Everyone’s favorite thing about Havana is the architecture. A wonderful mix of Spanish-influenced colonial structures and bright pops of color among art deco apartments creates a wonderland feel to the city. If you’re planning a trip, you’ll want to add these historic landmarks, beautiful neighborhoods, and culturally rich things to do on your Havana, Cuba travel itinerary. Though centuries apart and eclectic in style, what many of Havana’s buildings have in common is that they are in disrepair. Havana is overflowing with impressive doors that open to marble staircases with marvelous winding balustrades, all held up by dilapidated walls of plaster and stone. It’s a city that’s both frail and majestic.
Here’s our Havana, Cuba travel itinerary for architecture and design lovers:
Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón (Colon Cemetery) Calle 12, La Habana, Cuba Havana’s version of Pere Lachaise, Colon Cemetery is the most important cemetery in Latin America. And it’s beautiful. Spend a day walking around and discovering some of the cemetery’s most notable interments, including Black Panther Party member William Lee Brent, who was most famous for hijacking a plane in 1969 and ordering it to fly to Cuba.
Callejón de Hammel Between Calles Espada and Aramburu, Havana, Cuba Head to Callejón de Hammel at noon on a Sunday and listen for the drum beat. Here you’ll see vibrant murals and witness Afro-Cubanos perform Santería-inspired pieces complete with live drumming, dance, and colorful costumes. Note: if you make it to the front row on Callejón de Hammel, audience participation will be required.
Fábrica de Arte Cubano (F.A.C.) Calle 26, 11th street, Vedado, Havana, Cuba www.fac.cu Not your average art gallery. This three-story building has a stage for theatrical performances, and two sprawling outdoor patios. Check out work by local Cuban artists, photographers, and musicians, or take a tango lesson. The nighttime scene here is like that of most clubs anywhere in the world, so you will likely wait in line if you arrive later in the evening. The admission is around CUC$2 which can be steep for locals, so expect to meet your fair share of fellow travelers in this crowd.
El Malecón Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba This esplanade runs along Avenida de Maceo and is one of Havana’s most picturesque landmarks. As charming in the morning as it is at night, walk or stroll along this five-mile stretch and get more than your fair share of ocean spray as waves crash into the seawall while Havana’s taxis speed by.
Plaza de la Revolución Avenida Paseo, Havana, Cuba Maybe one of Cuba’s most recognizable landmarks, the plaza features tributes to the most famous figures of Cuba’s revolution – Jose Martí, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Che Guevara. The square is also a government center as the Ministries of the Interior and Communications are both located there.
Paseo del Prado Havana, Cuba This street is home to some of the most beautiful houses in Havana. It stretches from Plaza de la Revolución all the way to el Malecón, so it’s worth it to walk from point to point.
La Guarida Concordia No.418 /Gervasio y Escobar. Centro Habana. Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba www.laguarida.com Food in Havana is nothing to write home about. This restaurant, however, is the exception. To be fair, you get what you pay for as items on this menu are triple what you’d pay in most places. But if you don’t come for the food, you can still eat with your eyes. The architecture in this building is magnificent. Recently featured in the movie Fresa y chocolate, it’s every bit as stunning in person as it is on screen.
Written by N. Simone Wilson-Millaud