Havana Travel Guide
Introduction to Havana
There are many cities in the Caribbean that exist as little else but a way station for cruise ship passengers, but there are a few (like Havana) that possess legitimate historical and cultural attractions, making an urban stop in this beach heavy region well worth your while.
From the intriguing Museum of the Revolution, to the near-perfect copy of the US Capitol in the form of El Capitolio, carving out three to four solid days out of your Cuban itinerary for Havana will prove to be a decision that you won’t end up regretting.
Cultural Attractions in Havana
The first attraction that you should get out of the way when visiting Havana is the Museum of the Revolution. This institution will give you a background on everything that occurred in the run-up to the Communist Revolution of 1959, which deposed the Batista government and installed the socialist regime that exists to this day.
In addition to artifacts relating to the outgoing government and all the achievements of the Castro regime, you will also be able to learn about the history of Cuba in the centuries prior, with special attention paid to the war of independence fought against Spain.
Exhibits to keep an eye out for include the yacht that brought Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and other revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba in the 1950’s, and the anti-aircraft missile that brought down an American spy plane in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
If you see a neoclassical structure in the Old Havana that looks strangely reminiscent to the US Capitol, you aren’t imagining things.
El Capitolio, which serves as the home of Cuba’s National Assembly, was modeled on the famous US government building when it was constructed In the 1920’s.
Its ornate hallways are well worth seeing even if the machinations of government aren’t that interesting to you, as the La Estatua de la Republica, which is the world’s third largest indoor statue is an awesome sight to behold.
Finally, be sure to make time in your schedule to see Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, as it is the finest museum dedicated to the arts in Cuba.
Displaying paintings, sculptures, and drawings dating back from the colonial days of the 16th century leading straight up to the present day, this institution is the place to check out the finest creations that Cuban artist have offered up to the world over the ages.
In addition to being a showcase for the best creative work in this nation, there is also a modest selection of international art and artifacts here as well, with Greek ceramics and Roman mosaics being among the highlights.
Other Attractions in Havana
Those looking to get in a spot of people watching while in Havana will want to start in Plaza Vieja. With the edges of this square lined with numerous cafes and restaurants, you can lounge comfortably with your favorite drink or with a plate of authentic Cuban cuisine as everyday citizens go about their daily routine.
With a variety of architectural styles in the buildings that make up the square, and a fountain acting as its centerpiece, you would have never guessed that the underside of this attraction used to be home to an ugly parking garage.
Due to a massive renovation project beginning in the 1980’s however, this key part of Old Havana was brought back to its former glory, spurred on by the declaration of this part of the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As the sun sinks lower in the sky on any given day, the lengthy sidewalks of El Malecón gets busy with City residents seeking to socialize with their friends and family.
Serving as another opportunity for those looking to observe the citizenry of Havana, it is also a great place to go for a sundown drink, as many restaurants that have popped up along the waterfront since the Castro government eased restrictions on private businesses in recent years.
Speaking of stiff drinks, Cuba is also rightly popular for the high quality of its rum. those seeking to learn how this alcohol is distilled will be able to learn the process at the Museo del Ron.
Run by the people that have brought you Havana Club rum, you will also get to see how the process was conducted in the years prior to the existence of modern technology.
With the ubiquitous free samples awaiting you at the end, the price that you’ll pay to get in the door will be well worth the expense.