had a great time “dancing” in the backseat!

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Truly One of the Friendliest Countries I’ve Ever Visited

Cubans love to meet people!  They were happy to drive us around, and they asked lots of questions.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Take the Taxis Around Havana – And Make New Friends in the Process!

Be sure to compare cab prices.  They can get expensive, especially around the main tourist sites around Old Havana and the big hotels.  It helps to ask a few drivers or walk a block or two away from the busy sites to get better prices.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

We Had So Much Fun Singing to the Radio in Our Taxi

In Old Havana, you’ll have a large selection of classic cars.  You may get higher prices, too.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Which Color Do You Prefer?

Another day, we took a taxi to the beach.  We loved riding around in these old cars!

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

I Wanted to Take a Car Home With Me!

Robbie liked it, too.  It’s actually almost impossible to find newer cars on the island.  I much preferred the experience of the older cars.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Robbie Filling Up the Tank

Bike Taxis are Another Option in Old Havana

If you’re traveling shorter distances around Old Havana, you can take a bike taxi.  This gentleman even let my friend steer it…it’s harder than it looks!  We kept running into the curbs. 🙂 So, we let him drive us.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

A Bike Taxi May Be the Way to Go!

He even had music playing for us!  We appreciated his excitement to get us where we needed to go.  Gracias, Rajith!  We hope to see you next time.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Working Hard For the Money

Visit the Art Market

Old Havana has an amazing art market that is almost the size of a Walmart!

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

The Cuban People Have a Lot to Express!

It’s filled with original paintings by Cuban artists at great prices.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

Cuba Is Bursting With Talent

There is handmade jewelry & clothes.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

The Art Market Is a Great Place to Buy Souveniers

As well as Cuban coasters, wooden carvings, and lots more.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

You Can Learn a Lot About a Country by Its Art!

This was a great place to stock up on souvenirs to bring home to family and friends.  I went here 2 or 3 times, and STILL didn’t get everything I wanted.

Get A Tarot Reading

You can learn what the local santera has to say about your future.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

The Whole Method Was Intriguing and Mysterious

I didn’t get my fortune told, but my friends did, and they really enjoyed the experience.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

I See a Cuban Cigar in Your Future!

After the reading, she hung out with us and brought us to one of the favorite local restaurants.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

We Had Fun Spending Time With the Local Santera

Afterwards, she showed us her house and invited us to her birthday party!  Haha!  It’s very easy to make new friends in Cuba.

Part 10 Viva Cuba What To Do In Havana Part 1

If I Had Known Ahead of Time, I Would Have Brought a Gift!

Bottom Line

Havana is beautiful in its own way.  The city is so historic, with lots of charm.  I loved that some buildings were run down, which showed the authentic side of Cuba.  Life isn’t so perfect all of the time, and I enjoyed the realism of the city.  Walking the streets was one of my favorite activities!

Riding in a taxi is the quickest way to make a new friend.  Cubans are inquisitive, and they’re also quick to open up about themselves!

My friends had their fortunes read by the local santera, and they loved the experience!  She was friendly and hospitable, even inviting us into her house for her birthday party!  I can’t get over warmth of the Cuban people.

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2 responses to “Part 10 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do in Havana: Part 1

  1. Car prices are incredibly high, even for used vehicles, and out of reach for most. One of my taxi drivers was telling me about the prices and it was stunning – generally about double what they’d cost in the U.S. , and that in a place where incomes are far lower.

  2. @ DaveS- Thanks for the comments. Cars are expensive there. And taxi rides can be made cheaper by carpooling (kind of like Uber pool). Locals pay much less for taxi rides than tourists do.

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