Getting Oriented

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Getting Oriented

In the middle of Havana Province and edged by the Straits of Florida to the north, the city of Havana is officially divided into 15 municipalities, which themselves often contain various neighborhoods. For the purposes of touring the city, it's best to divide the city into six main areas.

Moving from east to west (and, roughly, from old to new) you'll find La Habana Vieja, with its many historical charms; Centro Habana, with the scenic Paseo de Martí (Prado), the Capitolio, and the 7-km (4-mi) seaside Malecón; Vedado, which is reminiscent of both Manhattan and Miami; and Miramar, with its grand manses. Across Havana Harbor are the fortresses—El Morro and La Cabaña—and the Cristo de la Habana statue, as well as the municipality known as Regla and other sights in Eastern Havana.

What's Where

Habana Vieja. The highlight of any trip to Havana will be a stroll through Habana Vieja with its colonial palaces, baroque churches and historic plazas. Parts of this district have been meticulously restored, while others remain in crumbling disrepair.

Centro Habana. While some guidebooks are weary of this neighborhood, this is where habaneros go about their lives. Children play baseball here and from the dusty urban streets you can witness gleeful singing, dancing, and the regular commotion of life in a setting of urban sprawl.

Vedado. Vedado is a vast area that hosts a great mix of historical landmarks, trendy shopping, hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. 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. Miramar is an upscale neighborhood where you will find much of Havana's diplomatic representation offices, as well as some key business centers. The neighborhood has a series of oceanfront resorts and hosts the Miramar Trade Center and the National Aquarium.

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