Cuba has been at the top of my places to visit list for quite some time. It’s a country that’s going to change and develop rapidly, sooner rather than later. So I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit ‘the real Cuba’.
So, this year for Christmas it was just my mother, so we decided to travel to find some winter sun. And visiting Cuba was a no brainer!
After a very long 12 hour flight. (And even longer for my mum as she lives in Barcelona so had to change in London.) We finally arrived in beautiful Havana.
We were kindly greeted by the owners of our AirBnB, who drove us straight to their home.
We turned up to the lovely apartment at 7pm and did what everyone does as soon as they get to Havana and… sleep! Ok, ok we were exhausted and knew jet lag was coming!
And so it did… we woke up at 5:00am desperate for caffeine!
We stayed in an area in Havana called Vedado. Which is just outside of the city centre but it’s a lovely walk into central Havana or a cheap taxi ride.
Places to Visit in Havana
The old town is beautiful and where we spent a lot of time walking around.
However you will hear a lot more Cubans say that Central Havana is the real Havana. And we felt this immediately.
There is a beautiful African street called Callejon de Hamel, which is a must see and one of our favourite places in Havana.
Also make sure to walk to the harbour, to see all the fishermen fishing.
Get a car tour up to the best view where you can see the statue of Jesus, he looks like he’s holding a cigar and a mojito, and of course what was Che’s house!
How to get around:
Walking is the best way to explore any city and in Havana this was definitely the case.
You can also get a taxi, however we didn’t really figure this part out very well. We asked for a taxi when leaving a bar and the man came back with a really old beaten up car which had no door handles on the inside. However, after a big discussion whether or not we were going to get inside or not, we did and to my surprise got home safely!
And our favourite way to tour around Havana was in a beautiful restored, vintage, pink car. They take you on an hour tour of the city and it is so worth it! It cost us 40 CUC which is basically the equivalent to $40.
Where to stay:
We stayed in an AirBnB just outside of central Havana. The owners were lovely and so welcoming, they speak perfect English. We each had our own double bed, which of course was a bonus as my mother plays the trumpet out of her nose during the night!
I can’t recommend staying in what they call a ‘Casa Particular’ enough. It’s a great way to give the locals money as their wages are so low, so you’ll be helping the community. Also the people you stay with are so nice and they can tell you where to go and what to see in their honest opinion.
I had heard that there is very limited wifi in Cuba before we arrived, however it was quite a culture shock. Like everyone else I check my phone numerous amounts of times a day and not being able too was actually really nice! However I must admit it took a few days to adjust.
You need to buy a wifi card, which you can do from most hotels and in Havana. They cost 2 CUC for an hour of wifi. You then need to find a wifi hotspot, now these you will see as most people will be sat outside on their phones. So look out for parks, outside hotels, restaurants. They’re quite easy to find.
However, enjoy the time you have without a phone, just make sure to tell people you won’t be in touch as often as usual.
The easiest thing to do is to just take money out of a hole in the wall. Banks where you can change money are usually really crowded and you can spend a long time queuing. Although, I heard that banks don’t take American bank cards. So, if you are travelling from America, maybe check that out first. If not, work out how much cash you will need and exchange it once you arrive. You need your passport to exchange money.
Is Havana safe?
Absolutely! There wasn’t a moment where I felt unsafe during my whole trip. Cubans are so lovely and welcoming. I walked around with my camera in my hand the whole time, and not once did I feel like it was going to get stolen. So don’t listen to everything you read. In fact someone from Cuba told me there is a death penalty if a Cuban robs a tourist. So yes Cuba is safe and so are your belongings.
Travelling from Havana:
After Havana we travelled to Playa Larga. (make sure to check out my next blog.) We bought bus tickets from the company Viazul. However straight away regretted doing so, as you can get a shared taxi for the same price. As it is more comfortable and takes a lot less time. They are so easy to find also as people are always around asking if you need a taxi. They will also find the extra people needed for your car share.
We spent three days in Havana and it was my favourite place in Cuba. You can visit the whole city in three days if you are proactive!
If you want anymore information on Havana please let me know!