Havana, the beautiful Cuban capital has much to offer travellers and visitors. We only had a couple days in Havana, so we tried to optimise our time in order to see all the main attractions and found that three days were a good amount of time to explore all the highlights of Havana. In this post I’ve listed all the best things to do in Havana, Cuba, in three days. If you’re only visiting Havana on a brief period of time, this guide on what to do, what to see, where to eat and where to stay in Havana in three days is perfect for you!
- 1 About Havana & how to get there
- 2 Best things to do in Havana in three days
- 2.1 Visit the Museo de la Rivolucion
- 2.2 Do a vintage car tour
- 2.3 Visit Habana Vieja
- 2.4 Walk along the Malecòn
- 2.5 Visit Plaza de la Revolucion
- 2.6 Taste the local food: Where to eat in Havana
- 2.7 Explore the nightlife in Havana
- 3 Where to stay in Havana
About Havana & how to get there
Havana is the largest city and capital of Cuba. Cuba was a Spanish colony for over 300 years, and this can be clearly seen in the architecture of the city. Havana has an international airport so can easily be reached by pretty much anywhere. We personally got direct flights from Milan in Italy with Neos (on the way there) and Meridiana (on the way back) for 600 EUR return. Prices vary considerably depending on where you are flying from, the time of year, how many stopovers you do and the airline. If you want advice on how to find the cheapest deals on flight check out my 12-step guide.
Best things to do in Havana in three days
Visit the Museo de la Rivolucion
While in Havana you can’t not pay a visit to the Museo de la Rivolucion. In case you didn’t know about it (it’s ok, my own knowledge of the Cuban revolution and the country’s history was very limited before my trip to Cuba) in the late 1950s Cuba had a revolution, where they kicked out the right-wing authoritarian government of Fulgencio Batista. This is packed with photos and objects of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, leaders and heroes of the revolution. It is extremely interesting to visit. The signs throughout the museum are both in Spanish and English, so can be easily understood. The museum has also an outdoor section with cars, tanks, planes and boats amongst which the Granma yacht; important relics of moments of the Cuban revolution.
I recommend doing some research and reading up on the Cuban revolution before visiting this museum. We didn’t do it and found that while interesting, the museum isn’t entirely enlightening on the events of the revolution. The photos and objects all have tags that describe the importance of it or the moment in history they represent, but there isn’t really an outline or explanation of the revolution and the events that lead up to it. If you’re only visiting Havana for three days the Revolution Museum is a must, just make sure you do some research and have some knowledge about it before visiting. Access to the museum costs 8 CUC.
Do a vintage car tour
While very touristy, doing a vintage car tour is beautiful and worth it. Cuba is famous for its coloured vintage cars, how can you not want to drive in one while you’re there?! There are loads of these vintage cars especially in the central areas of Havana and their drivers offer taxi tours around the city, which will take you on a 1-hour long tour to see all the main highlights of the city. When you walk in central areas as close to the Capitol or Habana Vieja be ready to be swarmed by the vintage cars drivers, who will all try to offer you a tour on their car. The price on the poster they showed us to convince us to buy the tour said 50 CUC, but we managed to bargain down to 25 CUC. We also got the driver to drop us off at the Fabrica de Arte, a cool bar and venue that we wanted to visit (more on this further down) but which is slightly outside central Havana, thus making the most of our 25 CUC and saving on an extra taxi fare.
Visit Habana Vieja
Habana Vieja, or Old Havana in English is an area of Havana where historically the old town was located. Old Havana is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site for being one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the world. Depending on how much time you want to spend there you can walk around most of Old Havana in a couple hours, exploring the small side streets and admiring the beautiful colonials houses, museums and buildings. In Habana Vieja is also located the Plaza de la Catedral where the cathedral of Havana is.
Walk along the Malecòn
The Malecon is Havana’s 8 km seawall, which you can walk along enjoying the views over the sea and city. On a sunny day this is a lovely walk, which will allow you to see a different side of Havana. If you start your walk along the coast just off Habana Vieja and walk along the seawall towards the Capitol you will eventually reach the Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Deposito San Jose; a huge handcraft market. If you’re looking to buy some souvenirs to take home, this is a good place to do so! Thanks to the huge number of stalls the prices for standard souvenirs (bags, t-shirts, hats etc) are considerably cheaper than small shops in Habana Vieja, and it will also be easier to bargain. For things like cigars however you can’t haggle, as prices are set by the government. You should only buy these from official shops or on the farms, as there are a lot of people selling fake cigars on the streets.
Visit Plaza de la Revolucion
Plaza de la Revolucion, or Revolution Square in English, is a famous memorial in Havana. It is known as being where many political rallies take place and where important political figures address other Cubans. The square is dominated by the Jose Marti Memorial on one side, and the offices of the Ministries of the Interior and Communications, whose huge facades are decorated with the steel memorials of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, heros of the Cuban Revolution. Revolution Square is a bit far from the centre of Havana, so we went to visit it during our vintage car tour.
