Havana Sights

To see La Habana Vieja and its many colonial palaces and Baroque churches at their best, plan to tour on foot. Although you could spend days here, you can easily see the highlights of Old Havana in two days. Make the fortresses across the bay a side trip from La Habana Vieja, and save the sights farther east, as well as the Playas del Este, for another day. Centro Habana also has many historic sights,

and it is here that you will truly see the sprawling everyday life of Cubans. The Capitolio, Chinatown, and Parque Central are must-sees for tourists, but a stroll in the southern reaches of Centro Habana and its dusty streets are an eye-opener. A tour of Centro Habana can begin and end at the Hotel Inglaterra and Parque Central. El Malecón, from La Punta all the way to La Chorrera fortress at the mouth of Río Almendares (Almendares River), is an important part of Havana life and a good hour's hike.

Vedado stretches from Calzada de Infanta to the Río Almendares and is difficult to explore on foot. Taxi rides to objectives such as the Museo de Artes Decorativos or UNEAC can be combined with strolls through leafy streets filled with stately mansions. Miramar, which stretches southwest across the Río Almendares, was the residential area for wealthy Habaneros and foreigners before the Revolution. A tour of its wide, tree-lined avenues is best made by car.

The streets in La Habana Vieja and Centro Habana have been, in European fashion, given such poetic names as Amargura (Bitterness), Esperanza (Hope), or Ánimas (Souls). Note that some streets have pre- and postrevolutionary names; both are often cited on maps. Throughout the city, addresses are also frequently cited as street names with numbers and/or locations, as in: "Calle Concordia, e/Calle Gervasio y Calle Escobar" or "Calle de los Oficios 53, esquina de Obrapía." It's helpful to know the following terms and abbreviations: "e/" (entre) is “between”; esquina de (abbreviated "esq. de") is "corner of"; and y is "and."

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La Habana Vieja 30

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Habana del Este 12

Vedado 11

Miramar 5

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Havana Sights

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Playa Guanabo

  • Beach–Sight

If you head farther east from Playa Boca Ciega, you'll come to the bustling town of Guanabo and its pretty golden-sand beach with calm...

Playa Jibacoa

  • Beach–Sight

Santa Cruz del Norte, 10 km (6 miles) east of Playa Guanabo, is an industrial town that's home to Cuba's greatest distillery, the Ronería...

Playa Tarará

  • Beach–Sight

Two km (1 mile) east of Bacuranao is a small stretch of white sand that's only accessible via a modern private residential area; tourists...

Playa de Santa María

  • Beach–Sight

Locals will tell you that this is the best and prettiest beach of the Playas del Este, and it's certainly the liveliest, too, popular...

Plaza Vieja

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

What is now called the Old Square was originally Plaza Nueva (New Square), built as a popular alternative to Plaza de Armas, the military...

Plaza de Armas

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

So-called for its use as a drill field by colonial troops, this plaza was the city's administrative center and command post almost from...

Plaza de la Catedral

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

The square that surrounds and is named for the Catedral de la Habana is one of La Habana Vieja's most beautiful spots. In addition to...

Plaza de la Revolución

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

This plaza in upper Vedado may seem grandiose and soulless, but it has several monuments with a lot of heart. Since the Revolutionary...

Regla

  • Town/Village

Probably named for a West African Yoruba deity, this seafarers' and fishermen's enclave retains a rough vitality. Originally a camp for...

Union Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba

  • Arts/Performance Venue

Occupying what was once the Casa Juan Gelats, one of Vedado's finest early 20th-century mansions, the National Union of Writers and Artists...

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