Havana Travel Guide: Top 7 Places to Visit, Explore, and Smoke Cuban Cigars
Positioned by the National Theatre, colourful buildings to match Havana's rainbow spectrum of cars
AMAZING VIEWS. DELICIOUS FOOD. TOP SPOTS ON A HAVANA TRIP
We are blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Havana often. It’s hard to describe our lingering desire to continually go back, and on the surface, it’s easy to assume the freedom to smoke and enjoy fresh Cuban cigars is the prime suspect. Havana is depicted for 50’s bright cars, colours, music and dance, Castro and the lack of advanced technology. Try to let these thoughts hibernate to a forgetful area in your brain, as the real Havana is so much more. Here are our top places to explore:
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba's terrace is open 24/7, and is perfect spot to smoke a Cuban cigar and drink a delightful beverage. Our choice was sweet Cuban coffee.
"MOST PRESTIGIOUS PLACE TO VISIT"
HOTEL NACIONAL DE CUBA – Seeped in history, Hotel Nacional was built in 1930 and is one of Cuba’s most prestigious places to visit. Skipping the hotel is equivalent to missing the Eiffel Tower in Paris and not walking through Central Park in New York. The grand luxury and culture discovered are spectacular to explore. As a national monument, the hotel was built and originally run by Americans, and Cubans were not allowed to enter. Stars of Hollywood’s bygone era, Rita Hayworth, Walt Disney, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando have all stayed, as well as diplomats and world leaders.
When nationalisation came into force, Hotel Nacional stopped being run by Americans and Cubans were finally allowed indoors – presently, all staff are Cuban. Décor has retained its 1930’s style, with the lobby comprising of original tiles. Open 24/7, the hotel’s terrace is an outstanding area to relax with some Cuban cigars and perhaps a cup of coffee. We, for once, had the pleasure of pairing the flavourful Romeo y Julieta No. 3 Cigar with an espresso made from freshly roasted Cuban coffee beans. The bar in the kitchen is always available, and before dinner or after a night of festivities, it’s a welcoming hub to refuel. The people – both staff, guests and visitors, showcased exemplary kindness. We feel we have made many a lifelong friend.
Address of Hotel Nacional de Cuba: Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza, La Habana, Postal Code: 10400, +53 7 8363564
Breathtaking views are found at the Kempinski rooftop terrace - officially known as El Surtidor Pool Terrace and Bar, where we paired Bucanero beer with a fine Limited Editions Cigar.
"ROOFTOP PROVIDES PERFECT CITY VIEWS"
GRAN HOTEL MANZANA KEMPINSKI LA HABANA – If you want to see all of Havana but have limited time, the Kempinski Rooftop provides perfect city views. Featuring an infinity swimming pool, sun loungers, bar, seating area and glass fencing – further emphasising the foreseeable landscape, the El Surtidor Pool Terrace and Bar infuses grandiose luxury with ancient, captivating architecture from Old Havana. Tapas, a cocktail made using local fruit, and a fine habano such as a magnificent El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme Cigar – we can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Please note, use of the swimming pool is for hotel guests only. If you wish to capture the sunset at a rooftop bar, Kempinski's glittering terrace is difficult to compare.
Address of Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana: Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, Calle San Rafael (entre Monserrate y Zulueta), La Habana Vieja, 10100 Havana, +53 786 99100
The colourful, energetic streets of Old Havana are not to be missed. It's the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself with the locals and explore the non-tourist sites of Havana.
"CHARMING HAVANA QUARTER WILL STEAL YOUR HEART"
OLD HAVANA – Those Cuban postcard images with cobbled streets and historic buildings, they are photographed and captured in Old Havana. Whether you choose to spend a day walking through the narrow streets and marvelling at the UNESCO world heritage site or stop to roam the Catedral de San Cristobal or Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) in the area, this charming Havana quarter will steal your heart. We always struggle to describe the beauty and wonder, because even the best of adjectives seems futile. None of us at EGM Cigars could imagine a trip to Cuba without stopping here.
If you do find yourself in Old Havana, we suggest you do not be afraid to create conversation with the generously kind and loving Cuban people. Cuba reportedly has a literacy rate of 99.8% and around 70,000 qualified doctors – more than the entire African continent.