Taste the local food: Where to eat in Havana
The food in Cuba is pretty awesome, being composed mostly by a mixture of Caribbean, European and Mexican cuisines. Meal prices vary depending on where you eat, ranging from as little as 5 CUC to 30 CUC per person. A note on Cuban restaurants, a lot of them will have the word “Paladar” as part of the name. We were told this means they are privately owned. While being a bit more expensive they *generally* have nicer food, according to our vintage car tour driver. Some of our personal favourite restaurants in Havana that we went to during our trip are the following:
This was our absolute favourite restaurant. El Dandy is located between Parque Central and Plaza Vieja. It’s a small and stylish bar-cafe, which does both breakfast and cocktails. It is also a mini photo gallery, decorated in a stylish way and with a warm welcoming vibe. The food is really tasty and not too expensive, we had huge plates of tacos, sweet potato fries and cocktails for approximately 25 CUC.
Paladar la Guarida
Paladar la Guarida is one of the most famous restaurants in Havana. It’s on the top floors of a colonial palace, meaning that to reach it you get to walk up a beautiful staircase and through what could easily have been ballrooms. The restaurant is on a rooftop, but our personal favourite was the bar on the top floor and roof, as it had much better views over the roofs of Havana. We got cocktails (can’t not have a good mojito in a setting like this!) and enjoyed the sunset on their rooftop bar. However we didn’t actually try the restaurant as we found it to be a bit pricey and out of our travel budget.
Explore the nightlife in Havana
Havana is also famous for its lively nightlife. We loved all our evenings in Cuba, despite being unable to dance salsa we enjoyed the atmosphere, often with live music and lots of people dancing salsa in the streets. Some of the most famous bars in Havana, both historically and emerging, that we personally went to and enjoyed were the following:
Have a daiquiri at Floridita
The American novelist Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of Havana and Cuba. All over Havana you will find places claiming that Hemingway ate there, whether this is true or not is hard to say. However one of the most famous bars in Havana is La Floridita, which specialises in daiquiris (Hemingway’s favourite apparently) and which has a statue of Hemingway in a corner of the bar. The bar has very fun and chill vibes, with live performers on almost every night. The daiquiris are indeed pretty awesome and they have different flavours from which you can choose.
Visit Fabrica de Arte
This is a new venue where young Cubans go on weekends. From outside it looks like an abandoned factory, but the inside couldn’t be more different. The Fabrica de Arte Cubano is spread over different levels and sections of the building there are art exhibitions, bars, coffee shops, a dance floor and a cinema type screen. The vibe is fantastic, with people wandering around the art exhibition while sipping on mojitos or coffees. They also have a really clever payment method; entry costs 1 CUC, with it you receive a card where if you purchase something inside they will write down a symbol. On exit you present the card and pay just before leaving, avoiding all the faff of looking for the right amount of coins every time you order a drink. The only thing to bear in mind is that it is quite far from the centre and a taxi back to Havana Vieja will cost around 15 CUC, depending on how well you can bargain with the taxi driver. If you’re into art Havana also has lots of street art to offer, find out more about it here.
Where to stay in Havana
Similarly to Vinales I recommend staying in a “casa particulares” if you can, instead of a hotel. These provide a much better value for money and will allow you to really live the Cuban experience, living with locals instead of a resort or hotel that could be anywhere in the world. Our three days in Havana were actually split up throughout our trip, so we stayed in two different AirBnbs. The first one we stayed at for two nights was actually an entire flat, instead of a spare room in someone’s house, which we quite liked as it gave us a bit more privacy. It was halfway between the Capitol and Habana Vieja, a perfect location to explore all of Havana. You can check it out here. I personally really liked it as it was on a relatively small side street, but was surrounded by beautiful colonial houses and had a lovely view from the balcony.
The second AirBnb we stayed for only one night and it was closer to the Capitol. Since it was smaller it was quite a bit cheaper, but not as nice and without pretty views like the first one. You can find it here (And if you haven’t used AirBnb before get 35 EUR off your first trip here)! If you do want to go to a hotel anyway I don’t have personal recommendations as I always stayed in “casa particulares”, however some of the most famous and well known also internationally are located in the Parque Central close to Capitol and include:
Have you been to Havana? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! Havana is a beautiful city which I personally enjoyed visiting, even if I enjoyed my time in Vinales and Trinidad better. Even if we were only there for three days we still had the opportunity to see all the main attractions and points of interest. I hope you find this post about the best things to do in Havana in three days useful in planning your own trip to Havana, Cuba. If you want to go beyond Havana, check out these three Cuban towns you can’t miss.