I recently visited Havana and was instantly charmed by its untamed way of life; the way you can walk down the street and not see another european face, or how the local merchants will barter with you over the price of an onion just for fun. However, because this beautiful city hasn’t yet become a touristic destination, it’s hard to find information on things to do and see there.
There are so many unique local places to visit in Havana, but here is a round up of the ones I found particularly enjoyable to see as a ‘local tourist’.
This is the main street in Havana Vieja, and as soon as you step out onto the cobbles you can see why! There are countless shops running one after the other, with designer brands rubbing shoulders with family run souvenir stalls.
Here you can also find kitch little bars and restaurants where the locals hang out at to listen to live salsa and afro-cuban bands. The main banks and exchange houses are also along this street, for if you’ve spent your money on one too many mojitos.
Now we all know the Cubans are known for their love of coffee, and in O’Reilly’s you can truly see why. As soon as I walked in and smelt the aroma of freshly ground coffee I felt the sudden need to roll around in the coffee bean sacks and make a little den for myself… I settled for the more ‘socially acceptable’ act of buying a bag of their coffee to take home, and ordering myself a drink.
They have an enormous selection of drinks, using coffee in ways you couldn’t even imagine in your wildest dreams! You can find more information on why this is my absolute favourite coffee shop in Cuba here.
I have never seen a warehouse so full of colour and life! As soon as you walk in you can smell the freshly cooked churros, hear the live band and feel the buzz of trading everywhere.
The artwork in this Artisan Warehouse is so unique, and the artists are usually the ones sat selling, so you can ask them all about their works. For anyone into art, music or street food this is a place not to be missed!
Don’t be fooled by it’s name, this museum is more like a ‘stuff yourself with every form of chocolate available to man’ sort of deal. The ‘museum’ is actually just a collection of ingredients and tools, in small cases, scattered around a lovely little cafe.
The reason this little place is on my list is the unbelievable selection of delicious chocolates available, which are made and cooled right in front of your eyes. You can choose from a list of different chocolate models that come in the shape of everything, from an extremely large dolphin leaping out of the sea to a small cigar.
The thing that really stole my heart though was the hot chocolate. It was the thickest most decedent hot chocolate I’ve ever tried in my life… I’m almost drooling on the keyboard thinking about it. And, with local prices, it’s no surprise that there is always a small line outside waiting for a taste.
New Port Ave. Brewery
I actually stumbled across this place because I was drawn to it by the music (you’re probably seeing a trend here, yes everywhere you go in Havana you are accompanied by music!). The brewery is hidden in an abandoned-looking warehouse, a few minutes from the old train station. However, once you enter it’s a whole different story. The interior is decorated with brightly coloured murals, and in the centre is a large platform for the flamenco band that plays daily.
They brew their own beer using equipment they shipped from Austria, which they display proudly on a large stage behind ceiling to floor glass windows. As non-imported beer is very hard to come across in Cuba this is well worth checking out.
Plaza de Armas
Old books, antique jewellery, vintage vinyls and original poster prints… what more could a girl want? The hustle and bustle of this outdoor market is so alluring you just cant say no. This is the place to find that rare record missing from your collection or the first edition of your favourite book.
If you want a nice relaxing stroll in the afternoon then I couldn’t suggest anywhere better than along the Malecón. With beautiful views of the ocean, and local fisherman going about their daily work, the only thing more relaxing is stopping at one of the ocean front bars and sipping on an ice cold beer.
At night, the Malecón comes alive with parades of the old imported cars, glittering lights and an outstanding view of the night sky.
The architecture in this part of the city is simply breathtaking. Compared to the older part of Havana, El Vedado, the buildings here are so exquisite and detailed. You will also find countless fountains and statues in this area, all engraved with snapshots of the rich Cuban history. One of the best places in Havana for a that special photo op.
If you’ve recently visited Havana, and found some little gems of your own, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!
Stay Salty x