Cuba's National Capitol Building was once home to the government and is now being renovated for the Cuban Communist parliament.
"FULL OF EXTRAORDINARY HISTORY"
EL CAPITOLIO – You wouldn’t be mistaken for glancing at the National Capitol Building and wondering if you have somehow landed in Washington. Formed in 1929, the momentous site is full of extraordinary history. Once the seat of government until Castro took over in 1959, the structure is currently overseeing renovations to eventually become the home of Cuba’s Communist parliament. Though many believe the cupola shape was inspired by the American Capitol, some experts suggest the Panthéon in Paris is the true muse. Visible from any point in Havana, if the myth was true, the building is set to become bigger than The Whitehouse.
Address of El Capitolio: Paseo de Marti, Havana 10200
Next door to the El Capitolio is Cuba's grand National Theatre. The four status on the front were crafted by famed Giuseppe Moretti.
"AN AWE-INSPIRING TRIP"
GRAN TEATRO DE LA HABANA – If you love art and culture, you are in for an awe-inspiring treat. Inaugurated in 1838, the Gran Teatro de la Habana (Cuba's National Theatre) has gone through many a name change and various owners. Beginning as a significant theatre, in 1914 the theatre and its surrounding buildings were purchased to build the Centro Gallego – a block merging together the structures as one. Today, the theatre hosts international events and is home to Cuba’s National Ballet and Opera.
White marbled sculptures and stones adorned in bronze, the interior inside is an elegant and exceptional fortress of beauty. If you are able to, book tickets to see a performance there. The four sculptures outside created by the iconic Italian craftsman Giuseppe Moretti, in addition to the theatre itself, are magnificent to capture.
Address of Gran Teatro de la Habana: 458 Paseo de Martí, La Habana 10600
Left: El Aljibe Restaurant - Owned by the state and housing arguably the world's greatest chicken, Right: La Corte del Principe - Simplistic Italian dishes cooked and presented to perfection.
"ACKNOWLEDGED AS CUBAN INSTITUTIONS"
El ALJIBE AND LA CORTE DEL PRINCIPE – These two restaurants are acknowledged as Cuban institutions. During our recent Havana travels, we dined in both establishments and cannot say enough about their astounding qualities. El Aljibe is where you go for arguably the world’s best chicken – a recipe more secret than Colonel Sander’s – the man behind KFC, and La Corte del Principe is one of the leading Italian restaurants that also excels in a variety of seafood dishes.
Why not browse our Top 5 Restaurants in Cuba’s Havana post, for insight on exactly where to eat during your Havana stay. As a Cuban cigars company, it’s no surprise to reveal we are Cuba aficionados. Frequently we travel to the island and taste the cuisine on offer, so our guide is full of first-hand experiences.
Watching the sunset on the Malecon walkway is a beautiful vision you will never forget. The walk stretches approximately 30 minutes in total.
"CREATIVITY, INSPIRATION, AND ARTISTIC EXPRESSION"
MALECON – Artists – poets, writers, musicians, painters and photographers, have used the Malecon and its oceanfront walkway, as a port for creativity, inspiration and artistic expression. The mile-long stretch can be sighted in a car on the road, however, we suggest there’s nothing better than inhaling the fresh air and waltzing along, particularly in the evening.
Many locals gather in the evening to relax, play music and listen. Occasionally, dancing is initiated and, of course, the sunset scene is dazzling. We would, also, advice you to enjoy this romantic view with a fine Cuban smoke, like the Cohiba Exquisitos Cigar. We have to mention nonetheless, some of the paths are not smooth and the boardwalk can get busy with tourists. Our suggestion is to walk further away from the cruise ship terminal to avoid the bustle.
With our top 7 places to explore in Havana guide, there’s no doubt you will enjoy a wonderful trip. Recently in Havana, we received a tour around El Laguito and learnt many a secret – discover them on our post Inside El Laguito: Exclusive Insight to the Home of Cohiba Cigars. Whilst surprising, it is worth bring your own Cuban cigars to Havana. Longer sticks were seen, such as a Cohiba Panetelas Cigar – one of our fine Cuban cigars online. Read more from our daily updated Cuban Cigar Blog and dive into the enticing world of Cuban Cigars: