Five ways to experience Cuba like a local

Posted: 29-Jun-15 10:30

Afar Magazine has highlighted five top ways to enjoy seeing Cuba through different eyes when visiting. The Caribbean island nation is famously known as being stuck in a time warp with its 1950s cars and crumbling architecture, but with the recent changes to the U.S-Cuba travel law and an increase in visitors, the article proves there's more to this vibrant country than mojitos and Cuban cigars.

Five ways to experience Cuba like a local

Following recent events that have seen resumed relations between the United States and Cuba, which could lead to the lifting of the travel ban in the near future, Michaela Trimble from AFAR Magazine has highlighted five top ways for visitors to see Cuba differently.

AFAR Magazine recommendations

  1. Make new friends

    Plaza Vieja in Havana, the capital of Cuba, is lined with restaurants and it's a great place to meet local families with children playing the cobbled streets. Locals in Havana are well known for their warmth and hospitality, and during her trip, Trimble met Yudel, a young boy.

    "We played catch one afternoon, and he became my shadow for the entire trip," Trimble writes. "I was able to meet his family, and hear more about their life and experience living in the city, further proving that connecting with locals is the best way to see Havana."

  2. Enjoy Cuba's art and architecture

    The Spanish colonial buildings line the streets of Havana, and while many are crumbling, this adds a certain charm to the city, and a hotspot for photography activities.

    "You'll also quickly recognise the lack of advertising in the city, along with photos of Fidel, Guevara and Chavez sprinkled alongside Viva La Revolucion taglines," said Trimble.

  3. Be guided by locals

    The best way to see the sights and get off the tourist path is to enlist a local as your guide. The Cuban locals are more than happy to show tourists their homes and talk about life on the island.

    Trimble says: "I met and talked with a number of families during my stay in Havana, and these interactions were my favourite part of the entire trip. Let them take you to their homes and have a cafecito (Cuban coffee). The company is fantastic, and the conversation will open your eyes to what it's like to live in Cuba today."

  4. Experience private dining

    As part of Cuba's new government reform, residents can now own private businesses and dining outlets are becoming increasingly popular.

    Brothers Jose Carlos and Julio Imperatori own 304 O'Reilly which offer the best ceviche and gin cocktails in Havana, while El Chanchullero is an artistic retro-style tapas restaurant.

  5. Head to the locals' beaches

    While Varadero is a popular tourist destination in Cuba with 21 kilometres of coastline and beaches, the locals in Havana prefer to hang out at La Playa de Megano, with its white sand and azure ocean waters. The beaches near Havana are less developed than other areas of the Caribbean island, but where the beaches lack tourist facilities, they make up for it in charm, parties, and a sense of community.


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