Conde Nast Traveller reveals 42 unique experiences to live in Havana

Posted: 21-Jul-16 09:57

With a singular blend of African and Spanish culture and a rich colonial past, Havana was officially recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities in May 2015. Over a million tourists come to visit every year and find themselves bewitched under the city's spell. In order to ensure all visitors get to know the best of Cuba's capital Conde Nast Traveller magazine recently presented readers with 42 once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Conde Nast Traveller reveals 42 unique experiences to live in Havana

Dazzling beaches with white powdery sand and blue waters, noisy streets full of “almendrones” (50s cars) and the rhythm of salsa tunes uniting the welcoming and friendly Cuban people are some of Havana’s most representative qualities. The best way to discover it –or any other city for that matter- is through authentic experiences that sometimes don’t appear in tourist guides.

For all those explorers who prefer to scratch a little under the surface, Conde Nast Traveller magazine proposes 42 unmissable experiences:

  1. Wander around with no map in hand and let yourself explore every corner of Havana’s colourful streets.
  2. Take a pause at the Lluvia de Oro bar where bartender Jaime will serve you refreshing mojito whilst explaining the trick to this famous cocktail.
  3. Party at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano, an interactive cultural space which blends diverse art forms from painting to music.
  4. Sing along to the traditional Cuban songs you will hear through Old Havana’s streets including “El Bodeguero” and add it to your holiday soundtrack.
  5. Observe the sunset from the Malecon seawall, mesmerized by the sight of local fishermen and children jumping from rock to rock as you hear the soothing sound of the waves and distant music.
  6. Drink a pina colada at the terrace of Hotel Nacional. This legendary hotel was founded in the 1930’s and declared a UNESCO Memory of the World.
  7. Savour a bit of “malanga” every day, a delicious Caribbean root Cuban’s usually serve as garnish.
  8. Get your tan on as you lie back on a sun deck by the Hotel Saratoga’s rooftop pool and observe the views of Havana’s Capitol building.
  9. Drink a “TuKola” (national version of Coca Cola) in the shopping complex Variedades Obispo in Old Havana.
  10. Take a look at books about the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro or Camilo Cienfuegos in the famous stands around the Plaza de Armas square.
  11. Fashion lovers can stroll along the beautiful “Paseo del Prado” promenade, the setting Chanel’s recent runway in Havana.
  12. Be amazed by the gigantic Revolution Square and the Jose Marti Museum inside.
  13. Sleep in a nice boutique hotel like “La Colonial 1861” in the residential zone of Vedado, and be pampered by owner Margarita who will wake you with a lovely breakfast.
  14. Find refuge from the heat with a daiquiri or two at the renowned Floridita Bar, as you listen to the harmonious sounds of a local Cuban group playing in the background.
  15. Head over to the large “Tribuna Antimperialista”, an impressive space beside the Malecon seawall just in front of the recently re-opened US embassy.
  16. Stay at a “casa particular” (Cuban version of B&B’s) and be in close contact with Cuban people and culture.
  17. Ride a bicitaxi (rickshaw) through the Carlos III avenue, filled with shops, cafes and old cinemas and take amazing snapshots of everything that catches your eye.
  18. Feel your hair in the wind as you take a tour of the city in a stunning 50’s “almendron”.
  19. Find out how the two different currencies are used, CUP for Cubans and CUC for foreigners.
  20. Enjoy a Cuban meal in the “Paladar de los Mercaderes”, a stylish restaurant that seems to have frozen in time.
  21. Share a taxi with locals for just $1 CUC and take the drivers’ advice on where to sit and where to get off.
  22. Taste the grilled chicken at any restaurant or house, it’s always delicious.
  23. Enjoy a 100% internet-free trip and feel how liberating it is to take a break from the digital world.
  24. Enjoy the breeze on the terrace of the Ambos Mundos Hotel, with spectacular views of Old Havana.
  25. Let your hair down and try to dance a little salsa without thinking about whether you’re doing it wrong or right, just let the rhythm lead your steps.
  26. Taste a romantic dinner at La Guarida, an impressive private restaurant boasting a contrast of a long, crumbling stairwell and chic interiors.
  27. For fusion cuisine visit "Casa Miglis", a venue serving a blend of Swedish and Cuban dishes in Centro Habana.
  28. Elegantly avoid “jineteros” who will follow you around trying to sell you just about anything, from a horse carriage tour to Cuban cigars.
  29. Go to Cafe Laurent and enjoy the views of Havana’s skyline as you indulge in some “ropa vieja” a delectable, typical dish in the island.
  30. Take pictures of every corner you deem interesting.
  31. Snack on some “mariquitas” (plantain chips) at one of its terraces.
  32. Choose from Habano, Montecristo, Cohiba’s Lancero or Romeo y Julieta’s Churchill, all quality Cuban cigars and take a puff as you sit in Hotel Inglaterra’s terrace.
  33. Stroll down the Vedado neighbourhood, observing its colonial houses and impressive tall buildings.
  34. Pick a different a colour every time you ride an “almendron”, including unusual shades like bubble-gum pink, apple green, creamy yellow and sky blue.
  35. Discover the architecture and lovely vegetation of Nuevo Vedado with a local who tells your curiosities about its history.
  36. Sip on a glass of filtered water in the singular “Casa del Agua La Tinaja” where the owner, Pedro Pablo pours this clean and refreshing liquid obtained by ancient methods.
  37. Spend a perfect evening in El Atelier’s rooftop, a refined dining venue serving carefully prepared homey Cuban food.
  38. Learn about Cuban architecture by observing the Bacardi building, the Fausto theatre and America theatre.
  39. Try queueing up the Cuban way, with the least stress possible. Find a shadow under a tree or sit on a bench after asking who the person in front of you is. Take a good look at his face and be aware when his turn is so you know when to get back in the queue.
  40. Cut in line accidentally to buy an ice cream at the famous Coppelia centre after not realizing all the dispersed crowd is actually queueing up.
  41. End your stay with unbeatable panoramic views from La Torre restaurant, situated on the 33rd floor of the legendary Focsa building, one of the island’s seven wonders of civil engineering.
  42. If you speak Spanish or know a few words, change the "r’s" at the end of words for "l’s", as many locals would lovingly call you: “mi amol”.

These 42 steps are merely suggestions among the broad range of activities you can engage in once you have stepped in this magical city. Whether you’re an adventurous spirit who will be more than happy to explore at leisure following this advice or the kind of person who is comforted by an organised plan, Havana will not disappoint. The latter might prefer booking one of the five packages offered by The Guardian and enjoy Cuba just the way they would love to.


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