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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!
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:
- Part 1 – Viva Cuba! – Introduction & Planning
- Part 2 – Viva Cuba! – The Basics: Visa Requirements
- Part 3 – Viva Cuba! – The Basics: Cash Planning
- Part 4 – Viva Cuba! – The Basics: Internet
- Part 5 – Viva Cuba! – Flights to Cuba
- Part 6 – Viva Cuba! – Where to Stay & How to Book
- Part 7 – Viva Cuba! – Where to Stay: Casa Particular Overview
- Part 8 – Viva Cuba! – Where to Eat
- Part 9 – Viva Cuba! – The Best (Cheap) Food & Drink Options
- Part 10 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do in Havana: Part 1
- Part 11 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do in Havana Part 2
- Part 12 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do – Day Beach Trips from Havana
- Part 13 – Viva Cuba! – Return Flights to the US
- Part 14 – Viva Cuba! – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
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.
I loved just walking up and down the alleys and narrow passageways. I could’ve spent days alone just walking the streets.
It was fun peeking inside the doors! One time we found a barber shop.
There are beautiful open air plazas, which remind me of my trips to Spain.
You’d turn the streets, never knowing what you might find.
To me, the people are what make Havana such a vibrant place to visit.
There are also plenty of community parks with lush green trees.
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!
Cubans love to meet people! They were happy to drive us around, and they asked lots of questions.
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.
In Old Havana, you’ll have a large selection of classic cars. You may get higher prices, too.
Another day, we took a taxi to the beach. We loved riding around in these old cars!
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.
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.
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.
Visit the Art Market
Old Havana has an amazing art market that is almost the size of a Walmart!
It’s filled with original paintings by Cuban artists at great prices.
There is handmade jewelry & clothes.
As well as Cuban coasters, wooden carvings, and lots more.
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.
I didn’t get my fortune told, but my friends did, and they really enjoyed the experience.
After the reading, she hung out with us and brought us to one of the favorite local restaurants.
Afterwards, she showed us her house and invited us to her birthday party! Haha! It’s very easy to make new friends in Cuba.
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.