Havana's Fortresses and Monuments
Havana's great fortalezas (fortresses; also referred to as castillos, or castles) are reminders of Spain's mighty presence. Monuments testifying to Cuba's struggles for independence surround these forts, and museums have long since replaced barracks within their massive, time-worn walls. Sunsets and the cañonazo de las nueve (9 pm cannon blast) at the Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabaña are timeless events beloved by Cubans. You can join them and then enjoy a meal at the nearby XII Apóstoles or La Divina Pastora restaurants. Locals also like to picnic and party in the park around El Cristo de la Habana.
Touring the monuments and fortresses on both sides of the harbor can easily fill an afternoon. Although ferries regularly cross the bay to the eastern Havana municipalities of Regla and Casa Blanca, the lines for them are long. If you haven't rented a car, your best bet is to hire a taxi for the duration of the tour. Just be sure to agree upon a price before setting off.