17 Places You Must Visit in Cuba
Cuba is a very popular destination for Americans and so many are trying to visit before anything jeopardizes American/Cuban relations. Having spent almost a week in Cuba, for those who have read my previous post on the island, it is evident that needing to know where to go and what to do is challenging information to obtain. Mostly because there is simply so much undiscovered! I have narrowed it down to 17 places that when in Cuba, you should absolutely make time for. Some of these places may or may not appeal to you based on your travel style but what they all hold in common is their true foundation in Cuban history and development. Every one of these places will transport you somewhere different and provide unique experiences from various lenses into the Revolution, Counter Revolution, American involvement, Cuban art and so much more.
1. Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolucion) Havana's most famous museum is the former presidential palace of dictator Fulgencio Batista. It was converted into a museum following the Revolution in 1959. It will carry you through the story of the Revolution which overthrew Batista. Address: Calle Refugio 1, between Monserrate y Zulueta, Havana 10600 Cuba
2. Museum of the City (Museo de la Ciudad) Located on the west side of Plaza de Armas it is in the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Initially it was home to Spanish captain generals and later the base of US military governors. Address: Calle Tacon, Plaza de Armas, Havana, Cuba
3. Camara Obscura: Located in Plaza Vieja. Rumor has it that this is the only camera obscura in Latin America. It translates into "Obscure Camera". It is located in the roof of the Gomez Villa building. It delivers a 360-degree-rotating view of Habana Vieja aka Old Havana. It's a short presentation but certainly worth the visit for some awesome views. Address: Corner of Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba
4. Museo Napoleonico: This museum holds about 7,000 objects associated with the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. This museum is rare to Havana. For those that aren't familiar, Napoleon was a very important French military and political leader. He never set foot in Cuba but his doctor did and brought with him Napoleon's death mask, which is what the museum centers around. This museum holds the largest collection of French revolutionary items outside of Europe. Address: Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
5. La Cabana de Che (Che's Cabin): In order to get to this side of town you'll have to hop on a small ferry boat across the bay. It's about $2pp. This is one of the many places Che resided in and there are a few artifacts that will provide you with more history on this famous and well respected Revolutionary. Though there isn't a ton to see, if you're a history buff you'll certainly appreciate this museum. Address: Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, Havana, Cuba
6. El Cristo de La Habana: The sculptor is Cuban local, Jilma Madera. This is an amazing area for panoramic views of the Bay area and Havana's skyline. It is across from Che's Cabana Museum. Address: Casablanca, Havana, Cuba
7. National Museum of Fine Arts: This Museum is located between two sites. It has one location dedicated solely to Cuban Art and another to International Art of all kind. It is absolutely worth the visit if art history was/is your major or if you simply enjoy the talent. Address: Calle Trocadero e/ Zulueta y Monserrate, Havana, Cuba
8. Museo del Ron Havana Club: Its no surprise that rum is one of the most well known products produced in Cuba. Here you can learn about the process of making rum from inception to distillery. A must for the rum aficionado. Address: Avenida del Puerto 262, esq. Sol, Habana Vieja Cuba, Havana, Cuba
9. House of Jose Marti (Casa Natal De Jose Marti): If you're not familiar with Jose Marti I would encourage this museum even more. Cubans regard him as an important figure for his role in the Cuban War of Independence in the 1800's. This museum was his former birth home. It holds artifacts and history of his childhood, political involvement and the time he spent trying to raise awareness and recognition for the independence of Cuba through Latin America. Address: Calle Leonor Perez (Paula) 314, La Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba
10. Fabrica de Arte Cubano: This place is truly one of the coolest places to go and visit. You will find an eclectic mix of young Cubans and tourists enjoying art performances, plays, lectures, dance performances, workshops etc. It is truly a fun, relaxed space to submerge yourself in the Cuban culture. If art is not your thing, go for the environment and drinks. There are a few bars where you can relax and get to meet new people from all over. Address: Calle 26, Corner 11, Havana 10400, Cuba Hours: 8:00 pm - 3:00 am.
11. Plaza de la Revolucion: The Plaza de la Revolucion may initially seem like a big space with nothing much to offer. It doesn't immediately catch the eye but the history behind this plaza will captivate your attention. Large political rallies were often held here. It is still a place where important politicians choose as a location to speak to the masses. If you're lucky enough you'll catch the military marching through. It's quite the site! Address: Avenida Paseo, Havana, Cuba
12. Jardin Botanico Nacional: This speaks to the naturists and botanists of the world. If the city is getting to be to much why not escape to this gorgeous botanical garden. The garden isn't to close to the city, a taxi ride away. Well worth all of the natural beauty! Address: Carretera El Rocio km 3 1/2, Havana, Cuba Hours: Sun - Sat, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
13. Fusterlandia: Jaimanitas is a neighborhood of Havana that has progressively turned into an outdoor fairyland called "Fusterlandia". The artist, Jose Fuster, has transformed his neighborhood into a wacky, colorful place to visit. Cuba is full of ART! Address: Jaimanitas, Havana, Cuba
14. Callejon de Hammel: This is an alley decorated by local artist, Salvador Gonzalez. The walls are covered in murals and the street is full of sculptures from recycled materials. I suggest going midday on Sunday when you can enjoy live music and dance performances. It's free. This is in Central Havana.
15. La Corona Cigar Factory: This is an awesome tour even for those who aren't into cigars or smoking. The knowledge you gain while learning how cigars are made and why there is so much rave behind them, is invaluable. Havana hosts an annual Cigar Festival in February for those further interested in cigar culture, it is truly very interesting. Address: Galiano Street 93, Havana, Cuba
16. Hotel Nacional de Cuba: The Hotel Nacional is the landmark hotel of Cuba. It is in this hotel that many celebrities, politicians and government officials have stayed when visiting Cuba. It first opened its doors in the 1930's. There is no shortage of things to do or places to explore here. I would also suggest going into Fidel Castro's bunker located inside the hotel, hardly anyone knows about this secret spot! A great place to visit and have a drink as well. Address: Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza, Havana 10400, Cuba
17. El Morro (Morro Castle): You have to catch a cab here as it is not very near Havana Center. It's a massive fortress that provides field space for various activities. They hold their annual Feria Internacional del Libro or International Book Fair from February through March. It is a public festival that aims to promote Cuban government sanctioned books. There is also a section of the castle that is dedicated to military.
I hope this list was helpful in narrowing down places to visit while exploring this wonderful country. I'd love to hear some of the must sees from your visit to Cuba!