Cuba is the epitome of a bucket list destination. It has stunning architecture, classy cars, beautiful beaches and delightful people. As the saying goes, it would be best to go before tourism takes over and we have a few recommendations for you for when you do get there.
Taking a step back through automotive time, Cuba is a museum dedicated to classic cars from the 50s, including stylish Cadillacs, Chryslers, Buicks and Chevrolets. The reason for this time-warp oddity is due to the ban placed on foreign-made vehicles, making it nigh on impossible to purchase a newer vehicle until the ban was eased in 2013.
The colourful cars are a part of Cuba’s identity and, as such, you will see them everywhere. The best place to spot one is outside the Hotel Inglaterra at Parque Central. Most of the cars are taxis, others are used for private classic car tours and some you can even drive if you ask nicely enough.
We’re suckers for a good cocktail and it would be remiss of us to forget that the mojito originated from Cuba, so naturally you can’t leave the country without trying one. La Bodeguita del Medio lays claim to having birthed the drink, so it’s here you must go. The bar was an old haunt for many celebrities, including Ernest Hemingway and is still popular today.
Alternatively, another popular spot to enjoy a refreshing mojito is in the gardens of the ubiquitous Hotel Nacional. The large terrace is always busy with customers admiring the fantastic views of the sea, harbour and the passing vintage cars.
Otherwise known as ‘La Habana Vieja’ Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of five large plazas and a network of colourful narrow streets. Much of the architecture is a mixture of baroque, neoclassical and colonial, giving an intriguing visual history of Cuba.
There are numerous souvenir shops, restaurants and landmarks to discover in the area. You could easily spend hours exploring every nook and cranny, so it might be worth going on an old Havana walking tour.
Move to the Beat
Cuba moves to a different beat and always has done, so it makes sense that Havana revels in a unique musical identity. Many bars and restaurants will host live music almost throughout the day, but music needs no venue here.
Old Havana is all the more enjoyable for its array of street musicians who take up residence in old doorways, or street corners. Music is everywhere, floating down the cobbled steps of the city, through windows and, when combined with tantalising scent of street food, create the perfect combination.